Thursday, 20 May 2010

Beekeeping in Uganda – Assistance and Training

In May 2010 Tim Allen paid a return visit to Uganda. He takes up the story…

Last summer the Allen family (Tim & Janet, Olivia, Natasha and Ben) Ugandan children spent three weeks in Uganda (see report here). We all enjoyed a wonderful experience bringing home fond memories of the country and its people. Even before we returned home I promised myself to try and return and support the work ACET are doing by helping with the development of beekeeping as a means of alleviating poverty.

At the end of last year a group of beekeepers from St James began to meet to brainstorm and recommend the best way to establish one or more beekeeping projects. These meetings were very useful by identifying potential issues and difficulties and formulating appropriate approaches designed to avoid these problems.  Accordingly, my trip combined activities related to fact-finding, delivery of training and supply of equipment.

In the first week of my trip I travelled up to Gulu in the north of

Location of Gulu
Uganda where ACET have a small office (headed by Stella Ateko) which we had visited previously.  Stella, her team and I spent two days in a village within an area predominantly populated by family groups displaced by the LRA during the civil war (now thankfully over).

Pastor Richard receiving beekeeping equipment from Tim This photograph is of a variety of beekeeping equipment being handed over to Pastor Richard, the village’s local pastor.  At the end of the training the villagers agreed a plan to establish a small training apiary containing four to six hives to be followed by an expansion to around 100 hives in various apiaries in the fields surrounding the village.  The interest and ambition of the (potential) beekeepers attending was most encouraging.Gulu beekeepers

Location of Iganga

In my second week I travelled to Iganga to meet with a number of CFE (Centre for Evangelism) people. Over the two days of training I was able to demonstrate the use of the type of hive which has become popular in Uganda as well as giving an  introduction to the principles of beekeeping.

Finally I visited several of Iganga beekeepersthe farms -  which have already be chosen to receive the first batch of hives – to discuss the siting of the hives. The considerations that are most important relate to shade and temperature and to safe distance from houses and people. (African bees tend to be a lot more aggressive than the bees we have in England.)

Bishop Paul has expressed CFE’s strong desire to introduce beekeeping to all of the 70 or so parishes in his diocese and I have no doubt that the Iganga bee project will develop quickly and successfully.

I am now hoping to return to Uganda later this year to see how the work in Gulu and Iganga is progressing.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Love Africa Update – March 2010


Love Africa is an initiative of St James Church Gerrards Cross and Fulmer, UK, seeking to release the power of The Church to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS and to care for the poor.
The project was inspired by a visit by leaders from the two St James to the 2006 Willow Creek Leadership Conference at Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago. As part of the conference the U2 rock star Bono spoke about his work in alleviating poverty and challenged the Church about its involvement in poverty relief.
The Bono interview fuelled an already growing sense that God was calling the family of the two St James to respond. We embarked on a programme of evaluation and discernment with Tearfund which included an exploratory visit to Uganda in 2006.
Love Africa was launched in the autumn of 2007 to support five projects in Uganda, partnering with established local organisations experienced in mobilising local Churches to alleviate HIV/AIDs related poverty. Details on the individual projects are in the next section.

How Love Africa Functions

The Love Africa Steering Group (LASG) was formed in 2007 and is supported by an Advisory Board. LASG is responsible for supervising the projects, through recently appointed “project champions” and through building relationships with our partners in Uganda. The overall monitoring and evaluation of the projects is performed by our partners Tearfund and ACET (Aids Care Education and Training) Uganda
The members of the LASG are:
  • Martin Williams
  • Frank Armstrong
  • John Smiley
  • Jacky Hughes
  • Sue Gillespie
  • Nigel Young
  • Wendy Read
  • Debbie Perera
  • Bev Duery
  • Peter Mawditt
The projects each have recently appointed “project champions” who take responsibility for building relationships with the people in the projects and provide the first point of contact for the two St James Church family to the projects and vice versa and take the lead in the reporting of the projects’ progress.
In addition a number of Love Africa Teams with a broader membership from the two St James have been established to work across the projects as follows:
  • Prayer
  • Encouragement
  • Skills Sharing
  • Monitoring and Evaluation
  • Advocacy
  • Visits, Missions and Partner Liaison
Since 2007 there have been 13 groups (exposure, skill sharing and families) from the two St James visiting the projects in Uganda and visits from ACET, CFE and Tumaini to the two St James.

