Monday, September 30, 2013

Commissioners Clive and Marianne Adams, new Territorial Leaders: UK with the Republic of Ireland

Commissioner Clive Adams and his wife Norwegian-born Commissioner Marianne are the new Territorial Leaders for the UK with the Republic of Ireland. The couple are appointed to the Territory having spent more than two years in charge of The Salvation Army’s work in Norway, Iceland and the Faeroes.  Based at the church and charity's headquarters in Southwark, London, the Commissioners take on responsibility for more than 800 Salvation Army churches and social work centres, as well as many thousands of ministers, church members, employees and volunteers in the UK and Ireland.

In their new appointments they have endeared themselves as Christlike devotees of the Army's central mission; soul winning, holiness teaching and righting social ills, near and far. The Commissioner is a uniquely gifted and inspiring communicator. His FB comments and his blog have an impressive number of followers, and the FSAOF being one. We value our territory's leader and the positive inroads being made and his blog will become a regular feature of our blog offerings.

May God richly bless our Commissioners and The Salvation Army

What In The World Is Happening?

24 September 2013 - by Clive Adams

The disturbing images continued to play out on our screens and in our newspapers – photographs and videos depicting the atrocity at the Westgate Shopping Centre in Nairobi, Kenya. While the death toll soared, it took security forces three days to seize control of the centre, although the insurgents had yet to be tracked down.
On Sunday, as the tragedy entered its second day, an equally vicious atrocity was perpetrated in another part of our troubled world. In Peshawar, Pakistan, at least 80 people were killed and more than 120 injured by two suicide bombers who cruelly struck as worshippers were leaving the All Saints Anglican Church. The pictures are as distressing as those from Nairobi.

Our outrage seems to escalate as news filters out of the victims. We hear of pregnant women, a devoted couple, an award-winning poet, and a British mother and daughter. Our prayers are for those who have been killed or injured, and those who have lost family and friends. We continue to intercede for those who await news, agonisingly still unaware of the fate of their loved ones.

Condemnation of these vicious, cowardly killings comes from all sides. Even the Pakistani Taliban condemned the Peshawar attack. What possible justification can there be for mowing down innocent people in a public place?

But the more information that emerges about these acts of terror, the more foreboding the situation becomes. That inevitable "Why?" brings alarming responses such as apparent revenge attacks for alleged atrocities perpetrated somewhere else. Al-Shabab, a Somali Islamist movement, said it carried out the attack in response to Kenyan military action in Southern Somalia, while Taliban-linked militant groups Jundullahand Junood ul-Hifsa claimed the Peshawar bombing was in retaliation for US drone strikes in north west Pakistan.

War has always been a blight on humanity. The toll on human life is always excessive and the detrimental effect on our society is incalculable. The ominous message confirmed by these attacks on innocents is one we have come to understood globally – there are no boundaries to war zones.

Modern communication has turned the world into a global village and along with the benefits and challenges of this, there is also the sobering fact that protagonists of any war can choose any spot to wage it. Nairobi and Peshawar are stark reminders that the war zone is global. According to reports from Nairobi, Al-Shabab had recruits from various parts of the world. It was also reported that teenagers were involved in the attack. I find it disturbing that young people can be attracted away from the society we value and hold up as ‘best practice’ and be radicalised to give up their lives to causes which are so flawed, extreme and brutal.

Sadly our society is also flawed. Injustice, poverty, inconsistency, corruption and alienation is rife. And while I acknowledge there is no simple answer to this challenge, perhaps, part of the answer lies in being even more intentional about tackling those flaws in our own society so that we truly model a better way of being community. It might restore faith in our leaders and give us the moral authority to promote ‘our way’ to our global neighbours – again, something we are unable to do as long as we continue to struggle with keeping our own house clean.
Finally, these atrocities have caused me to think about the Church. Despite possessing the message of Jesus, we struggle to attract young people and to lead them to embrace the life of discipleship to which Jesus points – where love, not hate drives to good not evil. Perhaps it is because they, like the radicalised young people who join the extremists and perpetrate the kind of atrocities we have seen this weekend, don’t see enough of that ideal being modelled before them.

