Helen and Alastair - some background

Helen and Alastair - some background : We have always hoped to return to Africa once more before we're too old (perhaps we already are!). Alastair first went to Africa in 1974 as a junior doctor, working for the Church of Scotland in a small hospital in Transkei, South Africa. I met Alastair there in 1982, were married in 1984 and continued in Transkei until 1988. From there we went to Kenya, as employees of the Church of Scotland, where Alastair ran Chogoria Hospital. We left in 1995, with Alec, Peter and Becky to establish the children's schooling and our work in Britain. Here Alastair found himself as consultant in Breast cancer surgery, and Helen initially trained and worked as a GP before "evolving" to full time ordained ministry. Alec is now married to Ruth, and they have baby Zach; Pete is in his final year of medicine in Edinburgh, and Becky half way through nurse training in Oxford.

The Diocese of Western Tanganyika is a partner of Gloucester diocese. The plan is for Helen to join the teaching staff of the Bible College, teaching those preparing for ministry. Alastair will teach English to the students at the college, as well as doing some surgery at the church-run hospitals, and helping with project management in the Diocese.
We will keep you updated on our plans over the next few months and will greatly value your prayer support. Our current prayer requests - and thanks to God of course - will be posted on the side bar.

Saturday, 16 November 2013


Alive and well!
A little sunshine picture for those of you in dark, damp November. To reassure you that the sun does still exist, is warm, and is shining well here in Tanzania. I realised it was ages since I posted a picture of both of us - this was by Lake Tanganyika last weekend, having a very lovely and much needed weekend off.

Elisha - a refugee from Burundi
 In contrast to our secure life I have been touched again by the difficulties facing the refugees who live in this part of Tanzania. In the conflicts in Burundi in the 70's, and again in the 90's,and the years of conflict in the Congo, this area became the centre for millions of refugees. There were 4 refugee camps in and around Kigoma and Kasulu, each with 6-800,000 residents. The camps became very settled, with schools, churches and hospitals, and international aid was well established.

Elisha is one of my close colleagues and friends in the Bible College. He ran from home in Burundi in the 80's when he was just 18, while his brother was murdered and the family home burnt. He ran through the forest for days without shoes or shelter, and eventually arrived here on the other side of the Lake. He finished his education in a refugee camp, and became a Clinical officer. He met Bibiana, his wife, in the camp, and they have 4 children.  He was called to ordained ministry and came out of the camp to study. He is now ordained, and a Bibe college teacher.
With the situation in Burundi now peaceful all the camps are closing, and the refugees are having to return to Burundi.  This is not so simple as it sounds - Elisha and Bibiana have been here for nearly 20 years, they have no land or house in Burundi, and few family members. Their work, life and friends are now here - BUT, because they are refugees they are unable to get work or resident permits for Tanzania, and face expulsion or even imprisonment if they stay illegally.
I spend a lot of time chatting to Elisha about it - his only future really is to return to Burundi, to make a new life but he has no money to do so. I write this story for your interest and for your prayers - but also if, like me, you would like to help him financially (as one of millions of such refugees) do be in touch about sending a donation.

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