Blogging with @Tearfund for #TFBloggers

Last year I went to Uganda with #TFBloggers, as we sought to share stories of the work that Tearfund does, to encourage others to support it. For 2014, there’s an opportunity for 3 more bloggers to visit Cambodia and share the work that is done there:

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Entries will be open from December 9th to January 5th – see the Tearfund site for how to enter.

#TFBloggers in @churchtimes by @davewalker

http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2013/22-march/features/features/putting-uganda-in-the-picture

http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2013/22-march/features/features/putting-uganda-in-the-picture

An extract from the article:

That said, finding a use for my cartooning skills here has been incredibly difficult. It feels as if most cartoons, especially those involving any comparison between aspects of life in Uganda and the UK, would be inappropriate. Although, perhaps, a better cartoonist would manage it. There is plenty of humour being shared by the people, but I would need to stay longer than a week to begin to be a part of it.

There are many aspects of this trip which I want to remember: not least, some of the lessons learned. Chief of these is to be slow to complain about difficulties in my life, when I have so much; and to remember that a great deal can be made from just a little.

Read whole article (including my photo credit for Dave on a bike!)

Daily Audio Reflections from #TFBloggers

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Listen Here (MP3) – 5 days, around 3-4 minutes a day. We were in the dining room – that’s what blogging on the move does for you – it’s a bit raw, we were quite tired, and doing this on the hoof, but listening back to it, I think it’s great what was captured each day.

See #TFBloggers page on Tearfund, and don’t forget to check out the project we saw parts of. CODEC has now bought the same machine to encourage more of these kind of ad hoc conversations – now to decide on some topics…

We Met: Grace #TFBloggers

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Grace highlighted that PEP had taught her that it’s important to stand up tall as an individual, and that you are the answer to all/most of the problems that you have.

Her child had some charcoal to sell, worth less than 50c, and she thought she couldn’t do anything with such a small amount of money, but was able to harvest and dry some cassava. She wanted to turn this into bread but needed some cooking oil (about 1500UGS), but only had 800 from what had already sold. She asked a shop owner for a loan for oil, bought sugar/bananas, and took what she baked to market. She was able to clear the debt and buy more things to make/sell.

Baking is time consuming, as need to be up early to bake, and then take it to market. She had reached 8000Sch, and decided to change business, also selling the millet she had to have a total of 16000Sch. She bought small fish to sell (which she does at 1000Sch a cup), and formed a savings group with others in the village. She never told her husband how much she had saved until she had 390,000UGS – enough to buy a cow – which has now produced 2 calves.

Last year she had a break in the business as she was pregnant, so decided to buy 2 pigs. She then sold one pig, and the other has produced piglets. She finished by saying (or the translator did) that she no longer needed to dress in rags, but could look smart all the time (and she does!).

This is the last in the “We Met” series, although I have plans for a handful more #tfbloggers posts.

We Met: Philip #TFBloggers

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 Before PEP, Philip has a wide, children and land, but was digging other peoples land to earn month rather than his own. PEP challenged him to think about this and he started to develop his own land.

Philip started by growing cassava and groundnuts – and as a result getting his children through school which is a very big change in lifestyle, especially as he is growing in his own “garden” not others. He has grown so many groundnuts he has now been able to buy sheep, of which he has many, and has also been able to purchase Oxen, so ploughing is no longer a problem.

We Met: Jennifer #TFBloggers

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When Jennifer came for PEP training, she was told that as a housewife she shouldn’t be sitting back and waiting for her husband to feed her, but should put self to work, making oil, etc in order to make money to contribute to the family.

She “put the knowledge into action”, harvesting cassava, which once sold she decided to move into growing/selling tomatoes, also some fishing. She now has chickens in the home, and increasing the number of those means that she’s now been able to buy 2 goats, and continues to expand.

Food is no longer a problem as she can eat whatever she wants as she can grow it, and the school fees and ‘scholastic materials’ can be purchased for the children. She is incredibly thankful for PEP.

