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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Weela: Some Progress #TFBloggers

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On Friday we visited the sub-district of Weela, which went through the PEP process around 6 years ago, and was one of the pilot projects for PEP (see all Facebook photos). Those in the village were certainly enthusiastic advocates for the scheme, and were keen to show us what had been achieved – and were disappointed that as we’d left a couple of hours late (due to a vehicle breakdown) we couldn’t visit as many people’s homes (if we get back really late, it’s hard to get any blogging done!).

Some of the general information they shared with us is that

  • Before the PEP process only about 5% of the village had pit latrines, now about 90% have – with only the elderly/infirm who don’t (I was a little concerned as to why no one was helping dig for them, but we guess that these people are comfortable with what they already have – tis not clear)
  • Before the PEP process around 90% of men were drunkards, and that figure has reduced to near zero, some as a result of conversion experiences, others simply from being involved in the PEP process, and seeing some hope back in their lives if they work hard.
  • Some who had money, were keeping it in the house, rather than investing it into land, motorcycles, etc. which could help achieve a better lifestyle from their families – and not leave them a victim to starvation when famine hits – the village now has a number of better built houses (this particularly seems to apply to brick houses, rather than the mud huts).
  • The villagers were particularly proud of the benches that they had build, and the church that is halfway done (and Ugandans seem very patient – being prepared to wait e.g. a year between putting the walls up – then harvesting to earn the money for the roof).  A nursery school and 2 primary schools now also exist.
  • Previously only 6 in the village had sat for O-Levels, now 20+ have done so.

The villagers work together to evaluate the process, expecting this to be ongoing for generations, as there are always improvements that can be made. PAG only checks in about once a year now, but all continue working and praying together… and note that the leader in the village is a Muslim – the process is open to all – and tends to focus on points of unity, rather than points of difference. (Can I just get an Amen there!)

We Met: Joseph #TFBloggers

Joseph's in the background, enjoying the music!

Joseph’s in the background, enjoying the music!

All week we have had two drivers – Joseph and Peter. Joseph has very good English, so we’re able to particularly ask him a lot of questions, and it’s really interesting to see where the cultural differences are, as they negotiate us safely around the incredibly bumpy roads!

He’s been interested to see what we take photos of, says we seem to “love children” (so maybe Ugandan children are more about function?), wonders why we find it strange that live animals are strapped to the back of bicycles, and doesn’t understand why we’d need 3 lanes of traffic going both ways – and why are we always rushing around “being busy”… good questions! I’m not sure he’s keen to live in the UK – just as well I guess!

Meantime, in all the chats about mobile phones, Joseph has one of his own, a Nokia, which rings quite a lot (not too much worry about drive/talk here) – which he says is particularly to keep in contact with his family – who he may not see for 3-4 months at a time (not unusual) – this week he’s been able to stay with them, although he picked up Malaria.. but has been taking injections and carrying on. Joseph also has a Kindle (B&W) – onto which he downloads many books, and also reads lots of information, particularly the BBC news, and he runs a chicken farm and a bricklayer “project” so looks for information to help him learn about that… his latest acquisition is ducks, so he’s reading up on duck husbandry. I asked if he ever went on YouTube for that, but he said mostly books.

#BigRead13: Day 18: Time (#tfbloggers)

#LentPhotos: A Blessing

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In two ways the following photo indicates blessings from today …

  1. That we were allowed in to hear the stories of the villagers. There has been misunderstanding, from a previous visit from an NGO (and there are scams, although we think this is more of a misunderstanding), which has led to some ill-feeling in the village, so we thought that we may have to go home without hearing any stories – as always – such inspiring stories of how PEP has transformed their lives. We were encouraged that the villagers thought that their stories were worth using as a bargaining chip – good to see empowerment. 
  2. Ugandan babies don’t wear nappies, and apparently if they wee on you it’s considered a blessing. One blessing I’ve been fortunate to avoid this week!

#BigRead13 Thoughts

So today’s extract from C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

Nothing is very strong: strong enough to steal away a man’s best years not in sweet sins but in a dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not why…

and the accompanying Bible verses:

Proverbs 6:9-11

New Living Translation (NLT)

But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep?
When will you wake up?
10 A little extra sleep, a little more slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest—
11 then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit;
scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.

seems to sum up the message of PEP that we’ve heard this week. Throughout this week we’ve heard how villagers were “happy” to while away time chatting, but when famines hit – people starved because nothing had been put by – and were then dependent upon handouts. Villagers have learnt to look at the resources that they have, including time, and see how they can put it to better use, to get themselves, and their families out of the poverty cycle.

