Help us fight child abuse in schools

Help us fight child abuse in schools

The threat of abuse is very real for pupils in many Ugandan schools. You can help by getting your church to pray for our child protection work.

Imagine a classroom with 100 or more primary age schoolchildren in it. Put aside how crammed it might be and concentrate on this: more than two thirds of the children in front of you have been sexually abused by a male teacher, according to a Unicef survey. The percentage of children who have been caned is even higher, yet their abusers get away with the abuse, free to inflict suffering on a child in a place every child should feel safe: school.

The survey on the prevalence of abuse in Ugandan schools shows that people are aware of the abuse – but it still continues. Do not think it is going completely unchallenged though. Ugandan officials are making strides. And, with your support, BMS World Mission lawyer Linda Darby is working tirelessly in Gulu, northern Uganda, to change attitudes towards child protection in schools.

BMS mission worker Linda Darby guides teachers in child protection policy work
Linda Darby’s mission to tackle abuse in schools begins with training future nursery teachers about child protection.

Backed by local government, Linda has so far taken 21 schools through training on how abuse can be identified, reported and prevented. And the message of protecting children from sexual and physical abuse is not restricted to the school environment. Community leaders also attend the training, alongside the school’s senior staff – and ends with a school developing a child protection policy. With your prayers, we hope even more schools in Gulu will develop more effective child protection approaches.

“At first, people can be defensive, but as we explain the types of abuse, especially sexual, they realise it is happening and they are more open to listening,” says Linda. “This work is important because it is helping children thrive in school, and that will improve their circumstances in life.”

A BMS project worker helps teachers identify signs of child abuse
We’re helping teachers and community leaders in Gulu, Uganda, identify signs of child abuse.

The work Linda does in Uganda couldn’t happen without your prayer support. We encourage you and your church to please pray today for:

1. More local trainers to come forward to help Linda in her work. Pray for the right people, with the right skills, and with huge hearts to protect children from harm.

2. Energy, wisdom and strength for Linda in her work. Pray that she knows the encouragement of your prayers when she talks to schools about why child protection policies must be developed and put into practice.

3. The children who are being abused. Please pray for the abuse to stop, and that the children sense God’s love for them in their lives.

4. The adults who commit abuse. Pray that they understand the darkness of their actions and are guided towards a new life in which they never hurt a child again.

Through your prayers today, we believe that even more schools in Gulu will take child protection more seriously. We know it’s possible. You can play your part today in protecting children you will never meet.

Please pray.

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In pictures: meet the South Sudanese refugees you’re helping

In pictures:

Meet the South Sudanese refugees you're helping

It’s the largest refugee crisis in Africa and the third largest in the world. Over two million people have now fled the conflict in South Sudan, with more than a million of them ending up in Uganda. The numbers are overwhelming – but the people are amazing. And you’ve been helping them. Here’s how.

Forced to flee their homes because of the fighting, South Sudanese families arrived (and continue to arrive) in Uganda with nothing. You’ve been supporting some of the most at-risk people in Palorinya and Bidi Bidi refugee settlements, as well as helping those who have settled right by the border with South Sudan.

BMS local worker Patrick
BMS local worker Isaac

You’re supporting these two amazing men – Patrick and Isaac – to run projects to help displaced South Sudanese people. Both Patrick and Isaac are South Sudanese refugees themselves, and they have huge hearts for those struggling in the settlements. By giving to BMS World Mission, you’re helping them to reach out to people with disabilities, widows, single parents and other vulnerable people.

How you're helping: food

You’ve funded the transport and logistics to enable 1,700 severely malnourished children to access Plumpy’Nut, a special peanut-based paste to help them get healthy again. This little boy is nearly at the end of his treatment and is doing much better!

Dube is now growing food to support himself and his family. Dube has a disability with his leg, and you provided him with seeds and tools to start growing a harvest. His is one of 100 families you’ve supported in this way.

Henry is unable to walk and therefore cannot farm for himself. He has two daughters and his wife left him because of his disability. Henry isn’t living in an official refugee camp and so isn’t eligible for government support. You’ve been providing him and 1,000 other people with food rations – essential for their survival.

How you're helping: maternal health

Jane gave birth to her baby, Irene, while fleeing the conflict in her village. She had no medical assistance, and after she gave birth she had to get up and carry on walking. Her story is not uncommon. Thankfully, Jane survived. But pregnancy and childbirth are terrifying concepts for people living in the refugee settlements. There’s a lack of access to health care, which means health conditions that can normally be easily managed end up costing lives.

By supporting BMS, you’re helping women access the medical checks they need to stay healthy during pregnancy. Irene is pregnant and has high blood pressure, but thanks to you, she’s aware of her health condition and is being carefully monitored. If anything changes, she will be rushed to a health clinic in Bidi Bidi refugee camp where she lives.

Irene found out about her blood pressure because of the cradle device – a highly accurate automated blood pressure device that also detects heart rate and shock index. You helped pay for 714 cradle devices, which means that all 17 NGO-run clinics in Bidi Bidi now have access it. On top of that, over 450 volunteer health team workers covering the entire settlement have use of their own cradle device to monitor the health of people in their community – detecting high-risk pregnancies and other potentially life-threatening illnesses.

Women like these are getting accurate blood pressure checks when they come for check-ups in Bidi Bidi’s health centres. That means that conditions that could have been missed before are being identified.

Angok is one of the 450 volunteer health workers now armed with a cradle device. He goes and visits people in his community and monitors their health. It’s really simple to use the device, and Angok is now able to make sure pregnant women at risk of illnesses like preeclampsia get help before it’s too late.

How you're helping: destigmatising disability

You’re supporting South Sudanese Christians and churches to help people like Harriet. People with disabilities are some of the most vulnerable people in the refugee settlements. You’re helping us to find them, to support them, and to help them and their communities understand that they are important and have value.

You’re empowering the church to destigmatise disability and make sure the people who need help most receive it.

Thank you so much for supporting our work amongst South Sudanese refugees!

Want to help South Sudanese refugees? Click here
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Buffalo, corn, radishes and chillies: a recipe for success

Buffalo, corn, radishes and chillies:

a recipe for success

A widow is able to provide for her three daughters. People in Afghanistan are eating vegetables in their village for the first time. Ugandan farmers can fund school fees and medical bills. Agricultural training is transforming lives, and it’s all down to your support for BMS World Mission.

In countries facing political instability and natural disasters, it’s hard for people in rural areas who survive by farming to make a living and support their families. But BMS-supported agricultural training is changing that. By donating cattle, training farmers to grow chillies and bananas, and helping women rear buffalo, men and women can earn a living long into the future. Because of you, BMS workers are with these communities every step of the way, helping them improve their quality of life.

Here’s what you are doing to help farmers and families to thrive.

1. Mozambique: cattle and corn

In the rural village of Chassimba in Mozambique, men and women are learning how to better grow corn. Overseen by BMS worker Carlos Jone, this training is transforming lives in the community.

A man surrounded by bricks in heaps.
John was able to make bricks by selling his crop.
Corn filled to the brim in a barn.
Amelia has enough corn to provide for the needs of her family.

John and Amelia are two of the people who gained skills in growing corn. John used the money he made from selling his crop to produce bricks, which he used to build his new house. Amelia, a widow, managed to grow so much corn that she filled her barn to the brim. Now she has enough to support her family for the rest of the year. Amelia’s also now involved in growing vegetables with other farmers in the village, and is earning enough to support her three children through school.

We’ve also donated cattle to the village, and these are being used to teach ploughing – helping many more people provide for their families.

“Thank you for your supporting farmers in Chassimba,” says BMS worker Carlos. “You’re fighting hunger and food insecurity, and the results are visible – there are no longer hunger problems in the community.”

This thank you dance from the villagers in Chassimba is for you.

2. Afghanistan: lettuces and radishes

Villagers in Afghanistan are growing vegetables never grown in their area before.

At high altitude in the mountains of Afghanistan, growing vegetables presents unique challenges, and in some places they’re not even grown or eaten at all.

You’re helping to change that. With your support, people are learning about the nutritional benefits of vegetables and how to grow them.

In one village, agricultural experts set up a demonstration garden on the land of a man called Almas*, where other villagers could learn and experiment in growing vegetables. Almas’ uncle came to visit, and when he saw the garden, he couldn’t believe his eyes. He said, “I am 66 years old, and have never seen vegetables grown here; these people are just telling you stories!”

