HARLINGEN — They loved the toothbrushes.
They loved the sewing machines, the cloth, the dresses for the girls and the shorts for the boys. And they liked the monetary donation of $23,000 collected from numerous individuals and organizations.
In fact the people of Manyamula in the African state of Malawi were grateful for everything Meizie and Ed Salinas brought them during a recent missionary trip there.
“They still do the British curtsy every time to show they’re grateful,” said the Rev. Meizie Salinas, a retired U.S. Army chaplain who is an active member of Treasure Hills Presbyterian Church.
The landlocked country of Malawi in southeastern Africa was formerly ruled by the British before gaining independence in 1964.
The Salinases have made several mission trips to the area, and this one included the donation of reusable menstrual pads for young girls.
In the Malawian community where Meizie and Eddie also support a church, girls can’t be in school during their periods because they can’t afford pads. However, Meizie and other supporters found a way to make washable pads that can be used multiple times. They were made of three layers of cotton and one layer of polyurethane.
The girls loved them, said Meizie, who writes a religious column for the Valley Morning Star.
“Giving those out, you would have thought that I had given them an iPad,” Meizie said. “Their excitement, they were jumping up and down.”
Meizie and Ed Salinas also handed out pencils and notepads donated by Thompson Allstate Insurance Company and the manager at a local Rio Bank. Those businesses also donated pens which Ed and Meizie gave to the staff of three different schools.
Meizie and Ed also put windows on some prayer houses for which they were handsomely rewarded
“We were gifted with a live chicken, peanuts, sugarcane,” Meizie said. “And then we had the chicken for dinner. It was prepared for us by the pastor’s wife.”
Numerous individuals, organizations and businesses donated money and materials for the effort. Four dental offices donated toothpaste and toothbrushes, about 700 of them. A local RV park made about 300 dresses for the girls and shorts for the boys.
“The way the dresses were distributed was on merit,” she said. “If the students did well, they were given a dress.”
They also brought two sewing machines which would be converted from electrically-powered to pedal powered.
“Those have been set in the church to teach young girls how to sew so that they can learn how to make their uniforms,” she said.
While the Salinases were supported by Treasure Hills Presbyterian Church and other organizations, they made the solo trip on their own.
“When you do things from the hierarchy all the money doesn’t go there,” she said. “So we actually hand-carried $23,000. We wanted it all to go to them. They had a new building at the school that had been donated, but they couldn’t use it because it didn’t have any furniture.”
She saw a much greater need than anticipated.
“The need was beyond my expectations,” she said. “The other side of that was having the money to help purchase the things that we did and give freely of what we had. We wanted to leave them in a better place.”
They left Malawi broke but with happy hearts.
Support for the Malawi mission trip came from the following:
Treasure Hills Presbyterian Church
Thompson Allstate Insurance Company
Dr. Vince Marino, DDS
Dr. Monica Boyd Ramos, DDS
Rodeo Dental Care
Harlingen Dental Care
Residents at Encore RV Park made dresses.
Rachel Palmer helped Meizi Salinas make some of the menstrual pads.