Saturday, January 24, 2009

Progress Reports: through the end of 2008

December 31, 2008: Dear Friends, I wish to thank you  beyond measure for all  you have done for me  to give life to God's people in my parish. Thank you so much. I wish you a happy new year  2009 filled with so many pf God's choicest blessings for you and your families. I remember you with joy and above all I pray for you. The fist chicken coop is ready with already  15 chicken and collecting eggs on a daily basis.we are slowly getting offshore on our chicken coop project.The pictures of a completed coop with the chicken is on the way.I will soon embark on the second one  at the home of one of the parishioners. It is aproject meant to help the poor get over their  poverty at some point in time. It will work and it is promising.Thanks to all who  do contribute towards this noble  project. Small projects can do miracles once they are well done.

On 28th Dec., I baptized 150 children at the same time.The pictures from that day are on the way.Interesting enough is the fact that I had prepared  so many seedlings for planting. Each child who was baptized took home a seedling or two for planting I saw them proudly walk around the parish  with their seelings as great souvenirs of their baptism. You may not imagine that  so many children are prepared to be baptized on this day. On a sad note every time I  visit a church , there has to be a dying child  to be baptized and anointed. What I do is that  I baptize and anoint the child and then do all I can to find medication for the child.Many times the mother or even the parents have no money for medication, and they bring the child for baptism as if looking for a miracle to save the child. Am so glad  to share with you  that all those children I found medication with whatever funds I have, have recovered. It is a great joy to see their parents bring them back to me healthy afterwards to thank me. Those are little moments in Jesus's  labor that give me joy and keep me going. The children go with the mothers. I have had to save the lives of  several mothers by bringing them out of the village to better medical facilities. Thanks to the new truck. That is how I end the old year 2008 filled with a lot of happy memories of all of you my Friends at St. Thomas.

I have lit  a candle in my heart  for you all. It will burn aleways.The parish house is renovated, solar power installed and the cisterns are yet to be done this January, then a new kitchen. The parish will officially be opened on 15 February 2009 I will  have a CD made from that day and send it  to you.

            December 17, 2008:  “Today I baptized 37 kids in a small tiny church.  On 28th Dec I expect to baptize over one hundred. The first chicken coop is done now I already have 10 chicken and am expecting to have 100 chicken by end of January. Am starting to work on the second one soon.  I will send you the pictures of the finished coop then later I will send you the one with chicken in their home.

My tree planting project is also in high gear.  I have prepared ornamental seedlings(1000) and over 25,000 pine seedlings to plant the next season. I will send you pictures.  Thinking of you and praying for you with joy. Your friend, Fr. Francis. 

            November 17, 2008:  “I am sending you several pictures showing part of my pastoral work.  I am about to complete the first chicken coop... I will send you pictures showing a step ahead as far as our project of empowering our people is concerned...Greet all those who meet with you to discuss ways to carry forward the work of Jesus Christ.  Your friend, Fr. Francis.”
            October 16, 2008:  “...this week I started on the first chicken coop.  it should be finished in 2 or 3 weeks time and I will send you the pictures. We are making progress.  The priest’s house renovations are in full progress. When it is over by Advent I will have done the water tank and installed solar power and I will be in the house...It is raining so much that when I send you the pictures, you will wonder how we manage.  The roads are season or out of season, Christ must be preached. Am just happy to share in Christ’s suffering for the salvation of his people.  Greet the members when you see them...”

            September 18, 2008: “ week I will send you [description of] the type of chicken coops we can construct in my parish.  They are very scientific and efficient.  The need for chickens and eggs is so high that we would certainly be
successful in our project, once we start off.  I will have the first one made at the parish as a demonstration and will identify homes where we will set up the others.  Kindly thank all the members [of St. Thomas] for me for so much love and care and sacrifice. We will succeed to help the people we are focused on.  Your friend Fr. Francis.”

            September 11, 2008:  “I have been struggling to get my Mom and my younger brother William treated.  As you know, we have no insurance, each family finds a way to deal with its own health problems. I have been struggling to get my new place in order too.  It’s exciting to be a pioneer for Jesus”.