And so I mourn the world – the loss of life, humanity and hope. I mourn the endless conflicts, the collapse of community in the face of society’s challenges, and the frequently ineffective witness of the Church. There are many who mourn with me today. I pray that Jesus’ promise will come true: Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted – and that we do all we can to enable that to be so.
Clive Adams, Commissioner

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Tariro – An ongoing story of hope Part four


FSAOF Commentary
Tariro – An ongoing story of hope
Part four

Bright Hope for Tomorrow

This final section of the Tariro article opens with a discussion about the “new” Howard Hospital facility.  The impression that is given is one of a long-term project, with multiple phases, and that the project is now moving into a new phase. Research on this issue does not support the view presented.

The original project for the new facility had issues from the start that resulted in a completed facility which was deemed unfit for use by the Zimbabwean government.  Project costs overruns brought in the original project in at twice the estimated cost. Because it has never been used, and because its construction was not supervised properly and it was poorly constructed, this “second phase” should be more accurately thought of as a large-scale project correction.

A date for completion of this project is given as a hoped-for date of sometime in 2014. However, on October 26, 2012, Major Dean Pallant stated in a published press release Q&A that there was strong hope that the project would be completed by the end of 2013. No indication was made as to what has caused the delay in moving forward with the project.

What the article fails to note is the status of current building projects at Howard, particularly the project to construct a duplex residence for use by visiting medical professionals. The Army has staunchly defended their position that none of the donated and already paid-for materials are missing. If their statements are factual, one would think that an indication of the completion date, past or future, for this residence would have been mentioned in the article.

Furthermore, the article indicates that this project will be bringing the Howard in line with “an agreed sustainability plan”, which is to be supervised by the Canada & Bermuda territory. No mention is made regarding who developed this plan and what, if any, input was requested of and received from the local community surrounding Howard.

Yet, just a few paragraphs later, mention is made that changes will be made to improve the quality of sustainable care, and that the plan for these changes will be made locally. There is no indication as to the definition of “local”, and no indication of how a territory halfway around the world will manage this program standard. One has to wonder which sustainability plan actually exists – the “agreed upon” one, or the yet-to-be developed one in the future.

…to be continued

Jolinda Cooper

He reaches down Conclusion

Dad was not pleased. His face grew dark with anger, but he held back his wrath long enough to say, ‘Come with me and show me where it fell into the hole.’ So off they went, father and son, and soon came to the hole. Peering down, they could see nothing at all, so dark was it in the depths of the horrid, smelly dirt.

Then Albert’s Dad stood up straight, looked at his son, and began to roll up the sleeves of his shirt. ‘Oh dear,’ thought the lad, ‘this is when I catch it good and proper!’ But it was not to be, for a moment later his Dad was down on his knees again and reaching his hand and arm deep into the drain-hole. A few moments later, and after some groping around to the accompaniment of horrid, squelching sounds, up came Dad’s arm. It was covered in slime, but there in his grimy fingers was the lost coin! Dad wiped it clean and said, ‘Well, the king’s image is still there for all to see.’ ‘Hurray!’ yelled Albert.

‘That’s enough of that,’ he was told. ‘Here, take the coin and go on to the shop as you were supposed to do. You’ve been rescued, so don’t mess up again please. I’ll see you at home in twenty minutes, no later!’ Off ran Albert, scarcely believing what had happened. His Dad was great! Before long he was heading for home, clutching a bag that held bread, sugar, tea and milk. And he even had a few copper coins of change to give back to his Mum and Dad. ‘My Dad’s great,’ he muttered again to himself as he opened the front door and went in.

Well, you have heard all about it! We know that the story is true because Albert is Shaw’s Dad, our John’s Grandpa (Major Albert Clifton who lives in retirement in Somerset in England) and Albert’s Dad was Shaw’s Grandpa, John’s Great-Grandpa (who was the Corps Sergeant-Major of the Goole Town Corps in Yorkshire, England).

