"Spanish Night Lights with a Latin American Twist"
Last night was the annual Middle School banquet at Rosslyn Academy, Emma and the other members of student council worked for many months in preparation for the big night. Hand made Spanish pinatas and colourful decorations adorned the banquet as the students arrived for a fun night of music and food. Here are a few fun candid shots from a great evening!
Tristan, Ezra and Floris
Hannah, Emma, Raelyn, and Caroline
Robert, Ezra, Floris, TK, and Benjamin
Excited for a great evening under the stars!
The boys at the banquet
Chaperoning the fun Erica and Melissa
Emma and Diane preforming "Good Time”
“The Belly Button Song”
preformed by the Belly Button Boys
(Michael, Reagan, TK, and Ezra)
Erica and I were both blessed to be able to participate in the banquet as chaperons for Emma’s first Middle School banquet and Tristan’s last, as he begins High School this coming August. We can’t believe how quickly they are growing up!
2013 has been a challenging year for refugee families living in the Somali diaspora in Kenya. In the community of Eastleigh, the rise in insecurity has led many people to return to Somalia. In the past three months, we have seen dozens of families in the Canadian Baptist Ministries self help program flee Nairobi. “Many of the rooms in our building are empty,” shared one SHG leader. “We pray that things will be better, may God’s will be done.”
Sharing with our friend Aisha and some of the leaders from the SHGs, it is interesting to hear their perspective on how fear and insecurity are affecting the lives of women. “Life is very hard for the women in our groups, they often have to fight for their independence, especially now.” shared our friend. “Just last week one of the groups was broken up by an angry man. He didn’t agree with women meeting together. He was violent and upset. He took his wife from the group and forbids her from going outside now.... this is not uncommon.”
Often in times of great upheaval, people retreat into what they know. Traditional values and patterns of life are seen as safe and secure. It is no wonder that young women interested in more non-traditional roles within their culture experience resistance and opposition. Interesting that around this past national election, there have been greater incidence of intergenerational division and conflict, than along tribal or ethnic lines. We have a friend who is leading peace building work throughout Kenya who also sees youth culture and youth movements as far more significant than old tribal division and interest.
It is encouraging to see SHG groups standing up for one another. This month, the groups have chosen 25 children (mostly young girls) within the groups to sponsor for school. “Education is so important,” shared Aisha. “It is a door to the future.” The women of the SHG program have great dreams and hopes for their children. Hopes for a new generation of young women that will experience life of peace and freedom.
Certainly the understanding of the rights and equality of women is a major issue among youth in Eastleigh and beyond. Lack of education, low literacy rates, prevalence of early arranged marriage and early child-bearing, high maternal mortality, and domestic violence are all pieces to the greater picture. One of the central pillars of the SHG program is helping women to address issues that affect their families and community. As they recognize and value each other, the SHG members are empowered to speak up for their sisters and for their families. Together they have a powerful voice!
Please continue to pray for the women of Eastleigh and their families. You can read more about the situation in their community in a recent Aljazeera Article describing the challenges facing the community of Eastleigh.
March has felt like a full month already with our children home from school last week for the Kenya National elections and many of our project teams travelling throughout the country to be in their home ridings. On Sunday, our church gave thanks for the peaceful election process, but many of our friends admitted that it was an anxious time as people monitored local media and avoided any unnecessary travel.
On Saturday, Kenya’s next president was announced after a long week of ballot counting. Uhuru Kenyatta narrowly won with 50.7% of the vote, avoiding an April run-off. We are interested to see how the coming months look as Uhuru, and his running mate William Ruto, are both on trial at the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity in the aftermath of the 2007 Kenyan election (Ruto stands trial on May 28th and Kenyatta on July 9th). We thank God that there was only isolated trouble this time around, but continue to pray for the communities of Marsabit, Garissa and Coast Province, where both violence and fatalities resulted from tensions and disputes around last week’s election.
Thank you for keeping Kenya in your prayers.
We recently sent out our March Update Letter to friends, churches and individual supporters. If you haven’t received it, please check it out online at www.cbmin.org or use this link:
The queue at our local voting station still stretching
for more than a km late in the afternoon
Monday, March 4th, was the first national election for Kenya since the post-election violence which erupted in the aftermath of the 2007 presidential elections. In the past months, many organizations have been working to promote peaceful and safe elections. Canadian Baptist Ministries has been working with our national Church partners to strengthen civic education and peace building throughout the communities where we serve. It has been good to hear many voices calling Kenya to unity in the midst of the election campaigns.
On election day, there were some violent clashes in Coast province and isolated outbreaks of violence, but the majority of the country was civil. Despite incredibly long lines for voting, we found people very pleasant and optimistic. Several strangers came up to us, proudly showing off their red-dyed pinky fingers (a tool to ensure that no one casts multiple votes). “Have you voted today? I have!!”
