Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Leadership training

This year Zambia hosted its first Willow Creek Leadership Summit in Lusaka. We supported 5 pastors to travel down from Serenje and attend the conference, and they've sent us some feedback about how they found it:

'Was a time of personal renewal and reflection. Learnt fresh insights for my ministry.'

'The Conference was Awesome! It was so inspiring.'

'Thank you for blessing us as pastors. We have been challenged to do more – to love the Lord more – put the Lord’s and others interests first.'

"The summit was an inspiration, eye opener, encouraging and a reminder of things I used to do but relaxed. The insights were that, a leader to lead at a new level must lead from Holy discontent. When a leader leads from Holy discontent, he enters a different state of mind and becomes a risk taker. Must be able to create good environment for his followers. Having learnt these new principles I will move my congregation into a vibrant church to fight against injustice"

Leah took the pastors to the conference and says this:

'This was awesome! I felt so inspired and at the same time asked myself "Am I on track, Lord?" It was so exciting to have the Serenje Pastors in the conference as evidence of your obedience to the Lord to act on His command. I recalled the first trip you came and the steps which were taken by your church November 2007 to come to Zambia and compare to where we are at now November 2009 and the impact beginning to show on church leaders and churches and community, men, women and youth and families. May God continue to give the growth!! It is the small steps taken in faith that become part of a big story. A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step!'

Leah and these pastors are amazing leaders, with a huge heart for God and the people in their communities. They face many challenges daily and really need our prayers. Please remember them in your prayers as we head into 2010.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Sowing seeds

One of our goals for 2010 is to provide seeds for 700 families. The seeds for the next year have to be planted before December, so we sent some money prior to the Gift Days, to ensure the seed could be distributed in time for planting season. Just before Christmas we received an email from Serenje and Leah, who heads up what we're doing in Serenje, says this:

'Please allow me to express our sincere thanks and appreciation from EFZ, Serenje Pastors and the community leaders of Kashitu, Kankoso, Mwansankano and Chilisha on the support you at Kerith sent recently. This funding is towards purchase of beans, groundnuts and sweet potato vines for 700 beneficiaries, purchase of goats and training beneficiaries in livestock and improved farming methods for better yields.
Rita and I were in Serenje again for 5 days from the 10th to 15th November 09 to be a part of the distribution of the seed to the families affected by HIV and AIDS. There was a lot of activity - hiring trucks to deliver seed, teams of volunteers and pastors for seed distribution in various communities and being among the community itself. It was encouraging to see the zeal from the people but at the same time reflect on personal responsibility of these households to improve their livehoods.'

Here are some photos showing the team praying over the seed and the distribution itself.





It's exciting to see isn't it? Please pray for good weather and that the seeds that have been sown produce a great harvest.

Thank you for giving so generously and making this possible.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Serenje Gift Days

As many of you know, we recently had our Gift Days for Serenje. The current total, including the money carried over from last year, gifts, promised standing orders and expected gift aid is now £107,323. This amount is likely to increase, with gifts and standing order pledges still coming in, and two more Kerith Relief events to go.

Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to this. I am so humbled by your generosity and passion for what we're doing in Serenje. Every penny and pound given will go towards changing the lives of people in Serenje. Orphans will go to school for the first time. Families will have food rather than go hungry. Church and community leaders will challenge stigma, and visit and pray for those living with HIV and AIDS.

We received an email this week from Leah who heads up what is happening in Serenje. She was writing to Simon to thank him for the support they receive and she says this:
'We think of you often - always in our hearts. At a personal level I carry Serenje in my heart and all its key stakeholders - Kerith leadership, Tearfund, Serenje Pastors and their churches, EFZ leadership and the community leaders in our 4 project areas of Serenje district. This is a great network to be a part of and watch God work out great things to glorify Himself.'

To God be the glory.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Serenje Video

Great video produced by Andy White

video

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Tomorrow

Tomorrow and next Sunday are our Serenje Gift Days. Last year we raised over £100,000 and this meant that:
-190 orphans and vulnerable children received school support
-402 farmers received seeds so that they can feed their families
-62 church and community leaders received leadership training
-66 church volunteers were trained to support people living with HIV and AIDS.