It’s something that we can all look at as well – apparently a bit of my catchphrase this week has been that everything that Ugandans have been challenged to think about – whether taking responsibility, using time more wisely, or washing hands – are all things that many people in the UK could do with hearing. My problem with responsibility is that I tend to take it for others, and therefore lose a lot of time .. so seeking to change that … and the snooze button (and yes, a quick check online) can take over quite quickly if you’re not careful!

“Does the Way You Spend Your Time Truly Reflect Your Values?”

 

Amen to today’s prayer: 

We thank you for allowing us to enjoy life on earth, and pray that we would learn to use our lives wisely.

@40Acts

So, today’s challenge is to live on a fiver, as an asylum seeker would. I remember watching Chine doing this for a week – but I think it was then a fiver for food in a week – incredibly hard to eat a decent range of foodstuffs – but the challenge is to survive on a fiver cash, including travel – I guess that will be easier for some than others… I’m sure we’ve not spent that much today, but £5 would be seen as a feast over here in Uganda – we heard tales of Jennifer today who started a business effectively on 20p, and from that grew it until she could afford a cow, which has now had calves, etc…

I’m now trying to think what I spend in an average day. Milk/cereal or toast. £1.70 park & ride. Lunch given by St Johns but what would that cost if I bought it? Evening meal tends to be simple .. quite cheap, partly because it tends to be a lazy meal and I’ve already had lunch. Very fortunate I know…

Really interesting to read the linked blogs.

Other

Brian Draper asks us to the look for “the stillness between the two waves of the sea” (that time between being busy, lonely, etc..) and just take the time to be… very much as #notbusy has been doing all Lent. And #Do1NiceThing encourages us to buy Fairtrade when we can- apt as we’re in the middle of FairTrade Fortnight … and there are many more Fairtrade goods than there used to be – better quality, and reasonably priced.

Digital and Mobile in General in Uganda #TFBloggers

2013-02-25 11.00.04So, after I’d chatted to Odiirah about her work path and role, we moved on to talk about the impact of digital in Uganda in general, as we’ve naturally been in some of the poorest areas, where digital is not so much a presence as it appears to be elsewhere, although yesterday’s village had a mobile shop, and evidence that more of the villagers had some kind of mobile phone.

Online most people use Skype (although not loads, as the signal is poor and breaks up a lot), and Facebook – a lot! They’ve not really started using Twitter yet, although there’s definitely an awareness of it. The people using these tools are mostly in the towns, and mostly the youth, as those who are older are either not much interested or say they don’t have time for it… people like Odiirah’s dad have been forced onto Facebook, but he hasn’t really got it. Facebook really helps people stay connected with their friends, and people love sharing photos, and in fact seem to share every little thing – certainly no worries about privacy (there’s a sense that people haven’t been using it long enough to see how people could use it in a bad way).

The mobile phone, which has already taken off in a big way in Uganda for those who can afford it (it’s still regarded as a luxury), and new plans are being developed that are leaning more towards data (remember the other day that we paid around £18 for 3GB). Lots of phone networks offer plans which allow free viewing of Facebook, and of status updates (though you still have to pay to update photos),  which encourages people to use their phones more – and they are then more likely to use other paid services.

People are using their phones for voice time – people are on their phones all the time. Those in the villages love the radio on the phone (it’s free), and will put it on loudspeakers for others to hear. Mobile money/banking started in Uganda 2 years ago, first with MTN, but now all networks offer it. Photos and videos are becoming more common and some phones even have TV on them – usually the Chinese phones – which are the poorest quality, but cheap and have extra features (e.g. allow 4 SIM cards, although batteries then don’t last very long). Nokia and Samsung are the original brands in Uganda, and tend to copy the most popular functions. The Chinese phones tend to last only a year, but people tend to prefer something cheap (rather than “cost per wear”) – partly because they are still a luxury, but also because mobile phone robberies are frequent and they don’t want to become a target. In town it’s entirely possible to be talking on the phone and someone will take it.

With regards to other digital tools, computers are still unusual and not accessible to most people, although they are there in towns. In towns there are more computers than elsewhere, and the best schools may have them. If village schools have one, it will be a really old model. Apple laptops are expensive and incredibly rare, although iPads are beginning to come in slowly, but still expensive and owned by only a few.

