Tuesday, 17 June 2014

The Dormitory - A Story

"I remember the letter that I carried home to my parents. It was in a white envelope and I was told I must not open it. I knew two other girls in my village who also had a letter, but they were younger then me. I wonder what it could be?

My mother works the land alone with grandpa and grandma but they are old and sleep a lot. My little brother plays and looks after the chickens and no our two goats. I love village life but my best time is being at school, I sing in the choir and my favourite lesson is English. I read all the books I can get my hands on and try my best with my writing too.

Although every moment at school is filled with wonder I am not so comfortable in the evenings when we walk to the compound to cook and sleep and wash our clothes and do our homework. At night I hear people shouting and I am frightened that someone will come into our hut.

The men call out and try and be friendly. They come too close and smell bad. I don't think they are friendly at all, and they are not respectable. They forget their responsibilities to their wives and children and spend their money on alcohol and drugs. Then they get too friendly and that's when I am afraid. I wish I could shut the door and lock it. I wish my dad was still alive to keep me safe. I wish I had a big strong brother who could protect me. I try to hide, to never meet their eyes, to never be out at night and to be as discrete as possible. I want to shrink and become like a mouse and find a hole to hide in at night.

The letter made its way home. My mother opened it and I had to read it to her because her reading and eyesight is pretty poor. As I read the words my hands began to shake uncontrollably. Could this be true? I had been chosen to live in the new dormitory. I was chosen on merit because my teachers had recognised my efforts and thought I had the best possible chance to make the most of this opportunity. I would have a bed and a desk and food would be provided. I would need to do household chores and to help with the younger girls and support them.

This is a miracle. I can be clean and safe and able to put all my energies into studying. Most of all I can form a choir and start a library and learn and learn and learn."


The above is a story written by Jacqui Webber Gant.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Serenje - 24/7 Prayer

As you may know, we are doing a month of 24/7 prayer in February. We have set up an excellent prayer room in The Studio and would love to have every slot over the month of February filled with people praying!

We have booked 2 slots to pray for Serenje during this month:

Friday 14th February - 7-8pm
Friday 24th February - 9-10pm

Please do join me if you can - it's an exciting time and an amazing opportunity to be involved in praying for the nation of Zambia and the region of Serenje.

Simon spoke on the verse from Philippians 4 a couple of weeks ago - 
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

There's lots happening in Serenje at the moment. The 5 year project is coming to an end and we're thinking about the Umoja process starting later this year. We are also working on raising the extra money needed to build the girl's dormitory. Instead of being anxious about any of this, we want to take the time to pray and present our requests to God - with thanksgiving! 

Here are a few things to be thankful for:

  1. 3214 Orphans and Vulnerable Children supported over 5 years - what an amazing number of individual lives transformed! 
  2. From the sales of produce - 24 brick houses have been built, 10 people bought bicycles, 26 women bought mobile phones, 7 households have solar panels installed. 
  3. Two village committees have been established - one to support orphans and vulnerable children and one for agriculture and livestock.  
  4. Church in Kashitu has experienced church growth and an increase in tithes. 
If you would like to give to the girl's dormitory project - the link is below. 


Thursday, 31 October 2013

Serenje Celebration

Hope you all enjoyed the Serenje celebration on Sunday. We had a great time reflecting on what God has done in Serenje over the last 5 years as well as looking to the future. Jamie Fyleman from Tearfund shared details of the Umoja project which will be implemented in Serenje over the next few years. Umoja is Swahili for 'togetherness' and is a dynamic way of helping local churches to work together with their community in addressing needs using their own resources.

Here is a link to the video which summarises the measurable impact of the Serenje project.


We also spoke about how, as we have seen powerful transformation in the lives of those in Serenje, we have also seen transformation in our own lives. I love that children in schools in Bracknell can locate Serenje on a map and recall important facts about the region. And we have had our hearts changed as we have built relationships with those in Serenje and got to know them as friends.

The Zambia flag cakes were pretty good too!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Sunday Lwenga – Success Story

It's been great to share the stories of lives being transformed in Serenje. Here's one more for you...

Sunday is one of the volunteers in the Kashitu community, he and his wife are shown in the photo below. He is 41 and has 6 children, with his eldest son in grade 11. Sunday attended one of the training sessions in vegetable growing in 2010. The training empowered Sunday to diversify his investment in food security so that he was not reliant on one type of crop. He requested 5kg of okra seed, 3kg of rape seed and 2kg of onion seed.
Sunday had an excellent harvest and has been able to purchase 40 iron sheets and other building materials in preparation for building his “dream house” after the rains. He will prepare the bricks himself, as shown in the photo. He is also able to support his children through primary and secondary school and his whole family live happily from the fruits that are coming from his garden.

