Spring 2017 transform   

   We have listened to and read much about the consequences of Brexit for UK trade and living standards over the last few months.  We have read less on the consequences for NGO’s overseas.  This hit me when I received last month a budget to repeat a peacebuilding project we had carried out in Burundi in 2016.  The deteriorating exchange rates combined with local inflation had increased the cost by over 20%. This prompted me to increase the amount we send each month for child sponsorship at the Star School in Rwanda.  I so enjoyed the response from Bishop Nathan when I told him. ‘It is hard to just say thank you without a hand clap and big drums sounding’.  You can see why I enjoy doing this job! (Pictured is Bishop Nathan at a building project on Nkombo Island)

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    In this newsletter, we focus on our ministry in  Africa.  We will focus on Eastern Europe in our summer newsletter. But I must share that we had an amazing response to our Christmas appeal for Baby Boxes for the Roma communities in Bulgaria and our summer newsletter will  include an update on this project.  As I know so many of our supporters are busy people, I will make this newsletter largely visual.

 

Star School near Kigali in Rwanda
   Purchasing the land for this school in 2007 was MPUK’s first project.  The land cost us just £5000!  Our next project will cost us more than this!   For some time we have wanted to replace the mud staircase leading to the dining hall. This is treacherous in the rainy season. Now we are ready to start this project.  Not only will there be a concrete staircase but also a ramp for the physically disabled and a long retaining wall with drainage to reduce the erosion problem we have on this hillside site.
Pupils have had to live with goals without goalposts for the past 10 years!   This is no longer true.  Another small improvement at the school.  Hopefully we can add nets soon.

 

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Red Zone children on Nkombo Island, Rwanda
   Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, more children will be benefitting from the highly nutritious super porridge from this April.  We continue to supply resources for the nursery school including books, footballs and more.
   In May, we will launch a WASH programme in this community. (Clean water, hygiene and sanitation).  Our initial focus will be on providing water filters for clean water and providing facilities for hand washing.  This project will be supported by training from the local volunteer community health workers.  

 
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(Bottom right picture is our project manager Boniface surrounded by water filters) 

 

Bible distribution in Burundi and Zambia
   We are thrilled we can commit to more Bible distribution projects in 2017. In Burundi this includes Bibles : for Rotana prison in southern Burundi where inmates are becoming followers of Jesus and need them for Bible study;  for Peace Villages for landless and ‘rootless’ repatriates returning from exile in Tanzania; and for a school where many students are coming to know Christ.
   In Zambia the distribution will be in the impoverished Kazungula district in the south. Kazungula town is an interesting place claiming to be the only country quadripoint in the world where Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia meet.

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The historically marginalised Batwa people in Rwanda
   We are often exhorted in leadership conferences to have a big vision.  ‘Small is beautiful’ resonates more with me.  If we tried to meet all the needs we encounter in Africa, we would be so overwhelmed that we would end up doing nothing.  With that in mind, we are focusing our support of the Batwa on one small area just north of Musanze.
   Below are 4 pictures representing something of what we have been doing. Picture one is the first harvest on the land we purchased for the community just over a year ago – the crop is pyrethrum which is used as an insecticide.   The Batwa people have benefited from the sale of the crop. The second crop which has recently been planted will be  potatoes.  Picture two is our ‘Back to School’ project providing uniforms, shoes and bags containing educational materials. Picture three is the launch of our first adult literacy course for the Batwa people. Trustee Jon Randal was in Rwanda at the time and brought a greeting at the first session.
   Picture four is of Thomas and Jacqueline, beneficiaries of our cow project - enjoy the wide smile on the face of Thomas (behind Jacqueline and our project manager Salomon) which is such a contrast to what my wife Ruth and I encountered when we first visited the village in September 2014.  Lethargy, hopelessness and begging are being replaced by a sense of purpose, improved self-esteem and the prospect of a better future.

 
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Literature in Uganda
   There is a dearth of books written by African church leaders for their people. Largely they read books by British and American authors. With the support of a Christian literature trust, it has been our joy to facilitate the publication of books written by our partner Pastor Peter Kasirivu in Uganda. Following on from his ‘Africa Pastor’s Handbook’, we have now facilitated the publication of his new book ‘The Wonders of God’s Grace’.

 

Some snippets
Launch of Baby Box project
   This project was launched in January and the MP team in Bulgaria, working with our Eastern Europe Development Officer Ian Sinkinson, are hoping to distribute 150 UK funded baby boxes (plus associated support) by the end of this year.
   In the photo, Tanya Konyarova and Daniela Encheva of Mission Possible Bulgaria are shown carrying a box to Zlatka’s home on the foothills of the Balkan Mountains. Zlatka has recently given birth to her fourth son.

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International Education Fellowship (IEF)
   The Russian language IEF Bible Study Correspondence course was created in the early 90’s and currently has over 1000 students each year in Russia and Ukraine.  The course has a 3 year curriculum based on 60 books.
   With the support of another Christian literature Trust, this complete course is being put online.  Not only will this make the course cheaper for students but the increased online accessibility should quickly increase the number of students who benefit from it.

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Prayer
   Please remember our ministry in prayer.  Like Bishop Nathan, we praise God for His provision and His goodness - though maybe not with big drums sounding! 
   At the end of this special African edition, we ask that you especially remember our partners on the coal face in Africa. In our eyes they are awesome heroes. These include

Cyangugu:  Bishop Nathan, Boniface (Projects), Boaz (Accounts), Pastor Michael (Red Zone Children)
Star School: Bishop Nathan, Rev Sam (Headmaster), Agnes (Child Sponsorship Administrator)
Batwa:  Bishop John and his wife Harriot, Christine (Administrator) Salomon (Project Manager)
Burundi: Francois
Uganda: Pastor Peter
Zambia: Pastor Muzamai

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 … and finally

   If you have reached this far in our newsletter, thank you for your interest in and support of this ministry to the lost, last and in the eyes of this world the least.  

 

Richard

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