Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Health Education for Rwandan Women...

On October 26th and 27th, 2010, Kristin provided health education for two groups of Rwandan women, totaling almost 100, at a local church in Kininya, Kigali, shepherded by Pastor Muhizi. Approximately 30% of them are living with HIV/AIDS. Her education was the second time at this church following her education for young men and women several months ago.

Her education centered around women's reproductive system, menopause, HIV/AIDS and birth control. For healthy women, the focus of HIV/AIDS education was on preventing it and for those who have already contracted it, the focus was on how to manage it, particuluarly with pregnancy. Rwandans are generally shy and reserved, but they were asking many questions. One of the HIV/AIDS positive women was encouraged by the fact that she could manage the disease so that she could still take care of her children.

She also provided them with lunch boxes with the fund that was donated by a lady in Korea. As usual, there were a lot more people eating the food than attending the seminar. We trust that some of them will apply what they learned to their lives. - Jeffrey

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Trip to Maputo, Mozambique...

.....[A meeting with heated discussion.............][A gorgeous sunrise photo that I luckily took at 5AM.]
Kristin and I had a week-long trip to Maputo, Mozambique. I had to attend a 3-day OI Africa CEO conference and we wanted to take advantage of the trip.

Mozambique was colonized by Portugal so it is the only African country that speaks Portugese as the official language. Its size is similar to Turkey and twice as big as the U.K. Compared to its size, its population is 22 million, making it one of the lowest population density country in the world. Approximately 80% of its population is involved in agriculture that accounts for 25% of the country's GDP. Maputo is the capital city of Mozambique.
Surprisingly, the conference facility was right at the beach and we enjoyed the soothing sound of breaking waves for the whole week. In fact, we arrived at Saturday night and we went right to bed since it was past the midnight. Early in the morning, I woke up because the sun was too bright coming through the open curtains. So I got up to close them and found that right outside it was the ocean. Hurray!!!

Among all the experiences we had were these that we still remember: Wide open Indian ocean, endlessly spread white sand beaches, soothing sound of breaking waves, a beautiful sunrise, delicious seafood, warm and friendly people, colorful fabrics and traditional clothes, rice noodle dishes that we had at Spicy Thai restaurant, Central Railway Station, war memorial statue, The Iron House designed by Mr. Eiffel who designed the famous Eiffel Tower in Paris, botanical gardens.

The conference was very informative, as usual, and challegning to learn how other implementing partners are doing and also educational since we all learned from each other. I was delighted to see that many countries who had been suffering from frauds and broken morale are bouncing back to thrive on top of the past pain.

OI Africa has presence in 8 countries: S. Africa, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Ghana. Except Tanzania, all are doing better than before and two have arrived at the sustainable level and two are very close to the sustainability. Others have some work to do, but making positive progress.

A new venture starting in DR Congo will be the 9th country of microfinance operation in Africa. They shared the amount of challenges that they have to face and deal with on a daily basis. The country is extremely poor with only 1% of approximately 70 million people is banked, thus greatnly in need of microfinance to help the poor. Yet, this country has an incredible level of curruption (Corruption Percention Index of 167 among 182 countries), rampant internal and external frauds, and unbelievable amount of bureaucracy make it an enourmous challenge to operate. Many MFIs have gone into the country, struggling to survive.

OI is entering into this market with solemn determination to serve the poor, no matter what the environments may be. Senior managements are gradually being placed and polices/procedures are getting developed. The system is put in place and infrastructure is built around it. Lord's willing, we will open the door to the Conlolese within this year. We all prayed for God's blessing on this endeavour.

We all praised the Lord for sending and placing such high calibre of people as the leaders of all OI Africa implementing partners. Almost all of them are ex-bankers with many and also for the progress being made at all partners. - Jeffrey

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Beautiful Bird Singing for us Every Morning...

Every morning, a bird comes and sings in our backyard. Her signing is so beautiful to be a live music to our ears, but also strong encough to wake us up. Her upbeat voice is also so empowering to cheer us up. Because of her, our morning turns bright and we can beging the day with a smile on our faces. Her singing voice is like "rolling a jade marble on a silver plate" as used in old Korean sayings in describing a voice that sounds the most beautiful.

