2018 Gathering Report

Quaker Africa Interest Group

Notes of the meeting held on 3 February 2018
Priory Rooms, Bull Street Meeting House, Birmingham

‘How do we present ourselves/come across as British Quakers meeting and working with Africans (Quakers or not)’

 

Those attending

Chris Sewell, Abingdon (Money for Madagascar)
Theresa Hayne, Lampeter
Steve Kaim Caudle, Watford (Forward Africa – Rwanda)
Marian Liebmann, Redland (Uganda)
Gretchen Castle (General Secretary, FWCC)
Catherine Putz, Hebden Bridge (Quaker Congo Partnership)
Nigel Watt, Forest Hill
Alick Munro, Kingston (Quaker World Relations Committee)
Bal Seine, Bull St
Diana Jeater, Liverpool (Zimbabwe – also 2018 Salter Lecturer)
Kendall Clark, Leicester
Hazel Shellens, Huntingdon (Child Rescue, Kenya)
Brian Osborne, St Neots (Education in Africa – Gambia, Senegal, Zambia)
David Bale, St Neots (Kigali, Kenya – linking Meetings across traditions)
David Jones, Milton Keynes (SAYM, Harare, Zimbabwe)
Colin Bartlett, Milton Keynes (SAYM, Harare, Zimbabwe)
Christine Hapgood Coote, Lewes (Green Olive)
Bronwyn Harwood, Lewes (Green Olive)
Deanna Owen, Bridgend (Friends of Monze)
Janet Adetunji (Quaker Peace Network)
John Lampen, Stourbridge (Western Uganda – Hope Project)
Martin Wilkinson, Muswell Hill (QPS – effects of inequality)
Tobi Wellner (QPSW E Africa programme)
Martin Layton, Worcestershire and Shropshire (Woodbrooke – W on the Road, Kenya)
Jessica Bishop, East Barnet and Johannesburg (Friends of Hlekweni, Zimbabwe)
Margot Lunnon, Hexham (African Great Lakes Peace Trust)
Colin Bartlett, Milton Keynes (SAYM, Harare, Zimbabwe) – secretary
Ann Floyd, Jordans (QWRC, QPSW Overseas Peacebuilding Committee) – co- clerk
Lee Taylor, Milton Keynes (QWRC, Friends of Hlekweni) – co-clerk

Prevented – presented apologies

Robin Baker, Petronella Clark, Dorothy Crowther, Nancy Fee, Vernon Gibberd,
John Gibbs, Margaret Gregory, Nick Jewitt, Eoin McCarthy, Ray Mgadzah, Roger Moore, Margaret Moss, Alan Quilley, David Pulford, Carole Rakodi, Janet Rothery, Cherry Stainforth ,Martin Struthmann, Roger Sturge, Richard Vesey

 

Our day began and ended with worship.
Participants briefly introduced themselves, and their interests in work in Africa.

 

Quaker world family and BYM perspectives on the theme

1. Seeking integrity: addressing Historical injustice and privilege … a beginning

View/Download PowerPoint here

Gretchen Castle, General Secretary, FWCC S spoke about the genesis of the March 2017 FWCC Central Executive Committee minute that addresses issues of privilege and historical injustice:

CEC 17-19. Issues of privilege and historical injustice. We have taken up a concern raised by several Friends for how FWCC’s work in every part of the globe is affected by a history of colonialism and inequality, and by media distortions that influence perceptions of people in other parts of the world. Too often, Friends in wealthier countries only see images of people elsewhere in situations of poverty, misery, and need, while Friends in poorer countries see media images as if all people in wealthier countries were prosperous and successful. We too often hurt each other by assumptions we make, stories we tell, misunderstandings, favouritism, and superficial relationships. Even as we commit to forgiveness, it is difficult to forget or undo long-standing injustices and slights.
We recognize that a key part of FWCC’s work is to overcome these historical patterns, and to foster and model authentic relationships of equality and mutuality. That requires a willingness to name destructive patterns as they occur, to recognize when we have made mistakes, and to ask for and offer genuine forgiveness. When we know each other more fully, in our homes, families, and meetings, we can better understand the full person, not just the cosmetics or stereotypes. Much work has been done in this regard over the past decades, but more remains to be done.
We thank the Friends who brought these concerns forward, and thank the clerking team for making the time for these important conversations. We thank God for challenging us, and allowing us to see our failings. We pray for guidance as we move forward, with the intention of building a world Quaker community that is loving and equal.

How is this being taken forward? FWCC plans to create a Study Booklet, with writers from many countries and experiences, and to foster local dialogue, with increasingly larger circles, in the lead up to the 2023 World Gathering.

Friends indicated a strong wish to be kept informed about this; Diana Jeater said that the 2018 Salter Lecture will resonate with the issues (nb: the title is Bearing witness or bearing whiteness). This will take place at 1230 on Friday 3 May at Friends House, before BYM.

