Christmas appeal.

It was a pleasure to be able to partner with the Member of Parliament and local churches to provide a Christmas gift to elderly people in our community. With the help of our partners we blessed over 200 people. 
It’s so nice to be able to say thank you to the community elders for who they are and all they do. 
Many of our elders live under the poverty line therefore the gifts were practical food stuffs and a special leso that is also practical. 
Ben and Irene who also work with ACCI here in Nairobi, provided cakes and sweet bread for morning tea.

Business as part of social enterprise

I sat in a meeting with a group of people that brought a proposal to expand their pig raising operation. They have 5 sows and 17 piglets. The proposal was to borrow USD $8000 to build pig stys. This made me scratch my head, how could that loan ever be paid back? Another challenge they face is that there are too many business partners, I asked one of the team interviewing them "would you go into business with 14 other people?" his reply was the same as mine, "no!"
I asked them to build a profit and loss sheet and show me their savings from previous years.
This scenario is common, people get a good idea for a business but are not coached in what it takes to run and expand a business.
One of the greatest gifts to Africa is the creation of employment opportunities. If personality tests are anything to go on, 6% of the population are entrepreneurs. If this is the case then we cannot expect everyone to be business minded. What we should do instead is to help people who have successful businesses to expand and employ others.
We have chosen, as a ministry to start businesses that create employment for the marginalised and create funds to put back into community projects. We are in the process of registering our new business. Watch this space.

One life at a time.

Pam (name changed) lost her parents when she was in school. During her childhood she was often ill and late in high school it was discovered that she was HIV positive. Possibly both her parents died of AIDS.

When her parents died, Pam moved in with her sister's family. This became an abusive environment. Due to her illness and misinformation surrounding HIV, Pam was not allowed to eat with the family, nor use the eating utensils; she had a separate set that she was forced to use. As punishment she was locked outside in the cold, often late into the night and she was not allowed to sleep on the bed unless fully clothed.

Working in a job that paid US $30 per month Pam was unable to afford the US $25 per month rent and living expenses to remove herself from the abusive environment.

Pam visited the CDF office that we partner with to ask for help. The CDF could see she was a broken person but lacked the resources to help her. They asked us if we could help. We were able to provide money for rent and living expenses thanks to the generosity of a partner church.

Currently we are meeting with Pam weekly, mentoring and encouraging her with a self-esteem program and helping her to budget for her future.

Pam has completed a teacher's training course and we hope she can secure the certificate soon. Our prayer is that she is able to obtain a government teachers position so that her salary will be sufficient to live on.

The first 3 photos were taken when Pam first moved into her own place, the last photo was taken this week, and I think they show the transformation. Pam is well on the way to becoming whole

Nairobi Connect

Nairobi Connect has started. We have had over 40 people through the door and maybe 15 plus calling it a home. As a Connect we are having dinner parties every second week. Currently we have 2 dinner party locations and plan to add 2 more in a short while.
Connect is held in our lounge room on a Sunday morning. Students from 3 universities attend plus various business people and families. 
Please pray that Jesus will build this small group into nation changing, people releasing church.

Please have an exit strategy before you enter.

One of my biggest frustrations is seeing Non-Government Organisations (NGO's) and aid organisations start to assist a community without an exit strategy.
When children are hungry they will not attend school. If a feeding programme is implemented in a school the attendance increases by 16%. NGO's with great hearts and the best intentions give food to schools that feeds the students. Then one day a decision is made in an office far removed from personal contact with the individual to halt the feeding programme. So here is Sally getting good grades and now she is too hungry to attend school. She fails to graduate.
Where did the NGO fail? They failed to empower the families to be able to meet their own needs. They failed to empower the schools to meet the needs of the students. We all know handouts don't work, yet we waste so much time and money with non-empowering projects.
I can't stop well-meaning people from disempowering people that are already disadvantaged but what I can do is to try and fill the gap.
We are assisting schools to adopt an exit strategy from being dependent on NGO's to provide school lunches.
Our school-farming programme is designed to grow maize and beans on school land using a minimum till method that restores the soil so that erosion becomes a thing of the past, and yields are increased in some cases 10 fold. We teach the students weekly with theory and practical farming lessons.
The average maize yield in Africa is 350 kg per hectare. If our method does not produce 3000 – 6000 kg per hectare in a good season after 3 years of soil improvement I will be very disappointed. Imagine what could happen in Africa when food production is improved in this way.
Follow us on the journey of farming for a better future.

African Uni Students are above menial work.

I read the following article. I have not authenticated the article but have authenticated the reluctance for students to hold blue collar jobs here in Kenya. Although the story may or may not be fictional the message most certainly holds true. 


