Wanstead URC

    holds monthly Communion Collections to support a variety of charities, see links and article about Ubuntu Unleashed below,

    regular coffee mornings throughout the year for Christian Aid and Macmillan Cancer Relief featured under the 'What's On' menu

    and a there's a regular Fairtrade stall, see articles below.


    These charities include
         

    UBUNTU Unleashed: Changing lives by nurturing growth
    I was fascinated to hear the Rev John Ellis speak at our recent anniversary service about Joe Wing, a boy who grew up in this church and went on to minister in southern Africa, bringing together churches across the racial divide in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique and Namibia. Throughout his ministry, Joe Wing fought for social justice.  After the service, several members of the congregation commented on the fact that this church is continuing the line through its support for Ubuntu Unleashed.

    About 18 months ago, Len and I made a life changing trip to Zimbabwe to see how we might be able to do something to improve the lives of people in the rural communities.  A friend had recently returned from a research trip and had shared with us the devastating effect the collapse of the economy is having in the villages, destroying not only livelihoods but also the rich natural habitat, home to many of the world's iconic species.  His vision was to set up a charity to enable people to rebuild their lives and work towards a better future.   

    Ubuntu Unleashed was born.  We have set up the charity, opened a bank account (after various setbacks as UK banks are reluctant to deal with Zimbabwe) and have started to receive donations from kind friends even before we had asked for any money.  Currently, our Trustees are Len Smith and Maria Augusta Figueiredo, who both have close links with Wanstead United Reformed Church. Our small team of volunteers includes people with wide experience and expertise in charity management, conservation management, social enterprise, retail and marketing.

    Why Zimbabwe? 
    In recent years the economy of Zimbabwe has collapsed, resulting in poverty and deprivation across the country. The latest statistics indicate that 68% of the population are living on less that 1.25 dollars a day  (the official international poverty line).  Over a million people (15% of the population) is living with HIV/AIDS and life expectancy has fallen recently to 49 years of age.  This has a knock on effect on the environment, especially around conservation areas as impoverished people are drawn into poaching, not just the international trade which reaches the headlines, but also at subsistence level  in order to survive.  

    During our trip, we saw for ourselves fields lying bare, stripped of nutrients and no longer able to support the families who own them, empty barns, vast swathes of bush laid bare as people who can no longer afford fuel chop down trees to burn for cooking and heat in the winter.  

    What we seek to do:
    We have been offered the use of a site and are working to secure this with the consent of the local authority to set up the training centre.
    Stage 1  We aim to create employment by setting up a working training village demonstrating the potential for diversification of crops and introducing additional income generation methods, e.g. bee keeping and honey production.  We will build on the best traditional farming methods by introducing appropriate innovation and research-based sustainable techniques to improve soil quality and maximise yields. 

    Stage 2    We will engage in outreach, working with village Elders and community leaders, to roll out a training programme delivering practical and technical skills to enable this approach to be replicated by local farmers.  These are good, hard working farmers who simply need the knowledge and a small amount of finance to transform their lives.
    Stage 3   We will offer basic business training and support, to enable local farmers to grow enough to support their family and sell the surplus.
    Finally, we will assist farmers to access large, enhanced markets collectively on a profit share basis. 

    How can you help?
      Firstly, please pray for our work; for successful funding bids, for a good outcome to our negotiations for the site, for the right people to work on the ground and for committed and able trustees to join the board.

    Secondly, we are starting from scratch and need to raise funds for the construction and running of the centre, for farming materials, for workers and small loans to local smallholders.  We are working on bids for grant funding, but need to show that we have raised a significant amount from other sources. 

    We are really encouraged that Wanstead URC has agreed to support us by donating the July Communion offering.  We would also like to thank individuals who have made donations already.  Please consider prayerfully supporting us financially. What distinguishes us from many charities operating overseas is that we will be working directly with local communities and will spend the money we raise directly in the area.

    Finally, if you would like to assist in a more practical way, for example by holding a fundraising event or taking on a role in the organisation, please speak to me or to Len.

    ‘Nearer and nearer draws the time, the time that shall surely be, When the earth shall be filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea.’                                                                                   Grace Smith

     

    Christian Aid
    An impressive number of UR churches raised money at Christmas last year.  That money is now being used to save lives by providing basic maternal and child care in Kenya and Malawi.
    This year Christian Aid will be tackling malaria in Nigeria.  Malaria is the cause of around 11% of
    maternal deaths and kills 250,000 children under five every year.  Lack of education and the scarcity of
    affordable medication compounds the problem.                                                                         Glenys Cockerell