The story is a clear illustration of what God has done for us in Jesus. He has reached right down into our grimy world, into all the sin and shame and sorrow, to lift us up so that his image might be restored to us. What amazing love! Charles Wesley wrote:

Amazing love! How can it be
That Thou, my God, should’st die for me?

He left his Father’s throne above,
So free, so infinite his grace,
Emptied himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race.

Those words, inspired by Philippians 2, warm our hearts today.

I have been travelling a lot this week and heard on the car radio (590 am, WEZE) an interview with a man called Jeff, from the ‘Denver Nuggets’! He was involved in an aeroplane crash, but freed himself from the wreckage. He then rushed  back into the burning mass in response to the cries of a baby, reckless as to his own safety. The baby was saved. Later on he grew deeply depressed because his best friend, Jay, was killed in the crash, but his wife told him, ‘I get my strength from the Lord.’ Gradually, in desperation, he turned to Christ. The interviewer said, ‘Our Saviour rescued us, just as you saved that baby. He did not think of his own suffering, but only of saving us. He reached right down into our sin and despair and paid the price for saving us.’

We cannot begin to assess that price, or even imagine it. I was a small child when I was first aware of the great love Jesus had for me, but I will still never fully comprehend it, forty-something years later.

Sometimes we can be in the middle of a routine task when the enormity of Christ’s work of grace overwhelms us. I was writing Christmas cards, and one was to a young man called Richard. He was once more attending church because of the life and witness of another friend, Clarence. Clarence had been paralysed in a road accident. My husband asked, ‘Would you be willing then to lose your mobility to save someone’s soul?’ I felt sure I would be willing if it were for a member of my family. I was not sure about my friends, and even less sure about my enemies! I feel very small and weak when I think of these things. My love is so insignificant compared with the love of Christ (Romans 5: ‘while we were yet sinners…’).

Divine love is available to us all. It is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5). We gather on Sundays to receive the Lord afresh for the week ahead. He reaches down, as we reach up. Let your hand meet his hand now.

Commissioner Helen Clifton (PTG)

Friday, September 27, 2013

He reaches down Part One

Sunday, 19 January, 1997 saw us leading the meetings at the Quincy Corps, Massachusetts. In the morning meeting the Junior Soldiers renewed their promises, the slot for the children featured a reminder of the great Martin Luther King, and Major Warna Reynders sang a vocal solo. We remain deeply indebted to Majors Gill and Warna Reynders for their loving support to us during our time in Boston. Helen preached from Philippians 2.

Philippians 2 is a chapter I return to again and again. It causes me to marvel unceasingly at what God has done for me through Jesus Christ. He reaches down, down, and down again in order to rescue me and then he calls me to live a life of reaching out to others in his name.

Because we are thinking a lot this morning about the children and their promises to God, I will share with you all a story which illustrates how precious we are to God. Actually, it is my husband’s story or, to be even more accurate, it is his father’s story. So I will ask him now to share it with you.

It is the story of Albert and the lost coin. Albert’s Dad was pretty strict. One day he said to Albert, aged then about ten years, ‘Your Mother needs you to run down to the shop on the corner and buy some family groceries. Here is the money. It is the last coin in the house until payday in ten days’ time. It is a two-shilling piece, so don’t lose it whatever you do! You are to bring back bread, sugar, tea and milk.’

So Albert set out with the shining coin held tightly in his hand. The day was bright and sunny, and as he glanced at the coin it seemed to shine and shimmer in the sunlight. Fascinated by its brilliance in the sun, Albert began to turn the coin over and over in the palm of his hand. As he walked along, he grew more daring and began to spin the ‘florin’ (for that was its proper name) up into the air, catching it neatly as it descended. Suddenly he tripped! The coin was in mid-air! He tried to look up and catch it, but to no avail, for down it came into the gutter. It rolled and bounced for several feet, and suddenly was gone! The grating covering a drain-hole had swallowed it up! Only very faintly did Albert hear the ‘Splat!’ as the coin hit the soggy mess at the bottom of the drain!

