Day 7: Fun, finance and feeding (giraffes)

Final day of the CLEAR conference in Nairobi – time flies when you are having fun!

We started with wonderful worship from the Mozambique team playing our favourite tune, Alpha & Omega. The devotion was then given by Daniel from Uganda. Mhairi spoke about financial sustainability and there were strong group discussions within the country groups exploring this. After lunch we led worship, then Hannah gave an encouraging word. Mark led us in communion and we had a time of prayer for each country.

With the hard work over we ran off quickly to catch the giraffes at the Giraffe Centre which closed at 5pm. With classic Kenyan jams, we then made it just in time at 4.50pm to feed Daisy – a total beauty! One of the taxis was late and they missed Daisy! Cue some tears… but luckily with some giraffe whispering from Hannah, we got her back for a photoshoot and final feed!

We then had a relaxed  last dinner back at the guesthouse and everyone went to bed early to pack and prepare for the journey to Mombasa!

Advertisements

Day 6: CLEAR-ly in Kenya

Day 6 CLEAR 01
Having safely reached Nairobi, we were very much looking forward to meeting our CLEAR partners from Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Congo and Mozambique.

On Saturday morning, Keira led us in a devotion on Galatians 3:26-29 which emphasised that “we are all children of God through Christ” no matter which country we are from.

For the first session of the CLEAR conference Elsa talked about the roles and responsibilities of a trustee. Mark followed on from this with an engaging session about delegation.

After lunch, Arthur got us all moving with an icebreaker/dance/brand new exercise regime involving an imaginary ball and lots of hip action which cracked us all up!!!

Hannah then led us in an interactive session about the importance of financial health. This led on to some very fruitful discussions amongst our partners about innovative methods of raising funds…

 

Day 5: Goodbye Rwanda, Hello Kenya!

We said our goodbyes to Belinda and Kigali then headed off on an early flight down to Nairobi with a cheeky stopover in Burundi. There was a slight panic that some of the team wouldn’t make to the airport, with the check-in man telling Mark he was closing the check in! Thankfully the check-in man kept it open and the rest of the team made it just in time! (We’ve been told it wasn’t as tight as last year!) We arrived in Nairobi after our Ebola check, yellow fever check and then border control, where we almost lost two members of the team when they were asked to go back and fill in landing cards!

We were picked up by Patrick who drove us to the Biblica Guesthouse via a tour of some of the hot spots of Nairobi. With Elsa even spotting some Zebras- gutting for the rest of us who didn’t turn around in time!

We arrived to a warm welcome from Hannah joining the team from her solo Uganda trip. We met the rest of the Ugandan contingent and the squad from Mozambique, including Mark and Jane! We shared a late lunch then off for a walk and a coffee at Java (proper Kenyan Coffee) to stretch our legs. When we got back to the the hotel we shared dinner together with everyone heading off to bed already to rest ahead of the exciting weekend of the CLEAR conference!

Day 4: Importance of Family & the Law

The Pastor-Paralegal

Day 4 Community Education blog
After an early start at the football Pascal drove us a hour and a half into the countryside of Rwanda through the beautiful lush rolling hills – Rwanda has definitely earned its nickname of the  country of a thousand hills!

We went to the church of Pastor Donat, who is one of the community paralegals in Lawyers of Hope. In some villages people look to their pastors for answers to all aspects of life, including legal questions! Enter Pastor Donat, who has become one of the community paralegals so he is able to give his parishioners the appropriate advice.

We arrived and were warmly welcome to sit up the front to listen to Pastor Donat give a talk on the importance of family, marriage, birth registration, a child’s paternity and the legal consequences in succession if you are not married or your children have not been registered. (The legal consequences of which are dire if not in place leaving children and mothers homeless with no legal right to the home they were living in or inheritance from their husband/father.) Pastor Donat took questions from the congregation and was able to provide guidance to his parishioners with his answers.

