2019 Gathering Report

Quaker Africa Interest Group (QAIG)

Priory Rooms, Birmingham, 26 January 2019 Notes

Those Attending:

Lee Taylor (co-clerk), Milton Keynes Quaker (Friends of Hlekweni, Zimbabwe)
Ann Floyd (co-clerk), Jordans (QWRC)
Colin Bartlett (secretary), Milton Keynes (Friends of Hlekweni, Zimbabwe)
David Bale, St Neots (Kitale, Kenya – linking Meetings across traditions)
Kendall Clarke, Leicester
Alison Crane, Cheltenham (Aniga Women’s Initiative, Kenya)
Dorothy Crowther, (Dorothy Peace Centre, Sierra Leone, Quaker Peace Network, Africa)
Nancy Fee, Pretoria (Southern Africa Yearly Meeting)
Margaret Gregory (Quaker Congo Partnership)
Theresa Haine, Lampeter (Dabane Trust)
Bronwyn Harwood, Lewes (Green Olive Trust, Kenya)
David Jones, Milton Keynes (Friends of Hlekweni, Zimbabwe)
Steve Kaim Caudle, Watford (Forward Africa – Rwanda)
Abdul Kamara (Dorothy Peace Centre, Sierra Leone, Quaker Peace Network, Africa)
Marian Liebmann, Redland (Rwanda)
Stuart and Wilhelmina Morton (Namibia)
Alick Munro, Kingston (Quaker Congo Partnership)
Brian Osborne, St Neots (Education in Africa – Gambia, Senegal, Zambia)
Deana Owen, Bridgend (Friends of Monze, Zambia)
Bal Saini, Birmingham Bull St
Hazel Shellens, Huntingdon (Child Rescue, Kenya)
Tobi Wellner, BYM (QPSW E.Africa Programme)

Prevented – presented apologies:

Rosemary Andoh (Ghana)
Jessica Bishop, Barnet (Friends of Hlekweni, Zimbabwe)
Gretchen Castle, FWCC
Elizabeth Cave (Africa Great Lakes Peace Trust)
Petronella Clarke
Margaret Clarke (Kenya)
Christine Hapgood Coote, Lewes (Green Olive Trust, Kenya)
Teresa Holland, Chesterfield (South Africa)
Diana Jeater, Liverpool (Zimbabwe)
Nick Jewitt (Kenya, Uganda)
John Lampen, Stourbridge (Western Uganda – Hope Project)
Margot Lunnon, Hexham (Africa Great Lakes Peace Trust)
Susanna Mattingly, FWCC (Sustainability and Communications Coordinator)
Brian Morphy
Margaret Moss (Kenya, Zimbabwe)
Catherine Putz, Hebden Bridge (Quaker Congo Partnership)
Alan Quilley
Carol Rakodi, Edgbaston (Peace Centre, Capetown, South Africa)
Robert Stocks (Swaziland-Gigi’s Place and Kitchen (HIV AIDS orphans))
Roger Sturge, Bristol (Kenya)
Nigel Walker
Gwen Prince
Paul Lynch (Uganda, Malawi, research into childhood development and disability)

We started with worship, and moved on to brief introductions – our name, Local and Area Meeting and connection(s) with Quaker work in Africa.

Report back on progress since the last Network meeting

1. QAIG is now a Quaker Recognised Body (QRB) of Britain Yearly Meeting, with Tobi Wellner as our link person.

It was reported that it is a straightforward process, with the main advantage for groups being that Britain Yearly Meeting recognises the group as an authentic Quaker body and this can support “brand recognition”. Meeting for Sufferings makes the decision.
From 2020, only QRBs can ask for BYM Special Interest Group slots or a table at Groups.
A document of guidance for QRBs is being prepared.

Tobi can provide ‘signposting’ to existing resources, Friends House staff who may be able to give advice and/or act as sounding boards for new ideas and /or dilemmas.
The Quaker Africa charities meeting asked Michael Booth to consider training or informative sessions for QRBs on, for example fundraising, safeguarding in the context of our type of work, and the preparation, support and return debriefing of overseas volunteers.
Michael commented on points for charities confronting a crisis – see Appendix 1

2. The Quaker charities networking day held in October 2018 at Watford Meeting

This was a useful smaller event, appreciated by those who attended, informative and lively. The notes have been made available to the whole Network.
There were two presentations: getting a Quaker charity up and running, and some issues down the line for an established charity,
with two afternoon discussion groups on:

  • Trustee responsibilities
  • Fundraising

Another day has now been arranged for Thurs 7 Nov 2019 at Watford MH.

