From the Pastor's Desk
September 28, 2019
Previously, I wrote about part of my summer trip to Jinja, Uganda and the Pearls Children's Home that my church has helped to support. You can read about this amazing place at http://www.pearlschildrensfund.org and I hope you will.
A second non-profit in Gulu, Uganda, that my church has also helped to support, is Aid Africa, Inc. You can read about them at http://www.aidafrica.net, and again, I hope you will.
Aid Africa began about 15 years ago to help people displaced by violence be able to return and reclaim their villages. Refugee camps were bleak and villages, along with their crops and water sources, had been decimated. Aid Africa began work in four main areas: restoring water; transitioning to better cook stoves; planting needed trees for food and sustainable fuel; and assisting with healthcare and health education. Over the years, Aid Africa has helped thousands of villagers to have better lives.
My spouse, daughter, her friend and I got to participate in all of Aid Africa's endeavors.
We visited their brick making facility and learned about the rocket stoves that they help villagers make for their homes. Traditional cook stoves are an open pit in a hut. These pits cause much smoke, lung disease, early cataracts, burns when children fall into them and sparks that can set the thatched roofs on fire. Additionally, traditional stoves require a lot of wood to be gathered. Trees are cut down harming the soil and environment. Girls gather the wood and this can be dangerous plus prevent them from attending school.
Aid Africa's efficient rocket stoves require far less wood and create far less smoke. Huts with these stoves have healthy brown thatched roofs instead of black ones. The stoves are being assessed for carbon credit eligibility. The stoves alone are a good environmental project to support. We were able to put together stoves with one of the villages. Everyone was glad to have their new healthier stove and we enjoyed working together in their village.
We were received with much enthusiasm at a second village that was getting a new water well. This village, like many, did not have a well and would get its water from a shallow spring. Unfortunately, the spring was contaminated with parasites and some villagers were ill. It was sad to know their situation, but also joyous to see the well being dug and for some of us to get dirty helping to make it happen.
Aid Africa also helps villagers obtain a variety of trees. We enjoyed grafting larger Caribbean mangoes and lemons onto hardy African root stock, knowing people would have yummy fruit and a potential source of income. The day we visited a third village to bring and distribute trees, I was aware of the fires burning in the Amazon Rain Forest. It helped me to be planting trees somewhere else in the world.
One of Aid Africa's staff has trained in psychology and social work. She provided education about mental health and domestic violence prevention at one village. She also translated conversations with some of the elderly women. One woman had 13 children and 35 grandchildren. All of her children and 31 of her grandchildren had died. It was difficult to understand, but it seemed that most died from violence, and perhaps some from hunger and disease. The woman said that the food in the refugee camps was unhealthy to eat. While she carries many painful memories, she also spoke of the joy in having crops and food and water and a safe village once more. Aid Africa has made a big difference for many people.
The organization wants to reach into South Sudan and the large refugee camps that exist there, in order to do the same things. Most of the people living in these camps are women and children. Sources for revenue are difficult to come by, but what a dream to help give people back their lives with hope and a future. My great hope is that Aid Africa will get to do this and that someday I'll be writing about lives improving in South Sudan. What a miracle to put one's energy towards. Check out http://www.aidafrica.net for yourself.
About Tehachapi Community Church, UCC:
No matter who you are, no matter where you are on life's journey, you're welcome here!
The Tehachapi Community Church, UCC is an open and welcoming community of faith that believes that each person, created in the image of God, holds a piece of the truth. Therefore we respect each person's unique spiritual journey. We invite you to experience the difference that religious freedom in a caring community can make in that journey.
We are located at 100 East E St., in Tehachapi. Worship and Sunday School are at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays. Please join us for coffee and fellowship at our Friendship Hall after worship (approximately 11:30 a.m.).
All are welcome.