The Zimbabwe Partnership officially was formed on June 11, 2010, when Bishop Eben K. Nhiwatiwa of the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area (ZEA) and then Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton of the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference (WPAUMC) signed a covenant agreement in the spirit of Chabadza, a Shona word that describes a community spirit of helping someone you know who is already at work. Hired to spearhead the program was Sandra Matoushaya, a native of Zimbabwe who earned a master's degree in international development with a focus in non-governmental organizations and civil society from the University of Pittsburgh.
Building on the history of WPAUMC support for Zimbabwe through development of Africa University in Mutare and more recent efforts of The Nyadire Connection, the agreement provided that the two episcopal areas will work together to:
- Conducting a bi-annual Lay Leadership School in Zimbabwe led by resource people from both the Western PA and Zimbabwe.
- Offering a Zimbabwe Immersion program for people from the Western PA Conference to spend significant time in Zimbabwe to learn church growth, discipleship, and leadership dynamics and to further guide the Partnership
- Assisting in the strategic funding and/or construction of churches, parsonages, clinics, and other facilities to make the good news of God’s love real in Zimbabwe.
- Ensuring support of the office of the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area (West) Communications and Projects Coordinator.
- Increasing the utilization of fallow, arable land according to the Zimbabwe Farm and Agriculture Development Program, beginning at the Nyadire Mission Centre farm.
- Providing better, continuous, safe, and sustainable water and electrical supply, starting at the Nyadire Mission Centre Hospital.
- Providing mosquito bed nets for distribution in seeking to fulfill the goals of the Imagine No Malaria – Nothing But Nets programs.
- Working with the UMC-Zimbabwe Health Board to achieve their goals and objectives for a healthier Zimbabwe.
Much was accomplished in those and other areas in the first six years of the Partnership. In Western Pennsylvania, Matoushaya built relationships with youth, young adults and older generations through the Zimbabwe Immersion Program, Zim Camp and project support. Individually her work with WPAUMC youth events, Confirmation classes and projects, as well as local church visits, gave many Western Pennsylvania United Methodists the opportunity to meet and get to know a native of Zimbabwe and to catch the spirit of Zimbabwean Christians through exchange visits. The ministry continues.
Sandra is available for preaching and religious education speaking engagements throughout Western PA. Programs related to the Partnership strengthen our relationship with the United Methodist Church in Zimbabwe.
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