Over the next 2 weeks and the coming year we want to raise the same amount of money so that we can achieve the following:
-700 orphans and vulnerable children received school support
-701 farmers received seeds so that they can feed their families and an additional 300 families will receive 2 goats.
-50 church and 60 community leaders received leadership training
-100 church volunteers were trained to visit and support 250 people living with HIV and AIDS.

Those of us who have visited Serenje this year have seen the money this difference is making to people's lives.





Please be praying and thinking about what you might be able to give.

A message for all the women who have written letters for women in Serenje-the deadline for bringing your letters to church is tomorrow. Please remember not to seal the letters.

Thank you for all your support for what is happening in Serenje.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Shoes and coats update




Back in June we sent out 240 pairs of shoes and 160 coats to the children in Serenje. When we were out in Serenje in the summer we saw all the boxes of shoes and coats stacked up ready to be given out. The local pastors and church volunteers distributed the shoes and coats to the communities. Here are photos of some of the orphans who have received them and will now be able to cope with the cold walk to school in the winter. It's worth mentioning that it is extremely hot in Serenje at the moment, with temperatures ranging from 39 - 42C, so the guys in the photos must be pretty warm! One of the boys just has his new trainers on!





Thank you to everyone who donated shoes and coats, they will make a massive difference when the winter comes.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Seeds of hope




The money raised at last year's Gift Days has meant we can support families, by supplying them with seeds to grow sweet potatoe, groundnuts and beans. Most families depend on what they grow to feed their families-subsistence farming. In the first year of the project the target was to provide 200 small scale farmers with seed for their families, but when we visited in April this year we were really excited to hear that 402 had been supported. When we visited the 4 communities we're working in, each one reported of the difference these seeds had made. We recently received the following feedback from Serenje:

'There are already signs of renewed hope. Under the agricultural support, households that received the inputs could not contain their joy. Though the households will only have enough food for an average of 3 – 5 months from their harvest, some beneficiaries spoken to revealed it was the best support they have ever received. In order to ensure continuity, a communal seed bank will be introduced after the harvest. Each beneficiary will be required to give back a certain measure of what will be harvested to be kept and sold later. Those households who may experience poor yields can give anything of value equivalent to the required harvest i.e. chickens, goats, ducks e.t.c. The proceeds from the sale will then go towards supporting those households that may be lacking the most.'

We've just heard that the seeds for this year's crops have been purchased and will be distributed on Monday. It is very hot in Serenje at the moment, so please pray that the rains come and that there is a good harvest.

Thank you for giving your money to make this happen.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

I must apologise for the lack of blogs recently. There has been lots of work happening behind the scenes though! We're producing an updated Serenje booklet and film, which will both be ready for the Serenje Gift Days and will highlight what has been achieved so far. 55 of our women have become part of Unique Serenje Penpals and are going to writing to women in Serenje and blessing them with love and prayers. Ruth Jackson's school, Crowthorne C of E Primary School and Amanda Wolfram's school, Hammond Community Junior School, are both fundraising for Serenje and Helen Cottee recently visited both schools to do assemblies about Serenje.

As you know a team of 8 of us visited Serenje in the summer and were deeply impacted by what we saw. Pip Reeves (pictured here), who is a student at Oxford university, was part of our team and she shares some reflections on the trip.



'There were two stories which impacted me especially during my time in Serenje. The first of these was when we visited a child headed family. Naomi, the eldest, had left school in order to be 'mum' to her younger brothers and sisters (two of them pictured here with Helen). The youngest of these was 11 months old although she was so small she looked much younger. They had very little food and slept in a small concrete room which got very cold at night, particularly during their winter. Because of our visit Leah met with the team of pastors in Zambia and is hoping to find Naomi and her family a home closer to the pastors so they can be looked after more easily.



The second of these was a boy we met who had been orphaned when he was young and so he began to make bricks to sell. He got himself through his entire education by making these bricks and now employs two people. This showed me that many of the people in Serenje really want to help themselves, and we can really help by facilitating this. On the trip we were able to hear many really encouraging stories about the work Kerith is doing in Serenje, but we also saw that there is a huge amount which still needs to be done.'

