Beekeeping in the Mara region of Tanzania is increasing the income of local churches, thanks to UMC #GivingTuesday donations, which also supported the provision of beehives, training and equipment.
UMC gifts bring beekeeping to Mara District
By Eric Soard*
In the Mara region of Tanzania, East Africa, beekeeping is increasing the income of local churches, helping them to carry out their ministry to local communities, while becoming self-sufficient.
By teaching church members a skill such as beekeeping, products get to the market more quickly and efficiently, resulting in good income for bee harvesters. The hope is that churches can start to raise their own funds for ministry and have more control over the work they do in their local communities.
UMC #GivingTuesday gifts were used to purchase beehives for five local churches, and the equipment necessary to harvest honey. Photo: Courtesy of Eric Soard
This beekeeping project was made possible by UMC #GivingTuesday donations given last year to Church Construction and Development, Advance #3021923. The gifts were used to purchase beehives for five local churches, plus the equipment necessary to harvest honey. Funds were also used to send six individuals for training in beekeeping and honey harvesting.
Because beekeeping has to be done on a large scale to be self-sustaining, the UMC #GivingTuesday donations provided enough budget, as well as certainty of funding, to confidently start this project with the ability to see it through. This is also important in building faith within local churches, assuring them that we will be with them through every step of the process.
The church takes responsibility for development
Ingrichini United Methodist Church was one of the first churches to be planted in Mara and it was one of the five churches selected for this beekeeping training.
For a long time, Ingrichini UMC struggled to meet the needs of their community and to even pay the pastor a small salary. Most of the church members are very poor and they cannot offer much in terms of tithes and offerings. However, when members learned that their church was selected to receive training, they were very excited to have the opportunity to generate much-needed income for the church.
Today, beekeeping has brought new life and confidence to members of Ingrichini UMC. The members have started to understand that the development of the church is in their hands, and they don’t have to wait on outside donors or supporters. They now have their own source of funding.
Recently, church members discussed constructing a toilet for the church and starting a school to teach community members how to sew. In addition, they have been able to help families with funeral costs, which can plunge a family into deeper debt. The project is still growing, but the pastor hopes that some of these things will come to fruition in the next year.
Overall, the beekeeping project has been successful. We placed beehives and equipment in five local churches, and the bees have begun producing honey.
In the future, we envision a co-op where the churches can process honeycombs, wax, and other products produced from the beekeeping and honey-harvesting project.
Next year, we hope to raise additional funds to expand the project to five more churches, and purchase honey-processing equipment that will increase the yield. We also hope to support entrepreneurship training for project leaders to increase their market effectiveness.
UMC #GivingTuesday is Dec. 1
On Dec. 1, United Methodists will come together to support the work of Advance projects and missionaries on UMC #GivingTuesday. Every gift made online through The Advance at www.umcmission.org/give on Dec. 1, 2015, will be matched up to $1 million.**
Download and share UMC #GivingTuesday resources.
*Eric Soard is a United Methodist missionary, serving as a church planter and discipleship trainer in the Mara region of Tanzania.
** Global Ministries will allocate matching funds, dollar for dollar, up to the first $1 million in gifts to Advance projects received online on Dec. 1, 2015, between 12:00 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. CT. A maximum of $2,500 per individual gift to a project will be dispersed as matching funds. An individual project may receive a maximum of $25,000 in matching funds.