With so much progress made already here in Kitui, it is important that the entire community really feels involved in the project and receives encouragement to keep going until all the work is done. To help this, we recently held elections to form a new project committee.
By giving more people the chance to exercise leadership, new ideas and suggestions are brought to the table, and we can ensure that our work here is as effective as possible.
Thank you as always for helping us get to where we are today, your thoughts and prayers mean so much.
We’ve been talking a lot about Hands On Kitui on social media. Why not share some posts with your friends to let them know about this special project?
Sarah Hagger-Holt, CAFOD’s Campaigns Engagement Manager, tells us about her experience at the Speak Up climate lobby.
On 17 June, 9,000 people came to Westminster to speak to their MPs about climate change as part of The Climate Coalition Speak Up For the Love Of lobby of Parliament. They came in twos and threes or in coach-loads. For some it was a simple tube ride, while others got up before dawn or even travelled down by overnight bus. They came from almost every UK constituency.
I spotted many familiar faces from past marches and lobbies, as well groups of schoolchildren experiencing their first taste of campaigning for change. I saw parents with their babies sleeping in slings, and caught up with a group of Sisters, all well into their 70s, having the time of their lives waving their banners and chatting to other CAFOD supporters.
Here in Kitui, the landscape is nearly unrecognisable, as more and more people are using their new hands on skills to improve their own land.
One such person is Stella, whose family have a small farm, and who has worked tirelessly to put all that she has been shown into practice. In this video she shows us around, and explains how her new skills are helping her farm thrive.
As we move into the second half of our two-year plan, progress continues at great pace. It’s full steam ahead for all aspects of the project – terracing, dam-building, zai pits and tree planting are going on all across Kitui.
One extremely important development is that people are taking their new skills and applying them to their own gardens and farms. This will help improve the land even further, and provide yet more food and income for the people.
Thank you so much for your continued support, it means the world to us, and please keep Kitui in your prayers.
Progress and project highlights this month
Did you know?
Kenya is home to many herbivorous animals including zebra, giraffe and a variety of antelopes – so it’s essential we build fences to protect the trees while they are young and fragile.
In her second blog from Sierra Leone, Nana Anto-Awuakye writes abouta volunteer burial team on the front line of the fight against Ebola.
We leave behind the bustle of Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown, where the Ebola prevention posters plastered across all available wall space, and on cars and motorbikes, are now looking tattered and faded.
The landscape changes from precarious half-built houses perched on the hillsides surrounding the city, to lush green savannah grasslands.
We are heading to Kambia in the north-east of the country, a district that became a hotspot as the Ebola epidemic gripped the country last year. Sandwiched between the urban district of Port Loko to the south and the border with Guinea – where the virus started – to the north, the odds seem stacked against this unassuming town.
But an amazing partnership has developed here between the Sierra Leonean Ministry of Health, local volunteers – including teachers, students and farmers – and CAFOD, to form the Safe and Dignified Burial team of Kambia. Together they have refused to be overwhelmed by the odds stacked against them.
Before I left London, my colleague Amie came up to my desk and gave me a goodbye hug, saying: “We Sierra Leoneans love to hug.”
It has been difficult for people in Sierra Leone to hug over the last few months. Even though the Ebola virus has now been contained in most parts of the country, the “no touch” policy is still in place. When I arrive, I will have to check my automatic instinct to shake people’s hands, or to put a comforting hand on people’s shoulders when listening to their stories.
Recovering from war
I first visited Sierra Leone in 2007, several years after the country’s devastating civil war – a conflict in which tens of thousands of people died, and in which the brutal hacking off of limbs was all too common.
In the capital Freetown, watching the sunset turn the sky auburn over the city’s beautiful golden beaches, I remember finding it hard to imagine that this had once been a place of fear and bloodshed. At the time, everyone I met talked about “not wanting to go back”. They were confident in the peace that had been secured, and spoke only of a future of reconciliation and development.
Travelling to Kenema in the Eastern Province, I remember being greeted by the rolling green hills of Kambui, and in the town centre by whole streets lined with diamond buyers’ shops. I learned that Kenema was an important agricultural market town, as well as the centre for the timber industry and for the production of coffee and palm oil.
Epicentre of the virus
Last year Kenema was one of the areas at the epicentre of the Ebola virus. It was effectively locked down. Blockades on the main road ensured that no one entered or left the district, decimating its once thriving economy.
Unbelievably, we are already halfway through our project in Kitui. So much has been achieved in this short time, but there is much still to be done, and no time to waste.
We were happy to welcome our friends Mark and Louise from CAFOD in the UK, who were able to see first-hand the hard work being done all around the project site, look out for their reflections in your next postal update.
I’m a bit of a pessimist. A ‘glass half-empty’ kind of girl. I often expect the worst, and am frequently chasing whatever I think will make me happy. For example, “I’ll be really happy when the summer arrives and winter’s over” and then, “I hate the city in the summer, I can’t wait for it to be over so that I can wrap up warm and celebrate Christmas”. Always chasing. Waiting to reach the other side where the grass will undoubtedly be greener.
My colleague Nana has the most beautiful smile. When I arrive at the office in the morning, one look from her can lift my spirits no end. Nana’s an optimist. A ‘glass half-full’ kind of girl. I’ve been trying to reflect more during Lent and when I decided to write a blog on International day of Happiness as part of my Hope Journal, I asked Nana to describe what happiness means to her and how she maintains her sunny disposition.
Father Augusto Zampini Davies is a RC priest, Moral Theologian and theological advisor to CAFOD. In the first in a series of blogs reflecting on love of creation, he explains how we can confront the ‘globalisation of indifference’ this Lent.
Do you sometimes feel that you are not as joyful as you should be? It happens to me quite often. I remember being embarrassed about my indifference in a visit to Zimbabwe with CAFOD. The people I met there face many challenges. Yet, when they gather together for Mass in a Church, or discuss a problem as a community under a Baobab tree, they discover a joy that is out of this earth. Or is it?
In his latest document, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of The Gospel) (2014), Pope Francis has exhorted all Catholics to renew the beauty of life. The inspiring Good News of Jesus Christ should set our spirits on fire, transforming our beings and enabling us to reveal the Kingdom of God.
If the Joy of the Gospel transforms us, both personally and socially, why are so many Christians not being attentive to the cry of the poor –as we should as be as good disciples of Christ? Why do we tend to defend and sustain an arguably damaging economic model of growth that, although it brings wealth to some, it rules out millions of people? Why are we so indifferent?