Some time passed, and Almas’ uncle came to visit again. Dinner was served, with plates of fresh radishes and lettuce being presented, all of which had been grown locally. Almas turned to his uncle and said, “Thanks be to God that now at the age of 66 you have tasted vegetables grown here in this village!” Now, when Almas’ son harvests vegetables from the garden, the uncle comes and takes some of them to his own home.

More and more people in remote mountain villages are now living healthier lives through growing vegetables. And it’s all down to you.

You’re fighting hunger and food insecurity

3. Nepal: buffalo and goats

Goma’s buffalo died in the 2015 earthquakes, and she had to completely rebuild her house. She and her husband had used the animals to support their two daughters through school. Life was now looking very precarious.

Thankfully, Goma managed to get hold of three buffalo and some goats, and she got a place on BMS-supported livestock training, to learn how to better look after her animals. She learnt about animal health and shed management, and now she’s able to get more from her cattle than she ever did before.

Goma collects around 20 litres of milk from the buffalo every day, and then sells it at a local collection centre. She and her husband are able to continue supporting their two daughters, who are studying in Kathmandu, and provide for themselves, too.

A woman wearing a red dress standing next to three buffalo.
Goma can now provide for her two daughters by selling buffalo milk.

4. Uganda: bananas and chillies

Chillies being dried in the Ugandan sun.
These chillies are being dried before being transported to the wholesalers in Kampala.

In Gulu, Uganda, BMS workers have trained 100 families to start farming chillies and bananas. Each household received in-depth training, including land preparation and how to plant the bananas and chillies. Once they were ready, the farmers used their new skills and knowledge to grow the crops.

And they were hugely successful. All the bananas are being sold in local markets in Gulu. And the dried chillies are now being bought by a wholesaler in the capital city, Kampala, that exports them all over the world.

This is having an amazing impact in the lives of these families. One of the challenges for many farmers in the area was not being able to pay for big medical bills, or having to pull their children out of school if fees were put up. But now, this is no longer the case.

Namazzi* benefited from growing bananas. Because the banana harvest is continual, Namazzi is able to take her bananas and sell them at a local market throughout the year. The new income acts as pocket money for the family each week, so they can make sure there is enough food in the house, as well as covering small medical bills.

A man planting a banana tree while surrounded by people watching.
People in Gulu are learning how to plant and grow bananas.

These are just a few examples of the transformations you’re making possible through your giving. You’re helping farmers learn new skills, provide for their families, and live healthier lives. Thank you.

*Names changed to protect identities.

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The kingdom builders: meet six BMS workers giving it all for Christ

The kingdom builders:

meet six BMS workers giving it all for Christ

Today, they’ll face everything from apathy and suspicion to persecution. Yet nothing will stop these BMS World Mission workers sharing Jesus’ love in hostile, remote and hard-to-reach communities.

The couple opening minds in a secular nation

Names: Samuel Duval and Valérie Duval-Poujol

Location: Mus, southern France

The challenge: serving in a country where evangelical Christians are almost non-existent, the Muslim community is the largest in Europe, and secularism is a hallmark of national identity.

The ministry: Facebook. YouTube. Email. And also in the church they planted. Pastor Samuel Duval and theologian Valérie Duval-Poujol embrace every way possible to tell people about their faith. People from across France are sending them questions about the Bible and Jesus, reaching out for answers. BMS workers Samuel and Valérie are listening, engaging, and telling them about Jesus.

A man wearing glasses and in a jacket and wearing a waistcoat, stands next to a woman with glasses and wearing a light blue shirt
Church planters Samuel Duval and Valérie Duval-Poujol embrace traditional and modern means to communicate their faith.

“The one thing that French people have is that they are thinkers,” says Samuel. “The French Baptists are just a few, but we have a massive impact with theology. When someone is a Christian in France, he can’t just be a regular Christian, he is a strong Christian.”

The youth worker using football and music to share his love for Jesus

Name: Ajarn Tah

Location: northern Thailand

The challenge: alcoholism and drug taking are destroying lives in the Thai Buddhist village where youth worker Ajarn Tah works. BMS workers Helen and Wit Boondeekhun brought him in to try and stop young people from drifting into addiction.

The ministry: starting a football team takes hard work, patience and, critically, players. Tah managed to form his team of ten to 13-year-olds in just one afternoon. Clearly the recruits knew what to do as they not only won their first match, they did so 6-1! And more than just the beautiful game, young people are hearing about a meaningful life. Before each match, the entire team goes to a local church to sing Christian songs, play games and hear a short message.

A woman in a white t-shirt stands next to a man in a white t-shirt in a forest.
Football ministry is helping Ajarn Tah, pictured here with his wife Ajarn Baeng, connect with young people in a village in northern Thailand.

Tah’s work in the village of Wang Daeng also sees him teaching guitar to pupils at the village school, using Christian songs to share his passion for Jesus.

The multi-tasker who's all about bringing new light

Name: Isaiah Thembo

Location: Kasese District, western Uganda

The challenge: helping people turn their lives around when they’ve dropped out of school and have no qualifications, money or hope.

The ministry: teaching skills like tailoring, carpentry, mechanics and hairdressing at a BMS-supported training centre.

“People have businesses now,” says project manager, Isaiah. “And that means they can earn money, rent a house, and send a child to school.”

A man wearing a smart suit and tie stands in front of trees, smiling at the camer
BMS worker Isaiah Thembo is supporting projects in western Uganda that help bring people out of poverty.

And Isaiah has not only helped to turn lives around at the skills centre. He’s also helped to install solar powered lighting in churches in western Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains, where communities have no electricity. People use the churches to read and study because they have light, instead of burning kerosene lanterns which produce a toxic smoke.

“These projects are connecting the community to God,” says Isaiah. “They are helping people, and transforming hundreds of lives.”

Watch: this is the difference your support has made to a mountain village

The pastor who takes on the Amazon to connect with believers

Name: Pastor Luis Alvarado Dolly

Location: the Peruvian Amazon

The challenge: reaching rural communities accessible only by boat or through dense rainforest where Christians are very isolated. There’s also the very real threat of being bitten by mosquitoes, tarantulas and snakes.

The ministry: providing theological and leadership training to rural pastors who have never received it. Pastor Luis visits river and jungle pastors, inviting them to stay at the BMS-supported Nauta Integral Mission Training Centre where they get biblical training and lessons in how to care for their land.

Pastor Luis Alvarado Dolly looks at a camera
Pastor Luis is strengthening pastors in rural Peruvian communities.

Combining a relentless passion for the gospel with a brilliant smile and a heart for the poor, Pastor Luis is inspiring Christians to be stronger, better leaders in their communities.

The woman resisting persecution to help people find Jesus

Name: Gillian Francis

Location: Kolkata, India

The challenge: working in communities where Christians are persecuted, threatened, imprisoned, and killed. Hindu and Muslim fundamentalist groups attack Christians, angry that people are believing the gospel and accepting Jesus into in their lives.

The ministry: Gillian helps lead a huge church planting movement in villages in West Bengal by overseeing the critical and complex administrative work that’s needed. With her support, tens of thousands of people have heard about Jesus for the first time, giving their hearts to him and opening their homes to become places of worship and transformation.

A woman wearing a grey top and holding a microphone sings
Gillian Francis is playing a key role in helping house churches to flourish in West Bengal, India.
Partner with us in mission

We’re so proud to call Samuel, Valérie, Tah, Pastor Luis, Gillian, and Isaiah our colleagues. All this work can only happen with your help. If you commit to giving regularly to BMS, you can help us to plan ahead and meet the needs, both spiritual and physical, of people who would otherwise have little hope.

Become a 24:7 Partner today and commit, at whatever level you can, to stand with us every day in mission. You will also be standing with Samuel, Valérie, Tah, Luis, Gillian and Isaiah.

Justice in Africa: God’s heart for the poor

Justice in Africa:

God's heart for the poor

Mob justice. Corruption. Exorbitant court fees. These are just some of the problems that people in Mozambique and Uganda face when trying to access justice. But thanks to you, BMS World Mission is doing something about it.

Christian lawyers in Africa are standing up for the poor and marginalised. They’re helping people like Sarah in Uganda, a widow who fell into legal trouble after her husband died. Whether it’s through legal representation, mediation or legal education, BMS-supported lawyers are helping the oppressed find justice.

Watch the video above to find out how your support is helping Christian lawyers in Mozambique and Uganda stand up for those who need it.

Support our legal work. Give today.
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5 ways you’re making the world a healthier place

5 ways you’re making the world a healthier place

Saving mothers and babies in Afghanistan and helping pregnant refugees. Discover five of the ways your generous support for BMS World Mission is helping to provide healthcare for thousands of people around the world.

