Notes from the Field: February 2018

February has been a rich month.

I spent time at the Bethany Land Institute where we had our BLI board meeting. We were excited to approve a new member, Catherine Barasa Asekenye. She is a senior social development specialist at the World Bank – based in Uganda, and focusing on gender and poverty issues.

I was able to visit with Fr. Godfrey Nzamujo at Kampiringisa where he is setting up a UNDP funded and Government of Uganda sponsored National Farmers Leadership Center (NFLC) based on the Songhai model. The Bethany Land Institute is excited about opportunities to collaborate and partner with Songhai.

A few Highlights from Kenya:

1. I spent the end of February in Kenya. I was invited by Tangaza University College School of Theology in Kenya to present a paper titled, “Ecological Conversion and Integral Ecology in Africa: Experiments in the Spirituality of Little Think.” The conference brought together scholars and students to explore how we can respond to the ecological crisis from a theological perspective.

2. Catholic Youth Network for Environment Sustainability in Africa (CYNESA).
I spent a rich afternoon of meeting and conversation with Allen Ottaro, the founder, and Helen, David and Abner, other leaders of CYNESA at their Nairobi Office. The mission of CYNESA is to link (and thus provide a platform to) young Catholics across the continent in their efforts to respond to the challenges of environment degradation and climate change. Behind the personal stories of the young leaders and their inspiring work, I discover an Ignatian spirituality as a driving force. Encountered through the Magis program by Allen and his friends, the Ignatian spirituality has a a threefold emphasis: finding God in all things; personal responsibility (what can I do as an individual), and a lifestyle of contemplative action. With programs in over eight countries they encourage young people to live out this spirituality in the spirit of Laudato Si. See blog entry on my visit: http://cynesa.org/cynesablog/fr-katongole-visits-the-cynesa-secretariat/

3. Green Belt Movement (GBM)
Half a day at the office of The Green Belt Movement: (GBM), and meeting with Wycliffe Matika, interim Deputy Director, and Mercy Wanja Karunditu, Senior Program officer. Founded by the first African women Nobel Laurette Wanghari Maathai, GBM continues advance Maathai’s ecological and peacebuilding vision and efforts: “When we plant trees, we plant the seeds of peace and hope.” To date GBM has planted over 51 million trees in Kenya! It was inspiring to hear, from the staff of GBM and other random people, including my driver, personal testimonies regarding the character, motivation and spirituality that shaped Maathai’s “Humming Bird” efforts. It was also touching to visit Freedom corner in Uhuru Park, where Maathai led a group of women to protest President Moi’s decision to give away part of the park to investors to construct a business and office complex. The protests would later inspire a civil movement that eventually brought down Moi’s dictatorial regime.

4. A Meeting with the editor and publishers at Daughters of St Paul to explore the possibility for co-publishing and marketing of my books in East Africa, which would make books like The Sacrifice of Africa, Born From Lament, Reconciling All Things, and The Journey of Reconciliation more accessible and affordable to readers in East

At the end of the month I traveled to the Central African Republic for my research. I look forward to sharing more about my time there in my next blog post.

A few photos from my time with Fr. Nzamujo at Kampiringisa:
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