This was devastating! What was to be done? His Dad had told him clearly it was the only money in the house. Peering helplessly into the dim recesses of the drain-hole, Albert’s heart sank and his legs began to shake. He would have to return home and tell what had happened, taking the consequences!

Forcing one foot in front of the other, he trudged homeward, head down, dejected. His Dad opened the door and saw at once that all was not well. ‘What is it?’ he asked. ‘I… I…I’ve lost the coin. It dropped into a drain-hole. I… I’m so sorry. I was being stupid and spinning it in the air.’ 

Commissioner Helen Clifton (PTG)

Thursday, September 26, 2013


There is a saying in the UK that you can wait ages for a bus to come along and then three come at once – it must seem a bit like that with this blog!  I’ve neglected it a bit lately, so today I am making up for lost time.

Last week I was at Bauska which is a corps south of Riga near the border with Lithuania.  I decided that my sermon would highlight various ‘garments´featured in the Bible. In one of the English versions of the Bible,

Peter talks about our putting on ‘the apron of humility’ (1 Peter 5:5 GNB) so that was one of the garments which was featured. It was clear from their response that the mainly female audience related to the apron metaphor but even so, I was delighted to receive this photo during the week. After the sermon, Major Beckett the officer there, threw out the challenge to the ladies to bring their aprons along to the women’s meeting – Home League as we call it in the Salvation Army – and this was the result.

So here are the ‘Bauska beauties’ in their aprons. (I also spoke about ‘sack-cloth’ but notice that none of them turned up thus attired!)

There is an interesting addition to the story, and one which will doubtless get included in any sermon I preach again on this text.  One of the ladies, the second one in on the right of the picture, is wearing the apron that she wore at her wedding. My information is that this is a Latvian tradition, along with changing the rather gorgeous crowns that single Latvian women wear for the rather drab (to my mind, and with apologies to my Latvian friends) white headscarf which is a key part of the wedding ceremony. I can only imagine that the apron and the headscarf represents the new life of responsibility and service which the new wife is beginning. Quite literally, it would seem, she puts on ‘the apron of humility’.

That said, I can’t think of many Latvian young women of my acquaintance who would be too keen to keep up this tradition today!

Major Christine Bailey
Latvia – Regional Commander

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

FSAOF CommentaryTariro – An ongoing story of hope Part three

FSAOF CommentaryTariro – An ongoing story of hope
Part three

Hope for today (Continued)

As stated in the article, the Howard Hospital, like any other mission hospital located in a country where there is political instability and in-fighting, daunting financial issues and crushing poverty, is not exempt from the problems in the community surrounding it, nor is it immune from internal issues with its parent organization.

On one hand, the author of the article praises the Howard by stating that it is running well and treating patients as usual, and continues with the praise by stating it has a fine reputation and good facilities, practice and staff.  
Then, the article moves into a discussion of the surgical practices, past and present, at Howard. It is at this point, one must stop and consider what is really being said and not said in this portion.

It is understood that the whys and wherefores were not appropriate for this article, it is an egregious lack of respect to not name (then Captain) Dr. Paul Thistle as the CMO of the Howard until August 2012. Dr. Thistle gave 17 years of service to the people of Chiweshe AND the Salvation Army at Howard Hospital. Regardless of the reason(s) why he no longer serves at Howard, he is due the respect and recognition that is lacking in this article. It is unconscionable to leave his name out.

Furthermore, the article states that “historically it (Howard Hospital) has not always had a trained surgeon on site”. This statement could not be further from the truth. In the early 1960's it had visiting government surgeons, doctors Rittey, Wolffe, and MacIntosh. In 1965, Dr. Jock Cook was its first resident surgeon, followed in 1970 by Major (Dr.) James Watt (R) with a residency in surgery. In 1972, Major Watt was joined by Dr. Pat Hill, a full-time obstetrician with surgery experience. There was an 18-month break without resident doctors during the worst of the war (1978/79), but even then, Major Watt performed surgery on days he visited the hospital.   Several surgeons followed, with Dr. Thistle arriving in 1995.  August 2012 to the present is the only other time without a formally-trained surgeon capable of conducting advanced surgery.

