New Year Letter- January, 2014

 

 May we hold hands around the world as we celebrate the past year and look forward to what God has in store for 2014.

 

 

 

 Wishing you a very peaceful 2014 from the Three Stones Preventative Health Programme working in the villages of Uganda.

 

 

 

 

  Life here has been very busy

  working in many areas of Uganda

 

 

 

 

KAMWENGE

 

The course in Kamwenge has now been successfully completed.

 

The reports and evaluations are showing that the participants are realizing the impact of the teaching in seeing their increase in disposable income. Fortunately, they are using the money wisely buying more land for family food production, paying school fees, and setting up income generating activities.

 

 KWAPA

 

 This was a learning experience for me. I was invited by a pastor to take the course to the North East of the country to an area I did not know.

 Unfortunately what is agreed in preparation discussions is not always what happens in reality as was the case in Kwapa. It is suffice to say that the situation was so bad that my Ugandan trainers decided to complete the teaching in 1 ½ days instead of 6 days and return home.

 We were put into a situation where the pastor thought because I was white he could agree to fund but then when the funds were not there I would pay.  

 

 LUWERO

 

 In partnership with another NGO the course has been successfully completed in Luwero with 10 people from 10 villages being trained (100). Later this year we have been invited back to teach people in the area responsible for the water supply.

 

 MPUMUDDE

 

 In partnership with an Australian organization we taught the first 2 modules and carried out 2 monitorings in a slum area. The teaching was to continue when the organizational personnel returned to Uganda. Unfortunately for the people in the slum the organizer decided to fund the building of a clinic not a programme of prevention. I am finding that donors find it more satisfying to build buildings rather than building up people.

 had visitors from a supporting church in the UK. When they visited Mpumudde they were amazed to see that even though the programme content is simplistic in nature the impact on the people is immense, God is Good.

 

BUGIRI

 

We are now working in Bugiri district where World Vision has become interested in the programme. This year we are carrying out trials in partnership with them. World Vision has agreed to pay full transport costs for the trials. God is always faithful!

 People in the rural areas are so eager to learn, we have been encouraging men, as head of the household, to attend the teaching and now we are also encouraging married couples to come. By having both husband and wife present we notice improved implementation of the programme into their homes. Unfortunately, unfaithfulness is common here with the prevalence of HIV increasing in married couples. By supporting and encouraging couples together, we are able to discuss God’s teachings on faithfulness. They are learning that knowing God as their Lord and Saviour does give them life in all its fullness

I was recently monitoring the home of one of these married couples and was amazed to see how much they had improved their living conditions. When I praised them for their excellent efforts the husband responded, “What is our reward?” People here are always concerned about immediate gifts and rewards. I had to remind them that the rewards of this programme are not always immediate but when change does takes place in their habits and health status it is long lasting. As has been shown in Kamwenge, the family begins to save money rather than spending it on health bills and transportation to the health centres.

 

 

 OTHER ACTIVITIES

 

This year has been full of many visitors. A lovely lady came from Missionary Ventures GB to test if God is calling her to Uganda full time. She is an administrator and was very helpful to me here in the office. I was able to take her many places to experience how it is living and working in Uganda. Another person came from Missionary Ventures for the same reason. It is always wise to investigate if God is really calling you to live full time in another culture, if it is not God’s calling, you cannot do it! It was a privilege to walk beside these ladies at this time in their lives.

 I do not normally take white people into the village when training. But this year I took three muzungus (white people) along. There was a gentleman from England who has been very helpful with the programme management. To understand the programme better he came to experience a training session in the village. We visited a trainer’s home (Charles) for a meal and the English gentleman was amazed at how limited the villager’s diet is. He asked Charles what kind of pizza he enjoyed and was taken by surprise when Charles had no idea what he was talking about, and had no idea what cheese is! Such is the difference in lifestyles around the world. The visitor is now returning to England but is maintaining an interest in the programme.

A young couple also has come from Canada; the husband is a teacher at an international Christian school. His wife, Tiffany, has now joined the Three Stones team and is working alongside me full time. When accompanying me during village training they were amazed to see how hungry the village people are for information and how important and sustainable the teaching of the Three Stones Preventative Health Programme is to them.

These visitors have made me realize how normal this culture has become to me, even the dusty, pothole filled roads and crazy driving!

 

 Funding

 Funding is still a problem. I find health education is difficult to get funding for as prevention is all about behavioural change, the results of which are not easily recordable numerically. After trying many times, in vain, to generate medical statistics I have encountered many difficulties including the following:

1.    The Ugandan belief system results in people pursuing many different solutions for treatments such as drug shops, local herbalists, witch doctors in addition to the local health centres. This makes it difficult for me to obtain creditable health statistics.

2.    I have realized that the peoples’ priority is not their improved health status, but rather the amount of disposable income achieved by spending less money on transportation to health centres and medication. Financial gains have been recorded in the evaluations from Kamwenge.

 

The methodology of the programme emphasizes the importance of monitoring and follow-up of participants. It is this methodology that is fundamental for facilitating behavioural changes.

 

THANKYOU!

 The above work could not be done without your prayers, e-mails, encouragement and financial support.

 William Kwerwanaho a Pastor and participant when teaching his community the “Three Stones” wrote the following in his report:

“The exercise is successfully responded to many people of different areas. On my behalf it (the information) was a medicine to the lives of people mostly those who live on the shores of the Lake George. When cholera epidemic entered the area the trained people were not affected. There is need of putting more effort so that people would recognize the Church as spreading a caring message an added value to that of a call to the Kingdom of God through evangelism.”

More information and regular updates can be found on the Three Stones website (tsphp.org), facebook page, and on my blog (patinuganda.blogspot.com).

God Bless you all,

 Pat

 Love to you from Uganda xxxxxx