We are hoping that buying a brick machine will give the youth a small business and help several young churches to build a brick meeting house.
The last seven years have seen the birth of 12 new United Methodist churches here in Mwanza and the Mara region of Tanzania, as well as one in another small city, Geita. Here are a few of their locations, marked with stars. (Many of them cannot be located by Google Maps.)
The speed with which so many churches have been born and the material poverty of their members means that several of these new churches have no brick meeting house. Here are some of the places where they meet:
This isn’t too much of an issue during the dry season, but it does mean that no one comes to church on many Sundays during the rainy season (which began about two weeks ago, by the way!) Sometimes churches will try meeting in someone’s house, but when they do this, that family will begin to feel that the church is theirs.
In preparing to help the largest of the four Methodist churches here in Mwanza to construct its new meeting house (Lumala UMC, top picture), we realized that purchasing the bricks would cost $2,200, while buying a brick machine and the inputs to make the bricks would cost only a little more, $2,755. (For a more detailed, official proposal, you can click here. As you may have guessed, the title means “Brick machine”.) The machine will, of course, be used in the construction of the other meeting houses, so as each additional building is built, the cost per church will be lower and lower.
We are hoping that this brick machine will also help a group of young men who are members of the churches here in Mwanza. Here are some of them:
Top left is Isaac. He is 19, and from a part of western Tanzania called Kigoma. He left Kigoma in December to study English and driving in Kenya, financed by his uncle, who lives in Mwanza. When his uncle went to work in America though, Isaac had to stop his schooling and moved to Mwanza where his aunt and brother live. He was cutting hair for awhile, but the shop he was working at closed. He has since been looking for work but has not been able to find any.
Top right is Edmund Charles. He is 28, and has lived here in Mwanza for four years. He also came from Kigoma, where his father is a Pentecostal pastor. He has a gift for music and serves as the worship leader at Lumala UMC. He is married with two children, Neema and Charles.
Bottom left is Sadi Benja, who is 27. When he was 22 he left his village, Bonco, in southeastern D.R.C., looking for a better life. He worked for awhile making soap from ashes, and then did sewing work for awhile, and is now cutting hair. He has been married for two years and has one child, and would like to return to school to become a driver.
Finally, at the bottom right is Musa, who is 32 and is the Chairman of the youth. He is also from Kigoma. He came to Mwanza 10 years ago, when he married a young woman from Mwanza, and now has three children. He started fishing here in Mwanza for a few years, but now frequently travels 12 hours to the northwest to Bukoba, where he stays for weeks at a time, because the fishing is better there.
The youth will use the machine as a small business, which would give them the opportunity to learn some basic business skills, skills that would in turn help them to move forward with their lives and provide for their families better. They are pretty excited about it. When I first mentioned the idea to them, Barraka, (not pictured) said, “If you could get the machine this Friday, I would be ready to start this Friday!”