It is difficult to understand why having a surgeon at a hospital should be considered an aberration, excellence be frowned on and mediocrity praised.  Surgical services pay for themselves; primary care does not.

Again, one can see the continuation of egregiously neglecting to acknowledge the service provided by these talented and dedicated doctors. What is to be gained by willfully ignoring the contribution of these surgeons? The only conclusion that can be reached is that it is a purposeful attempt to downplay the work that has been done at the Howard Hospital over the last 50 years. This paves the way to moving the Howard into the Salvation Army’s new model of medical missions, where primary health care will be its main focus. The Army is moving away from hospital-based care.

The doctors listed in the report as having provided surgical capacity for the Howard after Dr. Thistle’s departure are only capable of performing limited types of surgeries, including caesarean sections. It should be noted that the two doctors on staff had received additional surgical training under Dr. Thistle.

The Provincial Medical Director (PMD) is quoted as saying that the decline in patients was due to misinformation and a misconception on the part of the locals as to the presence, or lack thereof, of a doctor at Howard.  The local residents have strongly contradicted this statement.

According to reports from them, they stopped coming initially as a protest of The Salvation Army. There is another, albeit small, government hospital nearby (the Rosa Clinic) with a visiting doctor who provides most of the same types of care as Howard Hospital. Additionally, the locals indicated that they initially avoided the Howard because of the presence of the Zimbabwe secret police, as requested by the then-Territorial Commander, Commissioner Vinece Chigariro, to stifle any further protests over Dr. Thistle’s dismissal.

Now, over a year after Dr. Thistle’s departure, the locals avoid the Howard because it refers patients to the big hospitals in town, which they cannot afford. Instead, they do their best to get to Karanda Hospital.

To further quote the PMD “… it is now the same as the other district hospitals in terms of referral.” The Tariro article acts as if this is a commendable condition. What is not stated here is that other district hospitals, and even the large government hospitals, used to refer patients to Howard Hospital because of the excellent surgical skills available during the tenures of previous surgeons. But now, the Howard Hospital has declined in its offerings and is only on par, at best, with the very governmental hospitals the locals avoid whenever possible.

… to be continued

Jolinda Cooper

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Where did it all go wrong?

Jolinda Cooper's series continues tomorrow-

Where did it all go wrong? What kind of church are we called under God to be? This is the ecclesiological question for our times…
We know that when we search the Scriptures we expose ourselves to Spirit-inspired change. The seeking of scriptural answers to ecclesiological questions is no exceptions to this rule. - Therefore we ask, What kind of church are we called under God to be?
According to Colossians 3:12 ‘as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved’, we are to be clothed with compassion kindness humility gentleness and patience’. Are we that kind of church, that kind of chosen people? P. 68-9

Shaw Clifton, General (retired) photo of Selected Writings Volume 2

Howard Hospital / The Salvation Army – where did it all go wrong?
The Salvation Army (IHQ) states that it exists to share the love of Jesus Christ, meet human needs and be a transforming influence in the communities of our world.
Its Mission: The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church.
Its message is based on the Bible.
Its ministry is motivated by the love of God.
Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in his name without discrimination.

Let’s take these points one-by-one:

Its MESSAGE is based on the Bible. But the Bible says: (PHILLIPS)

1 Peter 3:8-12
Be good to each other—and to all people.
‘To sum up, you should all be of one mind living like brothers with true love and sympathy for each other, generous and courteous at all times. Never pay back a bad turn with a bad turn or an insult with another insult, but on the contrary pay back with good. For this is your calling—to do good and one day to inherit all the goodness of God. For: ‘He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking guile: let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil’.

Focusing on the events at the Howard Hospital, did TSA heed the words of Scripture?
Its MINISTRY is motivated by the love of God. But God’s word says:

I John 3:
‘This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear’.
Focusing on the events of the Howard Hospital, was TSA motivated by God’s love?
Its MISSION is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in his name without discrimination. The Gospel of Jesus Christ states:
Matthew 4:23  ‘And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people’.

