96 years and counting...

Paul Hunter

96 is a good age in any country in the world; here in Tanzania it’s a remarkable achievement. Many people have a reasonably healthy lifestyle, working their fields and eating simple, non-processed foods, but they face many dangers. Health care is very basic, malnutrition is endemic and drought is a recurring problem. The leading cause of death in Tanzania is HIV/AIDS, followed by treatable diseases such as pneumonia/influenza, diarrhoeal disease and malaria. Life expectancy is 62 years. So Erasto, who is 96, has had more than one and a half lives so far.

Erasto is a parish evangelist. I once asked him about retirement and he told me that he had wanted to retire in 2004. However, the pastor of his parish said that there was no one to take his place and he kept going... and going!

At the latest two-week block of the evangelist training course, Erasto rolled up on his bicycle – even though it is a couple of hours’ journey by bike. He is comfortably the oldest student I have ever had, but he has a sharp mind and plenty of energy. He is a valued member of our team, appreciated and respected - though it does take him a long time to copy notes from the board! 

It takes real commitment to be an evangelist in the Diocese of Lake Rukwa - as Erasto proves.

Erasto (left) takes a break from writing his notes