KiA-Chics: Chics Newsletter
Catherine Senyolo, Project Manager
1. Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) Lynnwood Ridge signing to express willingness to implement and locally own Chics!!!!!!!
Do you remember in our last issue we mentioned that we haven’t signed the franchise contract with the third church? They suggested that instead of signing a contract they would rather sign a memorundum of understanding and we agreed. Well, it was done on the 3oth August 2017.
However, there are 2 more interesting things stemming from this ownership and the implementation of Chics, see below:
• DRC Lynnwood Ridge is a “white people’s congregation” in a suburb in Pretoria. This suburb’s “life-world” is quite different from the not-so far-away “black” Mamelodi township. Although these two communities are racially different, the DRC has recently decided to implement its Chics project in and with the church in Mamelodi. This is more that just implementing a project, in Chics we emphasise the importance of engaging in meaningful relationships to core-find/co-create solutions for specific conditions. As Chics we are delighted to be the bridge between these beautiful emerging relationships.
• “I now realize that early childhood development is not only about the academic development of children…”. These words come from the feed back report of the DRC’s Chics officer (programme field worker). She is the founder and principal of the day care centre where Chics activities are now implemented on a weekly and monthly basis. She realised that Chics presents life orientation, which includes but is more than academic development.
Initally, she mentioned that at the centre they would identify misbehaving or isolated children and immediately condemn them for such behavior. However, while on Chics’ duty to visit these children’s homes to conduct our general household survey as a baseline, she realized that difficult conditions at home affect children’s behavior. She began to realize and embrace the importance of the mission of Chics of “bringing people together to find ways with households to improve the quality of life of children’’. Children who are misbehaving or isolated need help. During a telephone follow-up to confirm this touching report, she confirmed this insight by mentioning that “she is happy to be a Chics officer, because she gets an opportunity to be a link to engage the church and households in her community”.
2. Chics gets the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa (URCSA) Hebron uncomfortable for the comfort of the vulnerable!!!!
URCSA (the Uniting Reformed Church in South Africa, the mostly “black” and “Coloured” member of the Dutch Reformed family of churches) Hebron is another congregation which has recently decided to participate in the Chics pilot project. Like the church in Mamelodi, it is a “black” church in a township near Pretoria. This church does not have a minister or pastor but functions under the leadership of a church council. It mainly consists of middle-class members who are disconnected from the harsh realities of poverty faced by the community where their church is located. Most of these middle-class members grew up in this community but had relocated when their personal situations improved. The church is involved in this community only by giving a monthly funding donation for the local day care centre. From the Chics perspective we think the problem with this kind of outreach is that the church may not be doing enough to practically respond to and walk the road of poverty with the poor by seeking prosperity and peace for this community.
During the first training (23 July 2017) on how Chics works the trainees (church representatives), who are mostly members of the church council, expressed resistance to the Chics philosophy of being meaningfully involved in a participatory manner with the households and other role players to come up with ways to improve specific conditions which bear on the quality of life of children. These trainees felt that the church is already making a great impact by merely financially supporting the community day care with funds and did not see the need to engage in any practical peace building activities and prosperity seeking compassionate deeds for households. They expressed being uncomfortable by making comments like “we are already doing something to improve life in this community, what if we come up with something to improve the quality of life and it does not work, how will these households think of us as the church”?
A tiny light in the tunnel……
Although it was sad news for Chics at first, it was also great news because now Chics has the mission to have a meaningful impact by assisting the church to realize how they can play a role regarding the improvement of the quality of life in that community. The first and foremost important step would be to begin with the church by introducing a paradigm shift in its current perspectives on outreach/ integral mission. On our 2nd follow-up training (21 September 2017), although there were still sounds and expressions of resistance here and there, it seemed that God is using Chics to facilitate a paradigm shift in the church’s Chics vision bearer. During a discussion, when the field worker asked with disbelief about the chances of success if the church engages with the households to find ways to improve specific life conditions, the vision bearer immediately said “don’t’ worry, I think I understand Chics and we can find a way to make this work”. As the Chics programme manager, this put a smile on my face! Being half way on this long walk, we see the worth of Chics in that congregation…...because we believe that faith, even the size of a mustard seed, plus action……goes a long way!
With the above-mentioned 2 remarkable experiences, we see the worth of Chics and we are delighted that churches see the need for the existence of Chics. …… Thank you Kerk in Actie, you make this happen!!!!!
Posted on 31 Aug 2017
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