Enough is enough

Yesterday, the Church of England lectionary invited us to remember the Ugandan martyrs of 1886 and 1978. The earlier martyrs are credited with the resurgence of conversion to Christianity in Africa in the later 19th century, while the martyrs of 1978 were victims of persecution under Idi Amin. (This persecution is the reason why Archbishop John Sentamu fled to the UK.)

I’m not tremendously au fait with the calendar of saints’ days and remembrances, so this came as something of a surprise to me during college worship yesterday morning. Within minutes of the service beginning, we were listening to a recording of Ugandan singing. I shut my eyes and was instantly transported back to the church in Ogongora, where I’d heard near identical singing just three months ago. [Funnily enough, I’d only been remembering on my way to college that today marks exactly three months since we returned.]

Dave’s video of the singing at Ogongora church.

It’s highly appropriate that this date falls at the beginning of a week in which the IF campaign holds a massive gathering to highlight the issue of global hunger and injustice in the final weeks before the G8 summit begins. This Saturday, thousands will gather in Hyde Park to campaign for an end to hunger and poverty. (Sadly, I can’t be there thanks to a Vicar Weekend.) Next Saturday, a similar event will take place in Belfast, prior to the summit beginning on June 17th in Northern Ireland.

This connection wasn’t lost on the person leading the service, as we meditated on the Feeding of the Five Thousand and prayed for those in Uganda who still face the injustice of poverty today. I saw that injustice at first hand on our trip – like the nursery school children whose lunch (provided by the church) might be their only meal of the day. The children whose chances of making the most of their education is negatively impacted by the fact that their parents can’t afford to give them breakfast or lunch. The grandmother who goes hungry so that her grandchildren will be less hungry.

Serving lunch in OgongoraLunch at Ogongora Nursery 

If you’re able to get to Hyde Park this Saturday, or Belfast’s Botanic Gardens a week on Saturday, then DO! If you can’t, you can ‘show your face’ in support of the campaign, via this link.

The work we saw as part of the PEP programme in Uganda is making a massive difference – but it’s not enough.

What IF there was enough food for everyone?

What if…?

On the flight to Entebbe on Sunday, I was delighted to discover one of the Great British Bake Off’s series finales on the in-flight entertainment (amongst other gems like Argo and The Sapphires, but I digress…). Fellow passengers would be forgiven for wondering if I’d gone a little bit mad as I giggled, gasped and groaned at the bakers’ antics. [For those who I know will be wondering, it was the series 2 final – the last series there was before I discovered the sheer genius of the show.]

As it finished, a thought struck me: I was on my way to Uganda – a nation where many of its population don’t have enough to eat, let alone the resources with which to make three different petits fours in order to please Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood. Here I was, about to spend a week with people who had very little, and I was salivating over baking. It was rather disturbing.

This time last week, the students I work with were having an evening in which they looked at the IF campaign. In case you’re unaware, the basic premise of this campaign is very simple, nearly one billion people go to bed hungry every night and two million children die from malnutrition every year – what if we were able to do something to ensure that this was no longer the case? A coalition of charities and organisations have combined forces to act on this campaign – Tearfund is one of them.

Feel at home

Today, on our first trip to the village of Ogongora where we’ll be spending three days, we arrived just before the church’s nursery school had their lunch. The school provides an education for children too young to make the trek (around 2km, on their own) to the nearest primary school. There were around 30 kids there this morning, ranging in age from 3 to 7. Each lined up calmly and collected the plateful of porridge that formed their midday meal.

Collecting Lunch

As we watched them eat, we were told that the food is provided by the church and that for some of the children there, it might be the only meal they have all day. These are very people whose lives would change if global hunger could be eradicated – a week after discussing the theory with my wonderful, idealistic student group, I had the reality of the situation in front of me. And it’s shocking.