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DRC to Uganda - Pastor Thembo going the extra mile

If anyone doubted the transformative value of TWAM tools to local communities, they only need to read about some of the applicants' journeys to collect them. You never cease to be amazed when you see a truck fully loaded with tools heading not to the applicant's training centre but to the local bus station where somehow they will all be loaded into a minibus for the very long journey home.

Pastor Thembo collecting his tools from Entebbe

They're willing to make this journey because they all know how completely transformative the tools will be when they reach their destination.

Few travel further than Pastor Innocent Thembo. He travels 320 miles to Entebbe in Uganda from DR Congo to collect his tools. We send containers to Lubumbashi in DR Congo, but that is 1,200 miles away on extremely dangerous roads. He makes the long journey to Entebbe because he sees the poverty and despair of the people around him, and he desperately wants to help.

He provides assistance in the territories of Lubero and Beni, which have long suffered horrific atrocities by several militia groups. The violence is to such an extreme that we can not bear to think about it, let alone write about it here.

Such appalling and relentless cruelty has led to massive displacement of people. They often flee in just the clothes that they are wearing, forced to leave everything else behind. In response to this, Pastor Thembo started an agricultural project, giving people the opportunity to cultivate land and grow crops once they have found a safe place to stay. He provides chia seeds, a type of sage that grows very fast and can be harvested in just a few weeks. This has a two-fold benefit of providing both food and income in a short time.

Pastor Thembo with his latest shipment of TWAM tools

Pastor Thembo has developed a network of workers who visit the displaced communities, teach them about fast-growing crops, provide the seeds and TWAM tools that they need, and put them into contact with dealers who will buy their surplus crops.

But he knows that they cannot rely solely on agriculture forever. When the violence subsides, and people start to settle, he also helps with skills training and employment. He has received sewing machines, knitting machines, many carpentry and mechanics workshop kits, and a whole range of other kits and tools from TWAM. He prioritises youths and rural women and has already identified and made contact with other 37,000 people to offer them training.

He is now starting an export cooperative so that the farmers can pool their crops together and ensure that they get a good price. He is opening warehouses to safely store the crops from the weather and thieves.

TWAM tools are at the heart of this project and are one of the catalysts for its growth and success - that is why Pastor Thembo is willing to travel so far to collect them.


This story was featured in our Autumn 2021 edition of TWAM News, our quarterly newsletter which is full of more uplifting stories like this one.

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