I could not spot her for sometime, but on Saturday, October 16th, I was able to captuer her image in my camera. She was hopping and flying around so fast, thus making it pretty challenging to take a photo, but she was gracious enough to let me take these photos.

Thank you, Lord, for creating these beautiful creatures for our enjoyment. You are indeed God the Creator of all good lives and things in the world. We praise your name for ever and ever. - Jeffrey

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A 4-month Study on God's Names, Titles, Metaphors and Descriptors...

On Wednesday, October 13th, we finished a bible study that lasted almost four months from June 12th. This study was about God's names, titles, descroptors and metaphors. We all were blessed greatly from studying and learning about them.
Elohim, El Elyon - God the Most High
Yawheh - God the Eternal
Jehovah Jireh - God the Provider
God the Almighty and the Warrior - El Shedai, Jehovah Nissi
God the Savior and the Redeemer
God the Abba Father
God of All Grace
God the Fortress and the Refugee
God the Holy and Righteous
God the Creator ...

Indeed, our God is omniscient, ompotent and omnipresent. Such God is not far away from us, but is indwelling us through the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ. And we can call Him Abba Father. What an honor and privilege it is... We must indeed confess, "He is all I need and all I want for my life." Our commitment to loving and serving Him has been strengthened through the bible study.

This study topic that we have just finished was the third one, after the Episle to the Romans and the Episle to the Ephesians. For the next study topic, we have agreed on "The Kingdom Life on Earth." May the good and faithful Lord continue to bless us and work in us through the bible study. - Jeffrey

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Book About Rwanda Published in Korea...

Last week, early October, a book titled "Amakuru Rwanda" was published in Korea. This book is the collection of articles written by 14 authors who worked or are currently working/ministering in Rwanda. Many of them are Koreans, but there are non-Koreans also. Professor Hwang, Won Gyu was the leading author, who served the President Paul Kagame and his government in policy making over a 4-year time period. I am also one of the authors.

This book has many full colored photos published on quality papers. It was foreworded by Dr. Charles Murigande, the current Minister of Education of Rwanda. Four prominent Koreans wrote their recommendations. They include Dr. Myung Oh, a former Minister of ICT in Korea and a former President of KunKook University, and Rev. Sam Hwan Kim, one of Korea's leading Christian leaders and senior pastor of Myung-Sung Church. Se Kyung was the publisher.

All authors have agreed not to receive any money from the sales of the books. After paying for the publishing costs, all sales proceeds will be used for the work in Rwanda.

Unfortunately it was written in Korean only so it is not available in other languages.

I hope this book may make the 'Land of Thousand Hills' better known to Koreans. If you are interested in buying this interesting book, please contact Se Kyung Publishing Co. at or +82 2 596 3596. - Jeffrey

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Trip to Accra, Ghana...

From Spetember 27th to October 1st, I made a tripl to Accra, Ghana. I attended a conference for OI Africa CFOs. UOB's CFO was on a maternity leave so I ended up attending it on her behalf. I could have sent someone else, but the conference dealt with many imporant issues and I opted to attend it myself.

As Opportunity International has expanded over the past few decades in various ways, its core banking and accounting applications have not been optimally standardized, thus resulting in certain operating inefficiency.
The OI Network global CFO has initiated a standarization project on these applications. This 2-year project is expected to streamline the operating processes and enhance the efficiency significantly. Various issues were discussed and the 5-day conference was very informative.
On the last day, I had an opportunity to visit the OI's Ghana implementing partner, called OI Savings and Loans. OISL operates through 18 branches with almost 600 staff who are reaching out to villages through a system unique to Ghana, called "Susu." Under Susu, OISL staff visit its clients in the villages to collect savings and to deliver cash.
Ghana is the gateway to West Africa. It is one of only three West African countries that are using English. It is a peaceful country with political stability and its people are very friendly.
Experiencing different cultures and microfinance practices is always refreshing and informative. In a group, we also visited the central market, called "Makalo Market" where you can literally find anything and everthing that you need. It was very lively and dynamic. - Jeffrey