1. Meeting medical needs in Chad

Man in the distance looking at the camera. An ambulance in a courtyard at a hospital in Chad.
You're funding pharmacists, surgeons, doctors and nurses in Chad.

There is one qualified doctor in Chad for every 25,000 people. Nearly 40 per cent of children have stunted growth because of a lack of food, and illnesses such as malaria, HIV and Aids affect many people’s lives. But thanks to you, hospitals in Chad (one near the capital and one in the north of the country) are providing much-needed medical treatment and helping people survive. Your giving has enabled us to fund pharmacists, surgeons, doctors, nurses, malnutrition prevention workers, midwives and other hospital staff who are giving the right care to thousands of people. They’re treating gunshot wounds, cancer and malaria, and delivering babies, thanks to you.

2. Giving children with disabilities the support they need

Children with disabilities in Thailand face huge challenges. Many families struggle to cope with the needs of their children, and government orphanages are often unable to provide the one-on-one care and support they need.

Thanks to your giving, BMS worker Judy Cook is providing therapeutic and respite care to children with disabilities at Hope Home, in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Hope Home currently provides full-time care for ten children, and offers respite care for many other children and their families.

Check out the amazing work you’re supporting in this video:

3. Coming to the aid of pregnant refugees

The South Sudanese women who make it to Bidi Bidi refugee camp in northern Uganda after fleeing conflict are often in danger of dying during pregnancy or childbirth. But thanks to your giving, an electronic device that measures people’s blood pressure and heart rate is helping to save lives. At least 7,000 pregnant women will receive medical checks that could identify any problems and save their lives, and the lives of their unborn children. To read more about how the device works and the impact your support is having, click the button below.

A woman in a refugee camp carrying a pale of water.
You're helping at least 7,000 refugees get medical checks in northern Uganda.

4. Saving the lives of mothers and babies in Afghanistan

Boys playing football in the mountains of Afghanistan.
Thanks to you, men and women are being trained in safe birthing practices in the remote mountains of Afghanistan.

Afghanistan has some of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the world. In remote mountain villages, it’s difficult for pregnant women to get to clinics to give birth, and unsafe birthing practices such as smearing dirt on the umbilical cord, or pushing on the mother’s stomach during labour to make the baby come out, can lead to infection and even death.

You’re enabling us to help train men and women in safe birthing practices in the mountains of rural Afghanistan. You’re helping them learn to spot when something is wrong, and to dispel unsafe birthing practices, and you’re saving the lives of mothers and babies as a result.

5. Giving children a voice through speech therapy

Being unable to communicate your feelings and needs to the community around you can be incredibly isolating. In northern Uganda, BMS worker Lois Ovenden is providing speech and language therapy to children with disabilities. We’ll leave it to her to explain more of the inspiring work she’s doing in this video:

By supporting BMS, you’re funding life-transforming health work like this around the world. Thank you! You can help us do even more by making a donation today.

Inspired to give? Click Here
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A tale of two villages

A tale of two villages:

providing clean water in Uganda

Disease, infection and chronic pain. All a result of drinking dirty water. For millions of people, unsafe water is all they have to drink. But thanks to your giving, boreholes in northern Uganda are providing clean water for hundreds of people, preventing illness and transforming communities.

Today, there are over 663 million people living without a safe water supply close to home, spending countless hours walking to distant sources, and coping with the health impacts of using contaminated water. Everyone deserves access to clean water, but the problem is so large, it can seem difficult to know what to do, or how to fix it. When faced with an issue like this, the best way to tackle it is to start small, working in village after village, providing safe water and preventing disease until one day, everyone has access. And that’s exactly what BMS is doing.

Child pumping water out a water pump in northern Uganda
Thanks to you, this borehole is providing clean water to the community in Abwoch.

In Abwoch and Pajaa, two villages in the north of Uganda, people didn’t have access to a safe supply of water. The main borehole in Abwoch was contaminated, and in Pajaa the nearest clean source was a half an hour’s walk away – most families had to make two to five trips per day, spending up to five hours fetching the water they needed. Disease was rife, all because of bacteria in the water.

But thanks to your support, this is no longer the case. BMS has drilled a borehole in Abwoch, and another in Pajaa, providing over 350 people with clean water, free from bacteria and infection.

A BMS-supported team ran tests on three local water sources: stream water, an existing borehole, and a borehole that they built. As you can see, the stream water and the existing borehole are full of bacteria, but the well they built is completely clean.

BMS environmental consultant Tim Darby gathered local leaders, church leaders and community members together in each village. They decided where the borehole would be built, and agreed to provide sand and gravel as resources to help construct it. The communities also agreed to provide accommodation, food, and water for the team drilling the hole and building the water pump.

In the space of seven days, the two boreholes were built, providing clean water for hundreds. A fence was built around each water pump, preventing animals from contaminating the supply.

The villagers were then taught hygiene skills, and elected a committee to help with maintenance and to ensure the water remained clean.

Both boreholes are free from bacteria, providing safe drinking water for the hundreds of people who use them. Charles Opiro, part of the borehole committee in Pajaa, says that people have not been sick from water-related diseases since the new water pump was built, as now they don’t have to drink water taken from puddles or dirty lakes.

A team learning how to use the village drill to dig a borehole.
Digging a borehole is exhausting work.

Having clean water is helping Pajaa community in other ways too. The boreholes are providing new economic opportunities for the community. Charles used the clean water to make bricks during the dry season, which he then sold to fund the school fees for his younger siblings. He’s also seen more women participate in the economy – his neighbour took her goods to sell at the market because she no longer had to spend such a long time collecting water.

Tim Darby, with his wife Linda and their two children, Annabelle and Elsa.
Tim Darby and his wife Linda, a BMS lawyer, live in Gulu in northern Uganda with their three children, Joshua, Annabelle and Elsa.

Your support for our work in Uganda is providing safe water to hundreds, preventing disease and saving lives. It’s transforming the way villages in northern Uganda operate. And the project has barely begun. “I just want to say thank you,” Tim says to our generous supporters. “You’ve enabled so many people to access clean water already. We’re so grateful.”

You can give now to support work like this around the world. Just click the big red button.

Inspired to give? Click Here
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Coming to the aid of pregnant refugees

Technology and mission:

Coming to the aid of pregnant refugees

Women in refugee camps in Uganda are in danger of dying during pregnancy or childbirth. That threat is about to change for thousands of them, thanks to an electronic device and your support for BMS World Mission.

They’ve fled a civil war, trekking for days to cross the border from South Sudan into Uganda, seeking sanctuary from crippling food shortages and men with guns and machetes. They’ve fled to save themselves, their loved ones, and the ones yet to be born.

The South Sudanese women who make it to the Bidi Bidi refugee camp in northern Uganda find a settlement of tents and mud-brick huts that sprawls for miles. The number of people living there, roughly 280,000, is higher than the population of many a British city, and most of them are women and children.

Refugee women and children walk along a dirt track in northern Uganda
Women and children have walked for miles to escape conflict in South Sudan.

Left behind because they were killed, abducted, forced to fight, or too weak to travel, are brothers, sisters, grandparents, children… and future fathers. An estimated one in five women of childbearing age in humanitarian emergencies like this are likely to be pregnant. Keep that in mind when you read the following:

– An estimated 830 women die every day from pregnancy and birth-related causes around the world.

– Of these maternal deaths, 99 per cent happen in developing countries.

– More than 50 per cent of maternal deaths are caused by conditions that could be detected if vital signs were assessed.

A £20 handheld device that measures blood pressure and heart rate can change these statistics. It is called the Microlife Cradle VSA (Vital Signs Alert), and from March, hundreds will be used in the Bidi Bidi camp, and the Nakivale refugee settlement in south west Uganda.

A patient in Haiti has her blood pressure and heart rate checked.
The device has already been used to help pregnant women in Haiti. Picture by Hope Health Action.

How does the device work?

The device needs minimal training to operate and uses a traffic light warning system that shows the risk of shock or high blood pressure in a patient.

– A green light shows the patient’s blood pressure and heart rate are normal, and they are likely to be well.

– A yellow light shows the blood pressure is high, and the patient could have pre-eclampsia, a condition that occurs in pregnancy, or soon after delivery. If untreated, it can cause a pregnant woman to suffer a seizure, stroke or even die.

– A red light shows that blood pressure is very high and the patient could have severe pre-eclampsia, or may have severe bleeding or infection.