Going and seeing what is happening in Serenje is both immensely encouraging but also very challenging because the need is great. As we head towards the Gift Days this November 15th and 22nd we're aiming to raise another £100,000 to impact children like Naomi and her brothers and sisters. Please join me in praying for the Gift Days and for Naomi and the many child-headed households she represents.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Serenje penpals

Thank you to all of you ladies who visited the tables in reception last Sunday and found a lady in Serenje to start writing to. It's so exciting to see this taking off. The women of Serenje will be so excited when they receive your letters!

If you weren't around last Sunday, it's not too late, as we'll be in reception again this Sunday 18th, after both the morning meetings.

See you tomorrow!

Monday, 5 October 2009

Unique Serenje penpals



This Sunday 11th October we're launching a new Unique ministry called Serenje penpals. It all began at a Unique breakfast back in 2008 when some of our Kerith ladies wrote letters to the women in Serenje. When Catrina and myself went to Serenje in April this year we were literally mobbed by women handing us letters and asking for penpal from Kerith! Every where we went, women handed us letters to pass on. Mel Watkins has very kindly taken all the letters and is heading up Serenje penpals.

This is an opportunity for us ladies to share our lives and prayers with women in Serenje by exchanging letters. We have more than fifty letters from ladies in Serenje. All of these ladies would love to hear from someone in our church.

The idea is that we'll exchange letters or cards 2-3 times a year, but if just want to write once that is fine.

If you're interested in becoming a Serenje penpal you can sign up this Sunday. Mel will be in reception and you can collect a letter. Completed letters and cards need to be returned to reception at the Kerith Centre by Sunday 7th November so that we can get them to Zambia in time for Christmas.

You can also find out more on the Unique section of the Kerith website

Monday, 24 August 2009

Back home

Thank you for all your prayers and support whilst we were away. We had an amazing trip. The team were brilliant and it was great seeing God use everyone in different ways. It was so good to see Leah and Alex again. Leah works for EFZ and is heading up what we're doing in Serenje. She is based in Lusaka, the capital, but travelled up to Serenje with us. Alex is our Project Officer based in Serenje. They are two of the most incredible people I've ever met. Their commitment and love for the people of Serenje is inspiring.

It's always encouraging to see the amazing work that is being done by EFZ and the pastors on the ground. However the community visits to individual homes revealed the extent of poverty and how much more still needs to be done. Please pray for Leah, Alex and the pastors, as they face overwhelming need.

We didn't distribute the shoes and coats while we there. We felt that it was best that the pastors did this and they are going to email us some photos.

Over the coming weeks and months we'll keep you updated with more stories and photos of what's happening in Serenje.

Special thanks to Jacqui Webber-Gant for updating the blog while we were in Serenje!

Thursday, 6 August 2009

One needy family

We visited a child-headed household of 7 orphans on Tues. The eldest was 15 and youngest was 11 months. The 14 year old daughter was playing mum & had stopped school to look after the others. It was heart breaking. Leah & the pastors are going 2 trying 2 move them nearer to the centre of Serenje so they can look after them better. Please pray for their safety till then.

Zoe

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

News from Helen

Yesterday (Sunday) we visited two local churches for their services. Was great to feel a part of each community. Today I ran a worship training session for about 70 people representing 7 churches. It was an incredible morning of teaching and sharing and God came in real power on the people. It's amazing to see how they are desperate for new teaching and direction (and I loved it too!)

Tomorrow we go to Kashitu with the shoes and coats which were sent over. 

Helen.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

School Visits

On Friday we visited Kankosco School which is the school that is partnering with Sandy Lane School. We received an amazing welcome and we were able to take a look at their garden that had changed dramatically since we visited here last time in April.

In the afternoon we visited the school that Garth have partnered with and also gave them the Binfield football kit!

Today we ran the Youth Conference which went really well. We are having an amazing time and everyone is healthy.

Zoe

Posted via text message

Thursday, 30 July 2009

News from Pip

This morning we made home visits. The area was more developed today as there were more children attending school and eating regularly.

