Malawi Prisons in Terrible Condition

As a result of some recent articles about the horrible state of the prisons in Malawi (see the New York Times article), the following correspondence was held between Jon Chapman, the Area Coordinator for Southern & East Africa, PCUSA and Rev. Daniel Gunya, General Secretary, CCAP Blantyre Synod.

Read these letters and article and then ask "What Can I do about this horrible situation?"

There are several things you can do.  You can write your Senator and Representative.  You can contribute money thru PCUSA to help feed the prisoners. (Contact Jon Chapman for details on how to do this.)  You can pray for them (and then get to work).

From: B.T.Synod
Sent: Tuesday, December 13, 2005 4:57 AM
To: Jon Chapman

Dear Jon,

I write in response to your earlier email on the above subject which appeared in the New York Times. We sent a team to meet Prison Warders, visit the cells, and talk to few prisoners. Rev. Joel Sherbino, Minister from PCC and Rev. Stensford Mchenga of Blantyre Presbytery normally visit Blantyre Chichiri Prison once a week. The situation is pathetic. The cells are over-crowded, a recipe to infectious diseases. Beddings, uniform, food and other supplies are not adequate. The needs can best be addressed by Government lobbying through human rights organizations even Amnesty International. However a good will gesture during on New Year's day would do well on humanitarian point of view. A one-off assistance to Chichiri & Zomba Prisons would be appreciated. We therefore lodge this formal request to PCUSA to help feed prisoners on New Year's day. Materials needed (for 1,500 inmates) are as follows:

a) Soap & gumboots - US$1,000

b) Three cows each prison (beef) - US$2,000

c) Maize flour & other ingredients - US$3,000

The funds if receipted, the Committee will donate these foodstuffs to the prisons. We will also identify pastors & lay church people to join the prisoners on New Year's day with prayers before lunch is provided.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Yours in Christ,
Rev. Daniel Gunya
General Secretary
CCAP Blantyre Synod

From: Jon Chapman
Sent: Wednesday, December 14, 2005 10:54 AM
To: B.T Synod

Subject: Re: Situation of Malawi Prisons

Dear Daniel,

I am extremely grateful for your note. Not for it's content which, indeed saddens me greatly, but for you and your colleagues' efforts on behalf of a group whom Jesus Christ himself lifted up as persons most worthy and deserving of the ministry of the Church - prisoners.

By copy of this note I am asking Mark Plumb, Convener of the Malawi Mission Network to post your note on the Network Website. I've already alerted folks that as soon as I'd heard from the synods I would be back to them.

Let me start the ball rolling by committing US $2,000 to the Chichiri prison. Daniel if you can let me know how this money needs to come and to whom. I will release it immediately. I'm expectant that more will follow.  Can the pastor of the congregation nearest to the prison, be brought into this? Are you able to buy and deliver the food?

Let's see if we can't make this Christmas just a little bit merrier for as many Malawian Prisoners as we can.

May God bless and keep you and our Blantyre Synod colleagues.

Yours in Christ's service,


The Rev. Jon T. Chapman