Watch a step by step guide to using the device

Thanks to your gifts, at least 7,000 pregnant women will receive a medical check that could save both their lives, and the life of their unborn children. The device will alert volunteer health workers to a problem that can then be referred to a doctor or nurse.

BMS funding of £18,000 will help partner organisation Hope Health Action (working with King’s College London and the United Nations refugee agency) distribute more than 700 of these devices into the two camps from March and train people to use them.

South Sudanese refugees climb a hill at the Bidi Bidi refugee settlement in Uganda.

By giving to BMS, you’re making a life-saving difference to women in the Bidi Bidi and Nakivale refugee settlements.

But it could lead to so many others being helped, as it’s hoped a successful programme will prompt the Ugandan health ministry to distribute the device to other refugee camps.

We give thanks for your gifts. Amazing things are happening because of you.

What to help us do more? Click Here
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Top 5 stories of 2017

Looking back:

Top 5 stories of 2017

Last year was filled with inspirational stories of lives being transformed through your giving. Here are our top five most-read articles from 2017.

Students being baptised in barrels. Young French Christians finding community. Nepali children excelling at school. These are just a few of the incredible things your gifts and prayers have made possible this year, through BMS World Mission. There were so many stories to choose from, but only five could top our news story charts! We hope you’ll be inspired as you look back at what we achieved together in 2017.

1. Big thinking for little minds

Children in Nepal are benefiting from Annie Brown's teacher training programme.

Millions of children in Nepal are getting the opportunity of a better education, thanks to your support for BMS worker Annie Brown.

With her teacher training programme being adopted by the Nepali Government, every teacher of students aged between five and 13 in all government schools will have the chance to receive Annie’s training. They’ll be better-equipped to teach, and Nepal’s children will face brighter futures!

2. Pray for our new mission workers

James and Ruth Neve, who are preparing to move to India to work with us.

Tucked away in our centre in Birmingham, new BMS mission workers are busy preparing for overseas service. For them, it’s daunting, but also exciting, as they get ready to serve God abroad in different ways. From a family heading to Nepal to help with disaster relief, to a couple heading to Albania to teach children of mission workers, there are plenty of things we can be praying for.

Loads of you loved catching up with our new mission workers’ prayer requests, making this our second most popular story last year.

Pray for them today by clicking the link below.

Want to help us do more? Give today
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3. 5 ways you're fighting violence against women

We're working in Uganda to help primary schools devise and implement child protection policies.

For thousands of vulnerable women and girls around the world, gender based violence is a daily part of life. But, thanks to your support, BMS is taking a stand against it. From helping girls know their rights, to freeing women from prostitution, you’re helping to empower women and prevent trafficking, sexual abuse and domestic violence. Find out more by reading the story.

4. Baptised in a barrel in Phnom Penh

Students are meeting Jesus in Cambodia! We loved witnessing the amazing moment when Srei got baptised in a barrel and by our stats it looked like you did too. Read about how she and Chan came to find God at a BMS-supported Christian hostel in Phnom Penh, and how, thanks to your support, more and more people are finding Jesus.

5. Feeding of the 400

You’re helping to build Christian community in France – where young Christians often feel isolated and lonely.

Connexion 2017, an event put on by BMS worker Sue Wilson and her team, helped young French Christians realise they’re not alone. Watch the video above to find out about what it meant to the people who were there, and click the link below to read how you’re helping bring young French Christians together.

Want to help us do more? Give today
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Thank you for supporting us in 2017. Your gifts have helped people find God, and have transformed countless lives. With your continued support, we can’t wait to start doing even more in 2018!

Other great stories made possible by you

Five stores aren’t enough to sum-up how much you did last year. So here are a few extra ones we’d love you to read too.

  1. Meet the inspiring Mozambican Christians you’re supporting: they’re bringing justice to abused women and teaching communities their rights.
  2. From witch doctor to church planter: the story of a witch doctor who found God, and then started planting churches.
  3. Baptist church brings light in Uganda: one simple action is raising money, helping people’s lungs and introducing people to Jesus.
  4. Refugees are like you and me: BMS worker Ann MacFarlane has seen God at work in the lives of refugees in Italy.
  5. This is what a life transformed looks like: meet Joshua. You helped give him a reason to smile.

Our workers need your prayers right now

Got a moment to pray? Great! Our workers need your prayers right now

Courage, safety and an improved hospital generator all feature in the latest prayer requests our mission workers have sent us. Please read on and pray with us for lives to be transformed.

Annie Brown

Annie is a teacher trainer working in Nepal with the Kathmandu International Study Centre’s Education Quality Improvement Programme (KISC EQUIP).

Annie’s prayer requests

• Pray for a Nepali teacher friend in Lamjung District who recently got baptised, that he continues to grow in his new Christian faith and is encouraged and protected when making visits back to his Hindu family.

• After ten years of prayer we have recruited a new Christian female EQUIP teacher trainer. Pray that Santona settles into her new work.

Please pray for revelation and a life-changing encounter with Jesus

Paul and Sarah Brown

Paul and Sarah are working in Bangkok, reaching out to women who have been sexually exploited or are survivors of sex trafficking. Sarah runs the Freedom Bakery project.

Paul and Sarah’s prayer requests

• Pray for the continued enthusiasm and purpose of the women who work in the Freedom Bakery. They have grown in amazing confidence, and have even begun teaching other women!

• Pray that the women will not be fearful, but will remain confident.

Women working on cupcakes at the Freedom Bakery in Bangkok, Thailand.
Please pray for the courageous women working at the Freedom Bakery in Bangkok, Thailand.

LINDA AND TIM DARBY

Linda and Tim are working in Gulu, northern Uganda. Tim is an environmental consultant and Linda has a legal background.

Linda and Tim Darby have asked for your prayers.
Linda and Tim Darby are working in Uganda and would love for you to pray for them.

Linda and Tim’s prayer requests

• Pray for the direction of the agricultural development work which is up for renewal early next year.

• Pray for the appointment of a Child Protection Policy Trainer to help protect children in schools.

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Claire-Lise and David Judkins

David and Claire-Lise Judkins, pictured here with their children Joshua, Nathan, Samuel and Ben, are asking for your prayers.
David and Claire-Lise Judkins, pictured here with their children Joshua, Nathan, Samuel and Ben, are asking for your prayers.

Claire-Lise and David work in Brive-la-Gaillarde, south west France, with a long-term vision to see a church-planting network take root.

Claire-Lise and David’s prayer requests

• Pray for a couple of ladies who are part of our fellowship, but haven’t yet taken the step of following Christ. Please pray for revelation and a life-changing encounter with Jesus.

• Pray that God may lead our young disciples to ‘people of peace’ who are open.

CLAIRE BEDFORD

Claire is a pharmacist working near Chad’s capital, where she’s continuing the development of the pharmacy service at Guinebor II Hospital.

Claire’s prayer requests

• Pray for the mission workers at the hospital who will be in Chad this Christmas. Pray they would be able to experience peace and joy at this time of year, despite being far from family and friends.

• Pray the hospital would have all the resources it needs to function well.

Pray that we would continue to grow together as a family to be more like Christ.

Andy and Jenny Saunders

Andy and Jenny are serving in Kathmandu, Nepal. Jenny is a trained counsellor and uses her skills to train Nepali counsellors. Andy is a Baptist minister and has been teaching at a Bible college.

Andy and Jenny’s prayer requests

• Pray for energy and good health for Jenny, so that effective research into mental health in Nepal would bring lasting change.

• Pray for Andy, who is really enjoying his teaching. Pray for patience and good working practices at Nepal Baptist Bible College (NBBC).

Rory* and Catherine*

Rory and Catherine are working in health and development in Afghanistan.

Rory and Catherine’s prayer requests

• Pray for friends and colleagues to pick up on the joy and hope that this season brings us.

• Pray for chances to talk about what real peace is.

Andrea and Mark Hotchkin

Andrea and Mark are surgeons in Chad. Earlier this year they moved from Guinebor II Hospital to the north of Chad to continue their mission.

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Mother and child in the mountains of Afghanistan
Please pray for our work in Afghanistan.

Andrea and Mark’s prayer requests

• Please pray for developing relationships with the new team of nurses and technicians at the regional hospital as we start working there full-time.

• Pray for the arrival of a technician from the capital N’Djamena (1,700km across the Sahara desert) as the hospital generator is weak, meaning equipment such as the X-ray machine can’t be used.

Christine Kling

Christine is the pastor of the Baptist church in Gif-sur-Yvette, near Paris.

Christine’s prayer requests

• Pray for the work in Gif, that through different events we will connect with new people.

