Stories For Change 60


Who put the Sluice gate in the wrong place?

Joyanta Adhikari, Director of Christian Aid partner, The Christian Commission for Development in Bangladesh (CCDB) recently visited Commitment for Life Churches. He told this story of how a People’s Forum (PF), formed as part of their Comprehensive Poverty Reduction Programme, had really transformed people’s lives

PFs are community groups formed in areas of great need. Through education, training and trust building CCDB are able to inform the group on a wide range of issues from small business plans to the giving of loans and health care education.

A PF had received training on their rights, how to speak to local government and officials, lobbying and working with other PFs. When the local government built a sluice gate in a place which caused water logging and made the land uncultivable, they knew they needed to do something or they would have no food. So the PF got together and talked to the local government officials about the lack of consultation with the village. They even called a press conference for the local press who thought it was a good story and published it. Working with other PFs in the area the demand to have the sluice gate moved grew and grew and got into the national news. Eventually the local government agreed and came and moved it to the right place as directed by the community. This time it did what it was supposed to do and they were able to sow their next rice crop.

This has had a profound effect on all the PFs in the area as they saw that, with training and working together, great results can be achieved. Commitment for Life is arranging a visit to CCDB and other Christian Aid partners in Autumn 2011. If you are interested, please contact Linda Mead on


In February of this year the International Monetary Fund approved a $1.27 Billion Loan for Jamaica. This 27-month deal was to help the Jamaican economy by focusing on social spending for the neediest. Policy reforms and debt exchange to break the cycle of budget crises were suggested as part of the loan.

This loan was made to help Jamaica’s plan to recover from mounting government debt, weak economic growth, and the effects of the global economic crisis.

The money will help Jamaica, a Caribbean country of 2.8 million people, implement its two-year plan, which includes.

• Reform of the public sector to substantially reduce the large budget deficit

• A debt strategy to reduce debt servicing costs

• Reforms to the financial sector to reduce risks

With this plan, the IMF predicts growth rates in Jamaica to increase from -3 ½ percent in 2009 to ½ percent by late 2010, and to rise to 2 percent in 2011.

Jamaica’s economy has deteriorated in recent years, in part due to the effects of the global economic crisis. In addition, the country’s large debt burden has magnified the fallout from the global crisis by limiting the scope of government to implement policies to cushion the negative impact.

Sharp falls of 60 percent in bauxite and aluminum production and exports, and a sharp decline in the amount of funds sent by Jamaicans living abroad, have led to a contraction in the economy. At the same time, with limited financing options, the government has had to raise taxes to offset falling revenues.

Economic reforms are needed to put the public finances on sound footing, and establish the basis for sustained strong economic growth. Jamaica’s economic program demonstrates its commitment to meeting these challenges.


The Lomagundi Church is a Presbyterian congregation based in Chinhoyi. There are three outreach programmes currently running at the church – a medical clinic, a tutorials programme and a sports ministry. This story is told by the Church’s administrator, Stanley, whose work we have featured in previous Stories for Change.


Mr Nervous Matope, (his second/family name can be translated to mean “the mire or sticky mud”), has just turned sixty-five. Such a long span of life by Zimbabwean standards! It becomes more impressive because it has been punctuated by illness and disease. Our first contact is by chance really. The cooker at my workplace is taking forever to boil enough water for a cup of tea. See, the church does not have an electric kettle or these modern electric gadgets like coffee-makers and the like. I ask one of my fellow workers to look for anybody who can fix the device. He brings along this frail looking old man.

My first guess is that he could be past seventy- five. He is actually sixty-four. He knows his job………. but the cooker packs up a few weeks later. I personally hunt him down. He has a lot of explaining to do. But when l eventually locate him, there is nothing much left besides a bag of bones and flesh that are all refusing to co-habitate. I don’t get the much needed explanation. I end up advising his son to take him to hospital. The following day l see them at our little church run clinic. I thought l had advised them to go to the HOSPITAL not to come here! The son tells me how they have traversed the country looking for proper medication for the old man in vain. Our nursing staff takes a chance with him. Our doctor conducts a series of tests on his resigned body. Then he disappears after admission into the hospital. When he finally resurfaces, l could hardly recognise him. He is all smiles and his handshake is quite firm. But he is not here to shake my hand. He says he is grateful and would opt to repair the cooker for free to express his gratitude to the clinic. Sadly, the gadget is already fixed. But thanks anyway……………

The Big Brew is back!

Traidcraft is once again inviting people across the UK to bring about positive change to the lives of thousands of producers in the developing world. The theme for Fairtrade Fortnight 2011 is Show Off Your Label – so Traidcraft is inviting churches to hold a Big Brew and show off the label on their Fairtrade honey!

In the UK we can only produce 12% of the honey we love to eat. Think of the difference we would make if all of the honey we imported was fairly traded.

Traidcraft is helping beekeepers in Chile, Guatemala, Tanzania and Kenya build better futures for themselves and their communities. By holding a Big Brew you and your churches would be supporting this valuable work.  Not only will your churches be creating a buzz about fair trade, they’ll also be reaching out to their communities.

Last year saw more than 3,000 Big Brew events and this year Traidcraft is hoping for even more. As before, sets of posters, invitations and other resources will be available, as well as a tea party pack, schools materials, a DVD, and worship resources to link into a Sunday service. Whether your churches simply put on the kettle and invite in a few members of the community, or use it as an opportunity to stage a large-scale event, the Big Brew has something for everyone.

Both the resource and combined tea party and resource packs will be available to order in early January 11th from

To get a little preview of the new designs and to register your interest, go to:

Linda Mead – Commitment for Life Programme Co-ordinator,
Mission Team, United Reformed Church
01702 315981
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.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.