This is the second of a two-part article in which Rebecca Vander Meulen describes her work with Anglican Overseas Aid and the incredible impact of the water and sanitation work that has been saving children’s lives in the Diocese of Niassa in northern Mozambique.
Read part 1 here.
When asked what drove Rebecca and the communities to do the best they could, she replied that there is a fundamental, deeply held conviction amongst the WASH team that every person has skills and gifts. “A lot of trust is placed in people who do not have a lot of formal education. These people are given significant tasks, which helps to build their sense of God-given dignity. People are seen as created in the image of God who can use the gifts they have been given for the good of their community”, she said. Without that understanding, Rebecca says that what has occurred in the communities would not have been possible.
From a personal perspective, Rebecca sees herself as being able to give back what she has gained just through being born into a situation in which she had access to all the education and opportunities she needed. So she wants to use her own gifts and skills as well as possible. Rebecca is convinced that God wants people to thrive, and she sees her work as a very practical way to live out the Gospel. She explained that, “if the Gospel is good news, then that includes learning how to avoid children becoming sick through diarrhoea”.
What excites Rebecca is to see people who didn’t know how to avoid diarrhoea and now do. She recalls the story of one key diocesan staff member whose baby died at the age of nine months from diarrhoea before the staff member learned about the WASH work. Since he has learned the WASH practises, his other children do not get diarrhoea and are growing into fit and healthy human beings.
Rebecca is delighted to have the support of Anglicans in Australia for this work. “The Diocese of Niassa has incredibly hard-working, focussed and driven people who do need funding for the work to continue”, she said. The funding goes towards training materials, training sessions, to hire staff who visit communities, including bicycles for transport in what is a large geographical area.
Anglican Overseas Aid is enormously grateful for people like Rebecca, who dedicate their lives to bring seeds of life to communities so that others can plant them, water them, tend them, and rest in their shade. It’s a long way from doing research for a Masters thesis all those years ago.