Photo: Quinn Neely
Climate Witness Project Bootcamp participants learn from local farmers and families about the impact of shifts in weather on their crops.
Photo by Quinn Neely

World Renew and the Office of Social Justice recently helped nine Christ-followers board a plane for East Africa to attend a bootcamp to learn more about issues connected to climate change.

Participants in this Climate Witness Bootcamp ranged from a college professor and a magazine journalist to a passionate ninth grader and her grandfather. All of the people had different stories on why they took the time to make the trip;  yet all participants shared a common hope: for learning, empathy, and a global perspective to carry home. The group returned last week.

Traveling to Kenya and Uganda, some of these nine sojourners wanted the chance to visit farming communities that have faced extreme shifts in weather patterns, reducing crop yield and threatening food security. Others came to hear stories from the local families and churches who feel these shifts most acutely.

Alice Ng Bouama, a World Renew employee and trip participant, shared this summary of the group’s first days on the trip:

“We're learning how climate change with the unpredictable rainfall is having devastating impacts on farmers who are reliant on rain-fed agriculture. Climate change is compounding the struggles that the people of Akampala and Agereger of North Teso, Uganda, are facing with traumatized youth who were child soldiers in the LRA, as well as the impact of cattle raiding and killing, and boats/nets being destroyed by authorities because of fish depletion in the lakes. But I have witnessed and heard over and over again stories of joy, resilience, strength, and hope that can only come from God.

“There are testimonies of self-help groups and cluster-level associations working together and advocating with their local government. These communities have drilled wells to access clean water and have built roads that provide access to markets — and they have aspirations of so much more: including a ferry that will connect them to Kampala. . . . Lives are being transformed.”

The trip also included an opportunity to meet with some government officials who are currently implementing solutions to help support their people.

Whether participants had studied climate issues intently or had joined this trip knowing relatively little about the topic, there’s been a wide range of learning and growth.

Trip coordinator Andrew Oppong of the Office of Social Justice reflected, “The trip was very much designed to help people see and know what is happening—to educate them so they can return and be advocates. . . . Part of our post-trip outcomes include helping participants create presentations for worship gatherings and schools, in order to share their experiences within their own spheres of influence.”