Funding Love Africa

The initial giving in November 2007 raised £230K and subsequent donations of £28K have created a total fund of £258K
To date 43% of the fund has been sent to the five projects and a further 49% is committed to the projects over the next year.
The breakdown of funds committed by project is shown in this figure
It is important to note that ACET provides substantial support, training and Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) to other projects, specifically CFE and Tumaini, while Tearfund, at no cost so far, provides M&E reports on ACET, PAG (Pentecostal Assemblies of God) Soroti and UWCM (Uganda Women’s Concern Ministries).
It is clear that another funding is needed in 2010 to continue support for the projects

Love Africa – What Next?

Jinja MeetingLASG has been critically evaluating the impact Love Africa has had on these five projects and has started the process of engagement with the projects on how we continue to build the relationships already established, or change them as the projects mature.
Edith of UWCMMembers of the LASG met with the leaders of ACET, PAG Soroti, UWCM and Tumaini in Jinja in Uganda on Sunday the 6th February 2010 to share the St James 20/20 Vision and consult with them about what’s next for Love Africa.
LASG is looking at the overall commitment to Love Africa under the following framework:
“Going Deeper” – building stronger relationships and supporting more of the same type of programmes within the individual projects
“Going Broader” – evaluating the possibilities and then, if appropriate, committing to new programmes within the five existing projects where the leaders have a clear vision and ideas for how Love Africa can be involved
“Going Further” – evaluating the mix of the five projects to determine if some current projects have achieved against the original proposals and are mature enough to continue with lesser or no support from Love Africa and if there are new projects with which Love Africa should engage
You can read the views of the leaders of Love Africa projects by following these links:

Tumaini Children’s home
Uganda Women Concern Ministry
Centre for Evangelism
ACET Uganda

Love Africa – what can I do?

Individually and collectively the LASG are passionate about the role the two St James can play in alleviating HIV/AIDS poverty in Africa and we would like to share that passion with the entire Church family and involve more and more people in time. Here is what you can do to be part of this incredible partnership:
Pray – we will be revitalising the opportunities for the Church Family to pray for the projects, communities and individuals Love Africa supports
Participate – we would like to mobilise the Church Family in new and different ways for Love Africa, e.g. would you consider joining a team, being part of a guest visit from Uganda; do you have a particular skill you feel you could share or even would you like to be part of an encouragement visit?
Give – Love Africa is built on relationships but we also need to provide financial support to the existing and potentially new projects as part of the “Deeper, Broader, Further” plan and the chance to give financially is part of the overall EquipSJ programme
LASG asks that you prayerfully consider what role God may be calling you to take in Love Africa. If you would like to talk with a member of LASG about Love Africa please leave a message at the Church office or contact anyone of us directly.

Pentecostal Assemblies of God in Soroti

Project Overview

PAG Soroti have developed an impressive programme called the Participatory Evaluation Process (PEP) which mobilises the local PAG Sorotichurch and its community to design, plan, implement, monitor and evaluate their own development process by taking them through a series of Bible studies which include the Feeding of the 5000, the Good Samaritan and the Call to be Salt and Light.

The community are encouraged to be involved in every part of theChildren at a PAG PEP project process from identifying and prioritising needs to implementing and evaluating solutions. The success of this approach comes from the sense of ownership and feeling of empowerment all participants receive.

PAG Soroti has experience in implementing this process successfully in various regions supported by both ACET and Tearfund.

Love Africa Support for PAG Soroti

Love Africa has committed to support a three year PEP Project which began in April 2009. The project focuses on HIV/AIDS mitigation in fishing communities within five PEP Parishes in the Bugondo area.

Bugondo in Soroti region

At 10%, Bugondo has one of the highest rates of HIV infection in the Soroti District. In a Baseline survey, 50% of the fishermen did not know the basic facts about HIV and 70% live on less than 34p per day.

These communities have already recognised their own vulnerability to HIV and this project is intended to scale up services for HIV prevention, treatment, care and social support to 5,500 fishermen, widows, orphans and people living with HIV/AIDS.

