“Where there is unity, God works. Through Eagle we are changing attitudes – developing positive thinking about ourselves and others and using our eyes to see what we already have around us. We really appreciate God so much for the Eagle for opening our eyes to see what we could not see.” Ida Basalivwa, volunteer Eagle coordinator.“
Church and Community Mobilisation is a relatively new approach which Mothers’ Union provinces are adopting in developing countries to help communities break free from dependency and self-solve issues such as poverty – either financial or educational. A key step for developing CCM as it is known is to ensure the local community take ownership of the process. This means Mothers’ Union at the local level will name their own adaptation of the process. Eagle is the name Mothers’ Union Uganda have chosen for their own process of CCM.
In Uganda Mothers’ Union has been offering holistic development through its Family Life Programme, with over 10,000 people helped. However as the organisation explored the issues communities faced they realised that helping the most needy in communities was not necessarily benefiting the whole community tackle issuers such as witchcraft, domestic violence, unemployment, drug abuse, growing drugs instead of food crops, food poverty, lack of water, high levels of illiteracy, and gender inequality, early pregnancy and the prevalence of HIV. They wanted to do more to help communities meet their own specific challenges. Inspired by seeing the impact of the process of CCM in other countries, Mothers’ Union Uganda developed “Eagle” as their CCM process in 2013.
The programme had an external evaluation in 2015 which demonstrated that the programme is already transforming lives. In particular people in the communities of the first-four dioceses to implement the programme had improved their lives in the folling ways:-
- their relationships with God, with others and with the environment
- Greater initatives taken, leading to better use of local resources, such as cultivating church land, improving community infrastructure and securing government support for local interventions.
- Improved livelihoods, with people cultivating their land effectively leading to more and better quality food and increased income (including supporting children in school)
- children in school.
- Improved health and sanitation including building and using latrines, providing access to safe water and greater take up of government HIV and cancer testing
- Some demonstrable evidence that women were enjoying an increased share in decision making and improved responsibility amongst men in Eagle groups leading to decreased incidence of domestic violence.
The programme has exceeded expectations; reaching 14,035 people, 91% of the planned 15,360 beneficiaries. Each participant has improved the lives of their whole family – since its inception Eagle has benefitted 2,767 group members, 5,216 household members and 6,051 community members - meaning that in total Eagle benefitted 14,034 people in 9 dioceses. We have trained over 199 facilitators and 3,284 people have been envisioned to run Eagle.
Ruth Seggane, from Luwero, Uganda was one of 148 Mothers’ Union community development staff trained to work with churches, and then communities, to bring about transformational change to people’s living conditions and family life using Mothers’ Union’s “Eagle” process. “Before I came to the Eagle training our church had wanted to start projects to help improve life in our community, but we felt we didn’t have the energy or the resources we needed. But after our envisioning training” she writes “I got excited and decided to start straight away in my local church Ruth established a group of 35 people from her church and shared with them, through the Bible studies of Eagle, how they might become a catalyst for change in the community. The group worked together to find ways of avoiding traditional dependency to solve need and instead identified the gifts and resources they already had to solve the challenges of the community: poverty, poor nutrition, mismanagement of the environment. They worked to utilise what they already had so that all could benefit, setting goals of increased food production, and increased trading to improve incomes.
Today they have trained leaders in five new areas all of whom have set up Eagle groups. The church has planted 2,500 coffee trees on their previously unused land. The group has established a market on the road outside the church and begun a pig project, planted maize and potatoes.
Challenges remain. Some participants – often those who need Eagle the most – find it hard to participate fully as they cannot read or write – so facilitators are working hard to make it easier for people from all backgrounds to participate. However, already the community team spirit and the cohesion of the Eagle leadership has brought a strengthening of faith and a confidence that together they can use their faith to bring about lasting benefit in their community.