Focusing on the events at the Howard Hospital, did TSA fulfill its mission statement by showing to the people of Chiweshe the example of Jesus?
It’s apparent by the course of events that none of this happened – the leaders did not share the love of Jesus Christ with these people, they did not meet their human needs and they only impacted on the Chiweshe community in a purely negative way.

The Salvation Army’s own Ethics Centre states Recognizing that many in our society may have poor health, may we also show care to one another by trying to improve the life and health of those around us – and in so doing, build a better church, community, town, and country’.

So what happened  - what led to the complete meltdown of The Salvation Army’s own code of conduct and its inability to fulfill its own mission statement and its own code of ethics in this area of God’s vineyard and among His people, our brothers and sisters in Christ?

I would respectfully submit that its Vision of One Army, One Mission, One Message was completely ignored when faced with this very human tragedy.

ONE ARMY:  A God-raised, Spirit-filled Army for the 21st century - convinced of its calling, moving forward together to achieve a deeper spiritual life and unity in prayer could not possibly result in the unchristian actions and desperate back-tracking that occurred.

•                ONE MISSION: The mission statement says: Into the world of the hurting, broken, lonely, dispossessed and lost, reaching them in love by all means we will …….stand for and serve the marginalised

Our spiritual leaders did not venture into the world of the hurting, broken, lonely, dispossessed and lost in Chiweshe. They did not reach out to them in love by any means.

ONE MESSAGE: With the transforming message of Jesus, bringing freedom, hope and life
the leaders did not communicate Christ unashamedly, nor reaffirm belief in transformation, or evangelise and disciple effectively and provide quality teaching resources.

The ‘message’ was not considered. Instead, loyalty to the Salvation Army organisation was esteemed to be of higher priority than the welfare of the very people we have been called to serve. 

Jesus valued mercy, morality and love for humanity higher than any secular laws. People and relationships were and are more important to Him. And He taught that the holiness of a life transformed by His love breaks down barriers between people. (So shouldn’t this have happened in the HH case?)

Jesus would not allow the law of the land to crush compassion, and when it came to choosing one over the other He chose compassion, and stretched out His hand to touch people to make them whole again.

  • ·      He cuddled children, laid hands on them and blessed them.
  •      He grasped the hand of Peter, sinking in the Sea of Galilee.
  • ·      He washed the disciples’ feet, and told us to do the same for each other.
  • ·      He touched the lives of suffering humanity - this healing aspect of His ministry is spoken about often in the gospels.
He said: “As you go proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons.”

The Salvation Army leadership has bowed to pressure to address publically this humanitarian episode which has touched the hearts of so many readers, and that has to be welcome. What is disappointing to me as a SA member is the mean-spirited way it has been done – air-brushing out of its report both the previous CMOs of Howard Hospital, one – Captain (Dr) Paul Thistle - obviously because of the challenge he raised and its resulting breakdown in his relationship with SA leaders, but also of his predecessor, Major (Dr) Jim Watt (R) – who spoke up in Dr Thistle’s favour. These two men did not deserve to have their distinguished service excluded from this report. Their contribution to Howard hospital over many years does them great credit. Because of their ministry, many lives in that community have been transformed for the better, and the report should have generously reflected this.

Some of us who have been following this series may well be skeptical of the report – it may well be the start of a healing process – but if it is to have any credence at all there has to be more substance, and more truth. There are conflicting statements – on page 2 – ‘HH is not exempt from problems or political and social upheaval. Despite this it is running well and treating patients as usual’. Page 3, however, states ‘The Provincial Medical Director…said that generally the situation at Howard is improving. The workload has changed and there has been a decline in patients…’ These two statements are contradictory, reminiscent of the IHQ statements at the outset.

The whole sad saga suggests to me that, basically, the leaders did not do ‘what it says on the tin’ – they strayed from the message, the ministry and the mission, and instead of serving suffering humanity, sadly and tragically they gave pre-eminence to the organisation.

Unless, of course, they can say differently…..