#BigRead13: Day 22: Fix

#LentPhotos today asks us to look at “the road ahead” – so I looked back to our first full day in Uganda, where we spent much of our time bouncing along badly made roads, but was also reminded of the fact that we were going to engage with a different culture… and this poster opened our eyes to one aspect that we hadn’t realised – many Ugandan men spend much of their time drinking, and then beating their wives – a huge problem – and one that PEP was taking huge steps to change:

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#BigRead13 Thoughts

Today’s Bible verse:

King James 2000 Bible (©2003)
Looking unto Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)

And now am I confused between ‘Fix’ and ‘Turn’ – although either is about focusing on Jesus, rather than on the things that annoy us (she says, having been a bit of a Mrs Grumpy Pants this morning):


I don’t know about you, but I’m always so busy, I keep forgetting at important times – been a real encouragement to be in a place where that is the first thought of many! We always think we have a solution, but reminder to self – and the point of #notbusy – take time to be (hence why am being encouraged to do a short day today!)

@40Acts

An interesting one today – to go and hug someone (whether they need it or not – but thankfully not whether they want it or not!). I used to hate being hugged, but I’ve a very good friend who overcame that, and now I don’t mind with most people! I’m not sure I’d want to go out giving free hugs, but I like the idea of small acts of encouragement – and I give smiles away like they are going out of fashion much of the time!

Brian Draper: Lent 40

I am my beloved’s,
And his desire is for me
.” (7.10 NASB)

Brian reflects upon Brennan Manning who spent 30 days just engaging with these 2 lines on a silent retreat – at the end of which he said:

‘The drumbeats of doom in your head will be replaced with joy in your heart, which could lead to a twinkle in your eye … you will not be dependent on the company of others to ease your loneliness … the praise of others will not send your spirit soaring, nor will their criticism plunge you into the pit … You will move from I should pray to I must pray … You will live with an awareness that God not only loves you, but likes you … You will stop comparing yourself with others … And off and on throughout the day you will just know that you are being seen by Jesus with a gaze of infinite tenderness.’

Other

Pam: If we do not want judging on what we might have done in the past, we should give others the same privilege.

Every day: #Do1nicething Lent Challenge today – Catch a bus (#Do1NiceThing for the environment) and say thank you to the bus driver

#LiveLent: Bishop Stephen Cottrell on a good way to live out today’s #livelent challenge to be a good neighbour http://bit.ly/YSE6wo Please don’t forget that in the modern world we have restricted our notion of neighbour to the geographical one – they are important, but the digital allows a much wider spectrum of neighbours!

We Met: Pastor Syrio #TFBloggers

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Again, Pastor Syrio referred to the fact that PEP encourages you to work with what little you have, but to look at it in a more ‘resourceful light.  He had running water, but it was wasted – just running off.

He decided to build a channel which directed the water to a store (for dry times – which this time is apparently a bit too dry – they are expecting rain very soon),  and also planted around the source as the soil is well-irrigated there. He uses the area to plant vegetables to feed the community, but he’s still supplying vegetables, and water for those making bricks for their houses.

We Met: Philemon #TFBloggers

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Philemon was another keen supporter of PEP, and demonstrated how it had helped them to see what they could do with the little that they already had. He started by growing some cassava, and when the last team visited the village, he has just managed to buy a plot of land. He’s now started building, and is sleeping in a (part-built) house on that land.

As with many others, he used the term “PEP was an eye opener”, giving knowledge that was implementable – and he noted that he is already ready to sell the cassava they he’d bought.

We Met: John Julias #TFBloggers

John Julias showing us his calves

John Julias showing us his calves

John Julias is one of my favourite people to meet on this trip … incredibly welcoming and incredibly enthusiastic about PEP – having attended the first training session feeling that they were poor people, and that was how they were destined to remain – there was nothing they could do to break the cycle. PEP made him realise that he was already living in a fertile land, and that more could be done with agriculture and animals. 

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With the money he has managed to save – and he lives in a typical mud hut – he has managed to get one son through University, and another is almost finished. It was quite interesting to see him laughing at the web address on our truck, and say that no, he’s never used the internet, but his sons will show him once they have good jobs (although he’s then worried about unemployment). John Julias does have pretty good English!

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John Julias has a crop of groundnuts that he’s waiting to sell (for good prices) to pay the rest of the University fees (around 1.5million UGS – which is nearly £400 – huge for these guys). He hopes that what they have started with PEP will continue and they will continue to get a good income. He and his wife have done slightly different things with PEP – she saved for goats and then a cow – which has now calved/gives them milk. They have also been breeding sheep – as for every 10 sheep, he can get a cow. We then went to have a look at his farm – great to see how proud he is of his achievement.

We Met: Isaac #TFBloggers

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On Saturday we visited our final village,  and the first story that we heard was from Issac. He talked about how he had used the knowledge given in the PEP training sessions to translate into action, and the progress we can see with him is easy to see. He started by growing and selling greens, and then moved onto oranges.

