The Birth of a Village: The Need and The Partner
Dear Trace, Adrien, and Joe,
As you know, I’m in Kabale at the moment. Today we visited the proposed site for the expansion of the Kabale ministry…The Bishop met with Obed and several others and they discussed many options and settled on a place called Rukore, near the border with Rwanda. It is almost exactly 40 km from Kabale town and the existing Father’s House. We were so close to Rwanda that at one point my phone switched over to roaming on a Rwanda telecom.
We were warmly welcomed at the Archdeaconry headquarters by nine leaders of the local community and the church. Traveling with me were Obed and Rose, a strong candidate for the Orphan Care Manager position. We toured the extensive land the church owns. They are proposing a two-acre site for the village and some cultivation, and we shared that they might need more land for cultivation, which I think will be forthcoming.
Rukore sits on the ridge of a tall hill/small mountain, so everything involves a slope. But, they know how to build in that context. There are excellent facilities near by a church-founded Primary School that has 728 children enrolled; a church-founded Secondary School with 220 students enrolled; a vocational training school that teaches knitting, tailoring, carpentry and joinery, auto mechanics, cement mixing, electrical installation, driving. There is a government Health Centre very near…The next level up is a hospital. In the opposite direction is a trading centre that has a big market on Tuesdays and Fridays. There is electricity on the site. The Diocesan Water Department has already visited the church to assess and measure to install a water tank. They have paid their local contribution and are waiting for it to come. With the prospect of The Father’s House, it may come more quickly, and may be bigger since it would also serve the children. Rain water would collect from the church roof which is above the proposed site. It could then flow to The Father’s House through gravity. All good things.
Obed and I shared the vision (of GO Project’s model: church led, culturally relevant, sustainable care) extensively and in quite a lot of detail. They seemed very interested. I reminded them that this partnership is not about sponsorship, but about empowering them to sustain orphan care. I wanted them to take time to sit and discuss the implications of this for their lives and then let me know their decision. The parish council is meeting on 12th March and will likely make their decision at that time.
I am recommending we target 100 children at this site. There are likely approximately 250 very needy orphans in their catchment area, so I think 100 children is appropriate, but would not be too overwhelming for the size of the congregation. The Archdeacon said his average Sunday attendance was 600 people, but we should start with four homes and 40 children, and then evaluate.
So, that’s the latest update on this dimension of the work! Thoughts, comments, impressions, reflections.
On GO Project vision trips, people often ask, “How did this village get here? Who decides, and what was the process?” Great questions. Rather than simply talk about it, over the next 12-18 months we hope to share the actual birth of a village.
The first step is to identify a legitimate, community need to care for orphaned and abandoned children. Unfortunately, that’s not difficult. For those who have eyes to see, a pressing need abounds in many places; places like Rukore, Uganda. Next, and this is isn’t so easy, we must identify a local partner who is committed to Gods’ vision for church-led, culturally-relevant, sustainable orphan care. But how?
We believe these partnerships are found and forged through the local church, through prayer, face-to-face meetings, discussing expectations and vision, walking property, and finally in the signing of a covenant agreement. God has taught us much in this area. The truth is, as in marriage, if you pick the wrong partner, the “best options” are off the table. In Uganda, Alison Barfoot is applying those lessons right now. In the coming months through additional e-mails and updates, we plan to walk through additional phases with you, including Covenant Agreement, Site Planning, Budgeting, Finding a US Partner, Funding, Construction, Child Selection, and beginning of Operations. Our great hope is, that as a result, 100 orphaned and abandoned children will live under the care and discipleship of the local Body of Christ, but maybe not. This isn’t a staged, dog-and-pony show. Third world orphan care is messy, and we can’t guarantee happy endings. Still, we are called to be faithful to the process and trust God for the outcomes. We do, and we will. Thank you for sharing this journey with us.