A full week
We started a new programme at the Family Centre back in January and the families are over halfway through their eight-month stay. Over this time they learn a whole variety of new skills, which help provide them with the means to care for themselves and their children for the long term. This ultimately gives them the opportunity to leave slum life behind and start afresh in their home village or elsewhere if they choose. The centre is currently composed of five homes (the largest is semi-detached), with a family staying in each and a house further down the hill, where Solomon and Harriet Kitenda; the programme facilitators, live with their family.
In a typical week, Monday and Friday are devoted to hands-on, teaching about sustainable farming. Over the course of eight months this amounts to a wide and varied knowledge, supported with practical experience, and hard work! Among other things, they learn about how to make the most of the land available, planting systematically and using differing growing conditions to define crop choice and optimise yields. They practice making their own, organic pesticides and fertilisers, which can be produced using local plants and ingredients and then use them on the crops as well as in their own personal gardens. Any food that is harvested goes towards supplementing the families’ diets and encourages them to invest time in their own gardens.
Saturday is spent maintaining the crops, doing other odd jobs around the Centre and preparing the ground for planting or harvesting in season. Tuesday is split into more agricultural teaching in the morning and meeting together with other locals in a community group in the afternoon. Here the families have a chance to share some of their new-found knowledge and join in with training for the wider community. It has been great to see locals also benefiting from what we are doing in this way. One older man told us how he had been having trouble growing maize for some time, but acting on our training in planting and growing seasons he then had great success, eventually harvesting eight sacks of maize in total. Now he has plans to grow a whole acre next season!
Wednesdays and Thursdays are allotted to health, social and business teaching. This also covers a considerable number of topics. Families learn together about staying healthy through hygiene, good nutrition (which is nicely linked with the foods they have begun to grow for themselves) and simple ways of avoiding diseases like malaria, pneumonia and dysentery. The team counsel and pray with families both in groups and one-to-one, helping them regain confidence and hope despite the often-traumatising situations they have experienced. They teach on parenting, and emotional and spiritual well-being, working to restore individuals and relationships. Each family have their own ‘restoration plan’ where they can record practical, emotional and spiritual growth or changes they want to see and the steps they can take to meet them. A change of mind-set often takes time but leaves people free to make plans for the future. We encourage them to think ahead through training in Income Generating Activities (IGAs) and how to save effectively, with the intention that they will be ready and capable of sustaining themselves by the end of the programme.
Finally, Sunday is a day of… rest. The families often relax together, the children play, they have time to themselves. One of the wonders of this place is to see how, when given space and relieved of the pressures of slum life; anxiety, despondency and frustration are so frequently replaced with peace, hope and joy. Please pray for the families currently on the programme, that they will continue to see transformation in their lives and hope for the future.
The cost of running the actual centre can be high, so we would love to reach more people through this amazing site. Building more houses to accommodate more families per programme will enable us to do this. You can help us see this happen and for people continue to be restored by supporting us on a monthly basis. For the duration of this year, a generous foundation who have been supporting us for some time, have committed to matching all donations from any source; meaning the impact of anything you give is doubled!