Progress to date

In the first six months of the project, an IEC Campaign was conducted using drama and radio talk shows which has resulted in an increase in the number of people coming for AIDS testing. There has been a 10% increase in awareness of the basic facts about HIV/AIDS and a reduction in the stigmatisation of those living with HIV/AIDS.

Forty counsellors have been trained to deliver voluntary HIV/Aids counselling and testing, 24 traditional birth attendants have undergone training to prevent mother to child infection and 15 psychosocial support counsellors have been trained in partnership with the AIDS Information Centre.

There has also been a considerable improvement in the economic livelihood of communities in the Bugondo area despite the recent drought since the communities are tackling their needs together according to PEP principles. The PEP Programme has also influenced the government into opening up a local clinic making it easier for HIV/AIDS sufferers to collect their medicines.

What’s next?

This project is still in its early stages but we can already see the positive impact of the PEP Programme in Bugondo. In the next six months the project aims to increase its scope by, amongst other things, training Home Based Care Givers and teaching modern farming methods to the fishermen.

Tumaini Children’s Home

Project Overview

The Tumaini Children’s Home is located in Kakira near Jinja and was

Map picture
started in 1996 as part of the Kakira Christian Centre by Pastor Nicholas Ong’amo and his wife Maria. The building project was started in 2004 and quickly grew beyond the capability of the support of the local Church. The home was conceived as a response of the local Church to the plight of orphans and vulnerable children in the local community.

The main industry in Kakira is the sugar cane plantation which employs many migrant workers who live in the local village. These workers are away from home for a period of months or years and take a local wife and have a family. When the man returns to his home he leaves behind the local wife and children creating a large population of at risk children. The mobility of the community has caused high levels of HIV infection. The home cares for 72 children aged about 5 to 17 years today

Love Africa Support for Tumaini

Love Africa became involved in 2008 in a two year project to support the upgrading of the building where the children live to include Tumaini children singing to visitors completing the roofing of the building, the ceilings, installation of electricity and an underground water system, and in addition to provide supplementary support for food for the children five days per month and some support for school fees. The project has been supervised by our partners in ACET Uganda.

Progress to date

The progress with the building has been slower than planned. The work to complete the ceilings is scheduled to be complete in February 2010 with the electrical work to follow. The water system is partially installed and the work on the roof is completed.

Martin and children at Tumaini There have been many visitors from St James to Tumaini, most recently Rev Martin Williams, Rector of St James and Dr Frank Armstrong, Chairman of Love Africa, in February 2010.

We have seen the children mature and benefit from the stable and loving environment provided by Pastor Nicholas and Maria. Everyone who visits is impressed by the warm Christian environment, the singing and the interest the children have in meeting visitors

Love Africa’s support of Tumaini has been a learning experience forTumaini children singing with St James visitors the Love Africa Steering Group and our partners ACET. Pastor Nicholas is a Godly man of great vision who places the welfare of the children first, but he is reluctant to adhere to plans and be supervised by ACET.

The LASG has taken the view that the welfare of the children is of primary importance and we should work to ensure that our goal of providing a safe, secure living environment, food security and support for education is achieved.

What’s next?

Pastor Nicholas is a man with great vision for Tumaini to include building a primary school (underway) for P1 and 2 and then extending this building to other primary school classes, a secondary school and facilities for boarding.

The LASG will consider ways we can go “deeper” and “broader” in our support of Tumaini in ways that build the capability of the school and increase self sufficiency rather than supporting new building programmes.

Uganda Women Concern Ministry (UWCM)

Project Overview

The Uganda Women Concern Ministry (UWCM) was founded in 1991 by Edith Wakumire, who had herself been orphaned as a child.

The mission of this organisation is to “holistically support women, children and People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWAs) to realise their potential and have control over their lives in order to eradicate poverty through capacity building, Christian faith-based work and creating an enabling environment.”

UWCM is based in Mbale in eastern Uganda. This is a mountainous area where most people live in a rural locality and rely on subsistence

Map picture
farming. As we know from recent catastrophic events in the area, it is prone to landslides during rainy seasons which result in many deaths as well as the destruction of crops and livelihoods. In addition, high illiteracy rates, poor access to health facilities, poor roads, large family sizes and HIV/AIDS all contribute to widespread poverty and suffering in the area.

