Empowering Mothers through the Self Help Groups Approach


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Despite the role that youth ministry ought to play in the lives of young people, it is  imperative that it is understood that the family and its foundational role cannot be neglected or replaced. Yes, youth ministry has the potential to impact the lives of its involved young people in a manner that can never be statistically represented or fully comprehended.

This is why looking after the families of the young people in my youth ministry program, is the next step before anything else.

Currently I am running a weekly youth ministry program in Nabbaale Sub County, located in Mukono district, central Uganda. This community was very much affected by the 1980 to 1986 liberation war. Many lives were lost to this war and many orphaned children and widows were forced to join the armed struggle. The effects of this past are still significant even today.

  Children Safe Uganda  conducted a community assessment in 2010, and found out that the major challenges of this community include: education, healthcare and economic empowerment.

For this reason, Uganda Youth Ministry Association and Children Safe Uganda are working together to implement a project called  “VULNERABLE RURAL FAMILY EMPOWERMENT (VRFE)”

The aim of this project is to empower poor families through Self Help Groups (SHG’s) so that the school dropout rate is reduced from 86% (2010 research) to a reasonable number national wide. We are aiming at creating  sustainable development programs that empower families in order to best meet their basic needs including having enough food in their homes so that malnutrition is addressed since it was also a bigger challenge as per the mentioned  2010 research.

Achievements:

Child safe Uganda has been able to form 16 Self Help Groups (SHGs), but since they were not able to facilitate them and to make regular follow ups, five of them phased out and now only  11 groups are still active. Each group ranges from 15 to 20 members which totals to an average number of not less than 150 members who have already been trained in managing their groups.  SHGs are informal associations of Poor/ vulnerable people in a community with a common objective of working together for their economic and social family/community empowerment. They meet on a weekly basis and find solutions to their problems more especially issues concerning their children and the community.

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Proposed piggery project:

The aim of this project is to empower the  women in this area. Through this project we expect to see an  increase in the family daily incomes, so that parents are able to provide their children with an improved diet and  to send their children to school with scholastic materials like school fees/books/school uniform among others.

Beneficiaries/ Target group:

The aim of the program is to meet the needs of the children through their parents and  especially their mothers. Women will be empowered through managing the  piggery projects  so that in result they will be able to meet the social and educational needs of their children.

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Methodology/ Strategy:

The project is going to be initiated and implemented through well trained Self Help Groups (SHGs). These SHGs will be monitored on a weekly basis and be trained in areas of proper piggery management, Skills of saving and credit management, Record keeping, piggery feeding strategies, among others.

The  program will start with only 5 of the existing groups and when the pigs have delivered (multiplied), the piglets will be passed on to other groups.

Short  and long term tentative Action Plan:

NO. ACTIVITY DATE VENUE
1. Children Safe Uganda (C.S.U) meeting the Uganda Youth Ministry Association (UYMA) to discuss the project in details. 29th APRIL 2013. 11:00am At CSU Head Office. Bweya- Kajjansi.
2. Field meetings with beneficiaries/ Target group SHG members, to discuss about the terms and conditions for the proper management of the piggery project. 30th April and 1st May 2013.

2:00pm

Kizima villageKawoomya village
3. Training the beneficiaries about pig management like piggery feeding habits/ de-warming and treatment of pigs/ maintaining hygiene of piggery sty/ Market and Value assessment, construction of pigs sty among others. May 2013 Kizima village and Kawoomya village
4. Resource mobilization for the Construction of the pigs sty. May
5. Purchase and distribution of pigs May/June
6. Monitoring  of the project Weekly starting from May
7. Work plan for the second half of the year- July to December 2013 June
8. Program evaluation and assessment November/December 2013
9. Annual plan and report compilation/budgeting November/December

 What is needed and how you can help us

The project needs a total of Two Million Uganda shillings, equivalent to approximately 650 Euros or $800. This money will be used to construct 5 semi-modern styes and to buy 25 pigs.

