Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Pioneering... becoming and living the new vision.

I read this morning about what it means to be a PIONEER.
The greek word is ARCHEGOS, a leader who is also a founder: someone who breaks a path and estabilishes a way.

I felt very much when I came out to Sierra Leone in April 07 to start this work with disabled children in their own homes, that I was starting something new - pioneering it.

Breaking new paths has not been easy: knocking on doors for partnerships and being rejected, sometimes scraping for money, searching for patients and it taking time to find them, getting used to new cultures and how relationships interact, trying to 'achieve' in my own world view but that not being the way here, and often feeling lonely and battling on against what feels like everything and everyone.

But I'm inspired by this...

The archegos pioneers the way by becoming and living the new vision, not by 'claiming new ground' or by force.
And that I feel is what I have done... I praise God that by seeking His ways here for this work and having Sierra Leone become my home since the start of this project and before then (during my time working with Mercy Ships), I have had such a living adventure of this dream become a reality.

We discover God revealing himself to us in Jesus as we follow the path and way of Jesus. Wise and prudent people would not have been able to work out, without revelation from God, that it was to be through suffering that Jesus would restore the glorious destiny of humanitiy and all creation.

So despite the road being tough at times, I'm glad I have lived through it, pioneering something that I know is close to Jesus' heart, and as well inspired in me by God. Without Him I am nothing, and without His inspiration I would have done nothing.

Let us all be inspired to DREAM God's BIGGER dream, then go on pioneering His love to the places and people around us - wherever we are.

This is what the CMS community is all about - working together all over the world to discover Jesus and live out the new vision for life he gives. That's truely pioneering.

Inspiration on Pioneering (in green) from Tim Dakin General Secretary Church Mission Society

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Fatmata had her baby!

Fatmata is one of the nurses I trained up to do the physiotherapy for the ladies who suffer from foot drop after an obstructed labour. She was heavily pregnant when I left to go back to the UK, and she came in last week to show off her beautiful baby - Fatima. She is healthy and putting on weight well. Fatmatat too is happy and doing well.
Helen and I cover the wards for now, but we look forward to having our team mate Fatmata back in October.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

September's Newsletter - Introducing 'Enable the Children'

Dear Friends,
I've been back in Sierra Leone for almost a week now and thought I should write you all an update as to our progress over the summer months before I get too busy.

Sierra Leone is still in it's rainy season which means although the temperatures have dropped, it is also very wet. Returning to my room I found much mould, not only on clothes and wood but even on plastic flipflops!! So I spent the rest of my 'settling-in' weekend cleaning and washing clothes. But there I was complaining about the puddles of water collecting at the foot of my window despite it not being open, only to think about how my families were bearing up. I have to say we English like to complain about the rain and cold, but at least we can stay dry and warm inside our houses. Local families here normally live outdoors except for sleeping, so my thoughts went to them cuddling inside small 1 room corrugated iron houses often insulated with cardboard or newspaper, with roof leaking despite plastic coverings, wind and rain pushing their way through every possible gap in ill-fitting doors and wood covered windows. How easy I have it compared to these brave resilient people? It's no wonder people get sick so easily in this season. And I'm saddened to say that yet another one of our patients Saffiatu passed away. Abu has spent time with the family to encourage and pray with them, but what can we say that will make things better? Nothing, but we do go and just be with them in sympathy.

Many of you will remember Ibrahim – a young boy living with his family in Freetown's biggest slum area, Kroo Bay, situated deep in a valley. We visited them yesterday and despite a 4ft high barrier wall their house had been badly flooded a few weeks previous. The water marks were still visible and they were still trying to dry the floor and furniture out. Thankfully no-one was hurt from their family, other families were not so fortunate.

So Abu and I have been able to do some home visits but when the rain is really heavy it makes it very difficult to reach our families. This has given us some time in this past week to discuss all the changes that will be taking place over the next 3 months and beyond.
As many of you will have heard as I've seen you over the summer in the UK, I have made the decision to leave SL in December and return to living in the UK. This has been a difficult decision to make as my compassion for the disabled children of Sierra Leone has not faded. However I feel that now is the time to hand over and allow other people to input their skills and ideas. This especially impacts Abu as he will step into the role of Project Leader in country. He has shown much progress in his management skills over the past year, and has done a super job of keeping the therapy going in my absence. I hope this opportunity will allow him to step up even further to be thinking professionally in running this much needed service to our families and to 'act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God' Micah 6:8. In the meantime I will remain overseeing from the UK, having contact via Skype to support the team and their everyday happenings. We are excited about tomorrows arrival of Sarah our new Occupational Therapist. She will join our team to work alongside Abu, supporting him in his new role, but also bringing an OT focus to our work. All the while, Mr Abdul (the driver) and Abu (mechanic and logistics) also remain committed to us and have been dedicated throughout this rainy season to keep the wheels rolling. I praise God for them all! Our team is growing and we hope that others will continue to join us both nationally and internationally.

Other changes that will take place are that we have a new name.... 'Enable the children' or 'Enable dem pikin dem' in krio. Whilst in the UK I sought wisdom from many people about registering as a charity independently and decided that it would not be the wisest way to go. For one thing it would cost plenty of money, but mainly because there is a Christian umbrella organisation (Links International) that would happily take us on and manage all the coming and goings of our accounts. Therefore for a small fee we would be registered under their charity number and avoid many other costs. This seems the most sensible way ahead for us, although changes in where to give will not change until the new year. I will let you know as and when that happens.

Along with our new name, Abu stepping up, and new team members starting with us, my moving to the UK will also open new opportunities to network and promote Enable the Children. One area I would like to focus on is to run some training for qualified therapists in the UK in how they can adapt their skills to be useful in a developing world situation, hopefully encouraging others to give some of their time and skills to build the capacity of rehab services in places where it is desperately needed.

So having had a great time in the UK spending time with friends and family, this next phase will be extremely busy and new territory for us all. I'm glad I had a good rest while home and enjoyed much time with Rob. Despite much travelling around, we saw and did some great things together including boat rides, seeing a ballet in London, meals out, walks in the great outdoors and our first trip to the cinema! I also loved playing with many friends children as well as my cute nephew – Jack (see photo). Have to say it was quite strange being with white children after all this time, one friend even caught me chatting away to her 1 year old in krio!!

So now it's back to work, and if you would like to stand with us in prayer here's a few pointers:
For Sarah as she travels then settles into this new country and culture.
For Abu in his new role with more responsibility for planning and organising himself and others. For his patience, integrity and wisdom working in this challenging country.
For our families who have struggled in the rains with poor health, fragile homes and increasing demands with the financial crisis the rest of the world is struggling with.
For safety as we travel on slippery muddy roads and steep paths. Praise God that (despite costing lots of money) mechanic Abu was able to identify and fix major work on the cars brakes and suspension, preventing potentially nasty accidents. Please also pray we manage to fix the steering problem – turning right would be quite useful!!
Pray for myself that I will know what to do, how + when regarding all the big changes.
Finally pray for us as a team that we will know God's everlasting peace and protection as we endeavour to be Jesus' gentle healing hands and words to these children and their families. Thank you

With love from

1 Chronicles 4:10
“Oh Lord that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from trouble and pain”