The work and achievements of the UWCM within these communities have received global recognition and Kofi Annan presented Edith with the United Nations Development Programme award for her work on the eradication of poverty in 1998.

Love Africa Support for UWCM

Over the past few years, Love Africa has contributed towards the costs of church mobilisation projects led by the UWCM. The UWCM teams actively encourage, train and enable churches to reach out to their local communities by addressing physical as well as spiritual needs (holistic ministry).

Progress to date

A number of additional churches have been mobilised, through a variety of approaches, to engage with their local communities. UWCM has delivered a number of training programmes, such as HIV/AIDS awareness and counselling, marriage seminars and parenting courses.

The variety of support has ranged from educating local Sunday school teachers to the provision of goats to marginalized and child-headed families. This work has a direct impact on the lives of both Christians and non-Christians.

What’s Next?

Edith is clearly a woman of faithful ambition and vision. Her compassion and understanding of the requirement to meet bothEdith Wakumire physical and spiritual needs, has brought her alongside the suffering of the most vulnerable and marginalized. She has challenged and inspired volunteers from churches (sometimes referred to as “angels”) to physically search out and care for those most in need.

Our hope is that St James will have the privilege to continue to support the work of the UWCM as well as inviting Edith to come to the UK to teach us to do the same.

Centre for Evangelism

The Centre for Evangelism (CFE) is a registered church organisation run by Pastor Paul Lubaale and his dedicated team and is one of five projects supported through St James’ Love Africa vision.

CFE’s main office is located in Iganga.

Map picture
135 miles from the capital Kampala. Project implementation is carried out by the five centres shown below, each of which is responsible for the communities in its defined catchment area. CFE works through 76 churches located in the Iganga, Mayuge, Jinga, Kamuli, Kaliro, Naamutumba and Mukono districts of Eastern Uganda.


Centre Name


Centre Leader




Patrick Kasango




James Zironda




Fred Balazawa




Annet Waiswa




Simon Bogere

Communities in this part of Uganda are characterised by peasant agriculture, widespread poverty and disease, low household income, illiteracy, high unemployment and food insecurity. ACET (AIDS Care, Education and Training) provides support and assistance to CFE in its work.

CFE’s energies are focused upon the social, economic and welfare CFE project photo board needs of vulnerable families and those living with HIV/AIDS in rural communities. These include widows, orphans, child headed households, and elderly grandparents caring for orphans.

Its main goal, as part of a holistic Gosepl ministry, is to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS and to improve the lives of those already affected and restore their dignity and hope. This is achieved through empowering the church and community support systems to provide appropriate responses to the HIV/AIDS challenge.

CFE projectsCFE’s development model encourages communities to become agents of change, owning and driving their response to the HIV/AIDS challenge in an accountable and gender sensitive manner.

The project’s key objectives are to:

  • Scale up information, education and communication for HIV /AIDS prevention in the five target centres.
  • Increase income generation and food production capacity for 100 target households.
  • Promote education and welfare for orphans and vulnerable CFE projectschildren and health care for persons living with HIV/AIDS in the supported households and communities.
  • Strengthen community support systems and increase the number and capacity of actors in HIV/AIDS work.
  • Increase the capacity of CFE to intervene in the area of HIV and AIDS and other development spheres.
  • Monitor, evaluate and document project implementation and achievement of objectives.

CFE has made good progress against these objectives and achieved much over the two years since its activities began in the five centres shown above. Positive changes have been seen in the lives of the people covered by its initiatives and the churches in areas around the CFE churches have also benefitted.

Some of the highlights include:

  • Training of church leaders by the Nakabugu Centre, who were inspired and challenged to begin responding to HIV and AIDS in their congregations and communities. Training included discussion about the reasons why there were minimal or no responses to HIV and the role the church could play.
  • Mobilisation and training of teachers from different schools, by the Nakabugu Centre. The teachers were challenged to either begin, or scale-up their efforts to address issues of HIV in their schools. Training included the role that teachers could play, the basic facts about HIV and the need to strengthen partnership in order to address children and community challenges.
  • Training and support of households targeted by different CFE Centres to start income generating projects that could help improve their livelihoods. The focus of the training and support was on basic business management techniques and profitability.
  • Increasing the access to anti-retroviral (ARV) therapy for people living with HIV as well as the provision of transport to health facilities, counselling and information sharing, to help sufferers deal with stigma and problems of access to treatment.
  • A dramatic reduction in stigma and prejudice as a result of CFE’s initiatives.
  • Evidence that child headed households, who have been helped by the success of CFE’s initiatives, have become agents of change in their communities.
  • Hosting a Global Alpha Leadership (GAT) programme for 65 Pastors in January 2010 that was led by a team from St James.

