Highfield Uniting Presbyterian Church is situated in a high density area on the outskirts of Harare. On every street corner you find people selling basic food such as tomatoes and onions which they have grown on the land around their homes. Mothers can be found, with their children, sitting all day under trees trying to eke out a meagre living. Like these sellers, the majority of the congregation are unemployed, so the church has become very much the centre of the community. As well as a playschool and other youth activities, some time ago they decided to set up The Tariro AIDS Group. With 1.3 million people living with HIV in Zimbabwe this is an increasing problem and has left many children being brought up by grandparents. The group is made up of church members who meet to share fellowship and support those living with and affected by HIV within the community.
The group decided that they needed a income generating scheme and after much thought decided to try making peanut butter. Peanut butter is used in traditional Zimbabwean dishes where it is mixed with pumpkin leaves, tomatoes and onions. Peanut butter is even served with mealie porridge for breakfast. To start with they bought a peanut butter making machine and a sack of peanuts. After selling the peanut butter at Synod events and other churches in the area they were able to buy more bags of peanuts and have been producing excellent peanut butter ever since.
Following on from the success of their first venture they then turned their hand to making floor polish, or Cobra as it is known. Most floors are concrete and covered with either black or red polish so this is something people want to buy. People come to the Manse to buy the polish, often very early in the morning before finding a spot in the market. At present there are twelve members in the group and although the turnover is small, they consider being together a great gift from God and support throughout the week. The profit enables them to give small food parcels to those who need them within the group or the congregation. The parcels consist of basic commodities such as oil, beans, rice and sugar.
With unemployment at 90% the church fulfils its role as the hub of the community. By reaching out to all and providing them with events and schemes it not only provides a small income but also self esteem and companionship. The Sunday worship is lively and uplifting with many of the AIDS group leading the prayers and the singing in the three hundred strong congregation.
It’s amazing what one small loan can do
Before becoming a member of a People’s Forum established by the Christian Commission for Development in Bangladesh (CCDB), Jainab could see little future for herself, her children or husband Lokhman Hossain. He earned about one hundred takka a day with a rented rickshaw and although Jainab occasionally worked as a cleaner, they still could only provide a daily meal of rice for their family. With no savings they were at the point of taking their children out of school to work when Jainab heard about the People’s Forum in her local community. This had been formed by CCDB supported by Commitment for Life through Christian Aid.
People’s Forums are groups brought together to receive training in income generating schemes, health issues, agriculture, advocacy and much more. This gave Jainab confidence and determination to give herself and her family a future. Having received a loan from the People’s Forum she purchased a cow and after rearing it for six months sold it for a profit just before the Muslim festival Eid. This she used to buy her husband his own rickshaw that immediately increased his daily income. With the rest she decided to buy another cow and again made a profit. Now her children’s future in school is secure and they are able to buy a little fish and vegetables to go with the rice. There is even some money over to buy a small piece of land which, with training in agriculture from the People’s Forum, will improve the nutrition in their diet and could provide extra income.
CCDB’s poverty reduction programme aims to help the poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged people achieve sustainable livelihood security by empowering them through education and support. Not only has the small loan Jainab received meant her family has a future, but she is smiling again and is an example to others in her community to make the most of resources and opportunities available to them.
© Commitment for Life
Almost 97% of sex workers in Jamaica come from poor backgrounds, according to Christian Aid’s partner Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL). Many have been abandoned by their families, have left school early and are single mothers with no support from the father of their children. JASL works with sex workers in Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Kingston, offering them free health advice, condoms and a vital support network.
See the video, featuring Novlet Reid who has visited the United Reformed Churches on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=GB&v=ODbM6fH5Bqk
Do you often feel you are campaigning alone? Come to London on the 20th October to Christian Aid’s Supporter Day & Mass Lobby of Parliament. Join Christian Aid for a jam packed and inspirational day – starting at 11am in Methodist Central Hall. Hear from Revd Jesse Jackson, civil rights campaigner and CA’s new Director, Loretta Minghella. Then attempt to lobby as many MPs in the new parliament as possible to make sure climate change is at the top of their agenda. Reserve your place by contacting [email protected]
Latest update from the World Development Movement.
Have you written to your MP asking them to support regulation of food speculation yet?
The launch of WDM’s campaign to stop bankers betting on food went spectacularly well, with lots of media coverage, massive interest online and nearly 1,000 people pledging to phone the FSA to complain about irresponsible bankers.
But this is just the start. In order to win this campaign we need your help to keep the pressure up. The next step is to write to your MP to ask them to tell the Chancellor that they support the introduction of stronger regulation in food and commodity markets www.wdm.org.uk
Jubilee Debt Campaign
Debt update: New resources for campaigners. Jubilee Debt Campaign has produced a new report entitled ‘Fuelling Injustice,’ looking at the impact of debt generated by Western governments and institutions on injustice, instability and poor governance across the Muslim world. Another new resource, Getting into Debt, covers everything you ever wanted to know about Third World Debt but were too afraid to ask.
Stop Climate Chaos, Climate Update: Mass Local Lobby
On 5-6 November, supporters of Stop Climate Chaos, the UK’s largest coalition calling for action on climate change, will be holding the first Climate Lobby of the new Parliament. Thousands of people from up and down the country will join in a constituency-based lobby, to tell their MPs that they must deliver strong climate policies in the UK, and push for significant progress towards a fair, ambitious and binding global climate deal at the United Nations climate change talks. www.stopclimatechaos.org.uk
Linda Mead – Commitment for Life Programme Co-ordinator,
Mission Team, United Reformed Church
Commitment for Life is here to help United Reformed Churches and LEPs work for a fairer world and for peace with justice, recognising that change and response starts with each one of us. www.cforl.org.uk