Odiirah Kemerwa: Communications and Promotions Officer for Pentecostal Assemblies of God, Uganda. #TFBloggers

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Odiirah (right) with Nora in Ogongora.

So, yesterday afternoon, I finally grabbed that promised chat with Oriidah, who has been our local contact for the trip in Uganda.  I was interested in the route she’d taken to get to the role she’s in now, and what her role consists of … I then asked some further questions about ‘digital Uganda’ which will form another post for this afternoon.

Training

Odiirah undertook a BA in Journalism & Communications at Kampala University, where she majored in writing for print  – typically the most popular specialism as there are a lot of newspapers in Uganda. Most others do broadcasting, although a few do PR, but PR is not big in Uganda, and if you have trained in print or broadcasting, you can still do PR.

The course lasted for three years, with all studying the same material in the first year (including economics), whilst students specilise in the 2nd and 3rd years.  Odiirah finished four years ago (June 2008), and those specializing in print often find work quite quickly, as there’s a lot of vacancies, although originally, as many do, she only got taken on as a freelance writer – paid per story that is printed.

In her 2nd year holiday Odiirah worked with some newspapers as a trainee (The Weekly Observer), and stayed for year whilst still at university, only dropping it in the final semester when there was too much research to do.  As she already had experience she was able to go to a bigger newspaper – The Daily Monitor, where she wrote features.

I asked whether there were any stories that she particularly remembers writing – and Odiirah said that anything to do with compassion and people in need were the ones that she found most powerful. She wrote a story about a lady with breast cancer (not common in Africa, therefore misunderstood) for cancer month, who was demoted from a senior position – it appears simply because she’d had a breast removed. The woman has had to continue in that role, looking after her brother who is paralysed. (Apparently there are unions in Uganda, but they are not that active… because labour is so cheap).

Another story that Odiirah particularly remembers is that she visited a school for the dumb and the deaf – the only one in the country. She followed a family with four children who were all both deaf and dumb – there’s no help from the government for them. Social Security is available in Uganda, but only for those who are working, e.g. Odiirah pays 5% of her salary in, and the company pays in 15% – if one doesn’t have a salary, one can’t save, and if one earns less than 150,000UGS there’s no security plan available.

Six months after graduation, Odiirah took the job of Communications and Promotions Officer at PAG

PAG Work Role

As in most departments at PAG there’s just one person in a department .. and many are spread across the districts of Uganda. Odiirah was mainly hired by Tearfund to undertake work for the Connected Churches initiative – where churches in the UK are connected with churches in Uganda.  Odiirah’s job was to gather information across the churches. She’s now more fully involved in PEP (The project that Tearfund’s involved in that we’ve come out to see).

Odiirah now collects stories of impacts from communities involved with PEP. There’s too many to collect from all, as she visits each district twice a year for three days. Initially there were 10 districts, with 14 communities in each, and there are now a further 3, with 3 communities in each). Stories are sent as reports to Tearfund – monthly, quarterly, mid-year and annual. Other stories are placed on the website (the blog is new and has not yet evolved), and there is now also a page on Facebook, where further stories are shared. An annual magazine Goma is produced, just going into its second edition, which highlights new projects, and is intended for PAG churches in Uganda. Odiirah intends to develop the blog to share more stories, although Twitter doesn’t yet feature much for Ugandans.

How has the digital affected Uganda in general? See this afternoon’s later post.   

UMCAT: School of Journalism, Mass Communication and Business Studies #TFBloggers

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We spotted the sign for this on the first day – right next door to our guest house, so Friday morning, whilst waiting for the broken down truck to be repaired – we had an opportunity to pop into the building. Not sure many English universities would like it if you just popped in and asked to look around.

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We were met by the Academic Registrar, who was really pleased to show us round, ensuring that we also signed the visitors book.

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The School first opened in Kampala in 1996, and opened this one in Soroti in 2010 – with the first students about to graduate in March. There’s expected to be around 40 who will have submitted reports from their internships, from a total of 170 students across all years.

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Many of the students were sat outside in groups, or round a table with a tutor – small groups of 4-5, although there are two lecture halls (reminded me of a garage) that seats 40 – with a large chalk board.

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All teaching is done face-to-face, there’s no online learning, although they hope to one day – but many students don’t have computers. The schools that we’ve seen in the villages are most definitely ‘learn by rote’, so this looks more interactive! The courses started off as journalism courses, but have expanded to include business development – all to diploma level.