ACET (Aids, Care, Education and Training) – Uganda

Project Overview

ACET has a threefold mission to:

  1. Influence the national response to the HIV/AIDs pandemic and to act as a catalyst for the development of appropriate responses to the pandemic across levels in the country and across society.
  2. Build the capacity of the Church and civil society organisations to sustain responses to HIV/AIDs at national and internationally.
  3. Provide psychosocial support to young people through life skills education.
ACET Management team

The senior team consists of a core of highly capable people each of whom has significant years of service within ACET. David Kabiswa is the Director, Paul Kabunga, the Deputy Director and Programme Manager, Emma Sakira, Resource Provider Manager and Daudi Talima the Senior Trainer.

Love Africa Support for ACET

St James is funding a three year capacity building programme based on the concept of a “Centre of Good Practice” which touches three of Tearfund’s five niche areas, namely:

  • Support Services for widows and orphans, including savings and loans associations and income generating activities
  • Addressing stigma and discrimination through church and community mobilization
  • Behaviour change among young people, including life-skills education, peer education and working with men.

Within the Centre of Good Practice are three main elements:

  1. Increasing the capacity of faith-based and other organisations to deliver training and provide appropriate resources – Train the Trainer.
  2. Increasing the capacity of faith-based organisations to develop and implement effective, aligned and harmonised responses to HIV/AIDs – direct training by ACET with other Christian organisations, schools etc.
  3. Engaging with faith-based organisations to influence national HIV/AIDs policy – Strategic input.

Progress to Date

Over the last two years St James has supported development and programmes in all three of these areas. Taking each area in turn the following has been achieved:

1. Train the Trainer
  • A prospectus for all ACET’s training courses has been developed and used in its consultancy offering alongside the development of a marketing strategy to publicise ACET’s capabilities.
  • Key training manuals have been revised and new products developed including a Christian manual for Life-skills Education.
  • ACET has also developed the capacity of four of its own staff to deliver training alongside the senior trainers Daudi and Paul.
  • A website to disseminate best practice is being developed and St James is committed to further help in this project building on the skills sharing work done in September 2009.
2, Direct Training
  • ACET has conducted church and community mobilisation courses as well as life-skills education courses for about 600 young people including peer educators who have the capacity to reach many more thousands of young people.
  • It has provided organisational support and technical training for over 120 churches including churches within CFE, e.g. it has trained 28 pastors to organise home-based care.
  • Best practice projects have been identified in each of the three Tearfund niche areas. Some have been written up for the website for further dissemination e.g. the positive lifestyle and faith impact of the 25 Drinking ClubsMen from drinking club at Mbale. ACET is one of the few organisations working in this difficult area of behaviour change in men. There is also a write up of Savings and Loans Association work which ACET is piloting in Northern Uganda.
  • Training for Tearfund partners across Uganda on ‘Impact Mitigation of HIV among children’, plus programmes for Compassion International and Christian Aid.
3. Policy Contribution
  • ACET is engaged in influencing policy at national level in Uganda with the Ministries of Health and Education.
  • In June 2009 ACET was elected onto the Steering Group of CaRNaC – Children at Risk National Collaboration involving Christian organisations that are responding to the issues of children. Membership includes the African Evangelistic Enterprise, World Vision, Compassion International and the Scripture Union.
  • ACET is also involved as a member of the Steering Committee for the SAVE Conference organised through the Friends of Canon Gideon Foundation in partnership with Christian Aid to focus on prevention of HIV and to keep this subject high on the national policy making agenda. ACET was responsible for leading the East Africa team to propose a framework to be used to address HIV issues in these countries.
Next Steps

ACET will continue to work in all three of these areas. It is responding to the changing face of the pandemic, particularly the spread of HIV infection in married couples, by developing materials for church leaders to talk about sex and sexuality within the context of marriage and by providing materials for churches to set up their own HIV programmes.

