Travel in Kenya is an experience. Many of the roads are rutted dirt tracks which in rainy season become impassable. It is also hard to determine what precisely are the rules for using the highway. It is little wonder Kenyans pray before travelling!
Today we travelled by a variety of roads to Swani parish to see a church programme called CCMP in operation – Church Community Mobilisation Programme. We wanted to see how this programme had helped and empowered people in this area.
Our guide for the day was the vicar Benson assisted by the vicar of the local parish Samuel and the cathecist Jackson. We saw four examples of the effects of CCMP in action: first we met a lady called Lucy who has now a water pump and is hoping to erect a tank. She has identified pumpkins as a good crop to grow as these aren’t generally produced in the area.
Then we met a lady called Gillian whose water pump has increased her crops of bananas and avocados and sweet potato and any water that runs from the well waters a crop of arrowroot. The money she has generated has enabled her to have 7 rooms to rent out to families and the availability of running water makes her rooms all the more attractive.
Our next two examples featured some older couples. The first, Peter, had been in a bad way with no opportunity to buy even seed. But thanks to CCMP he was able to pump water from the river and expand his holding to 2.5 acres. He now harvests all kinds of crops and hopes to produce about 45 crates of tomatoes this year – not a bad yield from a single acre. He also has a poultry farm, and indeed almost everywhere you go in Thika there are chickens. The second couple had been enabled to harvest rainwater from the roofs of their family buildings and store it – an immense advantage in the dry season.
So how does CCMP work? It involves church moving away from depending on others and recognising the resources with which God has already blessed them. We went to Swani parish where this was explained further. The first part of programme involves Bible study and bringing church together. In Swani this at first involved only 12 men. They used only to meet at church, but through the programme realised they needed to visit each other’s homesteads.
From this decision sprang the idea of “merry go round financing”. Each visitor to a homestead brought 1000Ksh for the merry ground and 200Ksh for the kitty. Each month a grant of 20000KSh was made – not to be spent on consumables but of things that would bring long term benefit such as a water pump or storage tank.
As the fellowship has increased so every three months the men slaughter a goat together. There are now 22 members. The Merry go round has become an evangelistic tool. Particularly targeted have been the men whose wives come to church but who themselves don’t come. The next aim is to reach out to youth and slaughter a goat with them. There is also a desire to reach all men of the parish.
The parallel CCMP for women is run by the Mothers Union. The mothers now feel able to contribute and some of the money raised has enabled construction of a toilet in church. As a result of both programmes giving is up from 4000Ksh to 8000 to 12000Ksh per week and outsiders are seeing the joy.
How might anything of CCMP affect our church? We are already seeing the sharing of resources and talents but there is surely more we can do, and more people we should encourage to get involved by our discipleship of them. How we do this is something we need to think about at a later date.
It was somewhat ironic seeing the impact of CCMP when on the doorstep of Swani parish is a huge Del Monte plantation, a monoculture of pineapples that seems to stretch for miles. There are villages, schools even a church on the estate and Del Monte’s power seems pretty absolute.
We had lunch at Swani secondary school where the children sang for us and Bishop Nick spoke briefly. Then back on rutted roads for another sightseeing experience. We had seen a little of the countryside in the morning when we visited Peter’s holding and saw the weaver birds down by the river. This however was a long drive over more rutted roads to a hill called Kirama Korgi. It was a steep climb up to an outcrop of what I assumed were volcanic rocks. On a clear day you can apparently see Mount Kenya and as far as Somalia. Today however was not a clear day. Nonetheless looking down on the broad, green aim of the Tana river was an experience in itself and we all sang “O Lord my God” together.
Then eventually home to a meal of chicken killed today, matoke and kale with homegrown avocado. Ven David our host has chickens, geese, cows, goats, sheep and beehives as well as every kind of vegetable growing. It was a lovely feast after a tiring day.