• Pray for the new people who have started to join the church, that we will be a source of encouragement and support in their journey with God.

Christine Kling is the pastor of the Baptist church in Gif-sur-Yvette, near Paris
Christine Kling has asked for prayers of "encouragement and support".

Simon and Wendy Hall

Simon and Wendy serve in Nepal with KISC EQUIP. They met while teaching in Kathmandu and now work in Lamjung.

Simon and Wendy’s prayer requests

• Pray for a meeting coming up with the district education officer where I (Simon) hope to influence how he allocates and spends a significant amount of Government money on ICT labs/equipment in schools.

• Pray that we would continue to grow together as a family to be more like Christ.

Simon and Wendy, in the mountains of Nepal.
Simon and Wendy Hall would love you to pray for their family.

Mary*

Mary is using her skills in palliative care in Tunisia.

Mary’s prayer requests

• Pray for each person who is far from loved ones to feel, as well as know, they are part of a worldwide family over Christmas.

• Pray for people in places where 25 December is an ordinary day, that each of us will remember the original Christmas seemed to be an ordinary day too, when in fact our extraordinary God put on flesh.

Daniel and Regiane Clark

Every day I am overwhelmed by the support I know I have behind me from those so faithful in prayer.

Regiane, Ana and Daniel Clark.
The Clark family are working with BMS in Lima, Peru.

Daniel uses his experience and theological training to teach at the Baptist Seminary in Lima, Peru, while Regiane works with low-income communities.

Daniel and Regiane’s prayer requests

• Pray for the ministry of the Baptist Seminary, especially as there is a shortage of pastors in the Baptist Convention.

• Pray as we seek to support the Social Action Department of the Baptist Convention in providing relief and community development resources in Piura.

David and Dorothy McMillan

David is Interim Director at the International Baptist Theological Study Centre (IBTSC) in Amsterdam, while Dorothy serves as Managing Editor of the centre’s two academic journals.

David and Dorothy’s prayer requests

• Pray for David as he carries out the role of Interim Director until a new director is appointed.

• Pray for our 40 plus students across the world as they balance family, ministry and study responsibilities.

Pray for people in places where 25 December is an ordinary day

Angus and Helen Douglas

Angus and Helen, together with their children Caleb, Charis and Esther, moved to Nepal in 2012. Angus is overseeing the development of a new KISC school site.

Angus and Helen’s prayer request

• Pray for the current challenges of the new site to be resolved, for safety for the construction workers and for some additional funds to complete the project.

Angus and Helen Douglas and their children
Angus and Helen would like you to pray for the development of the KISC school building project.

Kathryn Smith

Kathryn moved to Thailand earlier this year and will be using her nursing skills in Chiang Mai.

Kathryn’s prayer request

• Pray for help with learning the language and culture of Thailand. Being able to speak the language helps connect on a deeper level with the people around you.

Judy Cook

Judy, based in Chiang Mai, Thailand, founded and manages Hope Home, a home for children with disabilities.

Judy’s prayer requests

• Pray for energy and patience during the busy times at the Church of Christ in Thailand’s Aids Ministry and at Hope Home.

• Pray for new staff to join the team at Hope Home with a heart to serve special children and their families. Pray too for the staff to come to know our Lord and Saviour for themselves.

Judy Cook based in Chiang Mai, Thailand founded and manages Hope Home
Judy Cook has asked for prayers for "energy and patience".

Laura-Lee Lovering

(more…)

This is what a life transformed looks like

Uganda:

This is what a life transformed looks like

Joshua is full of potential. He is a bundle of joy. He is treasured.

His life is different from how it was before, and your gifts have made his transformation possible.

When Joshua was two years old, his life began to change. His parents discovered that his diagnosis of Down’s syndrome didn’t mean that his life was hopeless. They began to dream for his future.

It all started when Lois Ovenden, a BMS World Mission speech therapist, entered their lives.

Meet Joshua, his wonderful mum Flavia, and BMS worker Lois in this video, and find out how your support has helped to transform a family in northern Uganda by watching the video (above).

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5 ways you’re fighting violence against women

Me too.

5 ways you're fighting violence against women

Trafficking, sexual abuse and domestic violence: these are just a few of the huge issues women face around the world. BMS World Mission is working to change this, and your support is vital. Here are five ways you are empowering women and making an impact in the battle against gender based violence.

Everybody’s talking about it. Gender based violence (GBV). And it isn’t just Hollywood that’s affected. For thousands of vulnerable women and girls living in different parts of the world, it’s a common occurrence and a daily part of life. It’s always wrong, wherever it takes place. BMS, along with local partners, is taking a stand, and your support is making it possible. Here are five ways you are fighting GBV and empowering thousands of women around the globe.

1. Keeping girls in school

Children at a Ugandan school we're working with.
Children at a Ugandan school we're working with.

Education should be a fundamental right for everyone. However, in Uganda acts of violence towards young girls stop many from receiving the education they so desperately deserve. It’s not uncommon for girls to be abused by teachers while their friends are playing outside, and this abuse often leads to pregnancies that force many to leave school. BMS is working in Uganda to help primary schools devise and implement child protection policies. By putting these safeguarding measures in place, we hope that more girls will be able to enjoy learning without fear of abuse.

2. Freeing women from prostitution

Khao San road in Bangkok, one of the red light districts in the city.
Khao San road in Bangkok, one of the red light districts in the city.

Prostitution is degrading to women, but unfortunately for many it’s the only way to earn a living. BMS works with local partners in India and Thailand to free and empower women who have been trafficked into the sex industry and give them employment. They are trained as bakers and jewellery makers, or taught to create bags and t-shirts, with profits put towards a salary, health insurance and a retirement plan. These skills set women up for a future without sexual exploitation. A future of freedom. We also support Freeset in India doing similar work.

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Become a 24:7 Justice Partner

By partnering with BMS and our justice ministries, you can help more women around the world access justice and learn their rights. Commit to regular prayer and giving. Click here to become a 24:7 Justice Partner today.

3. Helping women to know their rights

Corruption and a lack of understanding of the legal system prevent many women from knowing the rights they have as human beings. In Mozambique and Uganda, widows are some of the most vulnerable people in society, frequently having their homes stolen by their husbands’ relatives and completely unaware of their rights. BMS-supported lawyers in these countries are educating women on their property rights and rights as citizens. They also educate local churches on the legal issues that members face as well as helping to advocate for clients in domestic abuse cases. By teaching women to understand the law, you are empowering them to take a stand against injustice.

Annet Ttendo Miller is one these lawyers. She decided to become a lawyer after being raped at the age of 13. Annet is pioneering our justice work in Mozambique and previously worked with BMS as a Christian lawyer in Uganda. Watch the video above to hear her inspiring story.

4. Saving mother's lives

A prop used in a BMS safe birthing training coursein Afghanistan
A prop used in a BMS safe birthing course in Afghanistan

Maternal health is a woman’s issue, according to men in Afghanistan. With childbirth being considered a dirty business and men being the key decision makers in society, women often end up giving birth in the filthiest room in the house. This, combined with traditional practices such as pushing on the stomach to make the baby arrive more quickly and smearing animal dung on the umbilical chord after it’s cut mean that Afghanistan is one of the most dangerous places in the world for new mothers and their babies. BMS is working to train men and women in safe birthing practices and challenge the culture around pregnancy. This training is empowering pregnant women and can save the lives of mothers and babies who might otherwise die in childbirth.

5. Making churches safer places

Domestic violence poster used for an event in an Indian Church
A domestic violence poster used for an event in an Indian Church

GBV is often a topic that is brushed under the rug in the Church. We are involved in raising awareness of the injustice (and its presence in the Church) in churches in the UK, India and Mozambique.

In India, BMS has educated and engaged churches with the reality of domestic and sexual abuse, training pastors and giving them the opportunity to discuss the topic which, for many, has never been talked about before. This has resulted in a changing culture within these churches, challenging the beliefs around abuse and standing up against it.

Being quiet on the topic of GBV is often the case for the UK Church too. Here at home, BMS has been engaging churches through our Dignity initiative – encouraging Christians in the UK to continue to fight against abuse and to seek to make our churches a safer place for everyone. To get your church involved, click here.

Thank you for helping us empower women and stand against injustice around the world.

Stitching a better future

Stitching a better future

Learning a new skill has transformed the lives of people who felt hopeless in Kasese Town, in western Uganda.

It’s hard to know what to do about the problem of poverty in the developing world. We who have been blessed with advantages in the UK can’t simply solve it by giving away our possessions to the world’s poor – that would not be sustainable. But what is sustainable is helping people to help themselves. That is what BMS is doing, through your gifts, in a small town in Uganda – and the impact we are seeing is wonderful.

