Friday, October 28, 2016

Looking Forward

 A  curious  bushbaby  in  Kwale,  Kenya

Over the weekend, our family travelled to Kwale in Kenya's southern coastal region to visit with leaders that will be hosting the 2017 Kamp Tumaini. 

In the evenings, we were treated to the antics of bush babies. These little acrobats would leap through the rafters of the dining room and do their best to snatch fruit from the tables. When one would grab something, a band of others would chase after him in a cartoonish dance. It was dinner and a show every night.

Bushbabies are extremely cute. Their great saucer eyes are always on the look out, always looking forward. I think that is something that we have appreciated in our work with groups like the Guardians of Hope. It is the wide-eyed hope and expectation of faith, things are going to change. Life is getting better!

 Erica and Andrew working on details for Kamp Tumaini 2017

In the region of Kwale County, HIV infection has remained at a high prevalence rate of 6% of the population. In schools like the Mivumoni Secondary School, practically everyone knows of someone how has been affected by HIV/AIDS.

In 2017, Kamp Tumaini will be moving into the Mivumoni Secondary School to work with GOH kids and their classmates on awareness and prevention of HIV and AIDS. More than this, we are excited to have the opportunity each day to meet with the entire student body for rallies that will promote what it means to be an inclusive community of love and support.

 Mivumoni Secondary School -- site of Kamp Tumaini 2017

Classrooms on the Mivumoni Campus

During our time in the village of Mivumoni, the students were preparing for exams and excited for the new Kenyan school break that will give them the months of November and December off. The shifts in the Kenyan school calendar has certainly impacted the way that we are able to hold camps for the Guardians of Hope children. We are very thankful for the openness of the school administration to host Kamp Tumaini during next July. The principal and his deputy have been very encouraging and accommodating for the Kamp Tumaini program. Together we are anticipating a great experience for the students and community.

 Preparing for Kamp

 Aaron and Andrew in front of an HIV Awareness wall created by the Africa Brotherhood Church for the students in Mivumoni Secondary

As we prepare for next year's camp program, we are very thankful for the commitment of the local Africa Brotherhood Church (ABC) that has been working with families infected and affected by HIV and AIDS for over ten years. The ABC is currently facilitating Guardians of Hope groups throughout Kenya. This local group has demonstrated the love and compassion of Christ in word and deed as they have helped orphans and vulnerable children complete school and live positively. Kamp Tumaini is really one way to build upon their great work.

Life abounding in Mivumoni

Please join us and our Canadian Baptist Ministries partners as we prepare for next year's camping ministry. We continue to pray for the participants from Spring Forth (a ministry of the Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada) who will be coming as counselors for next summer's program. 

We also pray for the students, faculty, and administration at Mivumoni. Changes by the government's ministry of education have created a lot of confusion and tension throughout Kenya. We pray for patience and understanding throughout Kenya.

We continue to pray for the wider ministry of the Guardians of Hope that is working with thousands of families in India, Rwanda and Kenya. You can learn more about this program and the work of CBM in Africa and around the world by visiting our website at 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Something to Dance About

Chanathina Women's Group Bukuyu, Kenya

There is something to dance about in the villages of Bukuyu and Bula Pamoja in Kenya's Northeast. Under the shade of Acacia trees, women from the Chanathina farmers group are singing praises for the blessing of their farms that are doing well despite the terrible floods of this past May. 

Through hard work and cooperation, the people of these communities are becoming food secure as they utilize the methods of conservation agriculture. They are both bringing produce to market and to their tables.

Children having lunch at the CBM feeding program
Bula Pamoja, Kenya

Over the past five years, CBM has been helping to improve nutrition within the community through daily feeding programs in two early childhood centres that we revitalized with the community leaders. As the food security project has grown, village farmers are now able to provide fresh produce like bananas and kales for the children each day. 
"The school feeding program has helped to attract and retain the kids to school," shared our colleague Pauline. "This is because most households in the community cannot afford meals during the day due to abject poverty in the area. Since the inception of the school in 2012, twenty-two pupils have graduated to nearby primary schools which are approximately three kms away."

Our colleagues Geoffrey and Pauline visiting the new irrigation pump 
provided by CBM's food security project in Garissa.

