Our South African Link Parish is St Mattias at Etwatwa in the Highveld and their current Priest is Fr. Thabo Masweu. We first became really involved when they were raising money to build a new Church and we made a contribution to that fund. The new Church was years in the planning and building, but was finally dedicated in 2013. Our then Parish Priest, Ian Doull, and his wife Irene were asked to take part in the dedication ceremony.
Current Priest In Charge, Michael Jarman, visited more recently and was involved in the feeding programme. You can see photographs of this at the back of our Church.
A further visit from the diocese took place in the autumn of this year.
In the time we have been involved with the Parish of St Matthias, the soup kitchen has also been much improved. We were honoured to be asked to name the new kitchen and chose CEGIN (the Welsh word for kitchen).
Each year we donate a sum of money from our Parish Giving, which then goes towards supporting the feeding programme. The ladies of St Matthias’ Mothers’ Union manage the programme and provide one midday meal for 200 families on two days each week. The meal consists of soup made with a small amount of meat, supplemented with vegetables and bread donated from local bakers.
The ladies have used some of the donated money to buy seed and are now able to grow their own vegetables, which is an ongoing project.
Some extra funding and good financial management also made it possible for them to buy sewing machines. This has enabled the local ladies to make their own clothes and set up a co-operative to sell these goods, which is a wonderful return on a relatively small investment in the project.
More recently, our very own JAM Club has been making contact with the Sunday School at St Matthias and sent them a Christmas Card made by of the JAM Club members. Unfortunately due to the sheer size of the card (around 3ft by 2ft!), we had to make do with sending a photograph rather than the real thing but we hope to build on this relationship as time goes on.