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When the previous team came to the village to see what he had done, they visited his house – the first brick-built house in the village – which had been built to window height. He has now put the roof on (unfortunately had to have a cheaper gauge metal, as decided to follow the PEP model of work with what you have). He still needs to put the finishing touches – e.g. doors, windows, but he’s hoping it won’t be too long, but dependent upon crop prices. He now has a business that buys and sells cassava.

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We visited his plot of land, and went to visit the first brick-built house we’ve seen inside all trip. There’s 4 main rooms – 1 for the children (2 girls, I think), 1 for the parents, and 1 for living? Plus a “visitor’s room” and an area for washing. A good number of oranges are growing on his trees, and Isaac seemed very phlegmatic about how long it would take to finish the building “let’s see what we get for crops”. 

Isaac was also the only person we met who wanted to (or had ability to) take photos of us – with his mobile phone, so we asked a bit about his phone. He’s purchased a phone for business connections – whereas before he would have had to walk/ride to negotiate prices/selling, etc. he can now do this easily with a telephone call, before transporting anything. He doesn’t have a smartphone, but a “cheap Chinese phone”, which he rarely uses for personal use, but helps him make more money for his goods. His phone can hold 3 days charge, and he takes it ‘up the street’ to someone who charges him 500 (about 12p?) for a full charge.

We Met: Martin #TFBloggers

Martin is somewhere in this crowd - it was too dark to capture him individually

Martin is somewhere in this crowd – it was too dark to capture him individually

Martin started his story at the age of 16, when he was an orphan, and was used to sell his labour out to quarry stones. He would help others on their land with Oxen, and then be able to use the Oxen on his own land in return. He got married as the PEP scheme started.

He was wary of another scheme where names were collected, as these were often followed by requests to ‘pay up’. He noticed that those who have been in the camps still have an NGO mindset – awaiting handouts. He now has land for trees, which he can also use for timber. With 3 children, he’s now able to put them all into paying education. 

We Met: Margaret #TFBloggers

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Before PEP, many in the village were expectant that the Pastor could be lent upon for help, many didn’t know how to do things for themselves, and her husband was not able to provide for the family.

Margarent looked at the resources that she had – realized that she had a tree from which she was able to produce oil, and then grew cassava for flour, and therefore produces bread.

Where they lived didn’t have good sanitation, so the kids got sick, and any money she was making was going on medication, and they were back to no money. She undertook a range of lessons at PEP, and took those back to her husband to discuss with him, and they started to find new ways to a small business, and self-sufficiency.

Margaret took us to visit her bakery, and gave us some bread to try… quite hard, looks quite like cornmeal, but tastes OK.

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We Met: Abdul #TFBloggers

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Abdul is a Muslim, one of the leaders in the PEP process. Joseph (our driver) had challenged him through some role play – a common tool used as part of the PEP process.

His parents had chosen his wife, whom he divorced from in the middle of the LRA insurgency, so he decided to join the army – but this was not well paid – he needed money for himself, his mother, and the children he’d had with his wife. He still desired another wife so he left Aruiw… starting with 3 bags of peanuts, he managed to turn them into 9 bags of peanuts (not entirely sure when this was).

When he met the woman who was to be his new wife, he had to be open that he had another family to support, and not enough for a dowry – not even an egg, but promised that if they got married, they would work together to solve things. The father had a plan to sell his animals to buy a plot, so he agreed to purchase two of the cows, with a further one from a government programme, whilst he lived with the in-laws-to-be. Some of the family weren’t happy with this, but they managed like this for 3 months.

At this time he came to a PEP meeting, and started to think how can he make more use of what he has, cleared his land including pasture for a goat. He is now married and saved enough to send his wife to tailoring school, so she can contribute more to family income. He wants to make a house, and plans to use the anthills to make bricks.

He has been elected chairman of the PTA, is choosing to live by example, and also works with the reconciliation committee – formerly he couldn’t work with Christians who were fearful of Muslims – but they have emphasized that this is not about religion, it’s about development.

Abdul continues to seek transformation, he now has more than one (ripped) shirt, has no need to walk as much, although he has suffered persecution from other Muslims who don’t understand the work he is doing, but he has sought to share with them verses from the Koran which focus on unity. 

