About Constance Mamba
By Philip Knutson
I recently had a conversation with the Rev. Constance Mamba, who is a beneficiary of an ELCA Global Mission scholarship. That scholarship enabled her to study for a master’s degree in clinical pastoral care and counseling, at the University of Stellenbosch near Cape Town, South Africa.
Constance related that she was born in 1964 at Ehlatikulu in southern Swaziland. She received a diploma in theology at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Umphumulo in South Africa and was ordained in 1994. She served as a parish pastor in Swaziland and completed an honours degree at the University of KwaZulu – Natal in Pietermaritzburg in 2006.
In 2009 she enrolled at the University of Stellenbosch for a master’s degree in clinical pastoral care and counseling and graduated in March 2012. She returned to the Eastern Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa to work as a parish pastor in the capital city of Swaziland, Mbabane, and part-time as an HIV and AIDS coordinator.
Since October 2013, she has been working fulltime as the HIV and AIDS program coordinator for the diocese. Her current position is funded by a three-year ELCA funded HIV and AIDS prevention program budget.
According to Constance, the degree program at the University of Stellenbosch gave her a broad exposure to counselling and HIV and AIDS. Her practical course took place at a clinic in the township of Gugulethu outside of Cape Town where she learned more about the medical aspects of the disease and treatment including antiretrovirals. Now she is able to read medical reports and keep track of the CD4 counts recorded on the clinic cards of her clients.
Constance explained to me that the degree course covered counseling in a deeper more holistic way than she had experienced before. This includes how to better understand stigma and denial and where each person is coming from.
She tells of how she learned to journey with and accompany each person respecting their dignity and uniqueness as a child of God. She learned how to think more widely, how to start and complete an assignment, and the importance of networking and collaboration. She gained courage to speak up and to speak out. She also learned how to listen to and connect with people of different cultures and religious beliefs.
Constance is very thankful for the scholarship that enabled her to study for her master’s degree and that she is now able to plough back, so to speak, sharing her knowledge and experience in the church as pastor and counselor through her position as coordinator of the HIV and AIDS program in the diocese.
Constance realizes that as HIV and AIDS coordinator she needs to continue learning and would like to gain more knowledge and expertise, especially in the fields of project management and community development.
Philip Knutson is the ELCA Global Mission regional program assistant for Southern Africa. He and his family live in Johannesburg, South Africa.