A friend in Luxembourg who is already supporting us, has held soup lunches, sales of used materials and coffee breakfast, as ways of fundraising. May be one of these ways could be suitable for you as well. Consider any other way that you are able to support us, because your support is much needed.

Your support can reach us through YOUTURNS. Click HERE and remember to leave this comment “Donation to Uganda groups”

Your support can come directly to us by Western Union or Moneygram or by paypal. Kindly send me an email at shguganda@gmail.com for details.

May God bless you.

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Obedience is one of the main ways we express our love for God.


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Today’s gospel contains a segment of what is known as the Last Discourse of Jesus, the messages He left us immediately before His death.

The topic that is so very important in today’s gospel is that of love, Christ’s love of us. Two statements are especially meaningful. “Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.” (John 14:21) and “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” (John 14:23)

These statements promise an ongoing in-depth relationship for those who let themselves be open to the love of Christ. They are messages of hope and inspiration as opposed to sadness and despair because Christ has been crucified and has gone from our sight.

To love God and love our neighbors. That’s not always easy to do or easy to remember to do when we are tired and stressed.  But if we can love Jesus as he asks, it means that the Father and Jesus will “make a dwelling” with us.  They will dwell in each of us, live at such a deep level that they become a part of who we are and guide us to the peace we each long for. That is when we can let our arms down and drop the immense weight of the false gods we have been carrying, and fall instead into the warm embrace of the God who loves us endlessly.

Obedience is one of the main ways we express our love for God. The Lord gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him. The Lord reveals Himself to those obeying Him and conceals Himself from the disobedient. The obedient not only know God’s revelation but even His dwelling within them. In obedience, love is expressed, the Spirit received, God revealed, and His indwelling received. Sin and death entered the world through disobedience, but salvation entered the world through Jesus’ obedience, even to death on the cross.

Obedience is a way of life and the way of love. Love to obey.

Although we will suffer in life, we don’t ever have to let our hearts be troubled.


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“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?”– John

Today’s reading from John supplies no answers but reminds us that much of life will remain a mystery until we get to those dwelling places that Jesus promises he is preparing for us. There’s no way to reason out why one person is born with the proverbial silver spoon and another lacks life’s necessities but faith can help us take a longer view of our fate in life.

No one escapes life without facing some major challenges or even some catastrophes. When life is falling apart, it’s hard not to ask God “why me?” even though we know there are no answers. We can’t even rig the game by praying more, or doing more volunteer work etc. One of the most devout people I have ever known is in a wheel chair. Happily we no longer believe that physical difficulties are God’s punishment for sin.

We somehow have to learn to trust Jesus’ promise that eventually all of life’s mysteries will be resolved when we reach those heavenly dwelling places.

Although we will suffer in life, we don’t ever have to let our hearts be troubled. We can have hearts which are trouble-free. Even in the worst circumstances, we can have a peace beyond understanding. To keep our hearts from being troubled, we must have faith in God and take our rightful dwelling places in God’s house.

Our dwelling places are not only in heaven, but also on earth. We have places in God’s house, the Church; we are parts in the body of Christ. If we take our places in the Church, we have the grace to not let our hearts be troubled. The Lord teaches us: “Christ’s peace must reign in your hearts, since as members of the one body you have been called to that peace”.

To be untroubled means to rest in living God’s will. To be untroubled means to avoid letting our troubles pressure us into committing sin. Paradoxically, to be untroubled means to be in trouble with the world, for in doing God’s will we oppose the ways of the world. To be untroubled can mean even to be persecuted with all the fear and distress that comes with persecution. In summary, to be untroubled means to have the faith to accept the grace to do God’s will, resist the temptations to sin, get in trouble, and even deserve persecution.

To be untroubled means to carry our daily crosses. “The message of the cross is complete absurdity to those who are headed for ruin, but to us who are experiencing salvation it is the power of God”

Jesus said: “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life.” —John 14:6

So many people place their hope in better education, government programs, improved technology, a cleaner environment, a higher income, improved health, etc. Placing our hope in worldly circumstances, no matter how good, will ultimately leave us disappointed, for “the world as we know it is passing away”.