3. QAIG Finance

Colin Bartlett reported on the funds held in 2018, expenditure and the cost of the Network day; we have been asked to donate a minimum of £15 (or less if no lunch ordered) to cover costs. The network continues to work on a shoestring, covering costs – see QAIG Finance Report Jan 2019

Introduction to the theme: Sustainability – climate change and capacity

The day planned to approach ‘sustainability’ in two ways:
– right ordering of world resources/climate justice
– organizational sustainability, particularly in terms of capacity building

FWCC and BYM – updates and links to the theme of Sustainability:

Friends World Committee for Consultation
We viewed two videos :

1. Susanna Mattingly, Sustainability and Communications Coordinator, FWCC in dialogue with Gretchen Castle, General Secretary, FWCC on the the work of FWCC, the principles underpinning FWCC’s work on sustainability (notably the Kabarak Call for Peace and Ecojustice, and the Pisac minute), and Susanna’s recent experience at COP 24 in Poland on behalf of Quakers, alongside Lindsey Fielder Cook, QUNO;

2. Friends from the Philippines and Kenya reflecting on the questions:

a. What are your experiences of how climate change is impacting people in Africa?
b. How much are those you work with in Africa concerned with climate change issues?
c. What are the main spiritual challenges you encounter around sustainability?
d. Where do you find joy in your sustainability journey?
e. How does your Quaker faith inspire you to take action on climate change?

We were encouraged to share any stories we have/know about of thinking about/working on sustainability in Africa.

Quaker Peace and Social Witness work in East Africa

Tobi Wellner, QPSW Programme Manager, talked about sustainability of projects, in the light of the East Africa centrally managed work
– see QAIG 2019 sustainability (Powerpoint required to view)

He interrogated the term ‘sustainability’ in terms of:
– Different projects;
– The British Quaker organisation;
– The partner/s’ organisation?
– The approach(es) taken.

Tobi had asked the East Africa Turning the Tide partners for their comments, and the key elements that came out were:
• Authentic partnership
• Community ownership
• Going with the energy/starting small

He asked: how then can QPSW support this?

An update on Quaker World Relations Committee work

Ann Floyd, Clerk to BYM’s Quaker World Relations Committee gave an update on its work since her report at QAIG 2018 – see QWRC for QAIG 2019
She reminded QAIG about the QWRC remit:
Enriching understanding between BYM and Friends worldwide
Engaging Quakers in Britain on Quaker issues and concerns around the globe
She talked about QWRC’s work in 2018, and plans for 2019 and beyond, including intervisitation plans.

FWCC World Gathering planned for Durban, SA 2023

Nancy Fee, Clerk to Pretoria Meeting, Southern Africa YM, gave an update on the plans for the FWCC World Gathering provisionally planned for June/July 2023, Durban, hosted by SAYM.

• The theme will be discerned by the FWCC Central Executive Committee at its meeting in Toronto in June 2019;
• Likely to be 800 – 1000 people;
• first meeting of the Local Arrangements Committee at Southern Africa Yearly Meeting (SAYM) in April 2019;
• SAYM keen to have a strong African/Southern Africa input, involving all 8 countries that form SAYM;
• SAYM is unprogrammed Qs – but plenty of singing!
• All will be welcomed, and invited in due course;
• SAYM – and FWCC World Office– are small, so will be looking to Friends for assistance and support;
There was a query whether KiSwahili would be one of the languages used. (Nancy to confirm)

Other reports
1. Margaret Gregory has provided an update on the Election Monitoring in the Democratic Republic Congo – see Election Report;

2. Carole Rakodi has provided an update report on the Peace Centre, Cape Town
see Update Cape Town Peace Centre 2019. Nancy Fee mentioned that Peace Centre Cape Town members had been invited to SAYM in April 2019 to continue the dialogue on their work;

3. David Albert, Friendly Water for the World (https://friendlywater.net) has invited offers of partnership/working together to Quaker charities working in sub-Saharan Africa.

Project presentation

Marian Liebmann spoke about her work on restorative justice in Uganda – see the Powerpoint presentation Restorative Justice. She gave background on the principles and process of restorative justice, outlined 3 projects, and offered some thoughts about achievements and pitfalls.

Lunch provided an opportunity to network and look at information

Discussion topics in two groups

1. Capacity building, facilitated by Tobi Wellner

a. What does capacity building mean to you?

