Near to the source of the River Nile in Bugolo, Jinja is home to Shalom Uganda. The rich biodiversity and religious landscape help characterize this Shalom Zone as an interfaith and well-resourced ministry meeting the needs of impoverished families living in this fertile land.
Pastor Baamu Moses leads SHALOM, and his gratitude for how Shalom has begun to transform this community cannot be overstated, “Whatever [has occurred] has not happened because we are entitled to it, [but because of] the almighty God and the various people who have had a hand in all this,” Moses acknowledges. “All this” is a robust and dynamic ministry in east Africa.
Shalom Uganda began in 2010, when Pastor Moses first learned about SHALOM from Dr. Caroline Njuki, Assistant General Secretary to Africa at the General Board of Global Mission in New York City. Pastor Moses wanted to meet International Director Michael Christensen, and so he traveled by road from Uganda to Malawi, where Dr. Christensen was scheduled to meet with the Malawi Shalom Zone. “It was a challenging journey,” Moses confesses, “but I made it to and from by God’s Grace.”
Upon meeting Dr. Christensen and learning about the Malawi Zone, Moses was “impressed by the work and development initiatives [he] witnessed” there. He returned to Uganda and immediately established a committee to prepare its community for SHALOM’s global mission to build community and transform the world. In June 2011, Dr. Christensen journeyed to Uganda to conduct the community’s first SHALOM training.
More than 100 people traveled from near and far to attend this exciting event. These trainees were diverse culturally, religiously and socially, and Moses recalls, “were active and enthusiastic! It further motivated me and continued a source of encouragement for me.” (Editor's Note: Photo is of recent SHALOM Uganda Graduates Singing the SHALOM Anthem)
One year later, Moses traveled to New Jersey to complete his certification as a Regional Trainer, and in October 2012, represented Shalom Uganda at the SHALOM Summit in Los Angeles, California. “These opportunities, together with the additional guidance I received from Professor Michael and Dr. Caroline greatly enhanced my capacity and understanding of the Communities of Shalom
Since its inception, Shalom Uganda has had a meaningful influence in its communities. After Moses mobilized community leaders and educated them on SHALOM, three sites agreed to join together and support Shalom Uganda. “We selected agriculture, vocational skills and health” as our priorities, Moses explains, which address the particular economic and social challenges faced by people living in Bugolo, Jinja.
Shalom Uganda’s agriculture focus is the coffee initiative
—growing coffee as a source of income to improve the quality of life for coffee bean workers. Their goal is to plant and harvest 100,000 coffee bean trees, and reporting teams from the fields indicate approximately 20,000 are currently being harvested. Their high quality, organic coffee is marketed in local and international markets as Source of the Nile Shalom Coffee.”
Vocational skills are taught and improved through the tailoring program
, which targets women and youth in the community. Through a recent grant for sewing machine purchases, community members can learn this valuable and marketable job skill.
The final priority on health is addressing the HIV/AIDS pandemic. “The site is doing a tremendous job,” Moses reports. Community members are learning how to prevent the spread of HIV through training and counseling, and they are equipping others with skills to minister to those who are infected or affected by this disease.
In addition to acting on these three SHALOM priorities, Shalom Uganda aims to strengthen their sites. “We want to see more members recruited into the various sites and being actively involved in activities that will transform our community from poverty to prosperity, from individualistic to community approaches, and most importantly [move the community toward] unity in diversity” Moses says.
Shalom Uganda is well on its way!