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“I had no hope. I was just there.”

“I had no money to help my family.”

“I wasn’t doing anything.”

Young men and women, young mums and dads – people who had never had a chance in life and had no money, hope or motivation – have found ways to provide for themselves and their families. They have found a future.

Meet Sarah, one of Kasese’s new tailors, in this short video.

BMS workers set up the Kasese Baptist Skills Training Centre, in partnership with local churches and the Kasese Association of Baptist Churches’ Development Committee (KBAC-DC), to help people like Sarah break themselves out of poverty.

The skills centre is in one of the poorest areas of Kasese Town, where many people are unemployed and struggle to get by day-to-day. Before the centre opened in 2012, BMS workers and partners noticed a general sense of despair amongst young men in the area, who felt they had no way out of their poverty. Single mums were having to leave their young children alone to go and look for work. People had no options. No choice. No power.

For the last five years, the BMS-supported skills centre has been offering training in skills such as tailoring, carpentry, mechanics and hairdressing, as well as advice on practical elements of running a business, such as budgeting.

The BMS-supported skills centre, where so many are receiving training to help build better futures

The centre also runs a day-care for preschool children, so that parents can come and learn a profitable skill, knowing their children are being safely cared for.

Pastor Alfonse, who is head of KBAC-DC and helped to set up the centre, believes that this project is bringing people independence and hope.

“The most important thing I have seen in the people who have come is that they have been given hope,” he says. “They were hopeless, but now they can stand on their own.”

Kisupeho Zoneat putting her new skills to good use

Kisupeho Zoneat is a 25-year-old mother of two from Kasese Town. She became a mum when she was just 17 years old and, until now, has never had the opportunity to learn a skill to help her provide for her struggling family. Learning to sew has given her ambition and a way to improve her life.

“This tailoring is going to help me,” she says. “After this training, I’m going to manage to support my family, I’m going to manage to rent my house, I’m going to manage everything.”

Aziz Muhind hard at work making a table
Aziz Muhind hard at work making a table

Aziz Muhind is 24 years old and now runs a small carpentry business in Kasese Town, thanks to the training he received at the BMS-supported centre. “I am making some tables and cupboards – a lot of furniture,” says Aziz. “I am okay now. I can look after myself. I am seeing a future.”

Thanks to the BMS-supported training, Aziz, Kisupeho, Sarah and many, many more Ugandans have discovered that they have gifts and talents. They have been given the opportunity to pave their own futures and lift themselves out of poverty.

“Now I tell others to come and learn to have skills,” says Kisupeho. Having a skill really can change your life. And giving our money to help people help themselves can change the futures of so many. Thank you so much for supporting BMS and making life-transforming work like this possible.

Baptist church brings light to its community in Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains

When one simple action raises money, helps people’s lungs, gives children a better chance at an education and introduces people to Jesus as Lord, it’s probably worth doing.

Kayanji village used to be plunged into darkness when the sun went down, but now Kayanji Baptist Church is sharing the light.

Solar power is transforming the life of the church and the entire village, which is nestled in western Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains. Since solar panels were installed a few years ago through a BMS World Mission project, the church’s membership has more than doubled – from 30 to 80 people!

“The Bible says, ‘let there be light’,” says Isaiah Thembo, a BMS worker and the man who helped to install solar powered lighting in Kayanji Baptist Church. “Through the project, people are coming to see that God is love. Because the church is connecting the community to God.”

We are seeing new members in the church because of this project. They are seeing that love is here.

Watch this video to see the impact your gifts are having in Kayanji village:

Kayanji Baptist opens its doors every evening for people to come and use the light to read and to study – the whole village is welcome. The pastor also uses the light to run a Bible study every morning, that more and more members of the community are attending. Solar power is also charging local people’s mobile phones, at a small cost. The money raised through phone-charging maintains the church and is used to help widows, orphans and other struggling people in the community.

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Only seven per cent of the whole of Kasese District, where Kayanji village is, has access to mains electricity. For the vast majority of the district, the only source of light comes from burning kerosene lanterns or candles. Until a few years ago, this is what everyone in Kayanji village was doing. But kerosene is expensive and dangerous. It produces a dim light and toxic smoke, which irritates the eyes and skin and is a major cause of both respiratory diseases and harmful CO2 emissions.

In rural areas that are in darkness or reliant on this kind of light for nearly 12 hours a day, a safe source of light can completely change people’s quality of life.

Isaiah Thembo is a BMS local worker in Kasese District. He helped to install the solar panels in Kayanji Baptist Church.
Isaiah Thembo is a BMS local worker in Kasese District. He helped to install the solar panels at Kayanji Baptist Church.

“My kids come here for [school] preparation every evening,” says father-of-ten Kambala Limengo. Kambala is a member of Kayanji Baptist Church and is excited about the change the solar project has had, both for his family and for the wider community. “Our children used to learn from home using candles,” he says. “But this solar light is bright, and it doesn’t give out smoke – it doesn’t use firewood or kerosene to burn, it is just using the sun.”

Kambala Limengo has ten children and is benefitting from the BMS solar project in Uganda's Rwenzori Mountains
Kambala Limengo says that the solar-powered lights are bringing new people to Jesus.

Kahoja Murugire, who has nine children, is also thankful for the light and the opportunities it is bringing. “This solar has a bright light, and it does not spoil eyes,” he says. “I think it is going to help my children, because they come here daily. I am giving a lot of thanks for this light.”

Kahoja lives in Uganda's Rwenzori mountains and is standing outside his church, which now provides light to its community thanks to BMS.
“This solar has a bright light, and it does not spoil eyes,” says Kahoja Murugire, who sends his children to the church to study safely in the evenings.

Church members like Kambala and Kahoja believe that the huge growth in the church is a direct result of the light. “We are seeing new members in the church because of this project,” says Kambala. “When it is dark, these newcomers come in. And then the pastor meets them for a Bible study and it changes their lives.

“They are seeing that love is here.”

Kayanji is one of eight rural villages that have had their churches and their evenings transformed thanks to this BMS solar project. The lights are helping children thrive at school, they are providing income for practical outreach into the community and, perhaps most exciting of all, they are providing a way to introduce people to the Light of the World.

Post-war farming in Uganda

Post-war farming in Uganda

As northern Uganda continues to recover from war, two agricultural experts are showing struggling farmers there is hope in God’s soil.

A whistle-stop tour of northern Uganda’s most inspiring farmers. It’s early and we’re bleary-eyed as we clamber into the car – BMS World Mission workers Genesis, Bernard and Joe, our driver-turned-camera-assistant Hannington, and I – and hit the road.

Rainy season is coming to an end and everything is bright, and green, and beautiful. Mothers walk along with 20-litre jerry cans of water balanced on their heads and babies slung low on their backs. We see a girl setting out for a day of school, exercise book clasped in her hand. Her red skirt billows in the warm breeze, perfectly contrasting with the long, green grass beside her. Her bare feet dance along the blistering, cracked mud.

I’ll discover today that the mud here tells a story. A story of war and loss, of determination and victory. The cracks in the earth mirror a fractured people. A people who had to live for years in Internally Displaced Person’s (IDP) camps; forced to flee there by the government to protect them from the Lord’s Resistance Army and the soldiers who had the run of the land. People were born, raised and married in these camps – the younger generation never getting the chance to learn the skill of farming that would have to become their livelihood on leaving.

Acaye Genesis is a BMS World Mission worker helping Uganda's farmers break themselves out of poverty
Acaye Genesis is a BMS World Mission worker helping Uganda's farmers break themselves out of poverty

A decade ago, men and women returned to the same cracked soil they’d left in their youth to begin their lives again. Their survival and the survival of their children lay in the land they were forced to leave. A new battle was only just beginning.

Now, in peacetime, the two agricultural experts sitting with me as we drive have a dream to help their fellow Ugandans win their latest war. BMS workers Genesis and Bernard have a vision and a deep-rooted passion for the land and for helping farmers here to use it well to get themselves out of poverty.

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In Uganda, it is generally the man’s responsibility to earn money for his family – although every member of the family normally pulls more than their weight. “When a husband cannot make good money, the family is always in chaos,” says Genesis. “But if they are making good money, you find the children are going to school, medical bills are paid, they’re eating well.”

An estimated 90 per cent of people in Gulu District subsist by farming. The majority of these farmers are only growing food crops – like maize, cassava and groundnuts – which make up their staple diet but fetch a very low market price. The average salary is just over 1,500 Ugandan shillings a day. That’s roughly 33 pence.

