In March Soul Action hosted a three day training course at the Belaire Suites Hotel in Durban. Nine individuals representing five churches and projects from Soul Action’s Greater Durban Network were joined by nine leaders from Malawi, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Uganda, for what proved to be a truly inspirational and transforming experience.
“This training has given me the courage to bring the community back together to dream again.” N.M. (Zimbabwe)
The word ‘Umoja’ is Swahili for ‘togetherness’. The course, represents an exciting and transformational initiative designed to envision Christians, and the communities they wish to serve with, to work together to bring about positive change.
“I’ve heard stories that have humbled me yet at the same time given life and perspective on serving God.” G.E. (South Africa)
Kenyan Francis Njoroge – who has over a decade’s worth of experience of implementing Umoja principles internationally – unpacked how to empower people to identify their own needs and tackle their own problems using their own resources.
Soul Action’s aim for the three days was to host practitioners involved in community development that saw the need to incorporate a more sustainable, ‘bottom-up’, community-driven approach to addressing poverty.
“I have become more confident of using the model to change lives, and as a guiding principle. The live examples, story sharing, and the tools, have all been instrumental and I feel it will help greatly. It was great training.” D.C. (Uganda)
The first stage of Umoja is about ‘Envisioning and equipping the church’ – identifying and working with a small group of people and helping them to understand their responsibility to serve with their local communities. A key element of this stage is to work with this small group to think about how some of their needs might be met with whatever resources they have, and in this way build up confidence in the Umoja process before taking it to the wider community.
Umoja represents an exciting opportunity to see poverty addressed by empowering and involving the people that it affects most. The Umoja process recognises that all people have strengths, expertise, gifts and resources, and by working together they can find their own solutions to their problems.
“…our communities have grown in recognition that they are the experts, they are the masters of their destiny in that God has given them special gifts and talents that they learn from each others experiences and build on them.” T.M. (Malawi)
Soul Action believes that Umoja represents a real opportunity to see poverty in Durban addressed by the people who are living with the affects of it daily.
“I feel empowered to walk, work and learn from the
communities” J.D. (South Africa)