 Bukuyu mother and beneficiary of the CBM food security project

Only a few years ago, this field was thorny scrub bush. 
Now it is a source of food and income for a family.
"The empowerment of the community with skills and knowledge on conservation farming has enabled them better farming techniques which has increased their yields. The community has also gained knowledge on the control of pests and diseases which use to be a menace in the area," shared Pauline. " The community has also benefitted with certified seeds of tomatoes, kales, green grams and cowpeas which has increased their yields and they been able to sell for income. It has also helped the community to diversify on the different kinds of crops to improve their diets and nutrition."
In Prayer

We thank God for the fruit of ministry in these communities and for the growing peace of the past year in Garissa. Please join us in praying for continued stability and deepening relationships of mutual trust and respect among the Muslim and Christian communities of this region.

·     As the people of Bakuyu are seeing their farms prosper, they are now facing a challenge from wildlife like warthogs and hippopotamus destroying their crops. Please pray for this community as it seeks affordable and effective ways to protect their farms and prevent the destruction of their crops by wild animals.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Seeing Change in Bugharama

 Kinane is a young farmer in Bugharama, 
Democratic Republic of Congo

Insecurity is a major concern throughout Eastern DRC as militia groups continue to raid villages and take hostages for ransom. Kinane lost his parents during such a raid committed by a rebel militia group four years ago in Bugharama. 

After the death of his parents, Kinane had to leave school in order to take care of his five younger brothers. His only source of income was their traditional farm that grew cassava, beans and bananas, but as farm yields started to decrease through plant diseases like the mosaic virus that attacks cassava and a pervasive bacteria that killed his banana plants, it became difficult for him to meet the needs of his family. 

Faced with dying crops, Kinane was desperate to find a way to provide shelter, food, education and health care for his younger brothers.

If you ever have the opportunity to visit Central Africa, you will no doubt discover that banana (and in particular the starchy plantain variety) is the daily staple food for families living within the mountainous interior. The outbreak of BXW (Banana Xanthomonas Wilt) has been devastating for communities like Bugharama and for farmers like Kinane. 

BXW is a bacteria that infects the soil and every part of the banana plant from the roots to the fruit. It first appeared in the 1960s in Ethiopia, but reemerged in Uganda in 2001. Most recently the bacteria has swept into Central Africa wiping out banana production where ever it goes. BXW has brought devastation to banana farmers in parts of Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The bacteria can be spread through infected tools like pangas (machetes), banana buds, and other contaminated plant material. 

A banana plant infected with BXW

In the community of Bugharama, Canadian Baptist Ministries (CBM) and our local partner the Central African Baptist Churches (CBCA) are helping to improve food security and overcome the impact of BXW through better farm management. Kinane is one of ninety-five farmers in a CBM/CBCA food security project in this area. 

Together with his neighbours, he is receiving training, weekly mentorship, disease resistant seed, tree seedlings and support in running five demonstration farms to help other farmers in their community. In this year alone, over 4500 trees have been planted. Kinane and his farming association members are now using techniques that improve soil fertility. But perhaps the biggest impact has been found in the improved management of BXW and the replanting of healthy banana farms.

Kinane and members of the Mapendo Farmers Association

Since Kinane joined the Mapendo association in Bugharama, he has been following the conservation agriculture training on modern farming techniques and disease management provided by the CBM/CBCA food security project. 

He was particularly interested in the introduction of vegetables into his farm and this year, he planted tomatoes, onions and amaranths on his 25 m x 20 m field. After the sale of his first harvest, he earned a profit of $215 US dollars. Kinane used this income to  pay school fees for his brothers and to buy a goat for their farm.
“I never collected so much money at one single sale,” laughed  Kinane. "I will encourage my brothers to help me and increase the size of the field. With this initiative, I even see the hope of getting married in the next couple of years." 
Kinane and is BXW-free banana plants

This project has brought vital changes in the Bugharama community. 
"With the new technology they have learnt during the training, the promotion of gardening and the distribution of improved cassava cutting and banana seedlings, people increase their food production and their income." shared Polisi Kivava of the CBCA. "In this way, the project is contributing to reduce poverty in the area."

Please join us in praying for families like Kinane's and for the important work in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We are thankful for this and the constellation of other projects that we as Canadian Baptists have the privilege of participating in with our sisters and brothers living in Central Africa. You can learn more about the work of Canadian Baptist Ministries in DRC, throughout Africa and around the world by visiting our website.