Charles' home in Gulu, northern Uganda

“When you only grow food crops and you sell at low prices, you end up selling almost everything and you don’t have enough money,” says Genesis. “In June there is a month here called the ‘month of hunger’, when you’ve done all your selling and your family suffers.”

Banana, chilli and ginger – cash crops – are transforming the lives of 100 families here. Genesis and Bernard are turning their farmers into pioneers, introducing them to crops they didn’t know they could grow in their soil. Before, farmers in the area only grew small, sweet bananas; the BMS-supported farmers are now growing larger bananas, both in sweet and savoury varieties. Farmers were reluctant to try and grow chillies, because of low demand within the community and fears over handling them, but they’re now seeing huge benefits to growing the crop. And while the farmers were keen to grow ginger, without BMS investment, the initial cost of the seeds would have been unattainable for all of them.

This project has changed my life. When I was not doing this project my life was different. I used to do things that were not right. Now I realise that I have a lot of energy, and if I don’t use it now I won’t be able to get it back. So I am using it to work. I feel good, because I am not the way I was.

Now my vision is to expand my garden and have a farm.

Okello David growing ginger and doing well, thanks to a BMS-supported project

Name: Okello David    Age: 24    Profession: farmer    Crop: ginger

Bernard laughs as he explains how much a sack of export-destined chilli sells for, in comparison to a sack of maize. The difference is huge. It’s the kind of difference that equals a well-fed family, access to medical care and education for your children. It’s the kind of difference that is changing lives.

We drive around the district, visiting different farms and meeting farmers benefitting from the new crops. I shake hands worn hard by tough labour, pray in the huts of strong, gentle farmers, walk through gardens of precisely planted and well-weeded crops, and listen to stories.

It surprises me how exciting it is to meet these newly trained farmers. My questions about the crops are answered with enthusiasm – I learn about mulching, banana suckers, spacing. I learn about things I’d never even thought about and now find fascinating. The pride on their faces is almost as bright as the yellow and green of nearly ripe bananas and the perfect red chillies they hand me.

Onen Charles is a farmer in northern Uganda

Name: Onen Charles    Family:  eight children
Profession: pastor and farmer    Crop: banana and chilli

Genesis and Bernard taught me how to grow chilli and bananas in the proper way. I am sure that, if I work hard, in the near future I will have some good money. My heart is happy and full of gratitude. I am happy for what God is doing in this region that has suffered war for many years. And I’m sending my greetings to the people who are supporting this work, praying that God will bless them.

In the interests of thorough journalism, I try a chilli – it would be rude not to, wouldn’t it? It’s hot. Worse than I expected. And it gets quickly hotter. It sticks to the back of my throat and my eyes start streaming as I cough like an embarrassed idiot, which is how I feel. The laughter (from farmers and BMS workers alike) follows me as I choke and splutter my way back to the car. Cool and composed, as always. Do the farmers find them so hot? In disbelief, I discover that Allan, my chilli dealer, has never eaten a single one. In his entire, probably choking-fit-free life. He’s growing thousands of the things. Unsurprisingly, my reaction hasn’t convinced him to embrace God’s spicy masterpiece.

Allan has been growing and selling chillies thanks to your support
Allan, my chilli dealer

Nevertheless, God and his Church are central to Allan’s chillies and to this BMS agribusiness project. Genesis’ dream is to meet both the physical and the spiritual needs of families in the district, by using the Bible to equip farmers with the skills needed to grow these cash crops well. The 100 farmers (some of whom are Christians, others not) work in five groups, and each one meets and trains in their local Baptist church.

“When we meet together, we pray together,” says Genesis. “We are helping people understand how working, in the context of the Bible, is important. It looks like just agriculture, but when you come in, we share the gospel. We share everything. And we find their lives are changing.”

Some farmers have given their lives to Christ and joined their local Baptist church. Others often ask to pray with Genesis. Seeds becoming fruit, fed by God and his soil.

So many people are coming to me and asking if it is possible for me to go and train them – to teach them the knowledge I have on this ginger so that they can do what I am doing. This project is not just changing my life; it is also changing the lives of people around me.

I want to say thank you, and I want to appreciate the Christians in the UK for helping their fellow Christians in Uganda.

Peter is a farmer in Gulu, in northern Uganda. He is pictured here with his youngest son in his garden of ginger.

Name: Ongaba Peter    Family:  five children
Profession: pastor and farmer    Crop: banana and ginger

The dirt I am standing on isn’t dirt to Bernard, it’s opportunity. To Genesis, it’s God’s beautiful garden. And it’s a way they can follow God’s call to help the poor and share his story. Their infectious enthusiasm for agriculture is so powerful it has genuinely led me to plan a kitchen garden in my first-floor flat.

I probably can’t manage bananas, but chillies hanging from a pot plant on my windowsill could look good, and add a kick to my stir-fries (if used with appropriate caution). In this part of Uganda, though, they are changing lives. That’s possible because of God, because of farmers with reserves of strength and resilience I can’t even imagine, and because of you.

Farmer Onen Charles with his family in Gulu District, Uganda

The first humans God created were farmers, commissioned to look after his garden. Here, in the shade of a banana tree whose fruit is so much more than a meal, I am amazed afresh at the beauty and complexity of creation. Amazed afresh at the wonderful people God has created to tend his land.

 

 

Words and photos: Sarah Stone

Help us do more

“Northern Uganda has been in war for about 27 years, and since peace has returned this work has helped a lot of people to live a better life,” says Genesis. “It is possible because of your support. So please, I ask you to keep supporting. You are not doing it for me. You are doing it for God.”

Do you want to play a part in helping people in northern Uganda grow a harvest of hope? Give a one-off donation to BMS today, or sign up to give regularly by becoming a 24:7 Partner.

Thank you.

Can a better toilet really change your life?

Can a better toilet really change your life?

Loo slabs are creating jobs and improving health in 20 villages in northern Uganda.

It’s not very British to talk about toilets. But if yours got taken away and replaced with a crumbling, festering long drop, made from mud and sticks, you’d probably have a few things to say.

In northern Uganda, a lot of people don’t have access to clean toilets. In northern Uganda, a lot of people die from diseases related to poor sanitation. A survey that BMS World Mission workers recently carried out in Gulu District showed that diarrhoea is the third biggest killer in the region.

That’s why BMS water and sanitation engineer Tim Darby is passionate about… (you guessed it!) toilets. He’s been helping Christians in villages across Gulu District and beyond learn how to make durable and affordable concrete latrine slabs, so that everyone has the chance to have a cleaner, safer toilet.

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I’m now raising some funds that can make my family also to be fed well. I could even be able to pay the school fees of my daughter.

Watch this three-minute video to find out how this project is impacting the lives of communities and newly trained business people.

Tim has helped train 40 people from 20 villages in how to make the latrine slabs, how to market and sell them, and in budgeting and book keeping. These people now have skills and businesses that will enable them to provide for their families. And, as part of their contract, each business has agreed to give eight slabs away to the poorest people in their village for free – ensuring that the blessings are shared and the most vulnerable people are benefitting from this project.

The chicken-slab industrial complex

The slabs come in two sizes, the smaller of which can be purchased for the price of a chicken, which means they should be affordable for everyone. In fact, that’s part of their marketing campaign – if you have a chicken, you can have a clean toilet! Some of the businesses are even doing a straight exchange: a chicken for a slab.

“I’m now raising some funds that can make my family also to be fed well," says Omgom Robin, one of the new businessmen
“I’m now raising some funds that can make my family also to be fed well," says Omgom Robin, one of the new businessmen

Another aspect of Tim’s marketing campaign for the new businesses is to run a launch event in each village (as you’ll have seen in the video). Loud music booms to attract the crowds – and as many as 100 people have been known to crowd around to see what’s going on. During each launch, certificates are awarded to entrepreneurs, a local community leader explains why good sanitation is important, four young people from a local Baptist church perform dramas (much to the crowd’s enjoyment), and one lucky person wins a free slab in a raffle!

The launch creates the buzz these new businesses need, and many of them are already running successfully.

“I’m now raising some funds that can make my family also to be fed well,” says Omgom Robin, one of the entrepreneurs making the slabs. “I could even be able to pay the school fees of my daughter.”