In the afternoon we visited a primary school. We were given an amazing greeting with lots of beautiful smiling children and many games were played. It was a lovely day but we are all very tired now.

Please pray for energy for Helen as she plans a worship conference.

Pip x

Posted via text message

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Shoes and Coats

The shoes and coats have arrived! We are hoping to distribute them on Tuesday. Yesterday we visited the plot of land and Ed and Peter helped measure it up.

In the afternoon we were met by 1,500 school children who performed a traditional Zambian dance to welcome us. After that we tried to organise some sports.

Today we're visiting some orphan homes that Kerith has been supporting with food and schooling. What a privilege. Zoe Hayes

Posted via text message.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Arrived in Zambia

Helen: Arrived in Zambia tired but well, but without our luggage! We went to Leah's church this morning in our 3 day old clothes. Luckily African's are very welcoming. They had amazing worship and an inspiring preach and after that we had the opportunity to meet the Bishop.

Ou bags finally arrived so we could change and have tea with the Vice President's wife. It is amazing to realise a shared passion for this country and she has invited us back on ourlast day to meet the first lady of Zambia-quite a day! We journey up to Serenje tomorrow.

Sent via text message from Zoe's phone.

Friday, 24 July 2009

We're off!

Well tonight at 9pm we fly from Heathrow and head for Lusaka. We'll be in Lusaka for a couple of days and then on Monday we'll drive 5-6 hours north east to Serenje. I received an email from Leah (who heads up what we're doing in Serenje) on Thursday mentioning what we'll be doing this Sunday:

I have been talking to the second lady Mrs Ireen Kunda, the wife to the Vice President of Zambia about the work the EFZ churches are doing in the Serenje communities with the partnership of Kerith church. The Vice President is one of the members of Parliament for Serenje.

Mrs Kunda is very excited about the partnership Kerith church has extended to serve in Serenje and has therefore invited the Kerith Summer team to tea on Sunday 26th July 2009 at 1500hrs (3pm) at Government House. I am making relevant security preparations for the team to get to the Government House and visit with the second lady.

How exciting is that! What an amazing opportunity.

A quick update on the shoes and coats - they're still in Lusaka awaiting government clearance. Please pray they get through whilst we're out there. We'll have a chat with the 2nd lady on Sunday and see if she can put in a good word!

Thanks for all your support and prayers.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

We're off to Serenje

So this Friday evening a team of 8 of us are heading to Serenje for 2 weeks. The team are: Peter and Barbara Knight, Jonathan Hanbury, Rob Plant, Pip Reeves, Helen Cottee, Ed Garton and myself. We are going to be doing a whole range of things, from writing business plans for a guesthouse to go on the land we bought (this is where the dormitory will be built. The guesthouse will bring in money to ensure this project is sustainable), teaching sport, gardening, family planning sessions, sessions with young people on abstinence and respect, setting up a library and much more! We are hoping that we will arrive in time to see the shoes and coats we sent being distributed. We're also taking out a football kit that Binfield Football Club kindly donated through Ian Hudell.

We'd really value your prayers whilst we're away. Please pray for:
- the team in Serenje who have done so much to prepare for our arrival, in particular Alex and Leah.
- that we will be a blessing and make a contribution that will last
- safety in travel
- good health
- God to be at the centre of all that we do.

Thank you for your prayers. We'll keep you posted on how we're getting on!

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Thank you




Thank you so much to everyone who donated shoes and coats to send to Serenje. It was a real community effort with children from Sandy Lane, mums and children from Sparklers and church contributing. In total we gave 240 pairs of shoes and 160 coats to the children in Serenje. That's a lot of children who can now go to school in the winter because they've got a warm coat and a decent pair of shoes for the long walk. You can see the boxes being collected by DHL from church on Thursday, ready to be flown out to Serenje. A big thank you to everyone who helped make this possible, in particular Penny Lander who headed this up. It's so exciting to know there will be more children in school because of these shoes and coats.



