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16 October 2014
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Coleraine's connections with Zomba

A number of links have been established between Zomba in Malawi and the town of Coleraine in County Londonderry.

ML 1030

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The town of Zomba in Malawi may be a continent away but, according to the Reverend Dick Gordon, there are many similarities between it and the town of Coleraine. Both are a similar size, both have universities, both are situated in a beautiful setting.

Map of Malawi showing Zomba

A number of links have now been established between the 2 towns and Coleraine Borough Council has gone as far as to have a 'Memorandum of Understanding' with Zomba Council.

The Causeway Trust Hospital is developing links with one of Zomba's hospitals.

Coleraine schools have made contact with schools in the town, as well as raising and sending out money to help buy educational materials.

Not only has the University of Ulster's Coleraine campus established connections with Zomba's Chancellor University, but it is offering a one year scholarship to the head teacher of St Mary's school in Zomba. The university has also sent out 20 of its honorary degree boxes to Zomba Theological College for its first graduation ceremony. The relationship between the two towns is blossoming.

Reverend Gordon has been involved in producing a book of psalms, the proceeds from which will go to Zomba where conditions are very poor and many people need help. Pearl Hutchinson from Kilrea approached him wanting to do something and the result is a lovely book combining photographs and psalms conveying messages of hope, inspiration and comfort.

Front cover of 'Psalms for Sadness, Sickness & Celebration'
Photographs by Pearl Hutchinson
Text by Richard Gordon

Pearl Hutchinson spent one spring out and about in the Bann Valley and Co Donegal taking photographs. She then sifted through the pictures she had taken to choose the most appropriate one to go with each psalm.

The photograph on the front cover of the book was taken in Rathmullan, a place she is particularly fond of. The chestnut tree leaves were just coming out and the 3 windy paths joining to become one caught her eye. It made her think of how everyone in this life is on a different path and she felt the scene would be ideal for the front of the book.

Pearl also enjoys walking along the side of the River Bann at Portna in Kilrea. Out for a stroll with her husband one evening the sun suddenly set and the clouds were perfect for a picture. The resulting photograph is matched up in the book with Psalm 13, under the title "Sometimes it's very dark".

Sunset over the River Bann at Portna, Kilrea. Taken by Pearl Hutchinson
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts?
Sunset over River Bann at Portna, Kilrea
Photograph taken by Pearl Hutchinson

Psalm 13

How long O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, O Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;
my enemy will say, "I have overcome him,"
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
for he has been good to me.

It's hard not to admire the beautiful landscapes captured in Pearl's photographs and she feels that to look at God's creation is an easy way to see him still at work today.

Agivey River at Cullycapple Bridge, Aghadowey.  Photograph taken by Pearl Hutchinson
He is like a tree planted by streams of water.
Agivey River at Cullycapple Bridge, Aghadowey
Photograph taken by Pearl Hutchinson

Psalm 1

Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.

Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgement,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

In October 2003 Ronan Lundy, from BBC Radio Ulster's "Your Place and Mine" programme, spoke to the Reverend Dick Gordon, Paul Snelling of Coleraine Borough Council and Pearl Hutchinson about Coleraine's developing relationship with Zomba and the book of psalms. Rev Gordon described for Ronan what Zomba is like...

Click Here to listen to the discussion.

(To access audio and video on your place and mine you need RealPlayer .)

Proceeds from the book go to the Zomba Action Project, a registered charity.

Malawi isn't the only country that Coleraine has connections with. Read about the town's present from America .

A Cookstown lady has been travelling back and forth to the Congo over the last 35 years. Find out more about her missionary work and view pictures from her photo album.

Useful web link:
Facts and figures about Malawi

Your Responses:

Toni Bradley - Sep'06
These beautiful photographs with the accompanying verses have made me see my home town in a new light.

Gloria Rea - June 05
This is the most beautiful little book. The photographs ar lovely


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