All posts by Robert Were

Peace through Christ

Shalom lives in Kitintale, when we first met her she was a shy, timid woman who hid herself in her busy work keeping house and making snacks to sell. She would avoid eye contact, even when we bought snacks from her shop and invited her to our weekly meetings. A history of rejection from her family made her closed, bitter and resentful towards God and those around her, including her husband and neighbours. This was made worse because she kept her emotions bottled up; even her Pastor wondered what he could do to help her ’’one day you will die of anger my daughter,’’ he lamented. Shalom was inwardly bitter with God and resentful toward others due to her experiences with people.

As we prayed about her, bought snacks from her and invited her for the Discipleship and Life Group meetings, she surprised us by joining one Discipleship meeting in which she asked many questions as we shared the love of Jesus with her. Gradually, Shalom began to discover the heart of God as her caring Father and learned how to pray and open her life to His influence. She regained strength and hope in her relationship with the Lord and began to share her testimony with us. At the same time, her leadership skills began to flourish. She learned that even though she was rejected by her family, her eternal life in Jesus was much more precious than any earthly thing.

When we selected four interns for our apprentice programme, Shalom was one of those chosen; her only worry was that Walter, her husband would not permit her. To her surprise, he willingly gave his support and in November 2019 she joined Every Life. Together, the apprentices have learned a variety of different skills; teaching the Word, business and income generating activities, communication/public speaking, marriage/conflict resolution and teamwork. “During this Internship period, I encountered the Holy Spirit in a way I’d never known Him, I became a true Disciple of Jesus and a beloved child of the Father; I found love and hope. I learned to forgive and receive correction, I changed so much in such a short time, that my husband thought I was another person. He told me ‘You must be learning good things from Every Life, I feel more respect and love from you, you no longer hold grudges against me and you are at peace with our neighbours!’’’

After the internship period, Shalom became the leader of the Kitintale Discipleship group and a Discipleship Champion in her community; she facilitates the meetings each Monday along with other growing leaders in the group.  “Thanks to the Every Life family and the partners who sponsored our Apprenticeship Programme, I am now a joyful woman and I have found my true identity and purpose in my relationship with Jesus!’’

Mary&Edward: something to smile about

Mary* is a single mother to seven children, and when our frontline team met her, she was unemployed. As we spoke with her, it was her son Edward*, that caught out attention first. He had sunken eyes, dry and chapped skin, and a very sad-face. We soon discovered that he was 14-years old, but had impeded growth so was only the size of an eight year old.

Our frontline team arranged an emergency referral to the nutrition centre at one of the city’s hospitals. Mary agreed to accompany her son but feared that while she was away the other children would go hungry. We volunteered to provide food for them and to visit regularly while she cared for Edward in hospital. After two weeks, when Mary and Edward returned home, he was making good progress and Mary had been equipped with knowledge necessary for providing him and her other children with a balanced diet.

Having handled the emergency, we continued to build a relationship with the family. Another challenge they faced was the dangerous state of their make-shift house; it was on the brink of collapse and easily accessible for all the creatures in the neighbouring marshland. Mary had tried to improve it but lacked the funds to do anything that lasted. Every Life worked to rebuild the house with cost-effective, but durable, materials. The house was completed and included a sturdy door for safety and to keep out the marsh creatures! What was particularly special about this project is that Opolot helped us – he was a beneficiary of a previous building programme we had run and was eager to give back to his community.

Over time, it became clear to us that Edward’s challenges were not just physical. We learned that his dad had rejected him in childhood, saying that ‘he could not be the father of such a small child’. Over the years he had said many hurtful things to Edwards while putting the blame on Mary. Edward grew up feeling segregated and the subject of much ridicule. Meanwhile, Mary found herself feeling resentful towards her son for the ‘shame he caused their family’. This made Edward withdraw into himself and stay as silent as possible.

We continued to provide food for the family and helped Mary as she sought to find a job. We were also able to connect the family with a rehabilitation worker to assess Edward. He was diagnosed with mild autism, which further helped the family understand Edward and engage more positively with the challenges he faces.

Mary joined one of our discipleship groups when we learnt more about God and his love for her. This helped her to love her son and see him as a gift from God. As we continued to visit the family in their home, it was wonderful to see the transforming impact this had as despair was turned to hope.

The family are now regulars at our worship sessions at the Dream Centre (Every Life’s community centre) and recently, in an amazing answer to prayer, Mary got a job! Edward is a lot healthier, his speech has improved no end, and he now always confidently greets us with a massive smile. We’re currently helping Mary find a school that will be suitable for him – please pray that we are able to find the right place.

“I encountered Every Life when my life was most challenging; my husband and father of our seven children had just abandoned me and the young ones; he left me lonely, hopeless and unable to make ends meet. My son Edward was my biggest worry, he was so malnourished and retarded in his growth that I had despaired of life. He was always sad. Our house was in such bad shape, it was about to collapse altogether. When Every Life came, my son was rescued from certain death through nutrition intervention, the visits restored his joy; Discipleship has restored my hope for life in Jesus. Our house was renovated just in time, I now have a job and my family is safe and happy. Thank you God for these new friends!

*Names have been changed to protect those mentioned.

A bright future: Kitintale – the story so far

Kitintale is one of Every Life’s new communities. It is unique among the other slum areas we work in as it is situated in a more modern residential setting. The people are fairly educated and knowledgeable, though largely unemployed; this has led to issues of crime, drug addiction, loss of hope and sense of purpose among the residents. Government programs are not accessible in the area and the only VHT (village health team) person passed away recently.

The challenge we faced initially was convincing the residents to join us and start community group meetings. Having had bad experiences with other NGO’s in the past, they were very skeptical of our motives. However, after explaining the vision and goals of Every Life in partnering with people to realise their potential and seeing our commitment to the community, we are beginning to see breakthrough in people’s attitudes toward us. Families who have come along to the groups, feel encouraged and have begun to grasp what they might be capable of together and as a result, they have been attracting more members to the group. Presently we are about 20 strong.

The overall reaction has been encouraging considering it’s only been two and a half months since we focused on group formation. We have good relations with the area leaders whom we had the privilege to train in the Emerging Leaders training recently. Our group formation teaches: Conflict Management and Leadership Training which have both received an enthusiastic response from the group members.  The Life Group has been trained in practical skills for potential IGA’s (income generating activities) including; Paper bags and soap-making.

Training in soap-making

The resulting challenge is that the members expect the organisation to kick-start them with capital after such trainings. Although this may be part of our long-term plans for the group, we have found that before investing capital in people’s business plans, it is vital first to address their mind-set. Many people struggling with poverty see organisations as a quick source of cash or have slowly given up trying to get out of the situations they find themselves in at all; often leading to lethargy, substance abuse and even relying on handouts from NGOs and other charities. We want to show everyone we meet that they carry great, God-given potential, that their lives have value and that they do have the ability to care for themselves and their families (that is where our Social team come in). A change of mind-set means, ultimately, that the skills people learn, will carry a long-lasting or one might say a ‘life-lasting’ impact.