Saturday, 13 June 2009

Sharing

I was watching one of these fashion make-over programmes and they were saying that you should throw out anything you haven't worn for 6 months. One statistic I read recently said 'Women spend £1,000 a year on their wardrobe but only wear 30% of their clothes'. Wow.

We live in a throw away culture don't we? The fashion changes, the size of our body changes (sad but true!), we're bored of it, we don't know why we ever bought it in the first place etc etc.

I have to be honest and admit that I enjoy getting new clothes, and feeling lovely in my new outfit. But when I was in Serenje we met a family whose children wouldn't be able to go to school because they didn't have a warm winter coat or shoes for the long walk to school. And suddenly two such different worlds collide. I have a wardrobe full of clothes and they will miss out on essential education if they don't get a coat and a pair of shoes. Crazy isn't it?

It isn't about guilt, it about sharing what we have, with those that don't. What a privilege to be able to give stuff away. To a friend, to a charity shop or if you have some children's shoes and winter coats in your cupboard, to Serenje. From
Sunday 14th to Monday 22nd June we're collecting shoes and coats to send to the children in Serenje. What we need is:
Shoes for children aged 5-15 (need to be hard wearing-for cold weather and long walks!)
Warm winter coats for children aged 3-15
Please take them to reception and let them know that they're for Serenje.

So while I do enjoy new clothes, I've got a feeling giving some away is going to feel a whole lot better.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Connections



It's so exciting to see how our connections with Serenje are growing all the time. We had our first team meeting for the group going out to Serenje this summer last week. We're going from the 24th July to the 9th August. Please pray for Alex and the team at EFZ as they prepare for our visit. We're going to be doing a range of things:
-teaching sports and games to schoolchildren
-helping to set up and organise a library
-write a business plan for the guesthouse (this will be on the plot of land we've bought, along with the dormitory)
-teaching gardening skills to a youth group who want to set up a gardening project

But there are a number of other connections with Serenje which are developing. Following on from Sandy Lane partnering with Kankoso primary school, a number of Bracknell schools have expressed interest in partnering with schools in Serenje, so Alex and his team in Serenje are looking into what this will look like.

While we were there in April we heard about 5 deaf children who aren't able to go to school and 2 children who need wheelchairs. We're in the process of getting costings for the deaf children getting to school as well as exploring the best way to provide wheelchairs, with support from an organisation called Wheelchairs for Africa.

We're also collecting shoes and coats for children who stop going to school in the winter because it's too cold for them to walk. For some of them the trip to school can be up to 5 hours there and back. Penny and myself will be providing more details of what's needed and where to bring donations, shortly. The above photo is of Lee and some of the children we met in a village in Serenje called Kashitu, who need coats and shoes for the winter. As you can see they're gorgeous and love seeing themselves on film!!

So it's really exciting and there are lots of ways to get involved with what's happening in Serenje. We are gathering a team to help organise the various projects I've mentioned above. If one of these particularly interests you and you'd like to get involved please contact me (Zoe) - I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, 21 May 2009

News from Serenje

Those of you who were at last night's Prayer Meeting will have seen a 5 minute film from our recent visit to Serenje. Seeing the film reminded me again how exciting it was to seeing the amazing things that are happening there and what a privilege it is to be partnering with such special people.Things are developing all the time.






As Simon has mentioned, we're buying a plot of land. The plan is to build a dormitory and a guesthouse on it. The dormitory is so that when girls move from primary to secondary school they have a safe place to stay. Rather than having to rent accommodation locally and put themselves at risk. The guesthouse is for income generation so that the project is sustainable. I heard today that money for the land is being handed over to the buyer tomorrow. This is great news as it means we've definately got the plot we wanted! You can see from the photos it's a big plot of land.




I also heard that they have been able to purchase 10 bicycles. They will be offically handed over to the Serenje Project Committee tomorrow. Two bikes will be given to each of the 4 communities that we're working in and then 2 bikes will be given to Alex (on the right), who is our amazing Project Officer based in Serenje.