ACET also plans to help churches in and around Kampala adopt the PEP methodology which has been developed so effectively by PAG. In addition it will develop new training courses for use by teachers in schools and a course for 100 head teachers to help them roll out HIV programmes in their schools.

ACET will also engage with a KAB (Knowledge, Attitudes and Behaviours) survey with its own and Tearfund projects to measure improvements in people’s physical, material, emotional and spiritual well being. Best practice learning from these activities will be shared to ensure maximum strategic impact and links with research institutions are being developed to deepen understanding of emerging trends.

Further engagement in national policy making forums and with international faith based organisations is planned to ensure continuing strategic influence on the prevention of HIV/AIDS infection and the alleviation of its effects for those who have the disease.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Mbale Mudslide Update

Frank Armstrong writes...

"Information on the developing situation in Mbale is reaching us from various sources.
The latest information from the BBC describes the scale of the response that will be needed in the Mount Elgon region in Mbale.
Peter Mawdit, a member of the 2 St James and the Love Africa Steering Group has provided this report on the current situation
Edith Wakumire, the leader of UWCM in Mbale sent an email last night explaining she will visit the areas effected today (Thursday) and provide a further update
We have assured our partners in Uganda of our continued prayers for their work, the people affected and the aid effort, and again, that Love Africa will try to be ready to respond to other needs they identify and feel we could support
Your prayers at this time are deeply appreciated"

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Letter From ACET in Mbale Mudslide region

Good to hear from you and pray for a safe journey back to the UK.
The situation continues to be grim. It has been very difficult to access the area and they are still using rudimentary tools to dig up those are now believed to be dead. The News paper have also painted a picture of despair.

We have finally been in contact with Stephen who had moved deeper into the communities to support who his people. He is fine and is yet to ascertain how the church family is. People are still scattered and not sure whether their relatives are dead or displaced.
Achilles was able to go to the general area abut 13km from the community that was had hit and limited by the roads. It is boda bodas that can get closer.
The prayer concerns are
  • That the weather holds and the limited access is not cut off completely
  • God comforts those who lost their loved ones and shows them brighter days.
  • That disease outbreaks do not occur seeing that the wet conditions have accelerated decomposition of the dead and everything finally ends up in the Manafwa river which also serves Mbale town.
  • The Church will find wisdom and courage as it supports those that have lost all the people that they ever knew (relatives).
  • Pray for the children who were not able to get home and survived but have lost all their family
  • The politicians have also used the opportunity to mudsling which could derail the government on focusing on helping the communities
  • The rains are still expected to come down in torrents ans so the communities are traumatised by the whole situation with exoduses of communities to new areas- pray for comfort
  • We are thankful to God for those that survived and especially those we know and work with-Stephen and those that are involved with Edith's ministry

The people who survived lost everything they ever owned. Displaced people's camps are now the new phenomenon. This will definitely have its own challenges since it requires skills for handling emergencies.
Achilles has started collecting clothes s for the people who are wearing the only asset that they now posses when they survived death.
Achilles sent me some pictures of a truckful of coffins driving through a heavy down pour in the village. He says these people had an opportunity to give their loved ones a dignified burial!! It has been emotional draining to imagine what is going on. Have had many thought s attaching it

Friday, 5 March 2010

Mudslides In Mabale

Frank Armstrong; Chair of the Love Africa Steering group writes...

News reached the 2 St James from ACET Uganda on Thursday 3rd March of the disaster in Mbale. Love Africa has two major projects in the region, one with ACET Uganda who run community mobilisation projects and the second with Uganda Womens Concern Ministry led by Edith Wakamere who run a number of Church mobilisation projects.

Views of the region recently taken by a St James team

We spoke to Paul Kabunga of ACET Uganda who briefed us on the situation as follows,

Following heavy rains there were mud slides in the Bududa region on the slopes of Mt Elgon These mud slides covered many villages. The death toll has been estimated at over 300 people, though the numbers may never be known, families have been separated and many people have lost their homes and possessions. Reports from local papers are attached

The reporting of the disaster has been low key in the UK with a couple of items on the BBC web site

One oF Edith Wakumire's Community Mobilisation teams in the Mt Elgon region

Many people from the 2 St James have visited the projects in Mbale with ACET and UWCM and have travelled up to the mountain villages, e.g. Bulago.

