Our last visit with Rev. Quissico was to a community of old and aged men and women who gather for weekly worship at Pastor Henry Kaipa’s home. Unlike the stigma of the world “old” in the US, they claim the identity “old and aged”; they are proud to have lived long enough to be called “gogo”, grandparent.
Deep lines etched many of their faces, telling stories of struggle and joy and wisdom. When men and women in Malawi introduce themselves they often begin by telling you the birth order of their children, including those who have died and those still living. They tell you if they are widowed. The “old and aged” that we met cling to one another because the have lost more family than they have left.
Each church and community we visit takes time to tell us the challenges they face and how much money it will take to overcome these challenges. Each list is troubling and compelling. And visit after visit becomes heart-wrenching. But these communities are made up of children, youth, strong women and capable men. They are building on existing accomplishments. But the old and aged in Ngabu are especially desperate. The region known as the Lower Shire where they live is experiencing drought with “nothing, completely nothing” to harvest. They are surviving on the juice of the massau fruit.
Even if the climate permitted, they are beyond the age and ability to plant, to work and to harvest. While I see hope and blessings in the local churches we visited, I don’t’ see as many options for the old and aged. I pray for that revelation and miracle in their midst.