Several Mozambican young men have recently learned how to turn waste-wood remnants into bowls, plates, and other useful items, thanks largely to the on-going efforts of local artist and woodturner, John Topham.
Earlier this year, a new wood lathe was purchased and shipped to Mozambique for the purpose of teaching life-changing skills to local people. The lathe was partially funded through the Summerland Rotary Club, and John, who is a Rotarian, travelled with Rick Cogbill of Mercy Tech Mission to central Mozambique to put the lathe into use.
Unfortunately, the lathe was held up in customs at the seaport of Beira for months, and did not arrive in time for the teaching sessions to begin. A month after Topham and Cogbill arrived back in Canada the lathe was finally released and delivered to the mission base where the men had been volunteering their time on other projects. Topham was already scheduled to travel to Liberia, West Africa in November, so he decided to make a side trip to Mozambique where he spent eight days training the local men on the new machine.
His two main students, Gabriel and Pindurai, were thrilled to gain the new skills and are eager to pass on to others what John has taught them. In rural Mozambique, jobs are difficult to find, so the products produced on this lathe will mean extra income that will assist the men in providing for their families.
“John’s willingness to serve the needs of others will have a long-lasting impact on the local people of Mozambique,” says Cogbill, founder and Executive Director of Mercy Tech Mission. “He is a great example of what Mercy Tech stands for, which is ‘Changing lives, one skill at a time.’ It was an honor to have him join us on our trip earlier this year.”
Mercy Tech Mission is a local non-profit organization that fights poverty in developing countries by teaching trades to the local people. Another Mercy Tech team will be returning to Mozambique in March 2013, where, among other things, additional lathe training will be conducted by volunteer Bob Denesiuk, one of John Topham’s woodturning students here in Summerland. More information can be found about Mercy Tech’s work on their website at www.mercytechmission.com.