 

2. Esther Mombo

We heard a strong voice from Esther Mombo, Kenya, the co-author of the 2016 Swarthmore Lecture (with Cecile Nyiramana, Rwanda) in an extract from the Lecture about the need for work by those from outside Africa being grounded firmly in local needs, and involving Africans at all levels.
The DVD of the lecture was sent to all Local Meetings.; it is also available in book form, and online (https://soundcloud.com/swarthmorelecture)

 

3. QPSW work in East Africa: six things that we can learn from African Peacebuilders about movement building

View/Download PowerPoint here

Tobi Wellner, the Programme Manager for the East Africa work outlined the Turning the Tide programme in Kenya, Burundi and Rwanda, which helps communities to address conflict non-violently through training, helping analyse local problems, accompaniment and helping build sustainable peace through addressing drivers of conflict and mediation. He illustrated this with two programmes in Rwanda: addressing corruption on a local level (‘the return the cow’ story) and facing culture violence against women and children through working with family conflicts.

Tobi picked out six things that we can learn from African peacebuilders:

1. Your heart has to be with it. Change starts at a personal level
2. Analyse the context you work in.
3. Work as part of a team. Identify, appreciate and use the different skills of each team member.
4. Urge others to act.
5. Start small and work your way up.
6. ‘the plan is to change the plan’ – remain flexible!

See: www.quaker.org.uk/our-work/our-stories

 

Quaker World Relations Committee work

Ann Floyd updated the group on the work of BYM’s QWRC.

View/Download PowerPoint here

She reminded us of QWRC’s twofold remit: to enrich understanding between BYM and Friends worldwide and to Engage Quakers in Britain on Quaker issues and concerns around the globe.

Since the last QAIG meeting, QWRC has:

• Continued with the QWRC network
• Held the second Forum, bringing together reps of BYM committees with international aspects to their work: theme liberal Quakerism and the wider world
• Represented British Friends at the annual EMES meeting in Bonn
• Worked to strengthen the international dimension at YMG 2017 through inviting four international Friends, including two from Africa Section: Cecile Nyiramana from Rwanda and Thuli Mbete from South Africa
• With FWCC, appointed Susanna Mattingly as Sustainability Communications Officer, based in FWCC

Ongoing and planned work include:

• Continuing and strengthening the QWRC network
• Holding the third Forum, bringing together reps of BYM committees with international aspects to their work: the theme will be intervisitation
• Representing British Friends at the annual EMES meeting, Bergen, Norway 21-24 June (all are welcome )
• Strengthening links with the world family, with particular emphasis on one of the three other sections each year
• Strengthening intervisitation, both International Friends visiting British Friends and British Friends visiting International Friends
• Welcoming FWCC’s Central Executive Committee to YM, including Bainito Wamalwa (Clerk Africa Section), and also Hannington Muchera, AFSC, Africa
• Enabling more British Friends to represent us at international gatherings, capturing the resulting learning and information and developing good briefing materials for visits in both directions, drawing on this experience

 

Presentations

Green Olive Trust (Kenya) – http://greenolivetrust.co.uk

Bronwyn Harwood talked about the Green Olive Trust, which mainly supports children with potential from the Kakamega District in Kenya to go to secondary school. She outlined the achievements, and the challenges – see Appendix 1 for a full report.

Among the challenges are:

• Our remoteness: how to build better links without spending too high a portion of income on travel?

• Managing expectations;

• Improving governance and communications;

• Financial accountability: helping our Kenyan colleagues to set up a system of recording which works for them and for us?

• Policies in place on Reserves, Risk-Taking and being worked on in relation to Safeguarding. How do we best ensure shared understanding and commitment with Kenyan colleagues?

• Further work is still needed to ensure a mutual understanding of student selection and that the agreed policy is adhered to;

• Ensuring good succession planning at both ends

Bronwyn offered us two challenging flip chart records of ‘how Green Olive is perceived by the Kenyans we work with’ and ‘how the Kenyans Green Olive works with are perceived by Green Olive’ which strongly addressed our theme, and struck a chord with many.

 

Woodbrooke on the Road visit to Kenya

View/Download PowerPoint here

Martin Layton spoke about the Woodbrooke on the Road visit to Kenya in November 2017. Woodbrooke’s mission includes ‘fostering a vital Friends’ community’; Woodbrooke is committed to extending its international reach.
Friends Church Kenya and the FUM African Ministries Office has approached Woodbrooke to work in partnership with them, to share joint understandings and experience of Quaker roles, processes and leadership.
Four tutors undertook twelve workshops in five days with leaders from nineteen YMs! They focussed on Christian Faith and Practice – how well is it known and faithfully applied?
Martin quoted Jasmine Piercey on working with others: ‘you don’t do anything unless you are asked’
He also noted that those of us in BYM should not ‘think yourself a fount of all knowledge just because you are from BYM’.

