One of the guiding principles of our social justice work, both locally and overseas, is that it should be a hand up, not a hand out. I first heard that phrase from John Bird, the founder of the Big Issue, and a man I have a lot of time for. It embodies the idea that what we want to do is not just give stuff out to help people, but to give them the means to help themselves.
That principle has underscored all that we have tried to do in Serenje. I was therefore thrilled to read this story today on the Serenje blog. In summary it tells the story of a grandfather, Mr Ngulube, who was given seed as part of the project. He said this:
“I used to suffer in term of feeding my family and sending my children to school because I did not have the means to do so. When the Kerith project came to my community, it was a relief that they gave us seed to plant so that we have enough food in our household. I made sure that I planted all the beans seed I received and my harvest that season was so encouraging that for the first time in my life I was able to harvest 4 x 50 kilograms bags of shelled beans. Even if the project phased out today, my family is already stable in terms of food security, from my harvest, I have reserved enough food to see us to the next harvest for my household. I was able to sell the surplus to earn me some money, I am now able to provide decent clothing to my family unlike before, I am now able to buy my school going children with uniforms, school shoes, pay for their school fees and buy them books”.
I want everyone one of you who has given to the Serenje project to know that it is making an incredible difference in the lives of hundreds of people. And that long after we have finished there, it will continue to have an incredible difference because we have given a hand up, not a hand out.
On Sunday 16th October we'll be celebrating the project in all three meetings, as well as kicking off a series of Gift Days to raise £80,000 to fund year 4 of the project, and £95,000 to pay for a dormitory for one hundred girls to complete their secondary school education. Two of the Serenje pastors should be with us that weekend too - put it in the dairy and don't miss it :)