A partnership between The Wesleyan Church of Mozambique, Kentwood Community Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan and Global Partners Health Network (GPHN) is working to improve health in Maratane Refugee Camp in Mozambique.
Rex and Brenda Brewer, members of Kentwood Community Church, initially became involved with refugees in the Maratane Refugee Camp on a short-term trip to Mozambique in 2012. One of the most pressing needs they identified in the camp was the need for better health care.
Since neither came from a medical background, they were unsure of the best steps to take to help improve the refugees’ health. Early in 2018, they reached out to GPHN and were introduced to the Community Health Evangelism (CHE) model.
CHE is a Christ-centered educational program that equips communities to identify issues and mobilize available resources to achieve positive, sustainable change. It teaches local people to use local resources to solve local problems, and workers are trained to use relationship-based education to address health and social issues in their own communities.
Global Partners missionary, Lowell Adams, is a nurse who was instrumental in starting a CHE program on the island of La Gonave while serving in Haiti. Adams helped train the Brewers and others about the program during a CHE training at Kentwood Community Church last March. Months later, Pastor Abel Nove, a district superintendent in Mozambique, arranged a CHE vision seminar at a Wesleyan church in Nampula, Mozambique. Nove believes CHE can help transform the overall health of his beloved Nampula region.
“If the first missionaries had brought this program with them when they brought us the gospel, Mozambique would be a different place,” said Nove. “Now the people have the knowledge they need to prevent many diseases!”
Approximately 50 local pastors (Wesleyan and non-Wesleyan) and community leaders attended from around Mozambique. The group was eager to learn about CHE. This was followed by week-long CHE “train the trainer” seminars in Nampula and Maratane Refugee Camp, where attendees learned how to initiate and grow a CHE program. Adams, the Brewers and Adams’ sister, Arlene Stence, led the seminars.
Following the training, CHE committees formed to help grow the program both inside and outside of the camp. One program focus will be the use of agriculture to impact health, which is already showing signs of success. “Maratane (refugee camp) is already beginning to change,” says Mukome Rhamanzani, a member of the camp CHE committee. “Already people are beginning to plant citrus and Moringa trees around their homes, and people who use the Moringa every day no longer have stomach problems.”
This year will see a significant investment of time in the partnership and CHE program. The Brewers recently arrived in Nampula for a three-month stay. Adams and Stence will return this summer to help lead additional trainings. GPHN member, Carolina Flickinger, a nurse practitioner who attends Friendship Wesleyan Church in Plainwell, Michigan, is taking a month out of her busy schedule to become involved in the program.
“I can see how the CHE training can make a big difference in the lives of these people who have been neglected for so long,” said Flickinger, who has experience with CHE in other countries. “And it is especially wonderful to be working with The Wesleyan Church of Mozambique.”
Click here to view a video that highlights the work in the CHE model.
Pictured: Maratane Refugee Camp students are learning the steps of the Community Health Evangelism process.
Scott Addison is director of Global Partners Health Network.