Roger has spent ten days in Turkana County in Northern Kenya doing an evaluation of the PRDA (Presbyterian Relief and Development Agency) Midwifery Training School. The school has been training midwives in Leer, South Sudan for a number of years.
Elizabeth Nyadiet Kel on practical assignment in Kakuma IRC hospital
In 2014, following the outbreak of fighting, PRDA decided to relocate the school to northern Kenya as the original site was at the centre of the areas of conflict. Roger had visited the school in 2012, so was asked to do a follow up evaluation this year. It is remarkable to hear the story of how the 20 students were all flown and re-located to Kenya to continue their studies. The tutors have done a remarkable job of helping the students, who were traumatised by their experiences and still hearing news of the deaths of relatives and friends. They have been helped through their studies in a wonderfully holistic way. After visiting the school in Lokichoggio and the students on practical assignment in Kakuma, Roger was very encouraged by the visit. The feedback from the hospitals where the students have been doing their practical assignments in particular shows how committed Christian tutors can make such a difference in terms of the quality of the students at the end of the course. The 20 girls have been transformed during their 3 years of study from shy school girls to confident and capable midwives with a real calling to help save the lives of mothers and children through their acquired learning and skills.
Focus group discussion with some of the staff at the PRDA compound in Lokichoggio
Roger with some of the PRDA staff and Midwifery graduates in Kakuma camp
We arrived back from an extended time in the UK on Saturday, January 9th, and are now adjusting to the familiar way of life, and also the altitude again. We had a very fulfilling time in UK, spending most of the time with the family. We were in Reading so that we were near Jenny and her family. Greyfriars church lent us the curate’s house for the duration of our stay and it proved a wonderful base for which we are very grateful. In September Becca started at Northampton University where she is reading Human Resource Management. She had about a month to adjust to England before we took her up and settled her in to her accommodation on campus. She is enjoying the independence and has settled into university life, and seems to be enjoying her course.
Becca, Roger, Jenny and Christian, Bobby, Tich, Jess, Jos
After her maternity leave of one year, Jennifer resumed work in September for a couple of months before taking maternity leave again in November. During this time she was able to leave Robert (Bobby) and Jessica (Jess) with us during the day, and they adjusted well to their grandparents! They soon got to know us and it has been wonderful to be there in the transition from babies to toddlers. Now that we have returned to Kenya we will miss them greatly.
Tich, Jenny and baby Christian
Jenny’s husband, Tich had broken his leg so when we arrived in UK he was somewhat incapacitated, but this meant that we had had quality time with the whole family. We knew Jenny was going to present us with a new grandchild in December so we had extended our stay an extra month to be around for the birth. Christian came quickly into the world on Christmas morning, weighing in at 4kg – a wonderful Christmas gift for us as we remembered another very significant birth together. Mother and son are both doing very well, and we are very glad we were around to be with them at this time. Being in England for a longer period enabled us to catch up on the fast changing thinking of the society, especially in the very mixed environment of Reading. As noted above, our focus of time was very much on the family, and we are sorry that we didn’t get to meet up with many folks we would have liked to see during the time. We are now back in Kenya, picking up again with the part of the family that is here as well as catching up on the work. Manny, Grace, Naomi and Faith have been in Nairobi, living in our house since May last year as the situation in Mundri has been very tense, so we had a warm welcome from them on our return. It has been good to pick up with another part of the family as we have had to leave those behind in Reading. The girls in particular are very excited to have us back.
Naomi and Faith
While we have been away work has continued through the team both in Nairobi and those based in Kisumu. The rains have been heavy and have continued for an extended period, so this has been a good time for planting Vetiver grass, and the team have been busy helping those who have nurseries to use the grass to protect their land. This has been a good opportunity to extend this teaching. There is a growing understanding amongst those with whom we work that our neglect of God’s wonderful creation is causing more and more problems. The message of good stewardship of God’s world has always been central to our teaching but is now being understood by more and more folks. Climate change is indeed a Gospel Imperative. This is a message we will continue with into 2016 in our teaching. We believe this to be a significant part of practical discipleship as we talk about living as God’s people.
Rosalia has been very active in training on Natural medicines over the time we have been away and the message is spreading both in our catchment area and further afield. She was able to have a week training amongst the Maasai on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro in October and has been training in churches round Kisumu the last couple of months. The photo is of Rosalia with some of the Maasai trainees.
It has been encouraging to hear what has been going on and Roger will be travelling to Kisumu next week to spend time with the team there and strategise for the time ahead. We have an intensive one week Natural Medicines seminar planned for March, and registration is underway, and we expect a good attendance.
We are still facing serious challenges of funding, and although we made some good contacts while in England, this is something we are still focusing on. We have redone the REAP website, so we would encourage those who can to get on there to get a clearer overview of our current work. We have also been able to establish a link for donations online which should now be working. We are more and more dependent on personal giving for continuing the work. REAP is eligible for Gift Aid claims. Challenges of South Sudan
One of the things that has really saddened us while in England is hearing of the deteriorating situation in Mundri. While on the national front peace negotiations have continued and seem to bearing fruit, in Mundri the situation has seriously deteriorated. The clash in worldview between the agricultural people of Mundri and the cattle people coming from the areas to the north has led to a lot of destruction in Mundri. As a result the population of the town had to flee to the bush, and some people are only now returning. As a result all schools, including Mama Keziah Nursery School have closed. This was only weeks after the nursery school had finally opened, so was particularly disappointing for Jos. However, since the building is out of town it has not suffered the destruction that other buildings have. Manny was in Mundri when the fighting escalated, but was able to get a flight out to join his family in Nairobi, where he is now getting involved in temporary sports ministry prior to home assignment later this year.
We want to give thanks to all those who remember us in prayer, and we are very aware of the importance of this, as we look back and see God’s hand in leading and providing:
We PRAISE God for the time we had in England, and especially the quality time we had with Jenny and Tich and their family. We give a special thanks to God for our new grandson, Christian.
Please PRAY for Becca as she adjusts to not having us in the same country, and that she may really benefit from the university experience.
Please continue to PRAY for us as we seek to find more resources to continue the work, and indeed to expand to new areas.
Please PRAY for the REAP team, for good health and safety as they are involved in travelling and training.
Please PRAY for Roger as he presents a paper at the ECHO symposium in March, and for the Natural Medicines training the week after that we may be able to maintain the holistic message.
We continue to seek PRAYER for South Sudan; that peace may prevail. Please PRAY especially for the situation in Mundri and for Manny and Grace and the family with the challenges of being displaced to Nairobi.
Please continue to PRAY that the process we are involved in with others may wake the church to our responsibility for our Father’s property in relation to the environment, and for follow up from last May’s conference. Please also PRAY that the holistic message we teach may get across and those we work with may see their responsibility to God in all they do.
Nydia Wilson Lupai, who works with the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan as Mothers’ Union Community and Development Coordinator, Diocese of Juba, attended A Seminar in Natural Medicine with REAP in February, 2014 in Nairobi. Since the training she has been very active in making natural medicinal products and in training others in Juba. In October 2015 she organized a Training of Trainers for eighteen (18) Mothers’ Union members from Juba Diocese. They were trained on using Moringa Oleifera leaves and seeds, making chili ointment, using Euclayptus leaves and making medicinal charcoal from groundnut shells and their benefits. Among the trained members were the Patron Deborah Daniel Deng, the Director of Health, teachers, nurses as well ordinary citizens.
Participants in the Oct 2015 training in Juba
Participants making Eucalyptus oil – the MU patron on the left