While some misguided Malawians associate old age with witchcraft and victimise elderly people, Living Word of God Ministries International—a faith-based organisation has passion for the elderly, and recently dressed 97 elderly people in Ndirande Township, Blantyre. JAMES CHIMPWEYA caught up with the FBO’s board chair JAMES GUDUZA to hear more about the kind gesture towards the elderly.
What significance do you give to the elderly?
Firstly, to think that old people are witches is a wrong perception. Without them we could not be in the world today. Indeed, if they are witches, why didn’t they kill us in their womb? It is a wrong perception and this should not be condoned. As an FBO, we think the elderly need to be respected because they laboured for us for a long-time. The money used to buy the zitenje we have given them was contributed by our members to honour them for the great job they had been doing to us.
What are your plans for these elderly people?
We want to bring smiles on their faces. That is part of our vision. The other group we are considering is that of orphans, other vulnerable children and people living with HIV and Aids. We pay school fees for orphans and vulnerable children to continue with their education.
We recently learnt about the gruesome murders of four elderly people in Neno for allegedly being witches, what is your take on this?
This is brutal thinking. Of course, we cannot dismiss claims of witchcraft, but surely killing people without proof is inhuman. We categorically condemn that barbaric act. We appeal to government to act with speed on perpetrators of the barbaric act. We thank the President for also condemning the killings and his call for arrests of perpetrators.
What is the background of your FBO?
It started in 2013. Though attached to the church, it works purely as an independent entity, comprising leaders from various churches within Ndirande. We have members from Pentecostal churches, CCAP, Roman Catholic, Muslims and politicians from various parties.
Who supports this initiative?
We receive support from within Ndirande. We have partners locally whom we have been working with since the inception of the organisation. We have all along been feeding the elderly people, Opharn and Vulnerable Children as well as people living with HIV and Aids. These are our target group. The Bible tells us to start from Jerusalem and Ndirande is our Jerusalem. Some of the our partners include individuals and companies such as Siku Transport and Agrimal.
How do you look back to the year 2015?
That was a difficult year when the FBO’s meeting place was washed away and up to now we have not put up another one. We now meet in borrowed premises at Ndirande-Kachere Primary School. Our plans for this year include working with traditional leaders and their subjects in all parts of Ndirande. We plan to build houses for the elderly and continue paying school fees for less-privileged children. We urge all and sundry to register with us so that we can reach out to more needy people. n