The bikes given to the communities will be loaned out for use in the work of the project - for example pastors or volunteers visiting people living with HIV. By foot these journeys could take hours. You may have heard stories of Alex flying around Serenje on his motorbike while we were there. I learned today that the motorbike isn't his and has to be hired out each time he uses it. So now he has his own bike and another one for people joining him on visits to the communities. What a difference a few bikes can make.

Friday, 15 May 2009

A different future





Serenje is a district of around 144,000 people and we're working in 4 communities. The first of these is a place called Kashitu. The community only has one primary school and because of this, some children walk 56km to get there. This can be a 5 hour round trip. As it's such a long journey some of them sleep on classroom floors Monday to Friday and go home at the weekends. You can see Simon and Alex (our Project Officer in Serenje) standing in front of 2 of the classrooms. Around 30 girls and 30 boys sleep on the floor of these classrooms. As we walk inside my heart drops. They are empty rooms with cold stone floors. In the boys room there is rubble all over the floors and a old wheelbarrow. There are no beds or anything to indicate that children sleep there. The other photo shows how the toilet blocks have sunk into the ground because of the rain.

We chatted with 2 of the teachers in a small room. There were lots of educational posters on the wall, but I noticed on the wall a hand written chart, with the following columns:
-Grade
-Number enrolled
-Girls
-Boys
-Deaths

Deaths. One those poignant reminders of how different our worlds are.
This was our first visit of the trip and it was all very sobering.

But then we walked into one classroom and there were 18 young people and children studying. And we are told that these are children we're sponsoring to go to school. I can't stop a massive smile spreading across my face. Most of them are orphans and they had dropped out of school. But now they're having extra lessons to help them catch up. If you were at church on Sunday you'll have seen Simon show this photo of Mapwe who is 15 and is one the young people we're supporting.


There are lots of challenges in Kashitu, but 18 young people are now going to be part of creating a different future for that community and their families.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Back Home

It's weird to think that on Tuesday I was watching an African sunrise in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. And now I'm back in Bracknell straight into the routine of work and everyday life. How can two such different places exist in the same world? I'm struck again by the luxury and convenience of my world. In Serenje we stayed in fairly basic accommodation, where we washed using a bucket, the toilet didn't flush properly, we couldn't drink water out of the tap and we ate the same food every day. And yet this was incredible luxury compared to most of the people we met in the villages. And now I'm back home and I have my hot shower, my flushing toilet and my fridge full of my favourite foods. So what do we do with all this? How do we hold these two extremes together?

One way is to stay connected with what's happening in Serenje. I'll be updating this blog around once a month with info, stories, photos and prayer requests that I hope will connect us with individuals and their lives. Please encourage your family, friends and Life Group to sign up to this blog, so we can share what's happening with as many people as possible. Hillsong worship leader Brooke Fraser went on a trip to Rwanda and wrote a song about a little girl she met called Albertine. One line from the song says: 'Now that I have seen I am responsible. I will tell the world, I will tell them Albertine.'

Let's tell the world what's happening in Serenje.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Heaven touches Earth

Our trip is coming to a close and we will be flying home tomorrow a.m. As always the sun is shining and the beautiful green African countryside is at it's best. It has been inspiring spending time with the team in Serenje who are doing such a good job.

I am humbled to see all that God is doing here. We have met orphans who are now at school, we have seen fields full of crops and women who visit those with HIV and pastors who love their communities. The task is huge but many lives are being changed. God a here and something of heaven is touching earth.

Zoe

Friday, 1 May 2009

4th Village

We visited the 4th village in Serenje that we are working in today. We were met by singing and dancing. We all joined in with the dancing at some point and busted out some moves! Very funny.

In the communities we've visited they have given us a gift. This village overwhelmed us to the point of tears by giving us enough food to cover a rug. I've never wirtnessed such generosity, people who have so little giving so much. The lady giving it said that it is more blessed to give than to recieve. Wow.

Zoe

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Alex

Yesterday we met Alex who is the Project Officer for all we are doing in Serenje. He is an amazing guy who visits the communities every week and helps them in their fields. So far we have sponsored 190 orphans to go to school and meeting some of them today brings it all home.

Today Simon and Sean lead some training for the lcoal pastors, and Lee and Sarah worked with the children's workers and Catrina and I spent time with the women's leaders.