• Ability/capacity to do things
• Local partners translating/technical capacity to do what is necessary
• Partners should be able to identify needs and real purpose, including analysis,          planning, management, implementation
• Partners should bring skills in governance and accountability to the community
• A key stone of community work is the ‘11th Commandment’: development is a two way process
• Capacity building is a key issue for fundraising
• We should be development partners, not donors to communities
• Example of Quaker work in Sierra Leone: establishment of a college, but BYM QPSW critical of funding request, re needing much greater detail at the planning stage
• Project account: essential to get project accounting and finances in good order, “right ordering”
• Tensions between what the community wants, and the demands of paperwork/external donors

Key Capacities and Skills

• Concentrate on areas where capacity is weak
• Importance of inspirational leaders to a movement (empowerment?)
• Accountability and accounts/financials
• Election monitoring in Uganda: money spent on activities but poor accounting.
Use of daily accounting app.
• Capacity building: training, skill development as a positive and upward development
• Negative mind set: rather, focus on skill enhancement
• Congo Partnership water supply issues: women not much involved in management, despite carrying the water. Women wanted a focus on literacy needs. Project sustainability: small water change to families, to ensure funds for repairs and maintenance

b. Who builds capacity?

• QAIG: we should undertake skill mapping among ourselves, so skills can be shared and further developed
• Skills need to be developed locally, local skill empowerment
• Cooperatives have a role
• Capacity building…. for what, exactly?
• Local partners, well connected into local development, CSO networks
• Infrastructure not there in Africa to meet the (UK) Charity Commission Requirements
• Essential that trust be built and maintained between the UK and African groups in the project.

2. Climate change: facilitated by Lee Taylor

We used a process called ‘concentric circle discussion’ to consider the following questions:

a. What are your experiences of how climate change is impacting people in Africa?
b. How much are those you work with in Africa concerned with climate change issues?
c. What are the main spiritual challenges you encounter around sustainability?
d. Where do you find joy in your sustainability journey?
e. How does your Quaker faith inspire you to take action on climate change?
f. What can we, as British Friends living in a high emitting country, do to help achieve the changes needed?
g. How can QAIG help to achieve the changes needed?

Worship sharing

In worship sharing, the following ministries were shared:

• What joy can we find in our own experience of grappling with sustainability? Early Quakers found joy in tough matters;
• One of the best things we can do is to develop the capacity to listen, to influence, to change;
• Our collective effort to change could be described as mystical or magical;
• Thanks for the ways Quakers are bearing witness (in Africa) – perhaps more obvious in this kind of network than in our local Meetings;
• Useful to think about sustainability on a global/bigger level, whilst also grappling with it on a local/personal level;
• Quaker Congo Partnership has found the network a valuable place for sharing rather than ‘searching for answers in a vacuum’, although noting that one group’s way may not be someone else’s. The huge amount of involvement and work from small groups all around the country is impressive;
• Deep appreciation of the skills and wisdom of those in the room – albeit still many questions to confront/answer;
• The network is helpful in clarifying ways to think about matters such as sustainability and capacity building;
• The question: ‘how does our Quaker faith inspire me/us to…’ – possibly it’s more of a sense of being nudged as A&Q 1 suggests. Ludwig’s comments in the video underpinned this;
• Lucy Duncan, AFSC, always comments that people doing humanitarian work need a lot of support, commiseration, etc.

Evaluation and next steps

Much of the evaluation came through the worship sharing.

• Yet again, we noted that there were few younger F/fs at QAIG: how best to involve?
Perhaps a link up with YFGM and/or inviting younger F/fs who are involved in work or projects in Africa.
• Sharing information – how about posters?
• Can QAIG help foster more involvement in countries like Namibia or Sierra Leone, noting the small number of Quakers in each country? We recognise we are a network, so QAIG’s major function is to link/inform/share.

We agreed to hold another meeting at about the same time of year – and to see if another location might work for us. Manchester or Westminster Meetings?

We could offer a letter of support to those wanting to seek funding from their Local or Area Meetings if cost is an issue.

Would an article in The Friend be useful?

BYM: we were reminded that Eden Grace, FUM, is giving the Swarthmore Lecture on the spiritual basis of sustainability, and about the two QWRC invited guests: Ludwig bon Quirog (Philippines) and Arne Springorum (Prague Recognised Meeting). There may also be at least one African visitor from Kenya.
BYM’s Q World Relation Committee’s email network: all QAIG members were invited to join this network to share information – contact Michael Booth, QWRC secretary, michaelsb@quaker.org.uk
(LT February 2019)