Sister Dorothy Almond
Dorothy was born in Westhead, Lancashire on 17 March 1925, with her twin sister, Margaret, to Walter and Martha Almond. She went to school in Westhead and Ormskirk before going to Southport Technical College for a secretarial course.
At the age of 15 she was confirmed in the Anglican Church and it was at this time that she felt God's call on her life to become a missionary in Africa.
She joined the Church Army and was sent to Tanganyika (later Tanzania) in 1956. Dorothy served in Mwanza, north-west Tanzania until 1960 when she moved to Kongaw in central Tanzania to join the staff of St Philip's Theological College. It was here that she spent 17 years (1960-65, then 1972-83) teaching and training Christian leaders for the Anglican, Lutheran and Moravian Churches, as well as taking the role of vice principal and principal for some of the time she was there. In between her time in Kongaw she worked for the Diocese in Morogoro.
Her close friend, Liz Tilley, remembers her commitment and energetic enthusiasm for the work of the college.
Liz went out to work with Dorothy at the college in 1980 and they also became neighbours, where Dorothy ran a large vegetable and fruit garden and also kept ducks and hens, milking goats and rabbits
Liz recalls the inspirational way Dorothy taught the New Testament, blending a good explanation of the text with an application to daily Christian life and ministry, which was so appreciated by her students. Liz says her prayer life and love of God’s work were such an inspiration and challenge even into her later years.
Dorothy moved to Msalto to teach theological students until she retired in 1988. Friends from that chapter in Dorothy’s life remember her setting about the overgrown garden of her allotted bungalow with vegetables and fruit soon being planted, as well as chicken and ducks soon being in residence, and a huge fish pond being dug and stocked with Tilapia. During this period the borders surrounding Tanzania were closed and so food was very scarce and so they lived off rice, tomatoes, wild spinach and occasional meat but visitors to Dorothy were offered fish or chicken and chips with strawberries and cream – Dorothy always treated her visitors.
Another friend recalled a visit they went on with Dorothy to Zanzibar, where they stayed in an old disused mission house and were advised to get their meals at a local café. At their first breakfast in the café there was a young Muslim man reading the bible so Dorothy started to talk to him. He said his Mullah (a Muslim learned in Islamic theology and sacred law), had suggested he and others read it and so he had done, but he had lots of questions. Dorothy in her perfect Kiswahili answered his questions and he asked whether they would be eating there again and they responded they would be having all their meals there. At each meal they found the café full of men, all silent, as the young man they had originally met asked many more questions. After this went on for two days Dorothy found a Christian bookshop and bought them all some literature.
Another memory was of a holiday in Malta, where Dorothy went with three other friends. It was during this holiday that she enjoyed her first latte commenting that it tasted good with cream cakes. There were four men on holiday at the same hotel and they nicknamed Dorothy and her friends as "the nuns on the run." Dorothy discovered they were lapsed Christians and so she got to work and by the end of their holiday their faith had been rebooted – they loved Dorothy and said they had never met such an amazing lady.
Dorothy's 32 years in Tanzania teaching the Bible left a huge legacy of great Christian leadership in the Tanzania church.
When she returned to England and settled back in her home town or Ormskirk she became an active member of the parish church, often preaching and leading a weekly bible study well into her late 80s.
She also contributed to the biblical knowledge of ministers of the Christian church throughout East Africa by writing a series of commentaries in excellent Swahili on books of the New Testament. She used her notes from teaching in the bible colleges in Tanzania to produce the commentaries for African Pastors Fellowship to produce and distribute amongst pastors and others in East Africa. On retirement Dorothy had taught herself computer skills to be able to do this. She was a determined lady with a real love and concern for the spiritual life and growth of pastors in East Africa. Her influence very much continues through these commentaries which are still in print and very much in demand.
Archbishop Donald Mtetemela said of Dorothy, shortly after her death:
"Her service in the church of Tanzania will always be honoured. She was a saint and godly person. She gave and gave and gave...just to see that those who were trained under her leadership came out as Godly men and women. Many of them had fruitful ministry in Tanzania."
Dorothy was awarded the MBE by the Queen in 1989.