We then heard from two couples who had been previously in a bad place with their relationships and God, but had worked hard with each other and now made a better life for themselves. It was clear they were so thankful for the help of Lawyers of Hope and Pastor Donat for the work they have done to help educate them in how to maintain a better family life. Mark then brought a powerful word of encouragement reiterating the importance of family. Pastor Donat closed the session in wonderful praise! We were sad to leave the beautiful community but it was so encouraging to see the amazing work of the community paralegals projects and how it is improving peoples lives and helping to provide much needed legal education!

Day 4 Community Education 2 blog

Success story

In the afternoon the team was welcomed into the home of one of Lawyers of Hope’s recent clients. A family of ten (mother, father, seven girls and one boy!) told of how hopeless they were when their land and home were sold without their permission or knowledge. With eviction imminent, the family approached many organisations for help, but none were able to assist.

The mother was recommended Lawyers of Hope and decided to visit, even though she felt defeated already. She was welcomed warmly by the team and assigned a lawyer that day. After much hard work, the case was decided in their favour and the family regained their land.

When we visited them in the very house they thought would be lost, they spoke of the goodness and faithfulness of God throughout their journey. The children sang us a song about how nothing would stop them praising Jesus, and their hospitality and joy as a family was extremely moving. The family are a living example of how Lawyers of Hope give dignity and a voice to the voiceless, and also a testimony of the goodness of God.

The team left feeling humbled and inspired by the message of this joyful family.

Fellowship

In the evening, we were invited to attend a Lawyers of Hope Fellowship Meeting with the paralegals, students, staff and board members we had met earlier in the week.

We were welcomed warmly and enjoyed songs from the choir, including Alpha and Omega and a lot of jumping! We then led some worship singing Amazing Grace and Bless the Lord. Emile encouraged us that whether we stand or jump around, all our worship glorifies God.

Mark brought the word and lead a devotion about how we are not just to imitate Christ, but also to think like him. We are to have that same humility as Christ did when he came to earth as a man and died on a cross.

After a challenging word, we were treated to some traditional Rwandan dancing and it wasn’t long before we were invited up to join. Belinda definitely won the prize for the most enthusiastic team member, whilst Mark couldn’t escape and hide behind the camera quickly enough!

The team were presented with gifts as a thank you for our time in Rwanda, and enjoyed a meal with LoH members cooked by the brilliant Solace Guesthouse chef, Jean-Marie. It was an amazing last evening in Rwanda and brought our time there to a close well. We left to pack feeling inspired, loved and eager to come back to our new family.

Day 3: Advocating for the vulnerable

Student scenarios

Belinda and Kiera led another session with students from three Rwandan universities on advocating for children and vulnerable people. Building on the lessons from the faith and law session, the participants learned how to serve as lawyers with excellence – whoever their clients may be. During practical workshops, the students came up with their own questions to ask in mock scenarios that would help children and vulnerable adults give their best evidence. During the breaks, the students talked about their passions and interests in law, including a future women’s rights advocate.

Whilst most of the students were totally engaged, Belinda’s talents as a teacher came to the fore as she made the noisy students sit front and centre!

Below: The team fresh-faced and ready for another day’s training.

Day 3 training

KEFA Academy

In the evening we visited the KEFA project, which works mainly with boys who are living on the streets of Kigali. The KEFA project uses football to reach these children; it runs football training sessions in the evenings after school to which boys and girls in the community come a few times a week. It also runs the KEFA academy, where around 16 boys live full time. These boys either do not have families, or are in conflict with their families and are not living with them. The staff at KEFA take care of the boys, as well as coaching the football sessions. Through their time at the academy the boys learn self-care, discipline, respect for others, time management, and also learn more about God and have opportunities to live out their faiths. The KEFA staff try where possible to facilitate reconciliations between the families and the boys, but where this is not possible the boys will stay at the academy all through their school years.

We were supposed to see the boys play football before joining them at the academy for the evening, but we got stuck in traffic waiting for the presidential motor cage to go past and a 25 minute journey took 1 hour and 40 minutes! So we went straight to the house to spend a couple of hours with the boys at the academy. We were given a tour of the boys rooms, and they showed us some of their drawings and told us about their daily routines. Then we all settled in the main room with a cup of ‘porridge’ (a thick, hot drink a bit like porridge but thinner and sweeter) while Keira shared a wonderful thought from the bible, and Belinda shared her testimony. We chatted to the boys for a while (one sang us a rap song he had written!) before heading home.

