Chicosseno Salvador graduates from Africa University in Zimbabwe. Salvador is already back in Quessua teaching at the School of Theology of the East Angola Conference.
“They don’t give up.”
That’s the way Rev. Armando Rodriguez describes the young people who have been a continuing part of a unique partnership between Florida United Methodists and East Angolan students who have persevered over the years to finish their educations.
The same could be said of the stalwart Conference support since 2004. The scholarship program was launched in 2011.
This enduring partnership helped two young men, whose lives had been crushed by civil war, graduate from college this spring.
One of them is Chicossenso Salvador, and his achievement is impressive. He was the first Angolan student from the Quessua Boarding House orphanage to receive a joint scholarship from the East Angola/Florida Partnership and Africa University. He graduated as an honor student from Africa University, receiving a certificate of excellence from the Angolan Embassy as the best performing Angolan student.
Today he is back in Quessua teaching at the School of Theology of the East Angola Conference. (Upon graduation, scholarship recipients are expected to devote two years of service to The United Methodist Church.) Salvador also will assist future Florida mission teams as an interpreter.
“Chicosseno is a civil war survivor. He came from the bush into the Boarding House in Quessua in 2008,” said Icel Rodriguez, director of Global Missions of the Florida Conference. She, like her husband Armando, marvels at the steadfastness of students like Salvador, who have achieved so much. The couple served as missionaries in East Angola from 2009 to 2010.
In a letter to his Florida Conference “brothers and sisters,” Salvador wrote:
“No words of gratitude can possibly express how grateful I am to you for all the support that you have given me and other youth in East Angola Conference. I can’t possibly explain how wonderful it is to meet people like you who are like an island of peace and sanity, that represent for us what the world should be like.”
The scholarship made sure he had tuition, housing and food so that he could focus his attention on completing his formal education. He is the first in his family to attend a university.
Another two young men from the Boarding House who received scholarships from the Partnership will be graduating from the Methodist University of Angola in December: Jorge Mucuta in law and Kawele Kakwata in medicine.
Kawele Kakwata (right) and Gildo Agracio walk to the Methodist University in Luanda, where they study medicine and law, respectively. Both students are scholarship recipients.
In past years other students from Angola have also been supported. In 2005 two students from Angola came to study at Florida Southern College in Lakeland, according to Rev. Rodriguez.
“They then brought the desire of learning back to Angola and communicated to the youth there the message that it is possible to get an education and that there are people who are willing to help them.” Those people were, and still are, the people of the Florida Conference through the East Angola/Florida Partnership, he reiterated.
In all, there have been three scholarships for theological education and nine for higher education in the period of 2011 to 2016. Icel Rodriguez said hopes are for two more scholarships to be granted in 2017.
Other young people have found ways to enroll in other colleges and shown a proven desire to achieve in employment or education. They have the Partnership’s success stories to spur them on.
Autumn mission trip
As part of the ongoing commitment to East Angola Conference, a mission trip in September will provide medical assistance to impoverished communities and offer lectures at the School of Theology. The trip will be led by Icel and Armando Rodriguez and Sandi Goodman of First UMC of Homestead, the chairperson of the Partnership.
Other churches sending team members include First UMC of Bartow, Christ Hispanic UMC of Orlando, Fort Ogden UMC, First UMC of Port St. Lucie and First UMC of Homestead.
Goodman, a pediatric nurse, has a long history of missions in this part of the world.
|Isabel Muengue, recipient of a joint scholarship from Africa University and the East Angola/Florida Partnership, is in her first year at AU.|
“I have never seen a better example of what missions should be than what is happening in Angola,” she said. “When I went there for the first time in 2010, I thought it would be a one-time thing, but God had different plans and changed my life.”
Her experience placed her in an eyeglass clinic offering eye care and glasses in small villages. At that time Salvador acted as her translator.
“What a delight it is to see where he is today,” she said. “I think we were a motivating factor to help the young people persevere.”
There will be teaching and preaching on the upcoming trip, with 50 to 100 people a day expected to be seen in the clinics. In addition to examinations, they’ll learn simple treatments for pain and basic health education, including prepping clean water and preventative medicine.
There will also be prayers for every patient, according to the team leaders.
Anne Dukes is the interim managing editor for the Florida Conference.
The Florida Conference would like to continue supporting higher education scholarships for East Angolan students through the Advance #102020. One hundred percent of all Advance giving goes to the chosen project. Contributions to the Advance are tax deductible.
Please make checks payable to the “Florida Conference Treasurer” and send them to: Florida United Methodist Center, 450 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, Lakeland, FL 33815.