SA Soldier UK (name on file)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Tariro – An ongoing story of hope Part two

FSAOF Commentary

Tariro – An ongoing story of hope
Part two

Hope for today

Major Welch presents a broad view of the Howard Hospital, providing insights and a few tidbits of new information which was not as well-known.  It is worthy of notingthe portion pertaining to the Nurse Training Center, and to gain a clearer understanding of the coursework offered in that program.  Major Joan Gibson is at the helm of this program. Her efforts have often gone unnoticed to the world at large, but her training of the new nurses has made a difference to thousands of people. For that, she is to be commended.

Of course, the amount of time that Major Gibson has spent at the Howard Hospital (somewhere between 20 and 30 years) has caused a strong, negative reaction from a great number of people. This reaction is based on statements made by Canadian Salvation Army officials saying that officers are regularly transferred, and that it is rare to stay in an appointment for more than 5 years. As the length of time in appointment by Paul and Pedrinah Thistle was given as one of the reasons for their marching orders to leave Howard Hospital, people are questioning why Major Gibson has remained at Howard.

According to the Tariro article, 1,000 babies are safely delivered each year, and mothers stay in the hospital for three days, recovering and learning the necessary skills and practices used in caring for infants. The maternity program appears to serve the community well and provide needed assistance.

The statistics provided, on the other hand, do not accurately reflect the downturn in the number of births. In 2005, over 2,400 babies were born at the Howard Hospital, and the average number of births trended upwards to an approximate 10% increase to 2,700 babies born in 2011-2012.

Also, the statement that mothers remain in the hospital for 3 days after the birth of their child does not reflect the former state of the post-birth hospital stays. Prior to September 2012, new mothers stayed only one day due to the lack of available beds in the maternity ward (which has remained unchanged) because of the popularity of the Howard Hospital maternity program.
It is noted that the article states the hospital maintains a 144-bed capacity. Further statements indicate that approximately 60 of those 144 beds are occupied overnight (just over 40% of capacity), and of those 60 beds, the majority of those overnight stays occur on the maternity ward. Using simple math, it means that less than 30 patients occupy the beds in the male, female and children’s wards. This is a far cry from the former state of the Howard, where the wards were full, and often over-full.
The article states that, on an average day, 150 people are attended to by the outpatient and antenatal clinics, and the Tariro HIV/AIDS clinic. This is half the number of people served daily by Howard Hospital last year. Of course, this reduction is explained away as being due to the “departure” of Dr. Paul Thistle. Yes, if there are not as many surgeries being performed, there will not be as many patients requiring a follow up.  However, the reduction of surgeries is not the only reason why there are fewer patients.

One of the major contributing factors for the reduction in patient load for the Howard can be directly attributed to the statement made in the article: “… complicated cases were referred to provincial hospitals in Harare and Bindura…”
There are a number of individuals who have served at the Howard in one capacity or another, or who have visited the Howard and established relationships with the people of the surrounding community. These individuals have shared reports from the local community which provide an unfiltered view of the actualities of what is happening at Howard.

- According to the local community, people are avoiding going to Howard because they do not wish to be referred to the provincial hospitals. They report that referred patients are not being treated adequately (certainly not up to the previous standards which were available at Howard prior to August 2012). The patients are not receiving needed treatment or surgery, and quite often not even having lab testing or receiving medication, because they cannot afford the fees charged by the provincial hospitals. Many patients have died, causing problems for the families in trying to retrieve and transport the remains back home for burial.

The cost of adequate medical services has always been a burden for the people of Chiweshe.  And now that The Salvation Army has scaled down operations at Howard Hospital, the people have few options left. Often it comes down to a choice of food for your family and yourself, or trying to come up with the necessary amount of money to pay for services and medicine at the provincial hospital.
A number of commenters on the FSAOF blog have suggested a simple solution, which has to date been either ignored, or considered and rejected, by the Salvation Army officials. Instead of referring patients to provincial hospitals, transfer and offer transport to Karanda Hospital. At Karanda, there is excellent specialist care supplied by 3 surgeons and 3 staff doctors, which is available at rates the poor can afford, and no one is rejected for inability to pay. Karanda offers one thing more that is not available at the provincial hospitals; the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Karanda is a Christian mission hospital, where the Gospel is shared and taught freely and openly.

