August 2019

Last night I shared a joyous journey from Mombasa. The Upendo Children Arts Club, consisting of 14 girls from 7 to 14 years old had just received an award for the best cover song of the year (East Africa) at the Injili (Gospel) Music Awards.

Lemic receiving the award

They performed their Giriama language version of a Nigerian popular song of thanksgiving ‘Nara’ in the large city centre church to an exuberant crowd of over 300 people. On the way stuck in a traffic jam after dark with the windows open, the girls continued to sing prayers of blessing for their fellow travellers.

Earlier that day for miles alongside the road we’d seen hundreds of adults and children carrying empty sacks heading for a relief food distribution. Though the countryside looks beautifully green and crops are growing, the late start of the rains means that the harvest is delayed. The weather is currently temperate with a mixture of sunshine and some light rains. The right balance is crucial to enable the maize cobs to finish ripening, then dry out without going mouldy.

Walking in Cornwall with Barbara

I arrived back in Kilifi last month to welcomes of ‘Karibu. How was your holiday?’ as everyone thought I was resting for six weeks in the UK! I spent six days in North Cornwall with my friend Barbara, when we were able to enjoy coastal walks in between the showers. Otherwise I was traveling between church visits in the West Midlands, Staffordshire and Shropshire, visiting Crosslinks HQ in London, seeing relatives and friends and attending a nutrition conference in Cumbria and a neonatal nutrition workshop in Liverpool. Driving from my base in Dronfield, near Sheffield, I got to know the route over the moors near Buxton well in different conditions including heavy rain and fog that I wasn’t expecting in summertime.

On my return I found my Kilifi house and garden tidy, and the cat in good form. Malachi, also answering to Puss/Sweetie, had been defending his territory. At home, I found a dead centipede in the living room near the front door and a mangled snake under the bed.

On the other side of the football field about 200 yards from my house I spotted a new mosque which seems to have been built in the time I was away. It will surely add to the early morning stereo prayer call in the near future.

Prudence and I met with the Jaribuni dispensary staff to arrange her attachment for the next two months until the end of the Barriers to Breastfeeding project. Her role is to give the community feedback on the study findings and assist with counselling of mothers with breastfeeding problems. My work is mainly writing up the results of the Jaribuni study and helping Abimbola, my Nigerian collaborator, with a systematic review of neonatal nutrition evidence. Unfortunately, the Wellcome Trust did not agree to fund the five-year extension of the Neonatal Nutrition Network. Martha and I are planning a proposal on how to integrate a new model of community care of mothers and infants at risk of malnutrition into routine practice in non-emergency settings.

Our Monday night fellowship group members continue to meet for bible study and prayer but are discussing other group activities. Jonathan and Joyce, who also have an evangelistic and pastoral ministry with university students, have started a community drop-in centre for young people with classes in computing and baking. They live on the outskirts of Kilifi in an informal settlement. Our fellowship members have been asked to lead some sessions according to our different talents. I’m not sure my bread-making skills count!

Thanksgiving to God for:

  • His favour on the young members of the Upendo arts club and their trainers and blessings from their sharing of the good news of Christ through song and dance
  • Hospitality of so many people at church and in their homes during my time in the UK

Pray for:

  • The farmers waiting to harvest their main crops, that weather conditions would be conducive
  • Wrapping up activities of the breastfeeding and neonatal nutrition projects and for opportunities to apply findings in practice
  • A joint meeting of the Upendo orphans’ and women’s group boards next month to update the memorandum of understanding

Thanks to all I met recently in the UK and apologies to those I didn’t have time to visit. Your support is amazing, thanks for continuing to pray.

Yours in Christ,

Alison

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