Paul has reported that none of the communities that Love Africa has been involved with have been directly affected and he will keep us up to date with news and requests for support.

The family of the two St James will clearly want to support the victims of the Mbale disaster – what can we do?

1. Pray for the victims – we have asked Paul to provide specific prayer request but meanwhile we should pray for the needs of the victims and the aid workers.

On the 3rd March the Psalm reading from the Bible in a Year programme was Psalm 46, verses 1-6 which can provide a focus for our prayers

1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
4There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8Come and see the works of the LORD, the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire.
10 Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.
11The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress

2. Participate – we have asked Paul and Edith to suggest to Love Africa any specific financial support we can offer, or other practical support and we are waiting for a response. E.g. Many people have lost all their homes and possessions and still more people will want to move from their villages which are in areas at risk of further mudslides

3. Give – If you want to give directly to Tearfund to help them support ACET as they assist in the relief work you can send a cheque to them c/o Tim Raby made out to Tearfund. Their address is Tearfund 100 Church Road Teddington TW11 8QE their website

Our hearts go out to these people who are generous and joyous in their faith

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Rwandan Surprises Martin Williams

As part of my month away break in East Africa I found myself in Rwanda. I met with the head of Tearfund Rwanda - Emmanuel - who kindly took me out to supper. As we spopke about the healing of his country still in process after the 1994 Genocides he told me about the spread of HIV/AIDS in Rwanda and especially in Burundi. He began to tell me all about the PEP (Participatory Evaluation Programme) that uses biblical material to help churches become the catalysts of transfoprmation and chaneg for AIDS stricken communities. He told me how powerful it is. He told me that in Burundi now that so much international aid is cut of due to corrupt government the churches running PEP was the only hope the country had of stifling the spread of HIV/AIDS.

The Rwanda Genocide Memorial at Nyamata near Kigali. The rebels were there slaughtering Tutsis for 3 days!

What he did not know until I told him later was that St James was helping Tearfund to fund the development through Love Africa and roll-out of PEP which originated in a PAG church in Soroti on Uganda. It was a huge affirmation and encouragement to hear how much faith and hope he had in the PEP prgramme. PEP really is an extraordinary move of God; and we are involved in supporting it.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

John Monaghan reflects on a highlight of the GAT trip: Leading Worship

As vain as it sounds - a worship leader's highlight being the worship – I was truly honoured to be swept along with a tide of some of the most exuberant, expressive and heart felt corporate worship that I have ever encountered. It was most certainly ticking the all boxes of loving and praising God with ‘heart, soul, mind and strength (Luke 12)’.

One of my concerns going on this trip was that I would not have any time to exercise. However, little did we realise that corporate sung worship in Uganda involves more than just moving one’s jaw bone.

Church servicePicture the scene – it’s Sunday morning 10.30am. The GAT team arrive at a church - the congregation are already in full swing and we’re expected…

It’s Pastor Paul’s church and as his honoured guests we have been given pride of place at the front with our very own table decorated with flowers (I was hoping to sneak in the back unnoticed).

Just before we prepare to sit at the table, I am cornered (metaphorically) by Pastor Paul and kindly requested to return to the van to get my guitar and I graciously walk back to the van to carry said instrument back into the church (no time for band rehearsals here!).

Exuberant worship We join with the rest of the congregation and are led by the worship group in singing and praise and adoration. I’m also intrigued by the ‘tag-team’ worship that’s going on… the musicians are to the left of the stage, the ‘worship-leaders’ are all female singers, beautifully dressed along the centre of the stage. I stress the fact that there were ‘worship-leaders’ because they would take it in turns to lead a few songs each and then pass the baton (the ‘microphone’) and continue in seamless worship. No music, no sheets, no projectors and yet 100% participation!

