Updated: Jul 19
Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time. It affects every aspect of life on earth, from the environment to the economy, from health to human rights. But not everyone is affected equally. The poorest and most vulnerable people in the world are the ones who suffer the most from the consequences of climate change, even though they have contributed the least to its causes.
This is especially true for the people of Rwanda and Uganda, the two countries where Christian Hope International works to sponsor children and fund community projects that alleviate poverty and spread the gospel. Rwanda and Uganda are both landlocked countries in East Africa, with a predominantly rural population that depends on agriculture for their livelihoods. They are also among the countries most vulnerable to climate change.
Climate change has already had devastating impacts on these countries, such as:
- Increased frequency and intensity of floods, landslides, and storms, which destroy crops, homes, infrastructure, and lives.
- Conversely, there has been an increase in droughts too, which can also lay waste to crops, affect hygiene, sanitation, and even lead to death of livestock and people.
- Rising temperatures and changing seasons, alter the patterns of pests and diseases, affecting both humans and animals.
- Loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services, which undermine the natural resources that sustain life and livelihoods.
These impacts have a disproportionate effect on the rural poor, who have limited access to resources, services, and opportunities to cope with and adapt to climate change. They also have a negative effect on the social and spiritual well-being of the people, who face increased stress, conflict, displacement, and hopelessness.
Meet Theophile, a 13 year old boy who lives in northern Rwanda. He is currently in our sponsorship programme and asked for prayer in a letter to his sponsor because he and his family had been left homeless after an unusually severe storm had damaged their home. Unfortunately, this is becoming less and less unusual these days and it seems that with each rainy season comes more news of homes, schools and churches destroyed.
As Christians, how can we sit by and ignore this reality? How can we turn a blind eye to the suffering of our brothers and sisters, who are made in God's image and loved by Him? How can we be indifferent to the injustice of a world where the rich exploit the resources and the poor pay the price? How can we be complacent about the corruption of God's creation?
Thankfully, Theo’s sponsor was in a position to help. She got in touch with the office and we subtly made inquiries as to what could be done so as not to raise hopes. Its surprising how a little can go a long way though and repairs were able to be made.
You can see how happy the family are to have their home back and not have to worry about the rains again.
We are all called to action. We are all called to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbours as ourselves. We are called to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and to make disciples of all nations. We are called to be good stewards of His creation.
This is why Christian Hope International exists. We work in partnership with local churches to show God’s love in practical ways. This looks different in each community because we need to meet each community where they are at, with the challenges that are facing them at a particular time and speak into that situation. If a community is suffering from drought and has nothing to eat and the pastor turns up empty handed and says “would you like to hear about Jesus”, the answer is likely to be “no I want some food and water for my children”. Christian Hope fund community projects that address people’s needs and opens conversations about the good news of Jesus Christ.
Involving the community from the start is vital. The pastor and the community form a group to decide what is best for them. We provided the funds through the Bishop’s office and our field assistant manages the delivery of the project using local tradespeople and with community participation. The community groups meet regularly with the local pastor to discuss the project, hear the Word, pray and sing God’s praises for how he is working in their lives. It is not just the Christians in these communities that are involved, but it is open to all and so it draws in many from different backgrounds and faiths. Through these projects we hear of many who develop lasting and transformative faith in Jesus.
Some of the projects we have supported that address some of the effects of climate change include:
- Providing water tanks and shallow wells so villages have a secure clean water source.
- Promoting sustainable agriculture practices such as mixed crops, rotation, natural fertilisers, providing seeds and livestock.
- Reforestation projects such as eucalyptus plantations that help stabilise hillsides and reduce flooding.
- Improving healthcare and nutrition services, such as malaria prevention programs, education on maternity and nutritional matters, and feeding programs.
Through these projects we aim to help those in most need to overcome poverty, the effects of climate change, and restore their dignity whilst transforming communities for God's glory.
But we cannot do this alone. We need your help. We need your prayers, your support, your involvement. We invite you to join us in this mission. Here are some ways you can get involved:
- Pray for us regularly. Pray for our staff, our partners, the communities they work in, our projects.
- Advocate for us. You can raise awareness about our work among your friends, family, church, social media and encourage others to join us.
- Donate to our projects. You can contribute to any of our projects or give a general donation that will be used where it is most needed.
Together we can make a difference. Together we can show God's love in action.