Syria Crisis Appeal @Tearfund

As you’ll have seen from #tfbloggers etc, I’ve been an interested supporter of Tearfund for many years, and the visit to Ogongora & other villages just strengthened that as we saw how effectively the money was put to use. There’s much debate about whether we should “just give”, but I find the idea of knowing “how” money makes a difference makes me feel like even my small contributions make a difference (is that the ego talking?) …

Thanks for Giving

So, having talked to @katieharrisonTF (who came with us to Uganda) about her recent trip to Syria, receiving the transcript of an interview Katie undertook in Syria, and seeing a range of adverts on TV, despite being rather skint, again – it seemed important to make a stand for the Syria Crisis.Having given my few pennies (I’ll turn my heating down a bit/add an extra jumper … in order to heat a whole family) … I thought it was a really nice touch to see a ‘thank you’ video from David Bainbridge, International Director at Tearfund, indicating just how the money would help… feels personal although you know it’s the same for each giver.

Thanks from Tear Fund

I’ve been really impressed by Tearfund’s use of digital in general – and we get some of the stories via Holly & Katie on BigBible :-)

Extract from Press Release

The widespread fighting in Syria has affected over 4 million people, displacing many from their homes. Every day thousands of refugees are fleeing across the borders into neighbouring Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, and many more are living with family and friends or in public buildings in Syria.

David Bainbridge: “The bitterly cold weather and the sheer number of displaced people means that we have to act. Ultimately we want to help people to return to their homes but their immediate needs are food, somewhere to stay and ways to keep warm.”

Family in Syria

Photo Credit: Eleanor Bentall/ Tearfund

Extract from Katie’s Interview:

Katie: Could you tell us your story of how you came here from Syria and who came with you?

Aamil*: We were living in Deraa when something like 20,000 soldiers came into our neighbourhood.  They started shooting and killed about 300 people. They also burned our houses.

So we left our homes carrying nothing, no money, no food, no clothing, only the things that we are wearing, that’s all.

They were pursuing us with tanks so I took my whole family and left that neighbourhood. We left immediately and went to Zaatari in Jordan.

(Zaatari is the big official refugee camp.)

*Name has been changed.

The interview continues to say that the family could only survive one week in the camp, where it was very cold, and hard to care for an elderly father, and a disabled son, so the family has rented a room – expensive, unheated, and with food hard to access. The family has an appointment with the UN Refugee Agency, but not until June 2013 – before which they don’t have a card which will allow them to buy food.

You can donate to the appeal by calling 0845 355 8355 or at

#BigRead13: Day 32: Humble

Today’s #lentphotos is “perspective” – I like the idea of seeing things from a different perspective … I’ve certainly seen a power pylon from this perspective:

#BigRead13 Thoughts

Humility is the quality of being modest and respectful. Humility, in various interpretations, is widely seen as a virtue in many religious and philosophical traditions, being connected with notions of egolessness.

There’s plenty of debates about what it means to be humble, especially within a Christian context, often tied in with those who seek to be “known” for humbleness… interesting at a time when the Catholic Church has just appointed someone who clearly seems to be humble, rather than seeking to be known for it (so far as we can see).

Luke 18-9-14: Good reminder to not seek to not compare ourselves to others, or to levels of humbleness … we each have our own journey…


Sheridan Voysey – always a joy to read/listen to .. and don’t forget to read Resurrection Year for the full story given a hint of here. Time is one of the most precious things we have … as someone who’s writing this the following day, having lost most of the day (when I’m over-busy already) in exhaustion … this is not how God wants us to live… he gave us lives to “live to the full” – and not just our own, but those we have encountered – particularly thinking back to my recent #tfbloggers experiences – “Who is my neighbour?” – we spend too long limiting that geographically…

Brian Draper: Lent 40

How do we see God in the everyday? Which I’m interpreting as stop waiting for the “lightning bolts”, and enjoy seeking (and seeing) God in the ordinary…


#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:


#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!)


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.’


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 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!

The Digital Experience So Far…

2013-02-27 13.19.09So, this trip was going to be a whizz-bang techno trip, feeding back stories whilst we were in the villages, etc… As you may have noticed this hasn’t happened – I’ve got some more people to talk to about this, and later today, I’ll have set a post for you to read to talk to some of the villages about mobile phones.

  • At the airport there was wifi (quite weak, but it was free) – most airports now seem to have this, so you can tweet to say you’ve landed (good for friends/family wondering, and may also encourage others to visit the same destination as it’s raised in their awareness.
  • At the first guesthouse we stayed in – there was also wifi – well, for some of us! Dave didn’t really seem to be able to get it in his room, but I seemed to have a strong signal – all became clear in the morning as we saw that the router was right outside my room! This seemed to bode well for the future … but … we were in Entebbe/Kampala – the more urban areas, and we were heading for rural Uganda.
  • Arriving at our guesthouse for the week, we were given Orange Dongles – we thought with 4GB each on them, but as mine ran out last night at around 2.5GB… We then purchased another 3GB credit – which was 85,000 Ugandan Schillings – that’s the best part of £20 – so really does challenge us on how used we’ve become to ever-present wifi (or mifi in my case usually – but at £6 a MB on roaming, wasn’t planning on using that!). These have worked pretty well, but the culprit in mine appears to be the 75 seconds of video I’ve uploaded – so sticking to photos and text I think for the rest of the trip!
  • Tearfund lent us HTC phones, but to take photos these need SD cards, and despite asking for data SIM cards, we were given MTN talk/text cards (about 75p) – so we’ve not used those…
  • In the village, we’ve tested the dongles inside/outside buildings = no signal. Odirah indicated that Orange is best for data, whilst MTN is best for coverage – but we haven’t yet managed to combine the two, and in many ways, reflecting then blogging gives time to think things over on the journey home. There is a question of battery life, but we’d probably be OK with good electricity back at the hotel, and multiple devices.
  • Yesterday, as we were acclimatizing to the village, all of us just used our cameras, and none of us took notes … but today I took my laptop into one session (with Isaiah), and my iPad into the session on mobile phones…. Much easier to think what I want to say without entirely re-wracking my brains! Without wifi however, I’m going to have to read/retype because there’s some information worth sharing – as I start to think about an article I’m preparing
    • How has the digital impacted the village?
    • How has the digital affected the charity/those campaigning?
    • How has the digital affected the supporter experience?
    • How has the digital affected the rest of Uganda (we’ve already been told that data is becoming more common and that the urban kids are never off Facebook)
  • I’m also thinking of seeing if the kids want to draw onto my iPad tomorrow …