The songs we sing are beautifully simple and meaningfully repetitive, in part because it’s much easier to remember the words that way, but also I think they speak straight from the heart. One song comes to mind ‘Things (are) already better when the Lord is on the throne…’. I get a sense as we sing these simple words that people are reminding themselves that they are a part of God’s salvation story and growing in the living hope that they have in their personal faith with Jesus. ‘Things (are) already better…’ , Jesus is making a difference to these people in their everyday lives and they are joining together on a Sunday to say thank you. I sense their warm welcome, I already feel a connection with these people, I want to call them my brothers and sisters. There is a strong feeling of deep fellowship here. I sense I’m in the midst of an ‘Acts 2’ community whose members depend on each other for physical, emotional and spiritual health. I feel moved by God’s love in the room and suddenly I look down and my feet are moving to the tune of Michael Jackson’s ‘Blame it on the boogie’ (I just can’t control my feet…). I don’t want this to end.

The moment comes and I’m asked to come and lead the church in a few songs. No time to tune up. A member of the congregation comes up and acts as my mic-stand. My mind is racing to remember the few Luganda songs (their native dialect) that I learned from a CD given to me by Pastor Paul previously. Quick silent prayer. I glance at the exits of the church in case I’m mobbed by angry parishioners. IJohn Leads worship at Pastor Paul's church mouth over to the musicians (looking at me in a kind and sympathetic way) that I’m playing in the key of ‘G’.

Off we go!

I’ve never led worship in another language. First line of first verse over and I see the expressions of the congregations faces light up – ‘jackpot’! - the place erupts and I’m feeling so glad that I drove my wife half-mad by listening to these Luganda songs over and over in our kitchen. I start to appreciate the benefits of having a moving mic-stand (I think his name was Andrew) as I’m able to dance and feel a little like King David dancing before the Lord (although more modestly dressed than a single linen ephod). We all enjoy a taste of the royal banquet that is yet to come. More of that back home Lord!

Gill Headington writes about her Highlights

One of my highlights was connecting with the people that we met, especially the women. Di and I spent a lot of time with several lovely Di with Ugandan teamladies at the Alpha training and they were all very warm gracious people  who are very faithful in spite of their difficult lives.

I was quite apprehensive on the visits to the “Center for Evangelism” (CFE) because I had expected to see much suffering.  We met many women who were widowed with four or five children, and many of them were HIV positive.

The village gathering They had been helped by CFE in many ways, and what I saw were empowered, confident women who were now able to feed their children and who were part of a close community, and part of God’s family.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Global Alpha Training Visit to Iganga in January 2010

Who Went?

Leaving Heathrow Di Rowlandson, John Monaghan, Simon Dust ( Vicar from St Andrews, High Wycombe ) Gill Headington, Tony Robinson and Paul Sillett.

Why did we go?

  1. To help train seventy six church leaders from the region of Iganga on how to run an Alpha course. This was a challenge as they had not yet attended an Alpha course.
  2. To visit some of the Love Africa projects from the Centre for Evangelism in Iganga that some of these leaders are working with.

What did we do?

Church service We were hosted by Pastor Paul Lubale the leader of the Centre for Evangelism who organised the training conference with the Alpha Uganda team. He visited St James in November when he came to our three Alpha courses to understand better how Alpha works.

It was a joy to worship in his church and the congregation loved theJohn singing lin Lucanda songs John had learnt to sing in their language Lucanda.

The three day conference was attended by church leaders from the Centre for Evangelism and many different denominations in the region of Iganga. It covered practical subjects The conference centre such as What is Alpha ? How to lead a small group, How to give the talks on Alpha but also five demonstration sessions from the Alpha course so that the delegates could experience Alpha. Each of the team helped to coach a small group of delegates over the conference on how to facilitate the small groups. It was encouraging to see them grow in confidence with this new skill. Delegates queuing for lunch Towards the end of the conference the Alpha Uganda team helped the delegates begin to think through an action plan for how they were going to start running Alpha in their area. They are running a follow up training event in March to continue to develop this.

We pray that God will continue to water the seeds that were sown and trust that they will continue to bear fruit.

We spent two days visiting some of the projects supported by Love Growing food from seed Africa in this area. It was encouraging to hear some of the ways that this help is making a difference. We heard from widows who had been trained to grow their own food and given seeds so that now they had enough food for their communities and could begin to sell some of their produce and start putting money in the bank.

It was moving to hear from young men in the child-headed household projects who had looked after their younger siblings from the age of twelve and were now in secondary education and hoping to become teachers.  We thank God for the privilege of working in partnership with these brothers and sisters in Christ from the Centre for Evangelism to help bring the Good News of Jesus to these communities in Iganga.

Group in Iganga