When toilets are the pits

Most people in Gulu District use pit latrines – deep holes that are dug in the ground. When the ‘seat’ is made from mud and sticks, like it is for most families in rural areas, these toilets are very hard to clean and are prone to collapsing. Disease spreads more easily when faeces and waste can’t be safely washed away. By placing a large concrete slab over these toilets, they instantly become more hygienic. They provide a safe place to stand and they can be washed clean. It sounds simple – and it is. And yet these slabs are having a massive impact on people’s health.

BMS worker Tim Darby explains the importance of good sanitation at Omgom Robin's business launch
BMS worker Tim Darby explains the importance of good sanitation at Omgom Robin's business launch

“The health benefits are actually very hard to quantify,” says Tim. “However, the natural bi-product of improved sanitation for most people will be better health. Ultimately, it can prevent some people from having very serious illnesses, or even death in some cases.”

So, can a better toilet really change your life? For the 40 people who now have jobs and are getting an income to feed their families and send their children to school – it can. And for the potentially hundreds of men, women and children who are less likely to get sick or even die from diarrhoeal diseases – it can, too.

All of this has happened because of your giving. From Tim, Robin and all those benefitting from improved sanitation in northern Uganda – thank you!

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Justice: I wept when my rapist’s family came for my son

Justice:

I wept when my rapist's family came for my son

What doesn’t kill you can make you stronger and define your life. This is the story of what led Annet Ttendo Miller into becoming one of the key pioneers of BMS’ justice work in Uganda and Mozambique.

Annet Ttendo Miller never thought she would turn 14. Being raped at a young age left her uncertain if she would live or die. Now, working with BMS World Mission in Mozambique, she helps others get the justice she was denied.

“You could have an abortion and go back to school,” my devoutly Catholic mother said. When I was in secondary school, a stranger had raped me. No one knew, until my mother realised I was pregnant. Even today, I’m still surprised she gave me a choice. In my Ugandan culture, our parents tell us what to do. There are no equal levels where you would sit and discuss these things.

I asked for a night to think and decide. If my father found out, I’d be married off and my education would be over. He would not believe that I’d been raped. Then he would throw out my mother, thinking she had arranged the pregnancy to lower my bride price.

I could not sleep that night. I knew it didn’t matter if I kept the baby or not, there was no way I would survive this.

“Let me die honourably,” I told my mother the next morning. If I died while she helped me to have an abortion, she would be blamed and carry a stigma for the rest of her life. But, if I died giving birth, no one would blame her. So, we made a plan.

I knew it didn’t matter if I kept the baby or not, there was no way I would survive this.

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My mother and I confronted the family of my attacker. Of course, he denied responsibility. My mother threatened to take him to court. “You’ve destroyed my daughter’s education,” she said, angry and bitter, “you’ve destroyed her life.” Eventually, they made an agreement and talked out the details in front of me. They decided that I would carry the pregnancy to term and after the child was born and weaned, my attacker’s family would support it and take care of my education.

Then, my mother found a friend in the next village who would hide me. “If God helps us and you live through the birth, then maybe you could go back to school,” she said. I was 13 years old and so small. I never, ever thought I would survive.

My mother packed my things and took me to this village. That’s where I had the baby.

I raised him for a year and a half while I went to school. I woke up early, fed him, changed his nappy, went to school from eight o’clock until noon and then I did the housework and my homework. This was my life until they came for him. But I’d grown so attached to my son. When they took him, I cried my heart out. I pleaded with them to care for him like he was their own.

When he turned four, my son was enrolled at my mother’s primary school, also part of the arrangement. She let him call me “aunt” to protect me. “Bond with him or he will never know his maternal side,” she told me. When he turned 14, I told him the truth, the entire story. I told him that his name is Ebo and regardless of the circumstances, he is my son and I love him. We are friends now and despite everything, I thank God for my son.

Annet raised her son for 18 months before giving him up to her attacker's family

Watch Annet sharing about her experience in a video originally recorded for our Dignity initiative to counter gender based violence.

It was really for vengeance that I studied law.

To me, seeing my attacker get away with rape didn’t feel like justice. I told myself that if I studied, I’d become a lawyer. I actually wanted to be a judge, so I could get retribution against any sex offenders who came before me. I would be able to sentence them, even give harsh punishments, like death.

Another reason I wanted to study law was because I kept asking God to please lift up my head and make me somebody. I’d been shunned by the village for being an unwed mother. Even while I studied, people would tell me, “You can’t go around saying ‘oh this happened to me’. No one can give you a platform to tell your story.” So, I always kept my head down.

My prayers were answered. I did become a lawyer but I realised that God wanted me to use what I’d learned to help people, not punish them.

Today, I am still humbled to know that God heard this prayer.
I’ve only been telling my story for the past three years. Before, I was ashamed of what happened. Now, it feels like a burden has been lifted from my shoulders.

A woman wearing a black cloak with a white shirt smiles for a photo
Annet Ttendo Miller is working to help the oppressed in Mozambique. Please join us in praying for her today.

God lift my head, make me somebody

God told me to work here

I almost didn’t stay with the Ugandan Christian Lawyers Fraternity (UCLF). I’d been given a two-year position with the EU that offered five times the salary, a car, a television and a house. I had a week to decide and I thought I might as well try UCLF.

The office was very small. I kept asking myself, “Is this where I want to work?” On my first day, a lady walked in and I started filling in her form. I asked, “Who referred you here?”

“The Holy Spirit,” she said. After I’d written the words, I realised what they were. “Hold on, tell me the truth, who sent you here?” She looked at me and said, “I was told the person I’m supposed to see is going to leave.” That made me pause. I listened to what she had to say. During the meeting, we talked more and prayed together. “You have studied law,” she said, “but God wants you to understand biblical justice, that’s what he’s teaching you. He wants you to go to different nations.”

The next day, after a colleague met with her they told me, “Annet, she is mad!” And that’s when I realised what God was telling me. I stopped looking for other positions. I’d found his calling for my life and UCLF is where he wanted me to be.

Annet is a Ugandan lawyer and BMS mission worker who began her work with the Ugandan Christian Lawyers’ Fraternity in 2006. In 2012, she moved to Mozambique to lead the launch of a BMS-supported legal ministry there (Association of Christian Mozambican Lawyers). She is helping women with similar experiences to her and others who urgently need to know their rights and someone to enable them to stand up for them.

Annet Ttendo was talking to Vickey Casey

100 families drink clean water thanks to UK Christians

A community and school in Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains have access to safe water thanks to UK churches and BMS World Mission.

Imagine having to walk for three hours to collect river water so that your children can have something to drink. Some hot food to eat. A way to be clean.

Imagine carrying a full 20-litre jerry can on your head up steep hills in the hot sun, because if you don’t your whole family will suffer.

We all need water – but for many communities in Uganda, accessing it is a daily struggle. That’s why people in Musyenene, a village in Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains, are so thankful for the rainwater tank UK Christians have provided for them.

By supporting BMS, you’ve helped to transform lives in Musyenene. Find out how by watching this two-minute video:

Every time it rains, families in Muysenene and surrounding villages can access to up to 10,000 litres of water. People who used to have to walk for hours to collect river water can now get clean water much closer to home. This is not only saving time – especially for mothers and children who are generally responsible for collecting the water – it’s also affecting the spiritual and physical health of the community.

“Because of the tank, sanitation is okay here now,” says Ezra Muhind, a teacher at Musyenene’s school, which educates around 300 children from the surrounding area. “The tank has improved the health status of people in the community.”

Asumini Namatovu, a mother of five, says that the water tank has helped her family a lot. “My children are now healthy. They are drinking safe water,” she says. “I send a lot of thanks to the people who gave us this tank, because for a long time people did not have water and were suffering.”

School teacher Ezra Muhind says that the water tank has improved the health of the community
School teacher Ezra Muhind says that the water tank has improved the health of the community

Musyenene Baptist Church, which is the custodian of the water tank, is also noticing a change. Pastor Kasoro Tadeo, who leads the church, says that the tank has opened up opportunities for him to meet new people and invite them in. As a result of supplying free, no-strings-attached water, the church has welcomed more people into the family.

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Villages in the Rwenzori Mountains have access to clean running water thanks to UK Christians
Florence and Namatovu no longer have to walk for miles to get water for their families

Pastor Kasoro and the team looking after the water tank make sure that each person in the community takes only their share so that no-one in need goes without and everyone benefits from the water. The result is that families who once went to sleep without drinking or bathing don’t have to anymore. They now have access to clean water close to home.

“Water is life,” says Pastor Kasoro, “and without it, nothing can be done.”

Thank you for bringing life to Musyenene!

 

With special thanks to St Cuthbert’s, Rye Park, for their support of this project.