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There’s a small sound-proofed radio booth – this can only be heard within the school (on FM), but is good practice, and makes it easier for students to get internships which appear to be core to the course. We also saw the computer room, with around 9 screens running off one CPU – none with the internet.

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Many of the students do have phones, but again, mostly for talking as smart phones are too expensive. These are used extensively, and indeed, in every spare socket a phone was plugged in charging. The school has several ‘self-help’ type inspirational notices, as in this country it does appear to be survival of the fittest, but the school indicated that this gives students a good chance at a job – within the sector… but that social media isn’t on the curriculum.

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You can see more about the School at http://umcat.co.ug

#BigRead13: Day 17: Beautiful (#TFBloggers)

Oooo, #lentphotos is looking for “a quiet place”… we’ve not encountered a great deal of that this week… although I’m going for a quiet stretch of road – usually seems to be full of people, bicycles and animals!!

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#BigRead13 Thoughts

Luke 9:24:

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.

This seemed to make sense in the light of Hwin’s statement “You may eat me if you like. I’d sooner be eaten by you than fed by anyone else” to Aslan. Life was not worth living without Aslan (God) in it, so offer the whole self to him to do what he wishes with. If her time had come, then so be it.

In sermons in Ugandan churches over the past couple of days we’ve been reminded that everything that we have (health, wealth, relationships, etc.) is a gift from God – therefore we should appreciate it and make the most of it, appreciate every second. What we have now is enough, though we can aspire to be more (this is what I’ve been trying to get my head round with PEP – it’s moving people from an attitude of ‘victimhood’, dependent upon handouts, to one in which people aspire to make the most of themselves/their skills, and give their children a better life, without falling into a dissatisfied consumerist mindset… As spend our last day in a village tomorrow, and start the long trek back to Kampala and then the UK we thank God that we have nothing to fear from him or the circumstances in which we may find ourselves (even though our human selves clearly baulk at this sometimes!).

@40Acts

Well, that’s a straightforward one for us who are at #tfbloggers as we’ve spent all week engaging with people of a different culture, and eating (or in some cases trying subtly to avoid eating) a range of foodstuffs.. and trying different foodstuffs has always been a bit of a hobby – right back to Guiding days where we used to “do” world foods… when I first did it – making a pizza was pretty exotic!!

Brian Draper: Lent 40

Another inspiring series of thoughts and prompts from Brian – particularly liking the idea of the ‘community of the insignificant’ which goes against our celebrity-obsessed culture:

We can cease striving to ‘be ‘ someone, perhaps, for a day, and offer whatever we have, not for the sake of our self-advancement (or even piety) but simply for the sake of love.

And reminded me of yesterday’s thoughts about ‘the widow’s mite’ – as well as the gift from the woman who had set up her own bakery – she usually charges 200UGS for a bread bun (about 5p?), but gave us about 15 to take away us as a gift. Really touching that people will give so generously out of the little they have - they are SO happy that their stories are being shared around the world, and giving hope to others who feel they have no hope.

We are encouraged to undertake an act of kindness that will largely go unnoticed, except for the joy of the recipient.

Other

I had a bit of a lie-down earlier as #notbusy … we are in a constant round of “doing” this week – and that was expected, but just a few minutes out allows a little creativity to emerge and look at things afresh…

Now this is my kind of prayer walk:

Go on a thankful walk – see all the positive things you can be thankful for in your neighbourhood #do1nicething

Read more about from Pam’s reading of Stephen Cottrell:

Jesus does not subdue the scorpion, but loves it.  For Jesus that means he has accepted God’s will, he can hold the thing that might kill him.

The Food So Far: #TFBloggers

So yesterday, on Facebook I put a photo of our meal the evening before “pork and Irish”:

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We always know that food will get people talking, and heading off to foreign climes always gives the opportunity to be exposed to other cuisine.

We established pretty early that any restaurant menus are a work of aspiration rather than reality … it comes down to the same choices as we get at our guesthouse each evening:

  • Meat: Chicken, Fish, Pork or Beef
  • Carb: Chips, “Irish”, Rice, Boiled Potato or Chappati

We’re grateful as it means we do get to ring the changes each day – and thankfully as I’m not a great one for whole fish – the choice does include filleted fish. Jay Butcher, who visited Ogongora 18 months ago was surprised to hear that there was pork (less common with a large Muslim population) – but we’ve had it twice (once in the guesthouse & once in the village) … I’m wondering if that’s a sign of success of the PEP process as in the photo below we see that Pastor Pete has 2:

