Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Truly incredible

The current Serenje Gift Days' total is just over £111,000. This total is a combination of cash donations, standing orders and gift aid. It's just amazing, isn't it? Thank you so much to everyone who gave. Your money means the following is possible:

- 1700 orphans and vulnerable children supported to go to school(up from 890 this year)
- 1000 farmers provided with seed (up from 701 this yr)
- 100 volunteers trained to support people living with HIV and AIDS (same as this yr)

These numbers represent individuals whose lives are being changed. It's been great to hear some of the stories from the team who recently returned from Serenje and Alan Lander shared this reflection from the trip:

'A number of the churches meet in one of the larger schools in the town. I was asked to speak and arrived to find over 100 adults and children crammed into a classroom; kids on the floor, adults at desks. It was a new experience to have an interpreter as most of the adults spoke Bemba. Afterwards I was invited to Pastor Chola's home for lunch. He has seven children and this is what I wrote in my journal.
“I noticed a small bundle on the sofa. This was a baby girl only seven days old. I asked her name and was totally speechless when they asked me to name her. After I got over the shock they insisted and said they had given all their other children biblical names. In their culture they name a child on the seventh day, and as I was their 'honoured guest' then I was asked to name her. I said I would like to call her Hannah. What an incredibly humbling experience. Two of their children are being supported at school by the project and as I held Hannah ( feeling very emotional) I looked in her face and felt that this girl has a hope and a future because of the project we are supporting. Hannah will always stay in my thoughts.'

What a privilege to partner with God in what He's doing in Serenje.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Gift Day update

I heard today that we're up to £84,208 on our way to raising £100,000 for Serenje! How brilliant is that! It is amazing to be part of such a generous community of people.

Catrina is continuing her blogs about her Serenje trip and here is the another one:

Let me introduce you to Mrs Catherine Mumba. She is 42 years old. She is married to Peter, who is a peasant farmer. Together they have 6 children ranging in age from 2-21 years old. Catherine and Peter are both Volunteers for the Serenje Project.

Every morning begins with Catherine making a 1 hour walk into the villages to buy produce, like cabbage, onion, rape and tomatoes. She walks with a group of women for their pre-arranged appointments with different farmers in the villages surrounding Serenje town (the Boma). Catherine and her friends then carry the produce back on their heads and backs to the Boma to sell at their market stall from 6am to 6pm.

Remember she has 6 children too!

Catherine has 5 clients. Two of them are living with HIV and on ARV drugs. Three of her clients are on TB drugs. She also has some school-aged children to monitor. Some of Catherine's clients need seeing daily; all are seen weekly. The support she gives them include spiritual encouragement; physical help; hygiene and health education; perhaps also going to the clinic to collect medicines and food supplements. She will also often give some of her own food to her clients. As Charity (she heads up the volunteers) said of the volunteers: "They leave their families without food and they work tirelessly".

In response to my question "How do you do it all?" Catherine simply replied "I divide my time". The reality is that the volunteers are living in very similar circumstances to their clients - they are not meeting their needs from a position of having much. There is no monetary or earthly reward for what Catherine and the other volunteers are doing. They do it because the love of God has so transformed their hearts and lives. It's so very humbling to see how they truly are meeting their neighbours' needs.

The money raised from the Gift Days contributes to the training of incredible volunteers like Catherine.

Isaiah 58 v.6, 7 & 10
"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter, when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? And if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. "