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Changing Lives, Building Communities

Changing Lives, Building Communities
October 24, 2020 Judith Simms

Stories from Sri Lanka, Liberia and the UK, showing how MWiB gifts and grants are changing lives and building communities.

Shalom Project for Peace, Sri Lanka

Anne Baldwin, Mission Partner in Sri Lanka, sent the following information about her visit to the Shalom Project for Peace, which received an Empowerment Gift of £1,500 in 2019 to provide women with chickens which can lay eggs and give them a means of earning an income:

“I have recently travelled north with Revd. Sumethra, Executive Project Coordinator of the Shalom Project for Peace. Her ongoing work with war widows and village youngsters takes various forms. A culmination of two years’ work with one group is providing the women with chickens, the eggs will then provide food for the family and an income from sales. In the photo [below] – the day has come! Great anticipation as we wait for the van to arrive. And then the chickens are distributed [main photo, above], ten to each family. A new chapter for these women as they will soon have an income of their own.”

Great anticipation in Sri Lanka – awaiting the arrival of a van-load of chickens

 

Quick Impact Project, Liberia

An Empowerment Gift of £1,500 was awarded to the Quick Impact Project in 2019. Muriel Nelson, President of United Methodist Women, Liberia, writes:

“In 2018 UMW Liberia realized that women needed training in livelihood skills to support and sustain their family and become active and supportive members in their churches and communities. We applied and acquired a grant from MWiB to help 300 women. However, due to the pandemic we were able to train only 22 women from three pilot districts. They received training in Village Savings and Loan Associations, and in making household sanitation products like disinfectant and soap [pictured below], re-usable sanitary pads, and body and hair care products. They also learned to make rice cereal and ginger candy. The aim is to assist women to set up small businesses, helping women to understand how to manage and sustain a small business, enabling them  to support their families and rise above the dependency on men for their survival. The initiative also created an environment for women to come together to learn, study the bible, share love and fellowship, and build a network of support in their churches and communities. We hope to provide more training for women around the country, and express gratitude to MWiB for providing these opportunities.”

Quick Impact Prooject – learning to make household products

 

Mummies Republic, London

Former MWiB President Sandra Goodwin writes:

“‘Mummies Republic’ is a church community of women and their pre-school and primary age children based at the South London Mission. Encouraged and led by Winnie Baffoe, a Methodist Venture FX Pioneer, the women meet together to share their faith, life experiences, and concerns. They are mainly from single unit households with little or no social network. Winnie says, “The London Borough of Southwark was one of the first to experience the roll-out of Universal Credit (UC), and two years later the effects have been tragic and tiresome. The process of UC leaves people feeling silenced and invisible. We felt that an alternative was to enable a platform for the women to share their experiences.”

Working with Applecart Arts and author Peter Moreton, a play entitled The Vortex was performed in parliament on 21st May 2019. Built around the idea of a television game show, The Vortex features real-life stories of mothers from Southwark, and demonstrates the difficulties encountered and many of the ‘no win’ issues involved with the roll-out of UC. Enabled by Neil Coyle, MP for Bermondsley and Southwark, and supported by a number of agencies including MWiB, who provided a £2,000 Social and Community Action grant in 2019, the performance was taken to a wider audience in a campaign to raise awareness of the lived experiences of UC.

  Rachel Lampard (Joint Public Issues Team), Winnie Baffoe, and Sandra Goodwin

Three members of ‘Mummies Republic’ recounted with great courage their real-life experiences of trying to speak to a real person rather than conversing via phone or internet (if access to either was feasible), juggling work, childcare and accommodation, facing eviction, and visits to foodbanks when the UC system fails—multiple problems faced by families trapped in a situation not of their making.

I felt moved and honoured to attend the initial performance of this important piece.”