In the morning we got up extra early and managed to catch the boys’ 8am training session, as we had missed the one the night before! They were very impressive, with a lot of discipline and team spirit and a clear love of the sport.

Day 3 KEFA blog

Day 2: Equipping all generations

Day 2 student training
Above: The students 

Equipping… students

This morning Elsa, Gemma and Zara presented a talk on Faith and Law to around 50 Law students of various years from National University of Rwanda and the University of Kigali. The session started with a short devotion from Psalm 27 by Elsa. Kiera (Guitar), Gemma (voice) and Zara (Flute) finished the devotion by leading everyone in Be Thou My Vision. Gemma started the first part of the session discussing the connection between God and Law and how he cares about our careers. She then in particular the how God cares about justice. After a relaxing break on the Solace terrace we came back for the second part of the session discussing how as Christians we incorporate Justice into our studies and work. Highlighting the importance of God being at the centre of our work/ studies and how as Christians we instigate this in our workplaces and university. In doing this we talked about the importance of support from church, family and remembering to pray about our studies and work. There were some great questions from the students and we ended the session with a Kinyarwandan rendition of How Great Thou Art.

Equipping… lawyers

Around 60 members of the Rwandan Bar Association attended two days of training on Labour Law and Practice. Most were experienced lawyers, some were experienced in labour law, but most were looking to gain an understanding of labour law with a view to developing work in this area. The delegates included a former Permanent Secretary of State and member of the Law Reform Commission, a journalist turned lawyer who was involved in the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Over two days of interactive sessions Mark worked through Rwandan Labour Law, drawing lessons from UK and EU law, and identifying practical ways of developing labour law practice. Engagement by delegates was good. The group discussed legal policy, thorny topics such as terminating employment, and drawing on the experience of practitioners, sought to clarify provisions of new legislation. At one point Mark was able to answer a question about the theology of labour law.

The two-day session was a great opportunity to promote the work of Lawyers of Hope among Rwandan Lawyers and to show Christianity has implications for legal practice. The RBA expressed their appreciation for the work of LOH and the love shown by the LCF team. The RBA expressed their desire for future partnership with LCF and the RBA and the input of our lawyers including in the review of labour law.

Equipping… trustees

In the evening the LCF team and the board of the LOH had a chance to spend some time together, encouraging each other, hearing a little more about the challenges LOH are facing and considering the principles of running a Christian charity well.

Mark and Elsa shared some thoughts from their respective experiences of running the LCF as Executive Director and being a trustee, including some helpful thoughts on biblical delegation and management. There was a chance for questions and some good discussions the end.

We all had dinner together afterwards, and enjoyed getting to know each other in a more informal environment while stuffing ourselves with more of the incredible food from the Solace kitchen.

Below: Current LCF trustee Elsa and Executive Director Mark training the Lawyers of Hope Board 

Day 2 board meeting

Day 1: Training and testimonies

Legal Training

On Monday morning, Belinda and Kiera led a session with Lawyers of Hope staff and paralegals on how to take witness statements from vulnerable people. The participants found the training helpful for adapting questions to each client individually and being patient with them, especially if retelling traumatic events. It was encouraging to hear how these skills will be implemented in their future practice to better support vulnerable children.

Ntarama Genocide Memorial

In the afternoon, we visited Ntarama Genocide Memorial Centre. It is located on the site of a church where 5,000 Tutsi were killed during the Rwandan Genocide. One of the genocide survivors gave her account of the traumatic events that happened and the story of how she managed to escape. It was such a deeply moving testimony to hear.

Meeting the Prison Ministry Team

In the evening we met with the Lawyers of Hope Prison Ministry team. They are highly experienced lawyers who work to bring about justice for prisoners. We were very much intrigued by the variety of cases they encounter and the challenges that they face in their work. Later, we sat down to have dinner with the Prison Ministry team which we all thoroughly enjoyed.