In the West, models of funding ministries often looks like fundraising and acquiring a team of partners who can donate to the cause. But in many other countries around the world, this model is difficult to replicate and can actually bring more problems than benefits. So, what alternative options do organizations have to run effectively and sustainably?
When returning to his home country of Samoa after working several years in Taiwan, Usufono Fepulea’i (who goes by Fono) asked himself, “What gift can I bring back to my nation?” The answer he came up with was a sustainable model of living that required little dependency on outside funding and resources. Moreover, this gift diminished tree deforestation, provided a cheap, clean energy source, and gave them a new open door to the gospel among their communities and government officials.
What was this incredible gift he brought to Samoa?
“Biogas is a renewable source of methane gas, created when organic matter breaks down in an oxygen-free environment.” (Biogas Association) It is produced from animal, human, and plant waste and can be used in cooking, heating, and many other forms of energy consumption. Since bringing his knowledge of Biogas back to Samoa, Fono has helped build a campus as a model of sustainable living, manufacturing their own Biogas energy for cooking, running half of the campus on solar power (with Biogas generators as back ups), and growing most of their own food. Their organization plans to become a self-sufficient base by 2020. They have recently registered their own company called BEST Company Ltd, to provide jobs in a community with high unemployment and build relationships with other government and business leaders.
We met Fono this past February at a gathering of international leaders focused on tertiary education opportunities for local practitioners. Over the last years we have been working towards expanding the capacity building skills and trainings we can offer Local Experts, to help their organizations move towards greater self sustainability and increase opportunities for social enterprise. Immediately, we knew he had something precious to offer Local Experts in East Africa, who often struggle with unreliable energy sources and are looking for solutions to create jobs in their communities. In fact, energy experts are already concluding, “In the coming years biogas will play a significant component in the continent’s power generation mix.” When we heard he was coming to Africa to offer this training, we discussed the idea with Local Experts and received helpful feedback, then approached Fono with the pitch of partnering together.
From September 16th to October 13th, East African leaders will gather in Uganda for a four-week hands-on Biogas course. In these four weeks, leaders will build a biogas digester together and learn how to capture and use the methane gas, as well as troubleshoot and maintain the system. We are dedicated to seeing this partnership take root and anticipate the results, as leaders bring the vision for sustainability and cleaner energy back to their own countries to create jobs and train others. Cost for the four-week training plus transport is $200 per person. If you would like to invest in a leader from East Africa to attend – please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
As Fono likes to say, “Science is the apostle that opens communities to the gospel.”