Archive for the ‘Christian’ Category

Antidote for Despair is Hope

January 2, 2009

“Say you’re one of them.” are the last desperate words of a mother to her young daughter as she ponders her own extinction in Rwanda. say-youre-one_lNigerian author Uwen Akpan uses his exceptional talents as a writer to capture the thoughts and feelings of children living in and through horrific trials in several different African countries. He gives voice to the small and silent among us.

It is shocking to learn about the stark realities of life for many children. The images conjured by Akpan are both unspeakable and compelling, like watching an fatal accident from across the road. Heart racing, incredulity filling a brain, on fire with indignation, I’m certainly not suggesting you read this book unless you want to feel a despair beyond reconciliation. It’s fiction but the truth emerges with hideous clarity. I read it in the car this holiday. Honestly I wanted to see if the author could truly emulate a child’s tone/voice in his storytelling. Unfortunately, his children pierced my very heart. Many unsettling thoughts crowded my mind during the long drive with family to visit relatives over the holidays filled with plenty of warmth, food, love, and safety. I wondered why, why, why? I wondered, what it would be like if I had been born in a different time and place.

Today I found a ray of hope in a talk by Laura Waters Hinson. Filmmaker, Christian and philanthropist, Laura decided to document the process of reconciliation taking place in Rwanda 10 years after the act of genocide took 1 million people in 100 days. laurawatershinsonIn this video she paints a picture of hope by describing the impossible. She bares witness to the visible evidence of peace, rebuilding, unity and healing. Her topic is forgiveness. Her documentary captures the work of hands used to perpetrate atrocities now building homes for their victims. In short, Ms. Hinson provides balance in this world gone mad. She looks at the Rwanda transformation as a model of peace for the rest of the world. Akpan opens our ears to the silent cries of children in pain and in contrast Hinson reveals the versitility of human nature, compassion and the healing power of forgiveness.

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Listening to a New Voice, Springs Alive Uganda!

March 30, 2008

It is with great pleasure I announce the new blog, Springs Alive Uganda. As many of you know I have posted several times about my friend Martin Sebuliba and his vision for peace, wellness and education for the disenfranchised children of Uganda. Martin has limited access to theSprings Alive Students internet due to the high fees charged at internet cafes and the lack of electricity and no internet signal in his rural village. I offered to set up a blogger account for him so that he and members of his community could type off-line and then simply make their posts quickly and inexpensively when convenient.

If you use the internet regularly as I do, then you will understand how time consuming it can be to try and figure out how things work, or even to do research online. By providing technical support I can be an advocate for Springs Alive and I am blessed to be able to help. Martin is working on creating a logo representative of his community and their goals which begin with the children and feed into a larger picture of a healthy, self sustaining community in the future. They will need lots of support to make this dream a reality. Track their successes and struggles by listing the Springs Alive Uganda blog on your blog roll or by subscribing to the feed. Your comments and questions will be welcomed. You will witness firsthand the hopes and dreams emanating from a small village in Africa. Tell everyone you know, you are listening a new voice!

Enough Technology? For some, survival may depend on it.

December 3, 2007

I recently became acquainted with a director of a small school community of nearly forgotten children. They are orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). Their common bond seems to be one of survival in the face of catastrophic events. Civil wars, HIV AIDS and starvation plague the country. What do we know of these travesties first hand? Some of these children are part of the Springs Alive community and school a rural part of Uganda near Kampala. I asked Martin, the Director, about his future plans for Springs Alive. Here is what he told me.

In regard to our school acquiring computers in order to be technically equipped, we have learnt that there are various organizations in America and Europe which donate used or refurbished computers to schools, we want to pursue this opportunity with you towards securing these kind of computers not only to our school but even to the community based organizations (CBO) – Springs Alive. … Computers which are mostly offered are those ones that need technical overhaul and not really ready for use if they are to arrive here-

We are also having discussions with an upcoming internet provider who wants to specialize in rural internet connectivity, in order that we tame the bombardment of requests to be technically resourceful and with time once we have acquired these computers, solar power suppliers & internet connectivity we shall start online services (voice & video conferences) involving kids.

I can see Martin’s point regarding the quality of the equipment they receive. If a person knows little about technology and they are handed a ‘fixer upper’ where can they turn for help? I can also appreciate how hard it must be to rely on expensive internet cafes to connect with the global community in search of support. Combing the internet for clues as to the conditions and provisions for children I discovered several corporate initiatives feeding technology needs specifically in Uganda it is an uphill battle getting people trained in rural locations. From what I can tell the country’s infrastructure doesn’t support a cohesive plan for implementation or longevity in any sense of the word.

Where is the hope? It is in the children’s hearts and voices. I recently completed the story of one such child from Northern Uganda called Girl Soldier. It offers a no nonsense personal account of the routine child abductions in Northern Ugnada as well as an overview of the country’s political struggles.

One notable Christian organization organizing support and funding is called Watoto. Their mission is to raise future leaders. Doubtless there are others involved in Ugandan mission. Watoto coordinate concerts across the world to raise awareness of the children’s plight and to spread joy, a paradox. The children have even performed in the White House Rose Garden. A brief news clip from Australia illustrates the impact the children are having on those they inspire to help. So, why do I even bring this up? Because our problems are trivial when it comes to technology. Count your blessing and while you’re at it visit the Watoto site. These children are the future.