By Henry Mutebe

Yesterday, a friend called to check on me. It had been long since we talked. He asked if I had sometime so I could roll over and check on him. I was happy to go check on him. After we had finished University, he had started a small restaurant in town. It has grown exponentially over the years. When I arrived at the restaurant, I was very impressed by how many leaps he had made, in what I believe to be a short time for a business like his. We shuffled through the memories and had a hearty laugh. 

As hours went by, I noticed that when customers entered and took seats, he was attending to them and doing a lot of the serving. I asked him if he didn't have enough staff. He told me that one of the girls working at the restaurant was sick while another guy simply didn't show up or call to let him know…so he was short of labour. I asked if I can help. He joked, 'Henry you know I can't afford you. Here I pay 10,000shs to the attendants. How will I manage to pay you?'  I told him am happy to work. 

I quickly oriented myself on the etiquette and customer care rules …and most importantly what was available. So we started serving people that came in. In total, I served about 8 clients before something interesting happened. 

As we talked and laughed about the crazy things we did in school, two students I taught at University (a gentleman and lady) came by. They did not immediately notice I was the one but their eyes kept preying on me to confirm they were seeing the 'real person.'

To confirm their disbelief, I asked my friend to let me serve them. So I went over, humbled myself, bent slightly, greeted them and asked to take their orders. They were very surprised and asked me, 'What are you doing here sir?' I told them that am there to serve them.  They looked at each other and with the face of mixed feelings wondered why I would be working in a restaurant. 

The girl asked, 'Sir, but why are you working here? You can't serve us. I mean…?' she nodded her head in disbelief before continuing, '…you can't work in a restaurant?'. I told them I would serve them and am happy to take their orders. You could easily notice that they were very surprised and reserved about placing their orders. 

They had mixed feelings about my presence there and the type of work I was doing.  After a very interesting exchange, they finally made their order which I delivered promptly. They had their delicious meal as we also continued conversing and reminiscing the years gone by. From time to time, I kept checking on them and asked if they needed anything else. When they were done, my friend punched in the bill, printed the receipt and I delivered it to them. 

Their bill was 24,500shs. I placed it on the table and took the plates away. The guy placed two notes (a 20k and 10k shs) on the table and they left. I delivered it to my friend, who was now serving as manager, cashier and sometimes a waiter. He gave me back the change of 5,500shs which I happily slipped into my wallet.  By the way this time, I had 15,000shs in tips from the other 8 clients I had served. So by adding this 5500shs, I was 20,500shs rich already.


As the couple (my former students) went out, they each looked back in disbelief. I looked at them and raised my hand to say bye. They walked into the street and faded away into the bright light from approaching cars. A couple of other clients came in and I served them. My friend was very pleased and paid my 10000shs and a bonus of 2000shs which he says he offers once a waiter exceeds a certain number of clients.  At 11pm, I left the restaurant and went home. 

As I sat in the car to head back home, I couldn't help thinking about my students. Their disbelief was innocent…but it speaks a lot about a general problem we have in our society. These two students represent thousands of others. They made me think, very deeply, about our Ugandan graduates. I do not blame them, its a general problem.

 I have had the opportunity to travel and study from elsewhere or in other cultures and I have always been surprised by how people in other countries don't despise jobs. My good students could not imagine their lecturer serving them in a restaurant. Since they know my work and qualifications, they could not understand how I can be in a restaurant at this time. As if it takes away my degree or other job. It gave me a lot of thoughts about our graduates. The more I have travelled, the more I have learned and unlearned. 

In 2012, while at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in England, one of my classmates used to drive a BMW, park it at a restaurant and work as a waiter. He came from a very wealthy family but he still worked. He told me that as soon as he completed high school, he had to take part time jobs to earn some money to pay rent to his father and contribute to household bills. It shocked me quite a lot considering what I have grown up seeing in my part of the world. 

As if this was not enough, I also found out that, when students finish high school in these countries, as must, they have to find some work and either rent out, or pay their parents some money for rent if they are to continue staying in their parent's house.  I was shocked by the idea of a son paying rent to his father. It took time to sink in. The more I interacted with more of these people, the more I realised that this is a common culture. They teach a child responsibility from a very early age. Work is not for money per se, it is a service.

The lesson I learnt from them is that working is a value. One has to work and parents teach their children that they have to work and earn. Just because your parents are wealthy doesn't mean your life is already worked out. You have to contribute to the home bills and somehow find something to do. The work doesn't have to be white collar …but as a must, you have to find something to put your hands to. You cant seat your bums and just wait for a white collar job.

When I went to Norway, I found the same story. Most university students, unless they simply can't find time due to course overload, have to have some form of temporary work. Students often work as attendants, waiters in restaurants, cleaners in hotels, shop attendants, drivers, newspaper vendors, et cetera. It is a value to work and few people dont despise jobs. 

