Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Let us Pry

Let us Pry

Our bishops have done it again – meddled in politics! They had the temerity to call for a ‘fresh moral vision’ and described ‘a deep contradiction in the attitudes of a society which celebrates equality in principle yet treats some people, especially the poor and vulnerable, as unwanted, unvalued and unnoticed.’

Almost on cue, two of our most senior politicians, neatly balanced between the two main parties, have shown just how entitled they believe they are by falling for that oldest of political traps – succumbing to greed. Their toe-curling attempts to screw money out of a fictitious Chinese company in return for ‘under the radar’ assistance and ‘access to every ambassador in London’ can only serve to deepen the growing mistrust we have in them all.

Which is a shame, because there are examples of selfless and long-term service to constituency and country on both sides of the chamber. But what can the average worker on £24,000 a year, let alone the minimum wage recipient on £13,520, think when he sees someone already on £67,000 claiming between £5,000 and £8,000 for half a day’s work?

That puts Jack Straw’s and Malcolm Rifkind’s worth at some £7,000 an hour, which would cover the expenses of more than a thousand minimum wage earners. And they aren’t even sorry! Except for being caught out, of course.

Many newspapers have criticised our bishops for re-stating the case for moral values. ‘Let us pry’ one of them used as a headline, implying that Christians can have nothing to say about the way our country is run. Well, let’s take it as a legitimate slogan. If Channel 4 can pry, so can we. Go Justin! 

Bill Jones

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Mugumu Safe House

'This is the most challenging programme of my twenty years of ministry as a bishop'. These words were spoken by Bishop Hilkiah about a Safe House in Mugumu which lies at the very tip of the southeast region of his diocese. Populated by a tribe, the Kuria, who still practise the abominable act of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM),  the safe house and associated programmes, provide support for girls fleeing their homes, and their families, to escape the horror of this brutality.

Opening its doors on the 6th December 2014 before the biannual 'season of cutting' the house was built to provide room for 40 girls but in the end 134 girls made their way there. Some arrived beaten and injured, many only with the clothes they wore, all terrified and alone. It is estimated that in the Mugumu region alone 500+ girls were not so fortunate. 

FGM is illegal. Mara diocese is working with the government with the financial support from the Britain Tanzanian Development Trust, also a hefty donation from the United States, and a contributions by WYAD, and has worked hard through its educational programmes to combat this practise by raising awareness of the Safe House through educating the tribal leaders, families and the girls. 

"My life has future", one young girl at the Safe House remarked, "I am learning new skills: computing, tailoring and cooking". The project is committed to vocational training so that the young women are given opportunities and a new life is made possible. Many will remain at Mugumu and receive an education not afforded to them before but many will return home reconciled to families through the intervention and mediation of the project workers. 

Mama Rhobi, herself a victim of FGM and the inspirational founder of this project, recognises the challenges of what thy have started and the dangers it poses, "Deeply held traditions are being confronted and cultural changes made. This but the beginning". 

Bishop Hilkiah also reflected "We are seeing the devil in these evil practises and we must fight this evil".

Maggie McLean
Photograph with permission of the staff and residents of Mugumu Safe House