Mission Possible UK

www.mpuk.org

Newsletter Spring 2021

Dear Friends at Mirepoix,

Life changed for us in 2020 and this is true of the partners we work with overseas. We have had to be nimble, seeking to meet immediate needs alongside long-term needs. This has been made much easier by the extraordinarily generous response we received to our emergency appeal in the middle of last year and we were most pleasantly delighted when, on top of this, we had another amazing response to our Christmas appeal. Thank you again.

Star School: perplexed but rejoicing

We have received some fantastic news. All four children on our sponsorship programme who have graduated from the Star School (pictured right) have been awarded government-sponsored places at university. MPUK will fund their living expenses. One shared when she joined the programme many years ago that she wanted to be a banker which seemed most improbable. She is now going to university to study banking. Amid all the challenges at the school, we rejoice.

And there have been challenges. Just 12 hours before all the pupils at the Star School were due to return for the first time since March 2020, the government imposed a new lockdown. This is a new challenge, as this time about 200 boarders had already returned to the school, though are not permitted to attend lessons. They have been joined by some teachers who have been evicted from their homes and who now have the responsibility to both feed and entertain the children. (See picture right, taken outside a dormitory block.) So, we will continue the staff salary support scheme until Easter. Also, the school needs a new classroom block as we are certain that the government will require smaller class sizes when lockdown comes to an end. MPUK are contributing towards this and building work should commence soon. We are pleased to report that the children returned to school in the first week of March 2021, for the first time since March 2020.


Kabahire Nusery School: new beginnings, more rejoicing

The three classes of this school located in South West Rwanda had met in the single room church building. In my opinion, the head teacher is the best teacher in the world, engaging brilliantly with the children despite almost no resources. Thanks to a supporter, the school now has a new purpose-built classroom block, an equipped playground and what they call a 4-door toilet block. This school, with 111 pupils, was permitted to open in January and there was great rejoicing. School pictured to right.

WASH programme: Promoting human dignity and health

As a result of the amazing response to our Christmas appeal, we have been able to send funds to Rwanda to complete the 69-toilet project that we committed to in December 2019. The objective was to make Ishwa Island an open defecation free zone and we are now moving significantly towards achieving this objective. I have called the picture to the right 'new for old' as both are shown.

We have launched a new water filter project on the foothills of the Virunga volcanic mountains in the Northwest of Rwanda. In the link below you can see Julienne giving thanks for both her new water filter and her new goat which can be seen in the background. She shares that she used to have kidney problems and that these have largely been resolved since drinking clean water. In the same area we have also piloted our first small oral health programme – see picture to the right. Please click youtu.be/EVKDEMsDfoc

Regarding the rolling out of the feminine hygiene project to schoolgirls, we are needing to be patient while many secondary schools are in Rwanda in lockdown. Certainly, the Star School will continue to benefit from this project, and we are exploring a possible second school to launch it in.


Decent housing: foundation to achieving human rights

One of the first projects I was involved in back in 1999 was building a village for child-headed families in Rwanda. Children as young as 10 were raising their younger siblings due to losing both parents in the 1994 genocide. Since then, we have supported school and church building projects but not housing. This is changing. Last year we built a house for a pastor on Ishwa Island and also a house for a family who had been living in their cowshed because their house had been destroyed by heavy winds. (See picture above right showing both new house and cow shed.) We have been invited to build more new homes for the historically marginalised people who live in the most appalling conditions (see picture of house to the right that Ruth and I have visited). I believe that compassion demands that we do something – indeed I feel in my bones that this may become part of our 2021 Christmas appeal! Of course, our long-term objective is to facilitate the historically marginalised people becoming self-sufficient and I am pleased to share that they have had good harvests at the three agricultural cooperatives that we support. But the truth is that most of the proceeds of these harvests are used towards meeting their most basic needs. President Jimmy Carter was so right when he recognised that decent housing is the foundation to achieving essential human rights and his compassion drove him to do something about it with the establishment of 'Habitat for Humanity.'


More on education: the second most powerful weapon to change the world

No prizes for identifying the most powerful weapon! And we remain committed to investing in the education of children in Rwanda. Recently, thanks to a grant from a trust, we have been able to provide secondary school textbooks at the Star School and we are hoping soon to add primary school textbooks to these. It is astonishing that the school has such a good educational track record over the years with only teachers having textbooks.

And then there are our two child support programmes in addition to the Star School sponsorship programme. Thankfully, in January children returned to the Ishwa nursery school and children on our Back-to-School project returned to primary schools in northwest Rwanda. We have received so many good photos that it has been difficult to select just two of them, which you will see above – at the top is Ishwa nursery school and underneath is Susa primary school, one of several primary schools that the back-to-school programme children go to. Looking at the Susa photograph, it is interesting to note cultural differences. In Rwanda these hand gestures indicate harmony and peace.


Eastern Europe: where poverty and cold meet

My first visit to Russia was in December 1998. The temperature was minus 30 degrees Celsius. The trip gave me a whole new insight into poverty as I met children emerging from tunnels under the roads where they were keeping warm huddling beside the piping used to channel central heating between tower blocks. And the living conditions in many of the small two-bedroom apartments in the tower blocks were appalling, with sometimes three generations of a family living in them. Thankfully, I am told that the number of children living on the streets has reduced since those days and our ministry has largely adapted from being a street children ministry to a shelter home ministry. We have so many testimonies of children who have moved from darkness to light through this ministry. Please take time out to watch this short 3-minute video – I find it difficult to keep my emotions in check when viewing it.

Please click youtu.be/ca2wqNjgzGQ


Snippets

Essentials of an Excellent Christian Marriage

This book is now in Africa. Pictured is Pastor Evance with copies in southern Malawi. An army chaplain in Zambia has shared that this is a resource that he has been looking for over the years. We are about to ship a quantity to Zambia together with printed copies of the handouts. The leadership book in the series has been printed in Portuguese and is now being used in the Tete area of Mozambique. Meanwhile, I am working with a former Wesley Owen Books & Music colleague on the next book in the series called 'The Essential Beginners Guide to the Bible'.


More Bibles distributed

Pictured is the latest distribution in Jackson in Malawi. Yes, I know this sounds more like the USA than Malawi! This distribution was done in the context of a three-day training programme which covered quite a range of topics – leadership, discipleship, the work of the Holy Spirit, marriage and ethics. We have also provided Bibles for a new discipleship training initiative in Cyangugu Diocese in Rwanda, but this programme has been temporarily postponed due to another lockdown.


Safeguarding in Burundi

Over the past three years we have been sending team members from Rwanda and Burundi to Nairobi for a one-week safeguarding training course. Pictured to the right is Christine of Transformational Ministries in Rwanda and Francois of REMA Burundi taken during one of the courses. In 2021, we will be supporting REMA as they launch a new safeguarding initiative, training Christian leaders in five locations in the nation. We see this as a significant development. We are also planning to send more funds for our income generating project in Burundi.

And finally … March 14 is Mission Possible Sunday

It would be wonderful if you could pray specifically for Mission Possible and our ministries on Sunday March 14th. If you would like to receive prayer points for this day, please contact me by March 12th.


This is everything for now. Thank you for reading our spring newsletter.


Richard