Students and staff from across East Africa gathered for our first "G.O.D. East Africa Summit" at the onset of December. This conference was a really special time where we helped everyone better understand the mission and vision of our organization.
Gregg Garner kept the summit alert and engaged as he taught from the Bible and gave many insightful looks into the past, present and future of our work in East Africa. It was a wonderful time.
After the summit, our focus shifted to our hub in Uganda. This shows the present condition of the main road in the area where we work.
One of the goals of the trip was to find more ways for our cooperatives to sustain themselves in their local area. As you can see, the development of the town and availability of marketable items is currently suffering.
In Uganda, there are children everywhere. It's overwhelming at times. Our property borders a primary school with more than 350 students, and there are even more who have sadly dropped out of school. The area is quite desperate, but we are trying our best to invest in the school and in alternative options to keep kids safe, healthy, and educated.
Our team was able to sit in on the final projects and lectures of the Institute for G.O.D. East Africa semester. The students worked on a group project that prioritized what's needed to bring true development to their community over the next 5 years.
Our team spent time with students from the Institute for G.O.D. EA, reflecting on their semester. The students were encouraged that many of the students in the U.S. had similar journeys to their own in adapting to a life of vocation.
Seth Davis, Director of Agriculture, and Zach Hartnell (not pictured), took our EA Agriculture Team to a specialized conference in Kenya. The team learned how to organically fight pests on their crops--a major problem they've been facing in recent months. The team grew in friendship. This was taken before they left, with several new pairs of work clothes in their hands.
Reuben Ndwiga (center) is our Director of Agriculture in East Africa. After transforming his own land in Kenya, and instructing dozens of neighbors how to do the same, he is now moving to Uganda to head up the food production efforts at our hub. We are so thankful for him!
We were so grateful that Gregg Garner was able to accompany our team to East Africa. He brings insight and direction that propels our efforts forward, and is an indispensable part of our work in East Africa! Our friends in Africa tell us he HAS to come back often.
Cameron Kagay, Director of G.O.D. East Africa, shows the headmaster at St. John's Primary a video of our biointensive gardening methods in Tennessee. He was so interested, and very excited to start a school garden at St. John's.
Our team was able to have a conference with the teachers at the St. John's, explaining to them more about our organization. Their familiarity with us and our alternative paradigm is necessary for smooth cooperation.
At a special ceremony, Cameron Kagay delivered the 2016 G.O.D. Calendars to our cooperatives, thanking them for their necessary service with our organization. Small moments like this can be very meaningful for our cooperatives.
Ten students from the Institute for G.O.D. took part in an Immersion trip this December. As newer members of the East Africa team, this trip gave them avenues to serve at our Ugandan hub. Here, Nick Moore and Henry Miiro teach the children at St. John's a health care lesson. Both men study at the Institute in their respective countries, and have chosen health care as their focus.
Likewise, Christina (Fowler) James and Josephine teach adolescent girls about female health. These concerns often go unspoken in East Africa, leading many girls to remain ignorant of the changes that will occur to their body, and for what purpose. Menstruation is a major reason girls miss school (as they often lack necessary supplies), and failure to understand reproductive health is linked to an epidemic in teenage pregnancy in Uganda.
The immersion team visited local widows, as there are many in the area. As many of them are recipients of our "rocket stoves," the team checked on how they were working, whether or not they had any questions regarding use, and repaired them if needed. This kind of follow-up is necessary in introducing any new technology in the third world.
Rachel Webb taught afternoon bible classes for the children of our cooperatives, while parents sat in if they were able. This was a response to an urgent request from parents to learn how to translate biblical truths into concepts that children could understand. It went great!
The men on the team were busy with a wide variety of projects that will help our land to become a safe and hospitable environment. Here, Ben Young creates a stone pathway for walking around the land so that far less mud is tracked inside of homes, a major problem in the rainy seasons.
Matt James and an Institute for G.O.D. EA student take a break from working. The friendships formed between our team in the US and in Uganda is undeniable. It is specifically these relationships that are motivating in thinking through solutions for the third world.
The immersion team visited Bwaise slum, the largest slum in Kampala and sadly, a major landmark for the red-light district in the city. While we don't regularly work in Bwaise, we have relationships there. We try to give advice on how their situation can change--namely, by getting out. But the lure of the city remains strong. This was an impactful thing for the team to see as it epitomizes what's wrong in Uganda.
Christina James and Nick Moore volunteered at St. Katherine's, a local hospital where they were able to give bedside care and triage to patients like these. Health care is an overwhelming need in East Africa, and we are happy to have Christina and Nick join our team to help.
Laura Young made a special friendship with a local tailor, Justine. Together they created prototypes for new school uniforms for the children at St. John's. While cotton is one of Uganda's biggest crops, the market is suffering due to cheap imports from China. Encouraging a local market is part of our aim, and that includes supporting tailors like Justine.
Children in Uganda were out of school during most of our time there due to presidential elections. While most kids have nothing to do, we provided a lot of opportunities to the children on our land including tutoring, music, bible class, sport matches and this special experience--their very own dance class! The team performed in a special showcase for their parents at the end of the course.
In the afternoons, our team offered tutoring to the kids in the area. Quinn, one of the children we sponsor through school, received Chemistry tutoring from Kara Hadley, a student at the Institute for G.O.D. in Tennessee. Quinn is an extremely bright girl whom we've been assisting through her life struggle with sickle-cell anemia.
This winter was a wonderful moment in our ongoing story in East Africa. There are so many things to celebrate and so much more to do. Please pray with us for our work in this area.