Saturday, 30 May 2009

Six short impressions from the recent Uganda trip

Six members from our church went out to Uganda recently (please read their contributions below). At our Nexus evening service they all showed us one photo each and told us what it meant to them...
(NB: If you click on "HQ" the photos will actually show in a pretty decent quality!)




Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Sue Richardson's reflections

One of the team that recently visited Uganda with the Advisory board was Sue Richardson. Sue is a retired teacher and has been keen to become involved with Love Africa from the beginning. here are some of her thoughts and reflections....

Having just returned from Uganda, visiting the Love Africa projects, I cannot help but reflect on the wonderful people and children I met. People who had so little but so much. It has changed my perspective on life.

I remember the day when we left Soroti in Eastern Uganda to travel to Mbale the country’s second largest town. It was early morning many people were up and about walking or on bicycles, the red earth creating a cloud of dust every time a heavily laden truck roared past. The countryside with fertile rich soil was well cultivated with beans, maize, potatoes and cassava.

We were on our way to visit UWCM (Ugandan Women Concern Ministry) and Edith Wakumire who has a passion and a strong Christian belief to help the poor and needy. This ministry cares for women with HIV/AIDs and their children. They work within the community helping the vulnerable women by reconstructing housing, giving the necessary seed for planting and making them self sufficient where possible.

Edith, a larger than life Ugandan lady with an infectious smile, met us. After initial introductions we were ushered into vans for our trip to Bulaago, a village high up in the mountains and close to Mount Elgon. The road was narrow deeply rutted and up!

Eventually we reached Bulaago to be greeted by local women singing and dancing happy to hug and shake hands with us. Children stroked our skins – we were the first “white” people they had seen.

UWCM work through Community Mobilisation Teams (CMTs) and use volunteers mobilised through local churches to reach those in need in the community. A group of us went to see a grandmother and her five grandchildren. She had been widowed; her daughter had recently died from HIV/AIDs leaving her to care for the children. Her modest hut had burnt down but with UWCMs help the community had provided her with a new shelter. She was now able to care for the family. She had been given encouragement, hope and love to continue.

This truly was God’s Love in Action. It reminded me of James 2 v.5, ....has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him.

Edith was keen to show us the valley in which she had grown up, and once again children followed us. The view was spectacular and so beautiful. Our next stop was to view the new school building, which UWCM had funded. We stopped a football match to drive across the pitch!! Currently UWCM are working with five schools in the area, helping more children in villages by improving the rural schools. They focus on addressing health issues; training for teachers, improving the living conditions for teachers, and providing furniture and improved buildings.

Edith’s energy is limitless. The slogan on the back of the CMTs tee shirts is “Empower a woman and you empower a nation.” May the work of UWCM continue to help those women, children and people living with HIV and AIDs to live a dignified life, and may I never forget the wonderful work through Jesus Christ that they are doing.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Debbie Perrera has just returned from a recent Love Africa Projects visit...

During May 6 members of the St James Church family made a visit to the Love Africa Projects in Uganda. The team included three members of the recently formed Love Africa Advisory Board. The Board is there to give dispassionate advice to the Love Africa Steering Group as they develop relationships with our projects in a range of areas. The team also included one member of the Love Africa Steering Group, Debbbie Perrera who has been serving Love Africa with a very willing heart for some time but had never visited the projecst herself. Debbie was able to fund her visit with the help of neighbours and friends ....

REFLECTIONS OF A FIRST-TIMER

I have just come back from 9 days in Uganda visiting the 5 projects which Love Africa is currently supporting. This was my first experience of Africa; in fact, it was my first ever trip to a Developing Country.

The sights and smells were intoxicating – the countryside more beautiful than I had imagined - I had never been anywhere like it and the people so friendly – children would wave whenever we passed them in our van.


The first place we visited was the Pentecostal Assemblies of God in Soroti (about half way up on the eastern side) which runs a programme called PEP bringing church & community together. Communities take an active role in identifying their needs and being part of the solution, leading to a marked increase in self-worth and future capabilities.


We visited a community which had undergone the PEP Program and were working very hard to become self-sustaining. Their pride in what they had achieved (hand-dug wells, mosquito nets, latrines, kitchen gardens, AIDS training etc) was palpable and I felt that ‘the sky’s the limit’ for this community. I began to realise how important it is for the local church to act as the catalyst to empower communities to drive their own development.


Later we visited a Drinking Club in Nakibuyi where ACET volunteers were making a huge difference with life-skills training and I could see again that these people felt empowered and had pulled together to set up a small fund for the most needy in their village even though, to me, they all looked needy.

The lady pictured here, described how she took her one blue dress off at night and used it as a blanket to cover her children and then put it back on the next day.


I thought about my over-stuffed wardrobe at home. These were the poorest of the poor – even the adults had no shoes, yet they presented us with ten beautiful avocados when we left. I was reminded of the incident in Luke where Jesus saw a widow putting two small copper coins into the temple treasury…………’”I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”’ I was truly humbled to see this in action.

Throughout our time in Uganda I felt an immense love for our brothers and sisters there. I was only just beginning to realise the sacrifices they themselves were making in order to serve the poor as Jesus did. One might be forgiven for thinking that Africa’s problems are too complex to find a solution when one looks at the poverty, disease, corruption and the legacy of colonialism but the fact that we truly are brothers and sisters in Christ makes all the difference. It just cuts through the other stuff and bonds us together in Jesus’ love. This has to be the answer.
One highlight was going to Kampala Baptist Church on Sunday morning and worshipping in spirit and in truth as one family who will be spending eternity together. It was marvellous!

God broke my heart (again!) in Uganda and I pray that he will continue to break all of our hearts until we feel the pain of our brothers and sisters in Africa as our Heavenly Father does.