            September 9, 2008:  I am now writing from Kampala to process my truck ... greet all those who gather to discuss how to help us.  Tell them that I appreciate every bit of what they are doing.  I love them and pray for them...”

            September 5, 2008 "...Next week...I will be cruising through the mud reaching God's people. Already I have had to attend to so many sick people in these three weeks I have been here. They brought me one child with a burnt face and we have to find a doctor who can do skin grafting. Many malaria cases. People come and have no money to reach the better medical facilities. In all this I am doing my best to help." 

            September 2, 2008:  “Am already in my new parish and the work is really overwhelming but we will do it. Here the contrasts are too stark between the poor and the rich.  I will send you lots of pictures of what our villages here are like and what we are working on to help them move a step higher is commendable. It is a matter of time you will begin to see results.  My mom has been ill with high blood pressure. At one time it was 180/100.  So I have been trying to get her treated.  My younger brother is very ill with diabetes. He may not live long...”

About The Empowerment Project

On Sunday August 10, 2008, Fr. Francis Muhenda showed a modest group gathered in the parish hall of St. Thomas the Apostle in Ann Arbor, MI a power point slide presentation of his home district in Western Uganda, St. Peter the Apostle Parish - Butunduuzi, Fort Portal Diocese. He is the only priest serving over 30 villages where electricity, running water and paved roads are non-existent. Generous members of St. Thomas the Apostle sent him back to Uganda with resources to secure, for the first time a sturdy four wheel vehicle, a cistern to collect water for his school and house and a solar panel to provide electric light after sundown.

Fr. Francis spoke of the unaddressed poverty of his people which preclude them from paying school fees, the nutritional shortcomings of their diet, the polluted water they must endure and the mosquito borne malaria problem which primarily kills infants.

Some asked him “what can we do to help you?” He suggested that we could help empower them to lift themselves up by funding a couple of simple projects. One would be to fund the purchase of fast growing saplings which his parishioner’s could plant and nurture for future sale as timber. At 6-8 ft. growth per year, the time for harvest is relatively short.

His second suggestion was that we could help sponsor a chicken project. Meat and poultry are hard to come by and a luxury rarely experienced by people in his Parish. If we could assist with money to buy building materials for chicken coops (chicken wire and wood) and hens and roosters, his villages could cooperate to develop a source of eggs, poultry meat and, conceivably build a source of income. With seed money a donor sent with him to develop a pilot plan, Fr. Francis has already overseen construction of the first chicken coop. Two more are soon to be completed.

Inspired by Fr. Francis’ slide show in August , several of us met in September and October to plan a project to provide continuing aid to his parish. In the long run there is endless work we could do. We think that the sapling and chicken projects merit our immediate support in the short term because of their simplicity. These two plans do more than just give charity to Ugandans. They provide a concrete way for them to improve their own lives and hopefully advance upward from their profound poverty.

On November 3, 2008 we formed a Michigan Non Profit Organization to assist Fr. Francis Muhenda’s parish, called Uganda Empowerment Project Inc. We hope to make periodic and sustained fundraising efforts to encourage Fr. Francis to promote these projects. The ad-hoc committee behind the non profit Uganda Empowerment Project, Inc. is made up of Thomas Owens, Mike Rhode, Elizabeth Crist, Doug Mullkoff, Marie Williams and Grace Potts.

We have opened an account for the non profit with Key Bank in Ann Arbor. If you are moved to support Fr. Francis with this project please send a check made out to Uganda Empowerment Project, Inc. c/o Doug Mullkoff, 402 West Liberty, Ann Arbor, MI 48103.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

About This Blog

When he left Ann Arbor in August, 2008, Fr. Francis Muhenda hoped to write a blog sharing bits and pieces of his parish life back in Uganda. Without electricity he can only email on those occasional trips into Fort Portel where he has internet access. This blog is a compilation of the letters and notes he sends us periodically to update on the joys, sorrows, and successes of the empowerment projects he directs at his parish in Uganda.