Election results come slowly in Kenya: The deadline for the electoral commission is next Monday, March 11th. So far, only a third of the voting results have been published, but Kenyans are being assured a fair and transparent election. We continue to pray that God’s grace and peace will rule in the hearts of the Kenyan people.
“The Guardians of Hope are volunteers in our churches willing to serve and encourage spiritually and physically people living with HIV and AIDS.” shared an AEBR pastor. “They are leading change!"
This past week, Erica and I have been sharing with our colleagues in Kigali, Rwanda, for our second annual GOH leaders training conference. We are thankful for our team mates (Kathleen and Bruno Soucy, Laura Lee and Darrell Bustin, Gato Munyamasoko, Andre Sibomana, Isaie Gawakere, Sam Kalinda, Esperance Niyigena, and Ernestine Kamarora) for the wonderful ministry they are leading with churches of the Rwandan Baptist Association. This year’s conference sought to strengthen the groups core competency in areas of home-based care, the self help group approach, and group management.
Bruno Soucy and Sibomana leading a morning session on stewardship
During one of our discussions, we asks the 45 participants what it meant to be a guardian of hope. “We are strengthening others for the hope of the future!” shared one of the women leaders. “Character is a must -- we are not working for earthly rewards. GOH is about Christians living with integrity”
Another leader shared, “As Guardians of Hope, we are showing our faith in deeds of love. We care for and visit the sick in their homes, and speak to our communities so that we can prevent the spread of HIV."
Erica and Isaie facilitating a discussion on the challenges facing groups
One of the vital roles of the GOH in Rwanda is providing front line support and care for people living with HIV and AIDS. The 29 GOH groups receive training each year on effective home-based care and volunteers from the groups receive tool kits that they use in serving the bed ridden and sick. The groups also assist people living with HIV reach local hospitals and clinics for medical care and antiretroviral (ARV) treatment.
A home-based care tool kit
In the community of Kisuga, GOH has been focused on the problem of poor nutrition and low caloric intake. The group has been trying to help families through kitchen gardening and training. Each month the 60 members “weigh-in” to track their weight gain as they participate in the project. “Everyone brings something small from their gardens, and we show them how to prepare healthy meals with local foods.” Together they find support and encouragement as they seek to live positively with the virus.
Erica and Ernestine
“We encounter many challenges,” shared one leader. “We bought a goat for a family so that they would have manure for their garden, milk for their family, and baby goats for income, but the family was so hungry that they ate the goat. We want our people to see that God has a long life ahead for them, that there is a future for them. They need to walk in that hope!”
In another group, in the region of Gatunga, the GOH have been working together in a community sorghum farm. They projected a profit of 300,000 Rwandan Francs ($500 Canadian dollars) for the year, but by drying and safely storing their crops they have been able to sell it at peak times. In just the first three months of this year, they have already exceeded their projected year’s profit. “We are not only paying health insurance for all of our members,” shared the group representatives, “But at this we will have enough profit to buy four cows for our group. Our plan is for every member to receive a calf from these cows."
Aaron and Isaie leading training on problem analysis
In another group, the GOH have been working together to cultivate a shared banana plantation. “We have had great success with a new variety of Asian Banana -- So much that the government is paying us to teach others on cultivating this new banana! With this unexpected income,” shared a group leader. “We are purchasing mattresses. We had already purchased one mattress for every guardian, but now we have been able to go around a second time. Every home has two mattresses now!!!”
In Rwanda, the GOH project stimulates micro-enterprise development through matching grants. Village saving and loan programs enable the groups to save and borrow money to expand their activities and improve the sustainability of their projects. Increased household income of guardians caring for AIDS orphans, as well as those living with HIV, is a central goal of the project.
Over the past two years, Erica has been helping the GOH associations to adopt a self help group approach in their communities. As the groups meet more frequently, not only are they benefitting economically, but emotional and social support is enhanced as they share their problems and concerns, pray for one another, share their faith, and seek local solutions to local problems. Through a self help approach, the groups are being lead for change from the ground up!
The Participants of the 2013 GOH Leaders Conference, Kigali
Please pray for the Guardians of Hope in Rwanda. We hope to have a short video update ready to share with you in the next week. A link will be available here on our blog at www.fivekennys.blogspot.com
To learn more about what CBM is doing in Africa and around the world, please see our website at www.cbmin.org
Darrell and Laura Lee Bustin
We are also very thankful for our new team mates, Darrell and Laura Lee, who are currently in language study in Kigali. We appreciate their help at the conference, where Laura Lee led a devotion and Darrell spoke on the integrity of Christian leadership. Please remember the Bustins as their daughter, Bronwyn, prepares to go to University in Canada this coming June. We also think of their son, Caleb, as he attends school in Kigali.