By the way, they don't work because their parents can't give them money. They work because it is a value that has been embedded in them from childhood. Once a student finishes high school, they take on a part time job and save money for use at university or travels. Few parents will buy their child a ticket to come to Africa to tour. You have to work and save for your luxuries.  

If you want some money from your parents, you borrow and pay back. Nothing comes free. They teach you to live on your own. Being at University or having a degree is 'nothing.' You are not the first or the last. Serving people in a restaurant does not make anyone look less a graduate. Service is service! Work is a value. 

As a matter of fact, most of the places near Universities are filled with university students working as part timers. University students are encouraged to take up these part time jobs. The white people we like to imitate are doing what we think is too dirty or casual for a graduate in Africa. 

It got me thinking about students in our Universities here in Uganda. I thought about all the restaurants around Wandegeya, Banda –Kyambogo, MUBS, and the attitude of University students and graduates about these type of jobs. I thought about the poor attitude we have towards work. I looked at the chapatti boys and girls we despise who are minting money and doing great things in their lives and for their families. I thought about the people who fear nothing, who go out and just do it while we sit back.

The more I thought about it the more I realised why we are going to take longer to develop. We have a generation of young people who feel they are too educated to do certain jobs. We have a generation of children who have been prepared for a life that doesn't exist. We have a crop of young people who are whiter than the whites. My time in Europe taught me that we need to get back on the drawing board and re-orient our graduates. 

Students in our universities should be oriented to appreciate the value of work. There is no reason why a University should not employ students to clean the Library, kitchen, dining halls, hostels. It is improper that a university canteen should find external staff when it has over 30,000 students who can work in shifts and serve other students. 

See, through this kind of work, being able to do ordinary jobs and be seen as a servant makes you true leaders. When students grow up with a sense of entitlement and a higher standard of living, it translates into greed when they get into national politics. They apportion themselves good things, higher privileges and want to float above everyone because work is about money, status and not service. Such humble work makes true leaders. 

People who are willing to serve, and not merely earn make better leaders. Such work raises a generation of leaders who don't do things to be seen or be thought of as higher and more qualified, but leaders who get things done. In some firms in western societies, when they look at a CV, such experience, demonstrates the attitude of a person, their humility, values and philosophy towards work.  

We are raising a generation of children whose only image of the west is what they watch on TV. They speak using enhanced accents, know what is the latest, they are 'cool' but they have no idea what makes the west what it is. My experience in the west shows me something different. People work and do ordinary jobs and that's how things get done. 

If we are to get good leaders, we must first change the attitude of young people about work. An inflated self-image creates bad leaders who want to further segregate themselves from the ordinary people they consider low and less qualified. We have a big problem in our society and we have to find a way to deal with it. 

Students despise these jobs because they believe work is about status and money. Taken further into their lives, it means they may likely want to maintain status and money as their pursuits when they get into leadership positions. If we must correct our leadership and governance problems, we may also need to do something about the attitude of students and graduates about their philosophies and values about work. In there, lies a very big problem. 

Do not despise work, go out there and just work. The pope was once a bouncer at a club. Today he is one of the most powerful men in the world. Imagine that you had nothing to fear, what would you do to earn a living? Imagine that you had no degree or that anyone cares, what would you do to earn a living? Imagine, that no one is going to help you find a job, what would do? 

I am not saying go do what you don't like...but may be...just may be you may need to develop a new attitude towards work, serve people (in whatever opportunities unfold) and be happy to have served. You can never tell what the future holds, and you may never know who you will meet at your humble place of work. Most interestingly, you may never know the untold story of those who work and serve you in those places where you go as the bosses or the rich. 

Even for you that are already employed in 'high' places, don't mind going out and just find a part time job (if you have time) or offer services in the evening or weekend at any place where your services can be of use. Meet people, network and just keep yourself active. Degrees are everywhere...literally every one has just forget about the whole hype about it and be true to yourself. As you look for other opportunities...dont be afraid to branch off a little and keep yourself at something. Don't despise jobs. Serve. 

Top 100 what I love about living in Nairobi. #95

I Love the Matatus
A Matatu is a bus. If you get on a bus from where we live to town it costs about 30-90 cents depending on the time of day. If traffic is light that's where the fun starts. Sitting on the back seat is equivalent to a high adrenaline ride at the town show, most drivers don't slow for speed humps and swerve sharply left to right whilst slamming on the brakes. The best part is that you can't see the road ahead as there is a solid division between you and the driver, it all comes as a surprise.
Yesterday whilst airborne, I realised that I reassure myself on side-show alley rides that these have been tried and tested by many before me. This is not reassuring on a Matatu because the number of crashes they are involved in.
I will continue to get my adrenaline rush on the way to town. It's better to be on one than hit by one.