We Met: Dolphina #TFBloggers

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Last one for today… Dolphina is Pastor Gideon’s wife. She says her life has changed greatly as before PEP she was looking after 10 children single-handedly, and there were always food shortages.

PEP asked the participants to undertake an exercise in which people took one step at a time, and were ask to look what was possible – in small steps. She went back home – saw that they had land, strength and good health, so she got to work, as she wanted to get the children into school

She said it’s now easy to educate the children, as hard work has paid off.

We Met: Gideon #TFBloggers

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Gideon is the Senior Pastor in the area … and as with many pastors, this is a voluntary role, so he still needs to farm in order to survive and provide. He started by saying that he used to judge the other church leaders, as he expected them to help him. 

Before the PEP process, along with his wife, he had to hand-till the land. With knowledge from the process, and persistence, he was able to buy chickens, then goats, then cows, and now Oxen. Around his home, the land is bushy, so he started to clear this and planted – he now has over 120 cypress trees, and some are now fruiting and ready to pick.  He expects each tree should fill on average 100kg bag – and as the trees get older, are likely to produce up to 3 bags per tree (oranges, in case you want specifics).

Gideon has learnt to balance money better, and to save, especially for schooling. Also on his land, he grows onions, which he will transplant when the rains come. He expects to produce around 10 bags (100kg) at around 4000UGS per kilo.

As a church they are still working together on the building, but also want another nursery and vocational schools. There are a large number in the churches, visitors “are most welcome”, and there are a large number of evangelism programmes – with 45 new Christians joining the church recently.

We Met: James #TFBloggers

Spot the Latrines in this picture

Spot the Latrines in this picture

James wanted to talk about PEP and some of the changes in the church, and talked about CD (Christ Disciples Structure) – they decided to keep going with their meetings whilst the group saved to buy land for a new church – he is one the group pastors.

James is from one of the other nearby villages to Weela, where before PEP there were no pit latrines. There were many children of school age at home (particularly the girls) – but latrines didn’t seem high on the list – and some of the villagers thought it was better to use the manure on the land.

Before PEP he had resources but didn’t know how to make the best use of them… he’s now proud to say that he owns a mattress, and all his children are at school.  He said them in that order…

We Met: George William #TFBloggers

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George William stood up in our session in Weela to say how much he enjoyed participating in the PEP process.  When he was first introduced to the idea, he wasn’t too sure about it, as he’d gone along expecting the usual handouts received from other NGOs. He became someone who went to collect information from the process – people were unsure about what he would do with the information they would give him, so he had to explain every time, so did get the information required to show where the village needed to focus its efforts.

George William was an orphan, married at 15, with 3 children by the time the PEP process started, but found that he was not able to provide for them. He felt that PEP would show him what he could do, and started to think more about the resources that he already had and how he could use them. In 2010 he managed to produced 10 bags of groundnuts, and was able to store them in order to sell them at a good time to secure good prices. He was then able to buy a motorcycle, and his next aspiration is to build a brick house – and he has already started making the bricks.

George William gave specific thanks to Tearfund for providing the money to PAG, which then trains the villagers in the knowledge required.

We Met: Clement #TFBloggers

Clement and his 'nearly ready' shop in which he will buy farmer's goods and sell on at market prices

Clement and his ‘nearly ready’ shop in which he will buy farmer’s goods and sell on at market prices

On Friday we met Clement, who is one of the Church and Community Resource Pastors (CCRP), and he was keen to tell us how PEP had transformed his life. He went through the camps in the civil war, a time of great insecurity. He indicated that they had got used to a life of handouts from e.g. The Red Cross, and got used to a life of dependency. This then closed the mind to other possibilities, or the opportunities of drawing upon one’s own resources. Even when resettled in the villages, an attitude of dependency still prevailed, but PEP changed attitudes.

In the Bible study resourcing sessions, there was evidence that God had already given many resources for our needs, and the villagers started forming groups of 5-10 to meet the needs that the villagers determined that they had. One interesting aspiration was that the community would no longer have to offer plastic plates to guests, and that breakable plates were purchased (we know they achieved this, we used them for lunch!)

Clement now feels proud of their independence, that they are no longer dependent on others. Previously he would have been full of self-defeating thoughts, but the villagers can now see their own potential. The process has given knowledge and the ability to stand alone. They say that some NGO’s provide the fish, and some provide the hook with which to catch the fish – PEP provides the hook, and offers a more sustainable and aspirational lifestyle.