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A bridge of Faith across continents

In the last of a three-part series, Missio Scotland’s GERARD GOUGH shares the story of a friendship between two schoolgirls that united Scotland and Zambia

‘We are all just brothers and sisters.’ Those were the words of a young Catholic schoolgirl as she visited fellow pupils at St Columba’s High School in Lusaka West in Zambia.

Prior to the school being built, the children who had finished their primary schooling could not go on to secondary education as the nearest secondary school was too far away. This meant that the children living there couldn’t fulfil their dreams to enter the same professions we in Scotland take for granted.

However, thanks to our parishes’ support and prayers for Missio Scotland and their work, the first classroom block of St Columba’s was built in 2016 in cooperation with Scottish charity ZamScotEd. Since then, more classroom blocks have been added and hundreds of children are now receiving an education there.

Among those who travelled with Missio Scotland to Zambia earlier this year and enjoyed a day of entertainment provided by the students of St Columba’s, was Niamh Provan from Taylor High School.

From the outset, she was able to grasp the central role that Faith plays in the Zambian children’s education and their daily lives, and also gain a greater understanding of what it means to be part of the universal Church.

“I’ve really enjoyed interacting with the St Columba’s students and seeing how we are all drawn together by our Faith and the Church,” Niamh said. “It’s something that we all have in common, no matter who we are or where we’re from.”

Heaven Ngulube, a 15-year-old student at the school, echoed Niamh’s sentiments.

“Belonging to the Church is great, not just for me but for everyone, because the Catholic Church is worldwide,” Heaven said.

“We are one, it doesn’t mean that because we are black and they are white, we are separate. Being part of a global Church means that we all have to be together as one. We all believe in the same God and it really is a global Church.

“It has meant a lot to spend time with the Scottish people, because they are the ones who helped us with the infrastructure of the school, the learning materials and everything that we have. I’m thankful for that because it’s brought great opportunity for me and my fellow students.”


Mission of the Church 

Both girls also sang from the same hymn sheet with regards to what they believed the mission of the Church to be.

“I think the mission of the Church is obviously to spread the message of Jesus,” Niamh said.

“It’s really about loving, belonging, being together and helping one another. It’s not about saying ‘I need this so my immediate friends and family will help me with it.’

“It’s more about thinking that there’s a person halfway across the world who needs this thing, which I may have and be able to give them, because they would appreciate a lot more than maybe I would.

“It doesn’t matter that I’ve never met them or that they’re so far away because we’re part of same Church. I think the mission of the Church is to show how we’re related and how we are all just brothers and sisters. It’s important that we help one another, even if we don’t know a person or have been to their country, we can still help them.”

“I see the mission of the Church is to help those in need, vulnerable people, the poor, those who really need something in life,” Heaven added. “There are things that people don’t have, but they should. The Church’s mission is to help those who are really in need and bolster their Faith.”


A unique charity

Both are aware, too, that Missio Scotland is a unique charity, which not only comes to the aid of those in mission countries and territories worldwide, but also endeavours to support and strengthen the Faith of Catholics across five continents and is truly an organisation that feeds the mind, the body and the soul.

“I think the work of Missio Scotland really stands out to me because it’s such a personal charity,” Niamh said.

“It doesn’t just donate money or products, it actually comes and visits children, works with them, integrates them and helps the teachers and classroom assistants.

“It helps those who look after disabled people too. It is very personal because it’s focused on spending time with people and becoming friends with them.

It’s very much people-centric as opposed to just solely charity.”

“Organisations like Missio help projects around the world by building hospitals and providing education for us,” Heaven added.

“With regard to the latter, they build schools near our homes so that we don’t have to travel miles and miles to go to school, so that even those who don’t have transport can easily walk to their schools and get there in time for lessons.

“We have to thank them too for providing learning materials and even funding the infrastructure of the schools. They really help a lot.

“This support has made a very big difference, especially to my education, which is very important. I can say that when I grow up and have my own family, I won’t only be able to educate my family, I’ll be able to contribute to the country and in every way.

Every one of my fellow pupils has that same chance I have and can contribute to others when they grow up too.”


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