Last month I was able to visit Palabek camp in Northern Uganda. It was great to meet Nighty, mum of Komakech who had just completed his A Levels in Kampala. Nighty is partially sighted. She can see a tiny bit out of one eye. I asked her if she could see me and she said, “You look like a tree.” I asked if I could hold her hands and pray with her and she said yes. Then Benja took this photo. The crushed maize she was giving to her little toddler Okan Marcello. He was born in the bush in April 2017 as Nighty was running with her family from her home town of Pajok in South Sudan after it was attacked by troops wearing Government uniforms. I told her story to our church last Sunday in St Helens and said that Nighty needed to see an eye doctor to find out if anything could be done to save her sight. People have been generous in donations so there is enough money to get her and a companion to Kampala to have an appointment with an eye specialist. The goal at this stage is simply to see if Nighty can be prevented from going blind and if anything can be done to give her more sight.
It was great to meet up with Komakech as he was doing his last few papers of Senior 6.
Now the eager wait for exam results! And the search for funding for the next stage of education, since AREP has reached its limit with S6.
Refugee Week Post No.5 This young man, my namesake, has experienced quite a winding journey in the last couple of years. But the latest picture sees him working as DJ Platonic in Juba, capital of South Sudan. Thanks for sponsoring him in the early days Form 9W at Great Sankey.
Refugee Week post No. 4. What a difference 12 years makes! One of our sponsored students has now reached half way through Senior 5 or Year 12. A big thank-you to past and present members of Great Sankey High School Science department for your continuing monthly support.
Will this hug mean anything? Riek Machar and Salvar Kiir met yesterday in Addis Ababa for the first time in 2 years. These two key leaders of South Sudan know they must be reconciled in order to bring an end to the devastating civil war which has soaked the region in blood and despair. “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.” Matthew 5:9 (The Mesage translation). I for one am praying that this awkward hug comes to mean something profound.
This week is Refugee Week in the UK. So I thought I’d post a few updates. Firstly Gill and Kevin, two of our students who, sadly, are missing out on school in 2018 through lack of funds. We have 260 people who like our Facebook page, and 70 people who donate money regularly to AREP. If we could only mobilise more of our supporters to donate monthly, then young refugees like Gill and Kevin could return to get the education they need.
Increasingly within AREP, we are looking for effective ways for people to become self-supporting. Starting a small business making and selling clothes is one great way. Please get in touch if you would like to know more about Esther’s business. She is looking for investors!
In Uganda, January of each year sees the tense wait for exam results by those who took their key Senior 4 exams in November, equivalent to GCSEs in the UK.
We have two students undergoing this wait! Lovemore and Scovia, here pictured with the headteacher of Seeta High School: Lydia Lukwago Kagoya
The Eco Stove is a revolutionary product. It was invented in Uganda by Rose Twine and is manufactured there. It is already being deployed in some refugee camps. I met Rose this week in Kampala.
This model retails for 900,000 shillings (£190) and has a 30 Watt Solar PV panel which powers 2 LED lights, 2 USB sockets for charging mobile phones, an FM radio, an mp3 music player and a Fan which drives air through the cooker, raising the cooking temperature and eliminating smoke. Brilliantly simple, appropriate technology. It can burn charcoal residue (dust and small pieces) which is MUCH cheaper than standard charcoal. Finally, pieces of volcanic rock are used to trap and re-radiate the heat – this further improves the efficiency of the cooker.
A simpler, cheaper model is available for 550,000 shillings (£118) which can burn either firewood or charcoal and has a 20 Watt Solar panel which powers 2 LED lights, 1 USB socket and a Fan.
The Eco Stove can be used at any time and in any season, whereas Solar Cookers are most appropriate during the long hot dry season.
We now think that both Eco Stoves and Solar Cookers have a place in Uganda, with the Eco Stove having the edge! The Haines Solar Cooker costs about £20.
An excellent piece on the BBC today on the resilience, initiative, and leadership shown by many refugees, especially women. The refugee camp mentioned, Adjumani, is an established one, it is 75 miles from the brand new camps at Palabek. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-39998759