13 May - Death of young African shocks global community

News Service
May 13, 2010

Death of young African shocks global community

Strasbourg, France - Sithabile Ndlovu, a 2008 - 2009 YAMEN! participant from Zimbabwe died suddenly on Sunday morning, May 9 in Johannesburg, South Africa after a brief illness. She had been admitted to the hospital the previous night.

Ndlovu completed her year-long YAMEN! term in Bolivia last August. The Pumula Brethren in Christ Church in Bulawayo, an MWC-member church which she attended for 15 years, was her sending church. YAMEN! (Young Anabaptist Mennonite Exchange Network) is a joint MWC and Mennonite Central Committee South-to-South exchange for single young people aged 18 to 30 launched in 2001 (http://yamen.mcc.org/).

In Bolivia, Ndlovu worked with Centro Menno programs in Santa Cruz which provides services to Low German-speaking Mennonites who live in surrounding rural areas. Centro Menno workers help with Canadian citizenship documentation as well as providing agricultural advice, operating a library, a small store and publishing a monthly newsletter.

Ndlovu attended MWC's Assembly 15 in Paraguay last July. Young adults, shocked at the news of her sudden death, recalled her keen engagement in the Global Youth Summit which preceded the assembly.

“In Paraguay at GYS and the MWC assembly, I was impressed how Sithabile and Maritza (another YAMEN! participant from Boliva) easily carried on their conversation in Spanish. It showed how she was eager to meet people in Boliva and obtain the tools she needed for communication with them. She cared about others who were struggling,” said Andrea L. Geiser, YAMEN! coordinator.
Barbara Kärcher, a GYS leader from Germany, reported that Ndlovu spoke to her of her sadness on having to leave school since her family could afford to send only her older sister to college, so “Sita” stayed home. Later, she was delighted to attend and graduate from college with the help of a former teacher.
She also shared with Kärcher the joy of her experience in Bolivia, her fear of returning to the poverty and unsettled situation in her country and also of her loneliness, since both parents had died. She had been staying with her brother in South Africa for the past six months.
Despite her anxiety and loneliness, Sithabile wrote in her Facebook: If God is for me who can be against me!
Danisa Ndlovu, MWC president from Zimbabwe who is not related to Sithabile Ndlovu, commented: “What a life! What potential! We still expected and looked for more, but it was never to be.... In the midst of pain and sorrow God must be glorified,” he said. He learned of the sudden death during the Sunday morning worship service on May 9.

“Thank you for standing with her family in this hour of deep loss. Thank you for praying,” he said.

- Ferne Burkhardt
MWC News Editor

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Photo of Sithabile Ndlovu available on request.

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Mennonite World Conference is a communion (Koinonia) of Anabaptist-related churches linked to one another in a worldwide community of faith for fellowship, worship, service, and witness.