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When we’re in the village, we are treated “royally” – which can actually be quite distressing seeing what the children eat – some kind of porridge made of millet – which may be the only meal that they get all day:

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We, meanwhile, are seated up at the front – and our job is to show appreciation for the food (whilst being aware that any leftovers are available for the villagers) – as this feast is spread out before us:

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There has been a big pile of rice each day (served with a bowl), plus some meat, some sauce, and a few other things – below is the infamous ‘goat stew’ we had been warned about – pretty tasty – I’d eat it again (less ‘stringy’ than much of the other meat):

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Simon Martin on Facebook said “In NW Uganda, staple diet is Enya – like brown playdough, made with cassava and millet or sorghum flour” – which I think must be the below (tastes like wet paper, with the consistency of wallpaper paste):

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Yesterday we had the opportunity to watch our dinner being made – in a very hot and smoky hut – spot the chicken’s feet in the pot (and the undeveloped eggs are taken from the slaughtered chicken and eaten also):

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We do know that our meals have been pre-paid for but it’s difficult to know that others are watching, but they just seem happy that we’re happy…

And one thing that’s an essential for the food is a bit of a ritual with hand washing … Although we all have handwashing gel, the village has had the importance of handwashing drummed into them, so it’s important that they see us doing it too. Someone comes around with a jug, a bowl and a piece of soap – and we rinse and shake!

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Interesting to hear how rice is a growing foodstuff – we’ve had it every day – but before (and maybe it’s just been for us) – more of a use of millet and sorghum.

We Met: Anna #TFBloggers

Anna

Anna

In our conversation with Nora on Wednesday, we asked whether PEP had improved the position of women in this community, and there was a definite “yes” in reply. Families don’t fight so much – husbands have realised they need to talk to their wives/not drink all the money away. Couples plan together and share ideas, and it’s accepted that all children should go to school – not just the boys… when girls has been seen as just aiming for marriage/housework… but can now aspire for more – including running their own businesses.

Anna is one of those who has benefitted from PEP. She had lost her husband, and was thinking that she would die. Feeling really sick, she went for bloodtests, which returned positive for HIV – she wondered where this could have come from as she has only ever had one husband. Requiring money, she set up a small hotel, but then got sick again and expected to die. The community rejected her, but then came PEP, and she felt that her job was to learn from people, so went back home. If you want to last in Uganda you need to be able to do something with your hands – her brother helped until her strength was back, growing SimSim and Cassava, and bought a goat. Her farm kept growing until she had 15 goats. PEP has given her the income to be able to educate 2 young boys, and although she feels sick again (so please pray for her health), PEP has made life better. She also prays for strength to stay as a widow to ensure that the infection isn’t spread.

The Mobile Revolution? A Conversation with Ben #TFBloggers

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Ben is the facilitator for the PEP process in Ogongora (and other local villages), so I grabbed the chance for a chat with him yesterday about mobile phone usage, and what it has changed about village life.

It has become quite clear this week that phones are being used in the villages, and have improved the situation in small but significant ways, but phones are expensive, and usually individual villagers have other priorities, particularly education – which is seen as a way out of the poverty cycle.

Pentecostal Assemblies of God (PAG) provides each pastor with a mobile phone (not a smart phone – the talk function is more important). It does allow the national organization to contact each of their pastors quickly, but most look after around 5 villages, so someone in the village also has responsibility for another phone (otherwise there’s no one to talk to). Ben indicated that the main purpose of the phones is easier communication between the villages, rather than the national office.

Ben, in his work as a facilitator types up a report of progress in the villages on a laptop that PAG have provided him with. He then has to get this printed and post it, as he doesn’t yet have a modem.  If he wants to use the internet it’s a 100km round trip, and then a cost of around 1000UGS (about 25p) per hour for internet usage. If he’s going on church business – e.g. some research that ‘s required (the internet being easier to access than books) he can use the motorbike that’s also been provided, otherwise he has to get public transport, which costs around 10,000UGS each way.

When using the internet it’s mostly for research and emails – and also for banking – which he says greatly increases safety – before he had to cycle around with large quantities of cash in his pocket – now he can bank at the start, and withdraw at location… He knows what Facebook is, but hasn’t used it.

I didn’t get the promised chat with Odiirah yesterday as we all had a nap, but we’ve still got time – and I want to ask her what it’s like in her role as Comms for the Pentecostal Assemblies of God (3rd biggest church in Uganda after Anglican, Catholic)