 

Peace Centre, Cape Town

A statement was read out from Carole Rakodi (formerly clerk of the CEAM fundraising committee for the Peace Centre) about the current status of the Peace Centre, Cape Town:

– the Peace Centre Cape Town is in a period of change in a country which continues to have huge issues of inequality and violence;
– all the staff were made redundant in Dec 2017;
– SAYM Quakers are in close discussion with the Peace Centre Board, having decided at the YM to ask that ‘Quaker’ is removed from the Peace Centre’s title largely because it is accountable to its own Board (some of whom are Quakers) rather than the Society of Friends in Southern Africa as a whole;
– the planned future focus for the Peace Centre is advocacy at the national level and working with like-minded NGOs and community groups at the local level in Cape Town
– Central England AM had laid down its fundraising efforts in 2016 after two trienniums and after failing to find a successor elsewhere in the YM willing to take on the work, and is in close dialogue with SAYM and the Peace Centre about the future, including the remaining funds held in the UK

 

Discussion topics in two groups

1. Quaker charities working in Africa: common threads? challenges? opportunities for collaboration? Becoming a Quaker Recognised Body?

The group was keen to share !

Issues raised in going round the table included:

• Selecting local partners/projects;
• Managing one’s own organization and its costs;
• Coming under the Quaker umbrella (Quaker Recognised Body);
• Misunderstandings;
• Relation of peacebuilding to development work;
• Vocational/entrepreneurial education;
• Difficulties around electronic communication;
• UK-based groups sharing fundraising information;
• Potential funding sources, including QPSW Grants, EU-AU joint funding and the Pollard and Dickson travel grants for individuals ‘travelling in the ministry’/intervisiting ;
• Trusteeship – finding new Trustees with experience in Africa, willing to travel;
• Our partners’ financial procedures and our need for transparency and accountability.

Matters explored:

i. Our attention was drawn to a new European Union/African Union initiative focusing on youth and unemployment. It will have large funds to disperse, but there could be hurdles in the way of small groups applying for support;
ii. There can be problems with the ways our partners record (or fail to record) information that is needed for financial transparency and accountability to our own donors. (This can sometimes look like a clash in which we are trying to impose our culture on theirs.) We need to explain our own needs very clearly to them and hear their own needs and difficulties. A memorandum of understanding is very helpful, but it needs to be talked through in detail, not dictated. We may also need to design specific procedures and proformas with them, which are easy for them to complete but meet our needs. We should be careful not to assume a level of expertise (for example in book-keeping) which may not be there unless training is provided.
iii. What are the advantages in becoming a Quaker Recognised Body (QRB)? Could it help us create better links with each other in order to learn more? Could we co-operate in matters like fund-raising? Would a group whose African partners do not have Quaker connections apart from their partner be acceptable as a QRB?

We agreed that we would like a meeting to be arranged at Friends’ House on why and how to become a QRB, with Michael Booth requested to attend to advise. Other issues raised could be added to the agenda.
Lee Taylor, Steve Kaim Caudle and Margot Lunnon agreed to arrange this, probably in the autumn.

 

2. The possibilities for more inter-visitation between British and African Friends

The group shared stories of inter visitation with F/friends in Africa, noting the tremendous hospitality often received there – do we offer the same welcome in BYM? Amongst the thoughts shared were: the importance of flexibility when travelling (‘be ready for anything’) and for us to understand the centrality of the Bible to Quakers particularly around the Great Lakes. We should be striving for mutual respect, and more understanding about all Quakers coming from the same spiritual place even if there are significant particular ongoing issues, notably on same sex relationships. In BYM, we might wish to look to Friends in Africa for spiritual leadership in some ways.
The importance of staying in contact with F/friends visited was stressed.

 

Application to be a Quaker Recognised Body

It was agreed to go ahead with the application to be a Quaker Recognised Body of BYM. Lee Taylor and Ann Floyd will progress this.

 

Evaluation

What was liked

• Inspirational to hear of the work being done
• Useful to know more about the challenges
• Practical knowledge sharing
• Engaging with/reflecting on a challenging theme
• Strong African voice through Esther Mombo audio
• QPSW presence

Could do better

• More young Friends? involve /check with Chris Venables? YFGM? Bursaries?
• More time in discussion groups
• More physical space – room a bit cramped (George Fox better)
• Smaller discussion groups? 3-4?
• Car park and access not easy
• Clarity about the expected financial contribution

Ideas to pursue

• Can we Skype others in?
• A youth theme for 2019?

 

Data Protection

It was agreed to share emails of those there, and to work on DP compliance before May 2018: this means that everyone wishing to remain on the mailing list has to give active permission for this to happen.

 

Financial report

Colin Bartlett reported that QAIG has a small surplus to carry over – see Appendix 2. Friends were thanked for covering the higher than expected cost of the administrative costs (ads/venue) and refreshments. A realistic cost for future events is £15 per person, depending on the venue.

 

2018 QAIG – Saturday 2 February 2018

The venue will be confirmed: either the Priory Rooms, Birmingham, or Friends House, London. As usual, following discussion of possibilities for other venues, it was decided to hold QAIG close to a central transport hub.

 

L T
March 2018

 

Appendices

 

[Appendix One has been removed by request]

Appendix Two: QAIG Finances

 

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