Thursday, 3 October 2013

Full-on Thursday

The team split into two groups today. Here is a combined report from Angela & Frank:

Frank begins  “The 4th day is tough, the adrenaline rush of being in Uganda is wearing off, the physical nature of the travel and the emotional engagement takes its toll. The day didn't start well at the "Desert Island Resort". Breakfast was not ready at 7.30AM as ordered, in fact there were only 5 slices of bread among 9 of us, yesterday’s sausages and cold beans. I feel a post on Trip Advisor coming on. The one member of staff who had not disappeared assured us that "the staff has gone to the shops to get her" which by 8.25 turned out to be eggs, turned into an omelette and another slice of bread.

We had allocated the groups the night before to UWCM, led by "Nigel", Angela and John, Noelle and Sheila, and to ACET Mbale Christopher, Kevin, Pastor Phil and Frank and travelled in our groups to Mbale. We were able to check in at the Mt Elgon where the team were fascinated by the Ikea furniture in the bedrooms, working showers and loos and internet. The helpful staff were able to pick up on the laundry where the Desert Island had left off, that is the Desert Island staff had for some reason washed our clothes but delivered them wet back to our rooms. Now all thankfully resolved.

So we split the day to ACET Mbale and UWCM and these experiences are reported by me and Angela.”

Angela wrote: “We went to the offices of UWCM and received a very warm welcome from Edith Wakumire and her team.  We met a team from Bristol who were on their exploratory trip to the UWCM.  We were given a presentation and then went to visit two examples of the CMT programme.  William was in charge of the office in the village where they were hiring out plastic chairs to raise funds for the community. We went to see a young woman, who had been orphaned in 2004. She had been supported by the village CMT project and had trained as a hairdresser.  She was now running her own hairdressers in the village. We then moved on to visit a lady who had lost her home, her husband and two children in the landslides.  The UWCM had supported her by helping her to buy a plot of land and the community had helped her to build a house.  This visit was very moving.  The house was immaculate.  The walls were wallpapered with newspaper.  The garden was full of vegetables she had grown and in a pen was a calf.  She had looked after a cow and when it had its calf, she was able to keep the calf.  She had had ten children and was now looking after eight children, including her nephew.  We prayed with this lady as she has a health issue.  She was an inspiration to us.
We then returned to the UWCM offices for a lovely lunch.  In the afternoon we went to visit a village community which was fully embracing the CMT project.  We watched a very moving drama and shared Bible passages.  We were privileged to be part of the presentation of gifts to the needy members of the community - including mattresses, cooking utensils and school writing books. We also heard about the savings scheme enabling the purchase of animals, etc and 60% of the interest charged is given back to the community particularly to support those living with HIV and AIDS. We then went to visit a grandmother who had just been widowed.  This was a very moving visit.  The UWCM had supported the grandmother in her claims to a very small house. It had no garden and her daughter and granddaughters were living with her.  We prayed with her and left feeling very sad that we were leaving this grieving woman in this state of poverty.  We were just pleased that at least she had the roof over her head.
We then headed back to the hotel to meet up a with the rest of the team.”

Frank reports: “The ACET group went with Emma to the ACET offices to meet Naomi, Janet and Abigail (an intern). Interestingly these girls were all beautifully turned out for the visit in dresses and heels while the men from St James arrived grubby in dust stained trousers and shirts. Naomi gave us a presentation on the work of ACET Mbale which generated a lot of interest and discussion as she described the areas of intervention for ACET, e.g Lifeskills training in schools, currently 47 programmes ongoing, Mens drinking clubs support, currently 17, the GOOCH programme (guardians of our children's health) aimed at fathers skills in parenting, as an example. Naomi also presented the survey work Martha Williams had completed at ACET on the knowledge and attitudes to aspects of sexual health among girls in school hostels in Mbale. The work has been used to target new outreach programmes. One they highlighted is a board game for young people, like Monopoly, but based on knowledge of sexual health. ACET's real impact is in bringing together the knowledge of young people about sexual health with the skills to maturely respond to this information in the decisions they make in relationships

Then, off to the field. We drove for an hour or so out of Mbale into the foothills of Mt Elgon to a village called Bukabombwe where ACET has been active in a Church mobilisation project in a very small multi denominational community. ACET had run a PEP type process in the community based in the local Catholic Church. Out of this the community had defined various high priority areas for community action and income generation. ACET had seeded a pig project with the gift of 2 piglets. The deal is that the recipient of the piglets must give 2 of the litter to a neighbour to start their own pig project. From the original 2 piglets the community is now on the 4th generation and over 40 families have benefited. One family we visited had sold pigs and bought 2 cows.

Though this was a small community compared to Soroti the welcome was equally warm with speeches and an amazing couple of songs from an elderly lady in English then in the local language. The community Chair (Rose) was a wonderful sales person and we were persuaded to buy beads (only 2 pairs), baskets for the ACET ladies for Janet's proposed wedding and an enormous quantity of liquid soap and hair wash which the community produces which we will donate to Tumaini.

Again for the 4 of us the welcome and acceptance was humbling. The work of ACET using the PEP process showing the Biblical basis for community action is impressive and we felt blessed to share in it. We were offered "refreshments" boiled eggs and bananas ( spot on for the travellers) and deep fried liver from an unidentified animal (thanks to the ACET staff for eating this) to energise us to walk round the hilly village to inspect pigs, cattle and coffee plants. Phil was persuaded to play football with some of the local youth (as the youngest visitor) and then we were off down the mountain before dark, having to refuse dinner from the community.

Edith and Janet from UWCM were waiting for us at the hotel when we returned and ominously Edith told me she wanted to speak to me! We had a great time of fellowship over dinner for 15 (which taxed the Mt Elgon staff) with UWCM staff and ACET guys and Naomi. Naomi brought her 2 delightful daughters to meet us before dinner.

I sat down with Edith and Anastasia (Nasta) after dinner. Nasta has some great experience of leadership in the NGO field and turns out lives only 2 miles from the UWCM compound. She seems engaged and confident, Edith seems pleased and relieved to have found a new Director and we must hope and pray this is the right person.

Edith wanted me to communicate to the people of St James including Pastor Martini her appreciation for the support from St James, the faithful prayers and relentless interest and visiting which she appreciates so much, her message, please keep doing it! By the time I was finished with Edith the weary travellers had gone to bed, exhilarated and exhausted again from the emotion of seeing Gods love through Love Africa played out in the lives of people at an individual level, somewhat differently from yesterday’s community experiences at PAG Soroti.