Letter from a Zambian Mission

Located in the Luano Valley in Zambia is the Chingombe Mission run by Polish priests. Father Wojciech Kozłowicz SDB sent us this communiqué.

As most of you know, Zambia's climate varies from hot to moderate throughout the year. It is located on the rolling African plateau between 3,000 and 5,000 feet above sea level. However, valleys are set at less than 1,000 feet above sea level and are very hot and humid.

I spent some time in the Luano Valley at the Chingombe Mission working alongside its "boss", Father Marcel, a Pole like myself.

During my stay, there were a few nervous situations. One day a group from the Lukasashi River brought in a man who had been attacked by a hippo. The only transportation available was a wheelbarrow, and the injured man was pushed for 10 hours to reach our mission and clinic.

He had been fishing with his son when he suddenly saw some hippos. One of them was with a baby, which most likely caused the mother to be aggressive to protect it. The female hippo went after the man's canoe, knocked it and then grabbed his leg, trying to drown him in deep water. Luckily, the man escaped but had a very serious injury to show for his experience.

The Sister in charge of the Chingombe Clinic disinfected the man's leg, then told me it would have to be amputated. The clinic personnel contacted the flying doctor service by radio and asked for a plane to take the injured man to the hospital in Copperbelt.

The plane didn't arrive until the following day. Loaded into it were five people including the injured man. During take-off, the plane's wings snagged some tall thick grass, causing the plane to lose its balance. In turn the pilot lost control and the plane went straight into the bush. Fortunately, he managed to stop it before it could crash into the trees ahead. The plane was damaged but did not explode. I said to the pilot, "You're lucky!" He replied, "It was not a 'lucky' accident, it was the Lord's protection." The pilot is a Baptist missionary.

Some time ago a mother went with her daughter to do some washing by the river. She left her there and went a little further along the riverbank. When she returned she found her daughter being attacked by a crocodile. Without a moment's hesitation she ran to her daughter's rescue, putting her hands on the crocodile's mouth, forcing the jaws to stay open. The crocodile was unable to grip the girl firmly in its mouth and after a struggle gave up and sank back into the water, leaving the mother to carry her girl away.

These are just a couple of the incidents among many that occurred during my stay at the Chingombe Mission. I'll try to write soon with my next report. Until then, I only ask for your prayers. Thank you. I promise mine.

Fr Wojciech Kozłowicz SDB

St. Mary's Church
Box 80090
Kabwe, Zambia.