… to be continued

Jolinda Cooper
Former SA officer

FSAOF Commentary Tariro – An ongoing story of Hope Part One

FSAOF Response Commentary

Tariro – An ongoing story of hope

We were heartened to see that The Salvation Army IHQ published an article about the current state of affairs at the Howard Hospital in Zimbabwe. It was good to know that IHQ recognized the desire for a flow of information from Howard Hospital and stepped up to provide some.

The article has generated a lot of feedback on the FSAOF blog, with a mix of positive and negative comments.  Certainly, people are still concerned about the state of medical and social support provided at the Howard, and will continue to be concerned well into the future.

This commentary will be split into several sections to allow for ease of posting to the FSAOF blog, and also for ease of reading. Additionally, this commentary draws from and will speak to comments posted on the FSAOF blog regarding the Tariro article.


We would like to begin by commending those who are working hard to restore Howard Hospital back to being a working hospital. In particular, we want to commend the current staff of Howard Hospital for their continuum of care for the people of Chiweshe during the last 12 months. Major Joan Gibson is applauded for all her hard work in carrying on with the nurses’ training program and providing guidance during this time of transition. We thank General Andre Cox for his interest in the Howard Hospital and for the commissioning of the Tariro article. We also recognize that Majors Dean & Eirwen Pallant have faced significant challenges with the Howard in their joint position of International Health Services Coordinators.

This article was created after a visit to Howard Hospital and Zim THQ in Harare by Major Sandra Welch and Major John Murray. The date of the visit is unclear but appears to be within the last couple of months. It was accompanied by a small photo journal of the sights around Howard Hospital, although very few from within the Howard, and in Harare.

It is encouraging to note that there are some positive things occurring at Howard. We would caution, however, to not fall into thinking that things are better than they actually are. Things take time to repair, particularly in a country such as Zimbabwe, which faces considerable challenges on many different fronts.

However, we are disappointed that this report, for all the positive points it presents, is still the work of internal Salvation Army officer personnel. 

Many people who have left comments on the FSAOF blog are disinclined to accept the findings and statements within this article. We, along with these commenters, remain firm in our convictions that only an independent external review and audit of the conditions, services and programs, finances, and operational structures in place will serve as a fair and acceptable account of what is truly going on at Howard Hospital.

History of Hope

There are some minor corrections we would point out in this first section of the article: The statement of “little medical training” is somewhat inaccurate and misleading. The wife of the founder of Howard Hospital was, in fact, a nurse. She also had some training in dental extractions. 

Additionally, a number of the missionaries who served at Howard before it became a hospital were trained nurses.

We want to point out the correct spelling of the name of the headman is Thomas Mudyiwa, 
not  Moudyiwat, patriarch of the Nyachuru village.

It is certainly true that Howard Hospital has enjoyed a great reputation, not only in the local Chiweshe community, but also to points beyond, including the capital Harare. This reputation has been the result of decades of work by dedicated doctors, surgeons, nurses and support staff at Howard. It is our hope and prayer that this reputation can be maintained into the future.

This section also briefly speaks to the ancillary programs associated with Howard Hospital; community outreach, AIDS/HIV therapies, mobile family health and vaccination programs for outlying areas surrounding Howard, and the programs for the children affected by or orphaned due to AIDS/HIV. 

What we would have liked to have seen were the statistics associated with these programs. We know what the statistics were in past years, so without the provision of the statistics for the last 12 months, there is no way to ascertain how the services to the community are actually doing.

With regards to the programs for the children, we want to specifically address a concern we have about the school education program. We know that the school education program has been terminated and donors have been forbidden to pay school fees for needy orphans directly to Salvation Army Schools, as recently as this past week, late September, 2013."

So, based on this information, we find the brief mention of the operations of these programs to be disingenuous as to the true picture of what is happening.
Jolinda Cooper
Former SA Officer, USA