Poverty

Unexpected Bonuses in Bolivia

If I give money to an organisation, I may simply be expecting the thing they said would happen, to happen. If that was the case, I’d probably be happy enough. However, often when good development activities are carried out, there can be positive ramifications beyond what was expected.

If I may use the example of Irish Methodist funded work in Bolivia. The basic idea was to provide solar ovens (10% of cost was paid for by recipient) for domestic use. The results:

1. As intended, time has been freed up for women to explore other productive activities or even recreational pursuits. As one women has said, “I think I love my oven more than my husband!”

The forests, previously used as the source of firewood, are being conserved. All this was hoped for before things started.

However, there have been other consequences:

2. The involvement of the Methodist Church in Ireland has led to new Bolivian Methodist communities joining the scheme.

3. Because of the ‘extra’ time now available to women, community discussions have been initiated and training delivered around gender roles within the community.

The solar ovens have become less about economics and the environment and more about women’s empowerment.

4. The ‘ovens project’ is happening where a proposed hydroelectric dam may be built. It is risky to do leadership training in such an area as the powerful and wealthy do not wish to be challenged.

However, the ‘ovens project’ provides a cover under which such training can happen less obviously so that local people can understand the issues and mobilise themselves to lobby for their rights.

5. The ovens and their success has been seen by other local NGOs and this has led to an increase in demand. A deal is now being brokered with local commercial enterprises to produce the oven parts locally and the increased demand will mean a reduction in cost.

Also, importantly, it is expected to lead to 800 new jobs.

As was told to me by Emma Donlan, Christian Aid Country Manager for Bolivia, “The Methodist Church in Ireland has been the springboard”. It is great when development throws up unexpected bonuses and very significant bonuses at that.

NB Irish Methodist World Development & Relief co-funds some work with Christian Aid Ireland. In the above case the ‘shared’ partner is the Bolivian NGO, Soluciones Practicas.

 

Running for God's purposes

Beth Hand was one of our relay runners at the 2018 Belfast marathon. Inspired to raise money for rural communities in Zimbabwe, and spurred on by Paul’s words in Romans (as well as some words from Usain Bolt!), Beth laced up her trainers and got training!


Belfast. 7th May 2018. The words of Usain Bolt ran through my head as I watched out for my team mate “train hard, turn up, run your best and the rest will take care of itself”. Bolt and I are in no way similar in fact I am his complete opposite especially in regards my athletic ability; in rounders I would be the one to put the team out, in squash I get hit with the ball and normally even the sight of football on the television puts meet sleep (perhaps a blessing to my husband so that he can peacefully watch the slaughter of his beloved Leeds FC). 


However, for the past few years one thing has taken me off the sofa and out into the highways and byways in my trusty trainers… Belfast City Marathon Relay for WDR. I think this is the one stage at which I get excited about running. The cold, wet and miserable training is an honour when you know that many are running alongside you to raise funds and awareness for partners connected WDR. Paul wrote in Romans “so we, though many, are one body in Christ” and I love that we have the opportunity to stand with our brothers and sisters though miles apart. It is a blessing to be able to run, walk or jog knowing that God uses it for His purposes.


The day itself was thrilling with runners of all shapes and sizes spread like confetti over the city of Belfast. I dropped my husband off at the starting line (as he was running the full marathon) and headed to the change over point for my leg. When I arrived there was already a sea of Methodists in their luminous WDR bibs stretching and chatting. Most of us were a little apprehensive but filled with the adrenaline rush of community and excitement. We stood together waiting for our teammates and on their arrival it was our turn. Step after step we ran along the route watching faces cheer, smile and encourage us as the miles passed by. 


As we crossed the finishing line I felt exhilarated and exhausted but mostly thirsty! I drank nearly a whole bottle of water and as I held it in my hand I was reminded of why I had signed up in the first place. Dabane Water Workshops work in Zimbabwe to find and implement creative water solutions, something we very much take for granted. It is a gift that all should have access to and so as I had trained this was in the forefront of my mind. If we are one body in Christ then I must do my part to ensure that resources are shared equally and fairly so that all may know his provision and love. 


The marathon relay was one of the best things I have done and I hope that as a family we can continue to be part of WDR and their efforts through the marathon. Please think about joining up, you will be part of a community as you run and part of God’s mission as you cross the finishing line. 


Want to follow in Beth’s footsteps and join us at the marathon? Get in touch!

Bitten by the running bug

Rev Dave Sweeney enjoyed his relay team experience at the 2017 Belfast marathon so much, that in 2018 he decided to run the full marathon. Why? He tells us here…

What sort of numpty decides it would be a good idea to run a marathon?! Well, this sort, I guess!

Having been “out of shape” for the best part of 20 years, a few years ago I began a journey back to health and fitness. Initially this was through walking regularly and diet, but as weight decreased and fitness improved, I was encouraged by a good friend to start running. I never had been much of a longer distance runner at school, much preferring the short distance sprints . However, the bug bit.

At the start, I was content just going out for 2 or 3 miles a couple of times a week and doing the odd Parkrun. Then, in 2017, I decided to take part in the Belfast City Marathon as part of a relay team. There were three of us from Bloomfield Methodist along with two others (Michael Sloan and Peter Kerr). For me, as minister of a church, it was an excellent way to promote the work of World Development and Relief with the congregation. Personally, the buzz of the day, taking part with thousands of others was just amazing – and that was just over 4 miles. I think a seed was planted that day – not that I realised it then. 

In January 2018 I had decided that I might like to train for a half-marathon and had begun to do so. Then the promotional material arrived from Tim & Laura and I thought, sure, I’ll put together another relay team – that worked well last year. A bit more support for WDR, that’ll be great. About two weeks later, I heard that my former team mate, Michael, was going to do the full marathon; another colleague told me, ‘you run a lot, you could do that no problem’. Before I knew it, I had my entry fee paid and was now doing a marathon in 3 months’ time!!

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I have to say that the support of my local church, of family and friends completely blew me away as I prepared to run. Huge generosity in giving to WDR in support of Dabane; moral support and encouragement when I thought I couldn’t do it; people on the day who came out and cheered me on.

Doing the full marathon was an amazing challenge and opportunity. It took more out of me than I ever knew I had to give! Achieving the time goal I set myself brought a great personal sense of achievement, but more than that, to know that I had encouraged many to support WDRF and that people in Zimbabwe would have clean water to drink brought even greater fulfilment. 

Time is short if you’re thinking of doing the full marathon – but if you have any running training behind you, it’s still possible. But there are loads of other ways you can get involved – relay runner, walker, fun runner. Or sponsor someone else who is taking part. Just do it – you won’t regret it!


If you’d like to join us at the 2019 Belfast Marathon, please email Laura. There are 5 events to choose from, including a 2.5 mile Fun Run/Walk, so there’s an event for everyone! This year our fundraising is for Wenchi Methodist Hospital in Ghana.