It is so inspiring hearing from women who have lost their husbands to HIV but who are trusting God for their future. They were very keen to be in touch with the Kerith women and many of them wrote letters for us to bring back.

Zoe

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Seeds

We also met a family who we helped buy seeds. It was great to see their field of crops. Recently because of the cold, their previous harvest ran out but because of the extra seeds they didn't go hungry.

Tomorrow Catrina and I are meeting with the women leaders. Please pray that this is a special time of sharing together. Thanks. Zoe

PS. These messages are quite short because they are being sent as text messages via my mobile phone as there is no Internet connection in the area we are visiting.

Wish You Were Here

I wish all of you could have been with us here today to see what is happening on the ground. This morning after visiting the District Commissioner (the Government official overseeing Serenje) we went to visit Kashitu, one of the four Serenje districts we are involved in.

Although the schools here are on holiday there were 18 orphans who we are sponsoring having catch up lessons to miss up for all the lessons they have missed-how humbling! We also visited a family who have been given seeds as part of the project. Big revelation of the day for me was that monkey nuts(peanuts)grow underground!

From there we travelled about 20 miles to Kankoso School which has partnered with Sandy Lane Primary School in Bracknell-again very exciting to see some of the early results of that-including a garden where they use what they grow to feed the orphans attending the school and to raise money for books.

We also got given a chicken that may be tea tonight! I do wish you could come here and see what is going on here-I think you would be excited by it all.

Hopefully the blogs, as well as the videos and pictures we are going to bring back will provide some substitute.

Simon

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Arrival in Serenje

Having got to Lusaka airport at 6 a.m. this morning Zambian time (Zambia is one hour ahead of the UK) after going to a guest house for a shower and some breakfast we went to the the offices of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (the partner we are working with in Zambia) to meet the bishop who leads EFZ.

We then had a five hour drive to Serenje (North East of Lusaka) to meet a group of about 20 pastors and then to a guest house for tea and the comedy of putting up the mosquito nets!

We are all off to bed in a minute as none of us really slept on the plane. Tomorrow we go to see what the project has achieved in three of the four districts in Serenje.

Howard Reece-Smith is off to the local hospital to see how they could partner with the hospital where he works-all very exciting.

I have also been praying for the Alpha courses starting this week-can't wait to hear how they went.

Simon

P.S. I watched Slumdog Millionaire on the plane-very good but I was expecting more laughs and less challenge!

Meeting Bishop Paul Mususu


We arrived in Lusaka in the early hours of this morning. After a quick breakfast we met with Bishop Paul Mususu. He talked about the enormity of the issue of HIV in Zambia. He explained that although they can't help everybody they can make a difference.

Together with EFZ we can make a difference in Serenje. He also talked about how the recession has increased the price of maize, which is the staple food. This will impact on huge numbers of the poorest.

We are travelling five hours to Serenje now and will meet with the pastors when we arrive!

Zoe Hayes, Lusaka, Zambia

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Welcome to the Serenje blog

We thought this would be a great way to communicate what we're doing in Serenje, Zambia.

Since our first Kerith trip to Serenje in November 2007, we've developed a 5 year plan in partnership with Tearfund and the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ). Here's a reminder of what will be happening over the next 5 years:
• 3000 vulnerable children of school going ages will access education support
• 600 people living with HIV will have access to improved home and community based care through 100 well trained caregivers
• 1000 small scale farmers will have access to improved farming techniques, crop knowledge and seed varieties resulting in household food and income sufficiency
• 120 leaders will be capacitated to initiate and sustain local development programmes.

How exciting to be part of this vision.

In November 2008 we had our first gift day and raised over £100,000! Thank you so much to everyone. A small team of us (Simon and Catrina, Sean Green from the Reading Church, Lee Layton-Matthews, Sarah Boyle, Howard Reece-Smith, Lindsey Reeece-Smith and myself) are going back to Serenje on Monday. We're really excited about seeing everyone again and seeing the difference the money has made to people's lives.

We'd value your prayers while we're away and we'll keep you posted on how we're getting on!