Jesus is our Hope, and the only Hope we need. Jesus is our Hope of finding God the Father, because no one comes to the Father except through Him. So many people are “without hope and without God in the world”. They need Jesus, Who is Hope incarnate.

My wish for all of us today is that whether we are in a wonderful place in life or suffering through an awful episode or illness, that we will have the faith to let go and to let God. It’s hard to surrender control but, as today’s Gospel tells us, the only way to live is by faith.

That should be our mission, our life, our joy, that many might be converted and saved by our words, thoughts and actions.


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Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. (Mark 16:15)

As Jesus appeared to the Apostles and sent them to preach the Gospel everywhere, so are we called to do the same, as God directs us. That should be our mission, our life, our joy, that many might be converted and saved by our words, thoughts and actions.

But wait a minute, could it be all that easy? Well, actually no. Today’s first reading has some chilling news for us, something about “Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for [someone] to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

Each and every step we take will be countered by the evil one! We can only succeed by suffering for a while and by having faith in Jesus the Christ.

“Beloved Clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for: God opposes the proud but bestows favor on the humble.”

These sentences are powerful in giving us guidance as to how we should live our lives. The message, in these sentences, tell us that life is about interacting and “being” with others and in our interacting with others we must be respectful and attempt to understand “from another’s point of view” while at the same time honoring and using our gifts and our insights from God to move humanity forward towards God.

Our gifts, which allow us to interact with others, are not ours to own BUT rather come from God. And we are called upon to use our gifts, “For The Greater Glory Of God” and not for our own personal advancement, recognition or reward. Being mindful that all of our encounters with others, in our daily life, is “For The Greater Glory Of God” we will be able to approach these encounters with humility and a recognition of our reliance not on ourselves BUT on God.

“Cast your worries upon him because he cares for you” God does love us and does care about each one of us and has modeled that for us. He asks all of us to “love one another” and to remember this in our daily interactions/encounters with other people.

On the other hand, there is the Devil and evilness all around. The First reading encourages us, “Be sober and vigilant…. Resist him, steadfast in faith” There is and will be a struggle between living our lives “loving one another” and falling prey to jealousy, resentment, disrespect and anger- all the work of the devil, especially when we begin to rely on ourselves forgetting to invite God in for strength, wisdom and guidance.

 

Jesus was sent here to be our light and to light our way out of darkness.


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Few things in life are more difficult than acting as a mediator, endeavoring to create harmony where there is dissension. It is quite moving to hear Jesus speaking of himself as a mediator in today’s gospel reading. He begins with the seeming contradiction that anyone who believes in him does not believe in him but believes in the one who sent him. He then describes his mediating strategy: ‘I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them because I came not to judge the world but to save the world.’

Jesus comes, sent by the Father, on the authority of the Father, speaking the words of the Father. He is our savior, if we recognize who he is and where he comes from. He will save us if we let him, but if we are condemned it is by our own actions – our refusal to see the light and our determination to stay in darkness. Jesus speaks God’s words of eternal life and shows us that light. We choose light or darkness.

Jesus was sent here to be our light and to light our way out of darkness. Before Jesus it was all darkness, but Jesus is the manifestation of God’s word to save us. He is a beacon, illuminating the path, lighting the right way. He is our guide, our leader. Here to save us from the darkness, not to condemn us. Before we were trapped in the darkness, but now there is light, a way out. Believing in Jesus is believing in God who sent Jesus. And not believing keeps us trapped in the darkness of ignorance and despair.

The interesting thing about the light that Jesus brings is that it is deepest darkness for those without deep abiding love in their hearts. If you try to see what the light of Jesus shows, but do not have love, you will not see. If you are in judgment of your brother or sister, you are blinding yourself because love and human judgment are almost exact opposites. In the letter of John , we are told that if we claim to love God but hate brother or sister, we are liars.
(see: 1 John 4:20)

Because the balancing act between judgment and love is so hard for us, let us abandon judgment and embrace love. Then we can begin to see this wonderful world in the way that Jesus lights it up for us.

