Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Empowering

Self Sufficiency


Caring for widows and orphans in Uganda is big business. Sponsorship is the strategy.  Hear about the need of widows and orphans and think $20 or $30 a month to care for their basic physical needs.  It's a win win situation for both the donor and the supervisor. The donor feels good about what he/she had done and the supervisor profits beyond the donors wildest imagination.

Similar to Apple Computers encouragement for prospective buyers to Think Different, Next Generation Ministries encourages empowerment over sponsorship.  Orphans need a family over a home.  Widows need empowerment over sponsorship.


Four widows sat on the concrete floor, anxious to report on their projects.  Last year I was privileged to grant each of them small business loans.  Years ago, after my first and second trips to Uganda, these same widows had sponsors from the West.  People faithfully donated a specific amount of money which was transferred to the pastor of their church.  On my fourth trip to Uganda I discovered that these same widows received no money, but just a little salt, sugar, cooking oil ... just enough to keep them dependent on the "pastor" who was taking advantage of some of the weakest members of his congregation at the expense of both donor and recipient.

It was time to think different.

Sissy ... the dairy farmer
It has been years since any of those widows have received any funds through a sponsorship program.  Though the focus of Next Generation Ministries is on people much younger than the widows we had gathered with, the objectives are the same:

  • Encourage
  • Equip
  • Empower
  • Release

Florence's duplex rental
They started simply. Generous help came from some good friends from Oregon.  A mud oven was constructed.  Recipes ranged from pizza to wedding cakes.  Basic business and money management principles were taught.  They moved on to a small inventory of wedding dresses for rent.  Three were given good quality dairy cows.

This last year one enlarged the space of her cattle barn.  Another increased the number of fryers from 300, to 400, to 500 ... before a disease destroyed all but over a hundred of the last batch.  Two others became landlords.  One build a duplex that provides for a shop on the street side and living quarters in the back.

Sarah's shop duplex
These widows were given interest free loans with a two year payback schedule.  Once their loans are repaid they are entitled to get another loan.

The sponsorship program has been replaced with dignity, purpose, and new skills. Corporately and individually these ladies have been empowered with long range goals and commitment to increase their earnings and accumulate capital.

The Bible says ...
Sarah, Florence, Regina
Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
Think differently about what the word CARE means.  To most it means a monthly pipeline of dependency.  Maybe the way of the Kingdom is to empower through self-sufficiency.

How do you think?


2 comments:

  1. God bless you and your work. Through Him all things are possible.

    Gail Hunter

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  2. I often wonder about God's purpose for me in my life. If my life has really mattered. If I have loved at all with God's love that really does have eternal consequences. So I haltingly limp along.It is very hard I believe to find community with Jesus, the kind of family intimacy that you have found in Uganda and Next Generation Ministry, here in the West. We are awfully busy here and pretty content with our lives with a lot of options and an understanding of the gospel that too often allows Jesus to become some kind of accessory to our lives instead of a radical conversion that being born again implies. We also seem to badly confused what I guess I will call Americanism with the ways of Jesus. We have deeply ingrained notions of individuality that seem to me to be out of balance with the call to live in intimate community with Jesus. I don't even have a clear picture of what that would look like in a rural community like the one I live in. I guess that is why I am so inspired by the "neo-monastic" communities that have been forming in the badly broken areas of the country of my first birth. I pray for them daily and hope they can also teach us in the Western church somethings about community here in the West.

    I do know that the little I give financially, or do to help others, does not cause me to feel better about myself. I know how little it is. Yet I believe it will bear fruit; it will help someone. I pray for the courage to be a better follower of Jesus. And I do yearn for a more intimate experience of community with Jesus. At least part of me does.

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