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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September 11, 2013


It’s been over 7 months since my last blog and much has happened since then.  I tried to write a blog back in April then again in May and I actually wrote the majority of this one after the 4th of July.  I have been trying to write to this blog for many months but have not been able to get the thoughts I want out of my head onto paper or should I say blog.  I am not sure why every time I come back from Africa my enthusiasm dwindles a little more.  It is only after I start to think about returning that I start to get motivated again.  There was a plan to return in August but that did not happen.  I would like to go in late October or early November but that too looks like it might not happen.


First I would like to give my condolences to the Ososo family on the loss of the youngest son Romeo last month.  I met Romeo on my first visit back in 2009 and found him to be so full of energy, well spoken, and ready to take on the world.  I am not sure exactly how old Romeo was but I am sure he was in his early to mid 20’s.  Every time I met with him he was about as upbeat as anyone could be.  I have spoken before about how life can be taken at such early ages in Africa.  Many children die before the age of 5 however getting sick in Africa at any age can be deadly.  Again my heart goes out to the Ososo family and I will miss Romeo on my future visits.


Bishop Hezron was here in the states for two months back in April and May.  I had the pleasure of meeting with him the end of April and early May.  I left Chicago and took a quick trip back to Delaware for a few days.  I then headed west and picked up Hezron in Louisville, Kentucky.  After Louisville we headed west to Olathe, Kansas where Hezron met and spoke at Olathe Wesleyan Church.  After a few days in Olathe we headed further west to Colorado Springs, Colorado to meet with my brother Steve and family.  While we were in Colorado Springs we took a quick trip up Pikes Peak to enjoy the view.  I am not sure what I was thinking but there seems to be less air up there and it was really quite chilly.  On the drive up the Bishop told me to watch the road and he would watch the scenery.  After our time in Colorado Springs we then took a 14 hour drive to Minnesota to meet up with Aaron and the folks in Wilmar.  After Minnesota we then drove another 12 hours down to Cincinnati where he was to meet with some friends from his days with CFO (Camps Furthest Out).  The next morning I returned back to Chicago.  Total trip was close to 5000 miles.
Bishop Hezron on top of Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs, Colorado


As you know we have been experimenting for the last couple of years with ways to help the people of East Africa become more self sufficient.  Back in the summer of 2011 Pastor Ososo and the UMC Matasia church started YSAVE.  Two years later the micro-finance venture is still doing very well.  This last March we injected some funds into the venture to give it a boost.  As of the last time I heard money is being saved and money is being loaned out.  Some of the projects they have been doing include tailoring, catering, the cereal shop, jewelry making, security services, and other projects.  Our intent is to loan the money at no interest to YSAVE and the other ventures payable back to us in a time frame that is manageable to them. 
One of the roadside Kiosks
Inside the cereal shop started in Summer 2011

Security guards doing their training

Tailoring shop

Some of the bone jewelry



The Freedom Ministries micro-finance venture was initiated during the October 2012 visit and finalized during the January 2013 visit.  We also injected some funds this last March into their venture.  Bishop Hezron spent April and May in the states and upon his return to Kenya he had been very busy through July getting caught up in his ministry.  I have asked him to have the committee include me in some of their proceedings so I can get a feel of what they are doing.  I have told them success is paramount.  My understanding is that they are meeting monthly to review applications and distribute loans they deem viable.  I hope to get some more reports soon on their progress.


There had been some discussions about putting a micro-finance venture into a church environment.  To some this is contrary to what the church is all about.  However in order to stay away from creating a separate NGO and our desire to help the people in the church we need their legal framework to operate.  The church as a legal entity in Kenya or Uganda has under its charter this ability.  In order to help protect the ministry and the leaders of the ministry we felt it best to remove voting rights for the leaders of the Ministry.  Bishop Hezron is on the micro-finance committee however he has no vote. 


The original intent was to institute a few different micro-finance ventures and there are others we are still waiting to do.  I am not sure what happened to the fish farmers in Busia and hopefully with one of my return visits I can pick this back up.  With Freedom Ministries in Uganda we will proceed with their micro-finance venture after we get a good feel on how well the Freedom Ministries Kenya venture works.  Pastor Robert and Wamulu finished their micro-finance by-laws back in January.  However something just did not seem right and I sent Pastor Robert an email to explain my concerns.  We would also like to institute a micro-finance venture in Maralal. 


Last October when Aaron and I were in Uganda we promised to do a 3 month trial by providing some funds for church based Orphan care in Uganda and Kenya.  We spent a couple of days hashing out numbers and came up with 42 cents a day per child.  The number of children was determined and the funds were distributed for the 3 months.  However what we quickly learned as with most anything we do in Africa our intent has dire consequences.  I guess to put the main problem in one word it would be envy.  The need is so vastly overwhelming and we definitely do not have the ability to service everyone in our realm of influence.  Once word got out that we were helping by providing support for a given number of children more came out of the bush to receive the blessing.  This put a real burden on Bishop Moses in Uganda and I am still not sure how he resolved it.  I think about these problems all the time and maybe this is why I get so depressed upon my return from Africa.  I don’t have an answer and my desire is to help without creating any harm to my partners in the ministry.  The easiest thing to do would be to just give up.  Trust me it crosses my mind all the time.  Any way there is an answer out there and I will continue to look for it.  In the mean time we will be addressing the Orphan situation here in the next few months.


Take care and God bless