Monday, 25 May 2015

AMEN Conference 2015 'Rest/Study Day' - Friday

I admit I tend to go at life relentlessly.  I insisted that we should have planning sessions for both this August's Multiply trip to Kenya, and next March's to Rwanda while both Gregory and Rukundo were available.  This meant an early start for both of them to travel to Central Offices.  But the meetings were invaluable. 

First Janet rolled up with the back of her car full of tables for the sewing/tailoring project in Nairobi.  We've got ourselves on a very tight schedule since finding out the container leaves from Cambridge next Wednesday.  She also showed us the colourful pin-cushions and needle-cases that the Birmingham congregation had produced.  Viv texted to say that set-up in the marquee was running late, and he wouldn't make it to the meeting.

We ploughed through the action points from our last get-together.  The first hot topic was the guys' overland minibus trip from Nairobi to Kampala.  Gregory announced that we'd fit in an extra conference at Nakuru.  It all seemed to hinge on an early start leaving Nairobi, about which I was constitutionally doubtful.  No matter.  The next day Eldoret, as planned, then on to Kimilili.  Four more hours' travel and a whole day conference: a bit tight. 

Then Trevor dropped in that his old friend Cornelius wanted us to visit his tribal work en route to Kampala.  This entails crossing into to Uganda on a 'B' road, and a bout of after-dinner tribal dancing to accommodate their warm hospitality.  Mental note - take your own mosquito net.  Finally we rendezvous with Janet and Hilary in Kampala.  "It's all looking very tight.  Can't we take longer?" someone commented.  "Well the programme wasn't before all this was crammed in." I countered.  One consolation emerged - we'd probably get a free afternoon to visit Lake Victoria when the following weekend commitments were over.  And Viv may get the drive the minibus back to Nairobi while the rest of us fly.

Crunch point number two was the need for a proper business plan for the sewing/tailoring project.  All through AMEN is emerged that the international guys are wonderful pastors and preachers, but the well-intentioned practical support we try to roll out just falls over through lack of planning and oversight.  Ed is on everyone's case for a business plan and a 'champion'.  Gregory 'gets it', but already has his hands full.

By this time the skeleton team for Rwanda had arrived, so we swapped over and began round two.  "We simply must get a better idea of what the community support and income earning projects need," Ed and John agreed.   Around the table we chorus, "You never told us that!" as Rukundo explains that the two tons per month of grain that his wife has been grinding to sell in the market, first has to be washed and spread out to dry.  Basic mis-assumptions.  So John and Jenny will go for ten day in mid-September - in fact as they had partly planned to do last year.  We have several ideas for small scale income-earning business projects.  But the need is to get the right supervision in place.  "Rwanda is littered with broken equipment donated by NGOs," he's told John. 

Rukundo clarifies that the two halves of his community we're to visit are 90km apart.  Further stretch on the programme.  We've also planned to go to Burundi, but the present unrest casts doubt on this.  "It will be alright when the election is over," Rukundo assures.  It seems that this is pretty average for Africa. 

It takes me all afternoon to consolidate the action points.  Then I grab some tea at the Farm and walk to Cornhill for the evening event.  Mary is waiting.  Driving the minibus on the way to stay at New Kings, I collect my luggage from the Farm.  They made me very welcome.

No comments: