TANZANIA — Wayne Bungay, a colonel with The Salvation Army Church, is located a far cry from his hometown on the shores of Fortune Bay.
Wayne, who is from Fortune, along with Deborah — his wife of 37-years who hails from Grand Bank— in 2017 accepted an appointment to be stationed in Tanzania.
Together they have been stationed in several locations throughout Canada and overseas.
“There’s many places, of course we served extensively in Canada — Newfoundland, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan…and then we served in the Bahamas, in the Caribbean for six years back in the ‘90s,” Wayne said.
He added that the day they left Canada to go overseas was the same day John Crosby announced the moratorium on the cod fishery.
Following their station in the Bahamas the couple returned home to Canada for approximately 22 years before accepting another overseas appointment. They went to the UK for three years in 2014 until 2017 when they headed to Tanzania.
Wayne said he and his wife were ordained and commissioned with the church in 1984.
“I think even from the time we signaled to the Salvation Army that we felt a calling, that God wanted us to serve abroad, and so we always kept that door open,” he said.
Wayne noted that from the time they put their name on the list to serve abroad it was less than a year when they had their appointment in the Bahamas.
“It was more or less primary work, starting a Salvation Army in that area of the Bahamas,” he said.
After six years of serving in the Bahamas the couple returned to North America so their children could reacclimatize to Canadian, and Newfoundland culture, “and also their schooling to make sure they were on a good trajectory there.”
Wayne said after their three children were out on their own, they felt the possibility of travelling abroad as a possibility once again. During that time they were asked by the church if they had any objections to being stationed anywhere, it was then that they went to the United Kingdom, before ending up in their current appointment in Tanzania.
“The fact that we have an empty nest made us more flexible, if you will, so we are able to travel and stay for long periods of time.”
Role in Tanzania
Wayne explained that their role in Tanzania is overseeing all the work of the Salvation Army in the country.
“In Salvation Army terms the country is divided into eight divisions and then we have about 150 churches that we oversee, and then we have a handful of schools, and a handful of social centres where we try to veer our mission towards the (most) vulnerable and the disadvantaged, which is obviously hallmark of the Salvation Army worldwide,” he said.
Some of their social work involves anti-human trafficking, modern-slavery.
“That’s very prominent in certain regions of Africa, where if young people are orphaned or they’re abandoned by their parents, they become very vulnerable and sometimes kidnapped to be forced in slave-like conditions with just the bare necessities,” Wayne said. “So we fight against that and also the movement of people.”
Another issue they are trying to tackle is one that the government of the country has also outlawed, which is the practice of female genital mutilation.
“We work with the government and we have our own program as well to help curb the tradition of the people in the north mainly,” he said. “So the Salvation Army are doing awareness campaigns to help with that particular challenge.”
He also noted the Salvation Army has a residential school named Matu Manini — Swahili for hope — located in Dar es Salaam that houses over 200 students. The students have a variety of challenges including physical and cognitive disabilities.
They also have about 40 students who are of the albino population.
“In Tanzania the albino population is very vulnerable because there is a cultural belief — a witchcraft belief actually — that the body parts of an albino child are good luck, and so they could be taken sometimes into the bush, dismembered and then their body parts sold at high price,” he said. “So we take them in here and we protect them basically.”
It was during their time in the UK that Wayne developed an interest in running. His brother Roy, who was 16-years his senior, passed away in 2007.
“But we were really, really close I think because of the Salvation Army officership ministry and so on,” he said. “So when he passed away I always felt that I wanted to do something to commutate his life and the idea came shortly after that probably doing a marathon would be good.”
He said it was when he heard about the London Marathon he decided it was now or never.
“So I signed up for the London Marathon through the Salvation Army and then started preparing for the race probable a little less than a year prior,” he recalled.
Wayne said running has had a dramatic effect on his life.
“From a physical point of view, my weight at the time was 260 pounds, and through running for about five or six months I lost 80 pounds,” he said. “So it changed my life in that perspective.”
Through his training for the marathon, running serval times a day morning and night, it gave him an opportunity to exercise self-discipline, “and be able to reach a goal I never thought I’d ever accomplish.”
“I was pretty impressed with myself that I accomplished it and didn’t die in the process” he said with a chuckle.
Wayne completed the marathon in 4 hours 47 minutes. Also in doing the marathon, the marathon team for the Salvation Army fundraised 60,000 pounds or over $100,000 Canadian, for the Salvation Army to aid people dealing with addictions.
In March of the following year he competed in the Kilimanjaro Marathon, a 26-mile run up the base of the mountain. Like in the previous run, Bungay also fundraised $5,000 Canadian used to build two small churches in Tanzania.
“I’m hoping to do another run now in October here in Dar es Salaam with the Rotary Club, and might be able to raise a few more dollars to help go towards that.”