Column: Julia Tum, Mothers' Union - Friends for support and to chat with

​“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”
The hot looking pig, lying all on his own in what shade he could find.The hot looking pig, lying all on his own in what shade he could find.
The hot looking pig, lying all on his own in what shade he could find.

​This phrase is on a lovely bookmark which I use when reading novels. I love reading and I am a member of two book groups! It is true that I can get immersed in a novel and really feel that I am there, part of the plot, and with the characters. I thoroughly enjoy being in book groups so that I can share my thoughts and opinions with others, and often my critique gets changed or remodelled when I hear other points of view. It is so good to share ideas.

The other day I was with some friends out walking above Ripponden and came across a very large and fat and hot looking pig, lying in what shade he could find against a wall. I felt so sorry for him, since he seemed to be in the field all on his own, unless his mate was hiding in the pigsty. I felt that he had no one to say “gosh it’s hot today” or with whom to grumble or just pass the time of day.

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We all need friends for support and to chat things over with. A group of Mothers’ Union Members have applied to be Volunteer Prison Visitors so that we can lend a non-judgemental ear and be a friend and visitor to someone whose family may live many hours away, or indeed for someone who just has no visitors from one month to the next. MU Members also go into local residential homes and in Rastrick a group visit a new building which offers 65 apartments for singles or couples over 50 years old.

A new report has just been published sharing the Mothers’ Union Burundi Literacy and Financial Education Programme which has spanned the last 20 years. The results are staggering and heartwarming. Over 1200 facilitators have been trained in business skills, parenting skills, peace skills and much more. Over 144,103 people are now accredited as literate, that is just 2.9 per cent of the entire Burundi population. Burundi faced conflict, fear, hatred and discrimination and to sit with others and work together was not obvious for some people.

Today love, trust and fellowship are the first characteristics of community members. They recognised the love that could be offered without distinction and they started to be aware of the love of God. They started to realise that others living close by were valuable friends and had resources which could be shared. They started to plan together and journey together. Mandela had said that poverty is man made and poverty can be eradicated and now the people in Burundi have discovered that if everyone brings their talents together that their community could improve. When they became literate the women were no longer cheated at the markets and some started their own businesses.

Do let me know if you would like a copy of the full report and I can email you a copy. There is so much more than I can add to this column and there is more to be done by the MU, more communities to reach and more lives to be enhanced.

In the meantime, be open, share friendship with your neighbours and pass the time of day. You never know what they may need that you can freely give away……even just a smile.

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