“Give a man a fish and he can eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he can eat for a lifetime.” We at Narrow Gate Exchange have been championing this message to our community with the hopes of bringing light to the ongoing issue of global poverty.
Our stance has been that simply giving aid is not a viable solution to ending global poverty, but instead, training local community members in vocational skills while providing business and discipleship training has seen great positive effects on empowering communities around the world.
Up until this point, our message has been shared through the vehicle of preaching, teaching, blogging. We have done a lot of talking the talk, but hadn’t yet had an opportunity to walk the walk.
The walk has begun.
In early September we welcomed our first Narrow Gate Exchange student into our midst to go through our twelve-week program.
Dovico “Davis” Muhairwe comes to us from Kyenjojo, Uganda. It is a rural city in the Western part of the country on the boarder of the Republic of Congo. The city finds itself gripped in poverty, but not in the classical sense that we, as Westerners, tend to envision. Our picture tends to move towards thatched huts in the desert with flies swarming and nothing substantial in sight. While that does exist in some parts of the world, that is not the reality for Davis’ community.
Instead, dusty, broken roads map out the landscape littered with makeshift buildings that house a variety of businesses struggling to survive. A booming cell phone market finds almost every individual with his or her own personal smartphone with 4G networks. While most do not have enough money to buy a new outfit or to own a car, everyone has connectivity to the world through the World Wide Web.
Scooters and motorcycles zip in and out of traffic that mingles with a variety of domesticated animals wandering about in a bustling marketplace where everyone is attempting to find their place, and survive in it. The pond is there to fish in, but it needs to be stocked with fish!
This is the world that Davis comes from.
Growing up in Kasese, Uganda, a similar city to Kyenjojo, he made a life for himself with trade school in mind to learn to become a builder. Those hopes were dashed as his mother became infirmed and he was forced to return home to get a job to provide for his family. As he missed his window for proper training, he began to work in construction, learning how to build structures. Davis would marry and start a family of his own with a daughter Doreen, and then a son David. It wasn’t long before tragedy struck Davis’ family yet again.
When his youngest child was only eight months old, Davis suddenly lost his wife to a respiratory disease and over-night he became a single working father. Through a series of events, Davis moved to Kyenjojo and started working with the Heart and Hands Foundation. Their mission is to train local community members in woodworking skills, sewing skills, and textile manufacturing. Davis became their primary instructor and the manager of the carpentry school and furniture manufacturing business. Davis would grow in ability while at Heart and Hands, but he still needed the training necessary to fully run the school and business and to gain the confidence he needed to instruct and lead the next generation in developing the skills needed to create a successful business that would raise the economy of their community.
Then came an opportunity to train from Narrow Gate Exchange.
With a hard-won and much prayer for approved visa in hand, Davis made the solo journey, almost 8,000 miles away, to Nashville, Tennessee to start his training.
Twenty-four hours after arriving in Nashville, Davis would find himself in Franklin, Indiana at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking, arguably the best woodworking school in the world. Davis spent a full week training under one of the best woodworking instructors in the world, Marc Adams himself, where he learned all of the basic fundamentals to woodworking that would provide a foundation for him to strengthen his skills as a woodworker and ultimately build a thriving Kingdom business.
For the past six weeks Davis has been in the Narrow Gate Exchange woodshop and sawmills honing his skills as a professional woodworker and sawyer. He has learned new facets of joinery that have vastly improved the quality of his products. He has learned how to use basic machine tools such as a table saw and a router to effectively build furniture products that will drastically increase his time and efficiency in furniture production.
He has been learning how to run a business through our business curriculum in partnership with Partners Worldwide. And Davis has been growing in his relationship with Jesus as he learns about discipleship through our Foundations of Faith curriculum.
Davis says it himself, “I get to learn something new every day, something that I did not know before. So every day I am becoming a better worker, and that makes me able to help my business grow and make a profit so I can help my community.” He is growing in his skill as a craftsman, he is growing in leadership, he is growing in his ability to teach the next generation of makers, and he is growing in his relationship with Christ that will allow him to make disciples of Jesus in his home community.
This is the work we (including, you, the reader, our family!) have fought so hard to see come to fruition. This is the Exchange!
With five weeks remaining in his training, Davis will now enter a phase of solidifying his training through producing products. He will learn finishing techniques, develop efficiency in milling through timed sawmilling exercises, and will begin to move out of his training and into creating his own products with the skills that he has developed over the past six weeks.
At the end of his time with us, Davis will be prepared to go home and take on the mantle of running a sustainable, Kingdom driven, carpentry and milling business with Heart and Hands Foundation.
He will have the authority and ability to instruct his employees on the skills he learned to make them better craftsmen in the jobs that God has placed them in.
Davis will return to his community with boxes full of donated tools, (which we would love your support in helping raise funds for those tools), but most importantly, Davis will return home knowing how to fish, and knowing how to train others how to fish.
He will become the instrument of change that his world needs.
He will become the common face that integrates into his own community and inspires others like him to rise up, to take a seat at the table of community and business leadership.
And we will get to witness, from afar, the very call of God working in Davis’ life as he begins to transform his community out of poverty and into hope. All for the Glory of God through His provision and timing. May God make it so!