Mission Possible UK
Spring Newsletter 2020
Dear Friends at Mirepoix,
The Prime Minister launched the hand washing campaign in the UK at the beginning of March. So, Ruth and I were surprised when we landed in Rwanda in mid-February to find that their hand washing campaign was already in full swing. Hand washing was required before entering schools, restaurants and shopping centres. In the southwest, we encountered a police roadblock and saw how every person was required to wash their hands.
When we first visited Nkombo and Ishwa Islands on Lake Kivu a few years ago, hardly any houses had hand washing facilities. It has been a joy to provide about 1000 households on the two islands with both a water filter and what Ruth calls 'a tipsy hand washing machine' – (I assure you these are filled with nothing stronger than water!). During our visit last month, we agreed to provide the water filters and tipsy machines for the Historically Marginalised People we work with in the northwest, starting at the village where we established the first agricultural cooperative.
The next phase of our WASH project (clean water, hygiene and sanitation) is to seek to make Ishwa Island an 'open defecation free zone'. There are 400 households on the island and 69 of them have either no toilet, or their toilets are in a total state of disrepair. (See picture I took last month above right.) The good news is that our partners have already constructed 9 new toilets. Our hope is to fund the building of all 69 of the new toilets by the end of 2020. Bottom picture is opening of one of the new toilets on Ishwa Island in February.
The Star School
We were in Rwanda during the rainy season and experienced some tropical storms. We saw first-hand the benefits of the draining ditches we funded. But despite these ditches, erosion on the school campus remained an issue. So last year, we launched a tree and shrub project at the school. And there has been an additional benefit. Today, the school campus looks so beautiful that we could rename the school 'The Garden School'. I am not an educationalist but I am sure a good environment is conducive to good study. Top picture shows school clinic and dormitory blocks on right and dining hall bottom left with one of the new walkways in between.
One other new initiative is the dyslexia project managed by Ezekiel who runs special classes each Friday afternoon. Middle picture shows this special class. Meanwhile, four children on our child sponsorship programme have completed their secondary education and their exam results came out while we were there. All four children did well and we are now exploring how we can equip them for a job in the future. This may involve us funding them to go to college or facilitating an apprenticeship.
New school building in Cyangugu Diocese
We have supported the Kabahire nursery school in southwest Rwanda for several years, providing high protein porridge and a small income for the teachers. Headteacher Enatha is a most gifted teacher engaging with the children, in spite of having almost no school resources. The three classes are held in four corners of the church building. On this trip we saw how she has mentored other teachers. We are delighted to provide the school with a new building that has three classrooms. We have also promised ongoing support of food, salaries and school resources, made possible thanks to a large one-off gift we received in the autumn.
Pictured is the start of the building work with Kabahire pastor Berthe, project manager Wilber and Ruth. In the distance can be seen the pastors house and behind this the church itself. Also pictured below is Enatha with some of the 130 children at the school
Transformational Ministry in northwest
I will not pretend that our Back to School project supporting 130 primary school children has been without challenges. With education not being traditionally valued by the Historically Marginalised People (their tradition is hunter-gathering which requires no formal education), absenteeism from their schools was always going to be an issue. We have sought to address absenteeism by holding seminars for parents and giving good attendance awards. The good news is that several children on this project completed their primary education in December and we have decided to support them through secondary school. Pictured above is Ruth and project manager Duka with six of these children.
A great joy is seeing adults read and write for the first time. We visited our third adult literacy project and have agreed both to fund a fourth course, and provide Children Bibles Story books in Kinyarwanda so that they can read to their children and grandchildren. We also visited land we have purchased for the three agricultural cooperatives we have supported, and agreed to buy additional land for two of them. We helped to harvest a wheat crop which reminded us of the story of Ruth and Boaz.
Providing cows and goats alongside running crusades is all part of the transformational ministry in these impoverished and marginalised communities.
Something to eat, something to wear
I was amazed when I calculated that we feed about 500 children each school day, providing meals for children on Ishwa (the Champion a Child project), Kabahire (the nursery school), the 'Back to School' project with the historically marginalised children, and the sponsored children at the Star School.
The photograph to the right is one of the children at Ishwa nursery school with a cup of high protein soup. In addition to meals, the championed children will receive a new pair of shoes, the primary school children on the Back to School project have received new school uniforms and the Star School sponsored children were given clothes as Christmas gifts.
More on Champion a Child
Last year, we purchased a large plot of land adjacent to the nursery school. This is being used for three purposes – a playground for the children (see picture right), a market garden for church members and land to build a house for the assistant pastor and his wife, who live on the island in rented accommodation
MPUK's Essential Series
Earlier this year, 'The Essentials of Excellent Christian Leadership' was published in Swahili. Picture shows pastor Arthur in Mbeya Tanzania with 500 copies. We hope that 'The Essentials of an Excellent Christian Marriage' which is now in its third draft will be published by the end of this year
Malawi Book Packs
We received a wonderful response to our Christmas appeal for book packs for Malawi. Churches are already benefiting from previous funds we have sent for literature. Pictured is a church in southern Malawi which received their first ever printed resources via MPUK. We are now exploring launching a new goat project and have sent some additional funds as part of bringing immediate relief to the impoverished.
Baby Boxes Bulgaria
We also had a great response for Baby Boxes. Our team in Bulgaria expressed how important the boxes are: "Many thanks for the gift of Baby Boxes. The mother of a new born child often feels alone and does not know what to do. We come to help and bless her, without wanting anything in return. In this way, trust is built. The mothers tell us their struggles, and we hope they will soon come to church. Baby Boxes are the key to reaching Roma mothers". Pictured is MP Bulgaria director Roumen with one of many beneficiaries.
Invitation to the Number One Rwandan Coffee Experience
This autumn and next spring, Ruth and I hope to tour the UK with MPUK's Number One Rwandan Coffee Experience. There will be special invitation cards (see front cover on right) to welcome friends to enjoy genuine Rwandan coffee, whilst we will show a short 10 minute video of our ministry in Rwanda. This is a lovely informal way to meet up with old friends and make new ones. Interested? We would love you to invite us to your neighbourhood
There is much to pray for tucked into this newsletter – and please join us in giving thanks to God that he has given us the resources to do so much. From May 1st, we will be sending out monthly prayer requests to those who would like to receive them. If you would, simply email me and we will send them to you each month.