Top 100 what I love about living in Nairobi. #96

I love connect.

Every week we have connect in our home. I enjoy our time together. Everyone is excited for the future of our group. Every week we get to see new faces, these people arrive as strangers but leave as friends. As time goes on we know we will become family.
It's heart warming to see the way our group is becoming closer and closer friends.

Top 100 what I love about living in Nairobi. #97

I love that I get 2 Father's Days each year.
This Sunday was Father's Day in Kenya. My kids wished me a happy "fake" Father's Day as Father's Day in Australia is in September.
You can never have to many big days to celebrate in a year.

Top 100 what I love about living in Nairobi. #98

I love hospital ministry. 

Three of our connect group visited Kenyatta hospital. We first dropped in to see two abandoned babies. We were fortunate that the chaplain gave us three packs of pampers and a box of soap. We gave a pack of nappies to the nurses for the abandoned babies and some soap. 

Then we were about to walk past a ward that had two ladies and two babies. They called out "don't walk by us just because we a few". Then they told us about the cancer the babies have and pointed to the many empty beds in the ward telling us that those babies died one by one. It's was heart wrenching to think that they have seen others not make it whilst their children still have a tough fight ahead. We encouraged them handed out a few things prayed and moved on. 

The older kids were touching my white skin and hair. They asked why is my hair so strange. Maybe it's time to visit the barber!

Three wards later we were out of time, nappies and soap. The three of us felt sad to have to go but we were pleased to know that we had made an impact by encouraging in prayer and visiting. 

We will return to the wards next week. 

Top 100 What I love about living in Nairobi #99

I love that we can watch our children play sport.

We have been able to watch Gabi play inter school hockey and Thomas play inter school rugby.

I builds up the kids as well as being and enjoyable outing for us as a family. Last Saturday there was a rugby tournament just down the road from our apartment. The kids school entered two teams. Gabi took part as team manager. Thomas team was not old enough to complete so he came along as a spectator. The senior team were the defending champions and lost in the final game. Great effort rugby was the winner.


Top 100 What I love about living in Nairobi #100

I love to run in the streets. Nairobi is at high altitude, 1800m above sea level. If you have ever tracked your fitness level via VO2 my score at sea level is 43. In Nairobi currently its 39. I am effectively 10% less fit.
I can run slow knowing it's doing me good. I don't have to push the pace. In fact the opposite is true. I need to constantly slow down. There is a saying amongst runners, if you can run slower do run slower. It helps increase kilometres without hurting the body.
I look forward to the days when I am fit at Nairobi's altitude then get to run at sea level.
The temperature here is very mild so I get to run in a nice climate.
The streets are full of people even at 6am. I get to greet people as I run past or even chat to a fellow runner if we are going in the same direction.
Nairobi is very hilly. I can run very steep inclines or mild long inclines depending on where I choose to run. This is a great leg work out particularly is I chose to do short sprints up and down a hill.


New Year in Nairobi

We have been in Kenya for the past few months. In this time we have met some great people. Kenyans are very friendly, it’s easy to strike up conversations on the bus or in a cafe. People are keen to assist when you need help. 
The church in Kenya is very traditional. Many men wear suits to church. Thomas made a comment that all the music is at least 50 years old. This is causing a disconnect by young people. Many are Christian but do not want to attend church. We have an opportunity to reach these people by establishing a relevant church. 
Society has it’s moral weaknesses. The failing that seems to affect families the most is adultery. It seem to be a common problem. 
The city of Kenya is crowded with 6.5 million people living here but it remains a special place to live. 
Kim and I visited the main public hospital to see what ministry needs are there. Long story short there are plenty. We are in the process of gaining long term permissions to minister at the hospital. 


Misunderstood causes of disease cause people to be alienated in their time of need.

We recently visited one of the largest public hospitals in Nairobi. This is a place where some of the poorest people from all over Kenya receive their medical treatment. The hospital is over-crowded with some wards having 2 people in each bed and other wards with patients lying on the floor for weeks of their stay because there are insufficient beds. 
Many patients diagnosed with cancer receive their first treatments there, and then never return to the hospital as they simply cannot afford the transport to and from the hospital or the treatment. Other patients are the bread winners of the family so their children are at a loss as to how to survive whilst mum or their guardian is in the hospital.
Another hurdle commonly faced is the stigma of returning home to the village after being in hospital, only to still be sick. In a place where it is commonly thought that sickness is caused by witchcraft, a cancer patient returns to be shunned by their community in a bid to prevent others from being affected by the curse. This is such a very sad situation when the patient needs love and kindness the most, they are rejected and feared.
Please pray for these people and guidance us as we prayerfully consider the best way to effectively minister to patients in the hospital.