He also sells his vegetables in the Boma Township, which he can travel to using the bike which he bought from the same sales. He says that “farmers who are development oriented have really excelled in their lives and it is because of this project.” Let’s pray for all the farmers who have received seed; that they would have the strength and the wisdom when it comes to farming, that God would bless them abundantly and that they would grow closer to Him.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Patrick Mambwe – Success Story!

Patrick is a 37 year old pastor by profession and also a small scale farmer in Kashitu Community. He has four children in school and one toddler who is not yet old enough. The picture shows Patrick with some of his family. Patrick found life difficult as he was constantly needing financial support from his congregation.

He received 15kg of beans from the Serenje project. Patrick says “God fulfilled my desires and my harvest on beans that season was very good.” He harvested 7 x 50kg bags of beans which gave him enough to feed his family and he was also able to sell another 5 bags to raise income. From the sales, Patrick bought 3 iron sheets. He claims that one of his dreams was to construct a house roofed with iron sheets. Following another good harvest, and with the help of his congregation to build bricks, his dream has come true! A picture of his dream house is shown.

Patrick is “so thankful to this project to have reached me this far through the grace of God.” Thank you for your prayers, it is so exciting that God has provided for Patrick in this way. Please pray for his family and his congregation, that they would all grow closer to God and see His blessing.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Enny Kunda – Success Story

Enny is a 63 year old widow living in the Kashitu community. She looks after four orphans, two of whom are double orphans and two are single orphans. Only one of these orphans is in school and she is in grade 7. Every day she travels 5 kilometres to get to and from school and this is one of the reasons why the other children are not in school.
Enny has been a beneficiary of seed from the Serenje project for 3 years now. In the first year, she received 15 kilograms of shelled groundnuts. Following an excellent harvest, she yielded 6 x 50 kilogram bags of groundnuts. She reserved some of this seed for the following season and the rest she sold in order to purchase household goods. In the second year, she received more ground nuts, along with the others that she had reserved, this allowed her to extend the portion of land cultivated. This time, the harvest was so good that she was able to buy a radio cassette, solar panel, solar battery and 10 iron sheets for her house, as shown in the photo. She also received sweet potatoes from the Serenje project and used her yield to buy a further 20 iron sheets, costing the equivalent of US $202.

A quote from Enny, “Today, as I am talking to you now, this is a three roomed house I built from the sales of farm produce.....this project has really empowered community members who are serious in  life.” She no longer has to worry about re-roofing her house every year with grass. Enny is now focussing on saving money for school fees for when her grandchild begins school. Let’s pray for Enny and others in a similar position; that she would continue to see good harvests, that she would be able to put the children in her care through school and that she would grow closer to God.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Serenje 2013 Update

The project is in its fifth and final year and has empowered 1700 households in food security, 550 households with livestock and the total number of orphans and vulnerable children supported is now 3214.

Unfortunately, the 2012-13 farming season suffered from poor rainfall which affected beans, sweet potatoes and groundnuts. I have attached a photo below of a volunteer inspecting the sweet potato field affected by drought. Despite the poor harvest, 73% of families who received beans were able to obtain enough seed to plant for the coming season starting in November 2013 which is really exciting! Please pray for a fruitful season this year. 

Community volunteers are doing an excellent job in ensuring that livestock is monitored frequently and giving correct advice to farmers. Many farmers are now able to vaccinate their own goats which is very useful. There is a photo below of a boy taking a goat out for feeding. Out of 757 goats received across 4 communities, 403 kids have been born and 342 of those kids have been passed on to other families. That means that 85% of the kids have been passed on and a significant number more are due to be passed on making the scheme really sustainable.

We are also supporting 789 orphans and vulnerable children in secondary school with a contribution to their school fees and 2211 in primary school with five books each and a pen. In addition to this, the project is supporting 6 orphans and vulnerable children with special needs by sending them to a special boarding school in Kasama. Please be praying for these children, that they would enjoy school and have opportunities to come to know God in a deeper way. There is a photo opposite of school children with their books from the project.

Please pray for the amazing group of volunteers shown in the photo who give up their time to support families in the project who are affected by HIV/Aids. Finally, please pray for Leah and the rest of the team at EFZ. She is shown in the picture below encouraging a young girl just returning to school after giving birth to work hard.
Here is an insightful video from Leah and others in Serenje offering their reflections from the five year project.   http://vimeo.com/70788381
Keep an eye out over the next few weeks for a number of blogs with encouraging stories of lives transformed by the project!