Torch’s work in Africa is sited in the Central African country of Malawi, with a centre called “Torch House” on the edge of the city of Blantyre in the Southern Region. There are also about 70 Torch Fellowship Groups throughout the country and key voluntary workers mainly in the valley of the River Shire, in the extreme South, where the incidence of blindness is at its worst, due to the widespread eye disease known as River Blindness (Onchocerciasis).
At the Torch Centre in Blantyre there is a braille production unit, mainly producing Scripture volumes in local languages but also in other African languages. So far the languages involved are Chichewa, Sena, Shona, Bemba, Igala and Hausa. Christian booklets and tracts are also produced, mainly in English and Chichewa, and these include some specifically to help those suffering from HIV/AIDS.
There is also a giant print production facility for partially sighted people. So far this has been producing the Chichewa New Testament in giant print (20 point). It is hoped to produce a braille 'easy English' New Testament in 2007, and also a braille New Testament in the Ndabele language for Zimbabwe.
As well as the braille production unit, there is also a free lending library of braille and giant print books, and a store for relief supplies which are distributed, when available, to needy blind people.
Although not directly involved, Torch encourages sponsorship for students wishing to study at the Evangelical Bible College of Malawi in Blantyre. One blind Student has graduated and is now a pastor in a suburb of Blantyre, and there are currently two blind students at the College.
At the Torch Centre there is a staff of five Malawians headed up by Rev Winston Chidzambuyo, the Administrator. There is a Council, meeting three times a year, consisting of eleven members, including five who are also trustees. Financial support comes almost entirely from a fixed sum provided monthly by Torch UK.
Visits are made two or three times annually by representatives (currently Janet and Michael Stafford) from Torch UK to help and encourage, and also to organise distribution of relief supplies. Michael is a trustee and endeavours to attend all the trustees’ meetings.
The Malawian government together with some NGOs provide some educational facilities for blind children, and also a very limited amount of employment. Generally speaking, blind people are extremely deprived, unable to get employment or resources, and often resort to begging on the streets.
Many are Christians and appreciate the literature Torch provides.
A number of projects have been undertaken over recent years, sponsored by individuals and fellowship groups in the UK. These include a scheme to repatriate blind beggars from the streets of Blantyre to their home villages, in many cases building small houses for them and providing a start for an income-producing activity. Some 60 families were benefited in this way and most have remained in their villages, though often struggling with scarcity of food due to drought, floods etc. Another project is “Sight for Sore Eyes”, where reading glasses have been provided to partially sighted children to enable them to use ordinary school text books rather than relying on the very small amount of braille educational material available. Currently, it is hoped to set up maize mills which can be run by co-operatives of blind people and provide them with a livelihood.
Torch’s ministry in Malawi continues to have great potential for assisting blind people, not only in Malawi itself, but also in neighbouring Central African states, especially Mozambique, where two of our volunteer workers – Lapson Mbewe and Bitten Masamba – make regular visits and have been instrumental in setting up fellowship groups for visually impaired people.
Bible volumes produced since July 2000 28,620
Hymnbook volumes since July 2000 3,100
AIDS Booklets 1,450
Languages: Chichewa, Bemba, Shona, Sena, Igala, Hausa, English
Chichewa Booklets produced:
Mukhoza Kukhala ndi moyo
Mulungu ndi Iwe
Mphamvu za Tsiku
Njoka ya Njala
Moyo Watsopano Musa Khristu
Mose Ndi Njoka
Mboni za yehova
English Booklets producded:
You can Live . . .
Once upon a Campus
Bible Probe – Micah
The Stolen Library
The Big Question
You and the Church
The New Life
This Faith Works
Mr Mee Escapes
Once a Drummer
Don’t Be Afraid
Telephone to Heaven
What is Christian Marriage?
Total Chichewa and English booklets produced in 2004: 1559
The Bible shows that concern for poor people and a passion for justice are part of what it means to be a Christian. So our ongoing support to those who are blind and disabled in Malawi continues.
These include …
Will you continue to support us in these projects and others?