Ishishangh’olo

On November 10, I was thankful to visit some folks in the Ishishangh’olo area who have been doing the asset-based community development and savings and loan plan that we will do with all of the churches that we work with.

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The stars represent some of the churches that we work with. The blue dots represent the three villages we visited – Ishishangh’olo, Sogoso, and Mbaragashi

In late 2014, a church in Sogoso started doing the CCMP plan for asset-based community development. During this process they realized they already had some resources that they were not using:

-Trees

-Land

-An abundance of water makes it possible to make bricks all year round

-Apparently, enormous anthills like the one pictured below are a very useful resource for making bricks. I do not understand why, but I have their word on it.

Pastor Lucas (in purple) and Evangelist Edward took turns telling some of the story.

They talked about how they had gotten saved long ago, and had learned that our relationship with God is about our spiritual development, but it wasn’t until they started CCMP that they started to see that our relationship with God is also about being better able to meet our physical needs. Lucas added that he even started to notice that people were dying spiritually because they weren’t able to meet their physical needs.

Before CCMP, they had been waiting on resources from outside, or for God to provide directly. They knew they could work harder on a daily basis, but they did not think it would get them anywhere.

After CCMP though, they started to see how hard work could be channeled in a way that would actually change things. They knew that they could not afford to pay directly for many of the things they needed to improve their lives, so they started looking for ways to provide without paying cash.

For example, the Ishishangh’olo and Sogoso communities wanted better houses and a church meeting house, and the Mbaragashi community wanted a primary school, but none could afford bricks. So they started encouraging members to make bricks themselves. All it takes is water, mud, and (apparently) anthills, and they had those things.

They started building better houses; Pastor Lucas shared that his house now has six rooms. They also started a savings and loan group to help them meet their physical needs. Finally, they recently started on their brick meeting house.

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The construction so far on the Sogoso meeting house

Many of the Ishishangh’olo leaders know the Sogoso leaders, and so, were inspired to start CCMP in April 2015. Although they started later, they began began their meeting house almost immediately, and we sat inside the finished product.

The leaders at nearby Mbaragashi also heard, and decided their priority was a primary school. My translator Alphonce, himself interested in building a primary school, asked the Mbaragashi leaders about their budget. One leader (pictured below, in the white striped shirt) replied with something like, “We have no budget, because that way of thinking kept us paralyzed for years. If you draw up a 10,000,000 shilling budget ($4,600) everyone will stay scared, and the building will never start. When the community asks us how much, we just reply, ‘Not too much, all we need is bricks, cement, and foundation stone!’ If we run into trouble paying for things, we take up per-family contributions of 20,000 shillings each ($9.20).”

It seems to be working. Here are some pictures of the Mbaragashi primary school, which they started building in August 2016.

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