The Lord also wants you to be His instrument.


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“This man is the instrument I have chosen.” —Acts 9:15

The Lord often decides to work through people, especially members of His body, the Church. After the Lord knocked Saul to the ground and confronted him, the Lord did not continue His work in Saul’s life as a solo. He called for Ananias to be instrumental in converting Saul (Acts 9:10). Saul then became instrumental in converting both Jews and Gentiles.

The Lord also wants you to be His instrument.You are God’s instrument in proclaiming the Gospel to those with whom you live and work. You are God’s instrument in feeding the poor, healing the sick, and driving out demons.

You are God’s mouth, hands, and feet. God has decided to make Himself handicapped without your obedient service. In Holy Communion, the Lord gives His flesh and blood to you (Jn 6:55). In a different way, you must give your flesh and blood to Him. He wants your body to be His weapon for justice (Rm 6:13). He wants, and even needs you at this point in His plan of salvation (see Heb 11:40).

The Lord, of course, can convert people any way He wants. He seems to want multifaceted conversions with maximum participation. In effect, He wants each of us to witness, suffer, pray, risk our lives, heal, serve, die, and love so as to lead to Christ as many people as possible (1 Cor 9:19). Offer your life for the conversion of billions of people.

Many of us have prayed the “Prayer of St. Francis.” We have asked the Lord to make us “instruments” of His peace. The Lord has answered our prayer. Accept His answer. Be His instrument.

Do you believe you receive Jesus’ body and blood, soul and divinity, when you receive Communion?


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“Your ancestors ate manna in the desert, but they died. This is the Bread that comes down from heaven for a man to eat and never die.” —John 6:49-50

When it comes to food, God provides and man derides. God gave Adam and Eve all kinds of good food in the Garden of Eden. Sadly, their craving to eat beyond what God provided led to mankind’s downfall.

God then provided miraculous manna to the Israelites when they were stranded in the desert. He “furnished them bread from heaven, ready to hand, untoiled-for, endowed with all delights and conforming to every taste”. The manna even “was blended to whatever flavor each one wished”! All this revealed God’s sweetness toward His children. However, the Israelites in the desert soon wearied of this miraculous, tasty fare. They were “disgusted with this wretched food” that God provided. Now they wanted meat, fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic.

So God once again provided His children with miraculous Bread from heaven. To make it unmistakable, Jesus proclaims: “I am the Bread of Life…I Myself am the Living Bread come down from heaven. If anyone eats this bread he shall live forever; the bread I will give is My flesh, for the life of the world.

Jesus said we must feed on His flesh. “At this the Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, ‘How can He give us His flesh to eat?’ “”After hearing His words, many of His disciples remarked, ‘This sort of talk is hard to endure! How can anyone take it seriously?’ “”From this time on, many of His disciples broke away and would not remain in His company any longer”.

Jesus caused quarrels and lost many disciples because of His statements regarding eating His flesh and drinking His blood. If He meant this symbolically or poetically, Jesus could have said so and set many peoples’ minds at rest. Instead, He stated even more emphatically that His flesh was real food and His blood real drink.

Although we don’t fully understand it, we must take the Bible as it stands and believe that in a real way Holy Communion is the very Body and Blood of Jesus. We must put our faith in Jesus and say: “You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe; we are convinced that You are God’s Holy One”. No mere man can reveal this to us, only the heavenly Father. No one can come to Jesus unless the Father draws us.

Do you believe you receive Jesus’ body and blood, soul and divinity, when you receive Communion? If so, Communion is the center of your life, one of the most important events of your life, and the greatest time of each day. If you believe what Jesus said about Communion, you will probably try to receive Communion daily, frequently visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and tell others about Jesus’ Eucharistic love.