A calling within a calling: parish priest and nurse midwife

Edward Zimba 2The Revd Fr Edward Zimba describes how his two-fold ministry has been warmly accepted in a Zambian parish.

Mawanda Anglican Parish where I am the parish priest is situated 36km north of Petauke in the Eastern province of Zambia. The parish has 15 congregations which I try to visit as regularly as possible. I am also in charge of the adjacent parish of Mpanbongwe with ten congregations and an Evangelist living in their parish house.

I was ordained priest on 11 August 2013 and I have worked in the area for five years now. I am married to Esther Musonda Zimba and have a son John Mphatso.

I am a non stipendiary priest since I am also a male nurse and I have just qualified as a nurse midwife working in the local clinic next to the parish house where I live. I consider this to be a blessing to myself, to my family, and the Church to be both priest and nurse midwife - having a calling within a calling.

Mawanda Anglican Parish, with support from the Diocese of Eastern Zambia and the Zambia Anglican Council, is involved in health delivery to the families of Mawanda in the areas of:

 

 

 

 

  • Malaria Control programmes: The Church is working hand in hand with the clinic, focusing on prevention and treatment programmes through training Malaria Control Agents. Their responsibility is to sensitize the community on how to prevent malaria and the need to seek medical treatment early.
  • HIV/AIDS: HIV/AIDS is one of the challenges in our parish affecting families within our church membership and the community at large. We have opened our church building to the community for Anti-Retro Viral Treatment as there is no space in the clinic to cater for the clients, and to help fight stigma and discrimination. We show them Christ's love towards the sick, a challenge that affects us all. We have a Church social group of men and women called Tilibike (‘let us be strong’) who have been active in running past HIV/AIDS support programmes. Mawanda parish has also some social groups concerned with gender and development and gender and governance. In 2013, Petauke District AIDS Task Force awarded the Anglican Church in Mawanda a Certificate of Excellence for the best Gender, Human Rights, and HIV/AIDS programme at grass root level.
  • Maternal and Child Health: As a church, we have encouraged our members to take up voluntary work at the clinic to monitor closely children under five years, and also help mothers with safe delivery. This reduces the maternal and neonatal (infant) death rate.
  • Priest experience in health delivery: When I was first deployed in my parish, I thought that my parishioners would be uncomfortable to be screened and examined by me. After a few months I found the opposite to be true. Pregnant mothers preferred and demanded that I conduct delivery of their expected babies. Since 2012 I am actively involved in Maternal and Child Health (MCH) services like antenatal, postnatal, deliveries, child growth monitoring and immunization. As a result of this, the District Nursing Officer/MCH Co-coordinator recommended me for midwifery training during the annual appraisal for the year ending 2014. I had a heart to serve the community which has a high rate of neonatal and maternal deaths.

Now that I am a nurse midwife, it’s time for more hard work, especially as on 21 December 2016, I was appointed as Mawanda Rural Health Centre In-charge. As I witness peoples' challenges, my desire to further my education in midwifery grows, and as I source support, I will pursue it.

I have also enjoyed counselling HIV positive clients and those with chronic illnesses and dying patients. I have found it easy to help clients with both medical and spiritual advice.

Finally, I thank my bishop, Rt Revd William Mchombo, for allowing me to work in Mawanda parish both as a priest and as a nurse in charge of a clinic with far ranging health activities. I also thank my family and others who have supported me in my work.

CONTACT: Revd Fr Edward Zimba, email edwardzimba@ymail.com.