It's been a busy few weeks, as ever, here at A Way Out in Stockton. With Autumn now here and Christmas just around the corner we have plenty to keep us busy in terms of the services we provide and the people we exist to serve.
Food poverty remains a high priority in our hearts and for our agendas, as families begin to make the difficult choice now between heating and eating. Our Food Plus and communities team work tirelessly to help those most in need. Email email@example.com for more information on how to donate food or how to volunteer in the community hubs.
For those of you who are organised enough to be thinking about Christmas shopping, December will bring a chance for you to help us through an initiative called www.thebiggive.org.uk .
Any money donated online, through this website, on December 5,6 and 7 will be doubled! Your £5 gift will be doubled to £10, and even larger gifts of thousands will multiplied as well. This is an opportunity too good to miss.
Sign up to our Twitter (@awayoutcharity), Facebook (A Way Out Charity) and Instagram (@awayoutcharity) sites for more information on this, and all our news, and spread the word!
|Lindsay with Emily, the social worker |
from Spurgeon's Academy, Kibera
Out of AfricaMother Teresa once said: "Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work."
And with that in mind, A Way Out, realised a dream this week as we completed our first global venture, taking part in a two-week mission trip to Uganda and Kenya.
Invited to join the team, to help deliver sessions to women, a group of 13 people left from Teesside on October 10, returning on the 26th.
Representing A Way Out was Lindsay Bruce. Part of our fundraising and church engagement team, as well as being a pastor, Lindsay's role on the mission team was to deliver the Shine course and help with youth and children's work.
A value-based, empowerment programme it teaches three key concepts of worth, strength and purpose. Over the two weeks, more than 100 women from the Kampala slum community and around 50 from Kibera in Kenya took part in the course. With a further 250 in a women's prison in Uganda also benefiting from the teaching. The course was also taught to key women in local churches, and with teachers and social workers.
|Shine - Uganda|
Lindsay said: "One of the most powerful elements of the Shine programme is when we introduce hand massage. "
This seemingly insignificant process actually carries huge meaning. Used firstly as an illustration to depict that hands can be used for good, or harm, the massage begins with positive touch.
"Please remember the context of the woman from the slum streets of Kampala and Kibera," Lindsay added. "Almost all of these women will feel like they occupy the lowest level of society. Many will have a positive HIV status, many will be widows, many will have been abandoned by their husbands, many will have lost multiple children to disease and infection, many will have been raped or abused routinely. Without exception, the message that these precious women are of equal worth and value to all other women, was life changing.
"Countless testimonies of feeling less, feeling insignificant, feeling like they have no worth at all, were replaced by smiles, heads held high and new statements of, 'I have worth', 'I am made to Shine.'"
The massage is also carried out woman to woman, to encourage these beautiful sisters to look after one another as a Sisterhood. But on two occasions Lindsay was moved to tears.
|Lindsay with the Power Women in Kibera, a cooperative of |
women with HIV working together to help each other
She said: "One was when Sophia, dying of HIV, and mum to two young sons, refused to give over her hand in case she passed on her disease.
"That wasn't the moment to talk education or the ins and outs of HIV, but it was the moment to take her hand, and rub in expensive beautiful cream, and to reassure her that she is precious, valuable and significant.
"The other was inside the walls of Luzira women's prison. Dressed in pink, so I knew she was branded as 'condemned to death', one beautiful, elderly lady sat against the back wall. When the hand massage began she neither asked for cream nor lifted her hand to be touched. Instead she turned away.
"When I moved towards her and asked why, she said, 'No. Not me.' Taking her hand in mine, I began to rub the cream all over. She cried, I cried. It was more than a moment of rubbing someone's hands. It was about placing value on someone who felt unworthy, but who actually carries the same value as me and any other."
There are countless other stories that go with this trip as we took our message of Love, Hope and Freedom over international borders. Watch this space for more snippets over the next few weeks.
· Please check out www.thebiggive.org.uk and let others know that an early Christmas present given this way could change lives for the year to come!
· Follow us on social media, and visit our website www.awayout.co.uk for more news and information.