An interview with Pastor Fredie from Celebrate Hope Ministries:
HF: Tell us a little about your family
FS: I’m Pastor Fredie Sekyewa, and I met my wife, Rebecca, about 26 years ago in the Rakai district of southern Uganda, where we had both grown up. We fell in love and were married, and the Lord has blessed us with four wonderful children.
HF: Why (or how) were you inspired to start Celebrate Hope Ministries?
FS: In the early 1990s, the Rakai district of Uganda was ravaged by HIV/AIDS, and I had many personal friends who died of the disease. Rebecca and I felt called to work in that region alongside families who were torn apart, not only by the disease, but also by the extreme poverty that plagues Africa as a whole.
Although Uganda received a great deal of help from outside sources during those difficult times, the help we received was short-lived. Our people weren’t being taught how to become self-reliant in a truly sustainable way. It was out of this condition that Celebrate Hope Ministries was born. In December of 2009, we registered the ministry, and we have seen the Lord bless the work in so many ways.
HF: Tell us about the work you are doing at Celebrate Hope
FS: All of our programs are designed to address the needs of families in poverty by helping them to help themselves. Our most successful work has been done by combining two of Rakai’s best assets: fertile soil and willing, hardworking people who can become farmers.
One of the best “exportable” crops the Rakai district can produce is coffee. The coffee we grow in southern Uganda is Robusta coffee, and our soil is so fertile that we are able to get two crops every year. When a coffee farm is established, a family’s income can go from $500 year to $2500 per year.
HF: What is the local church’s role in CHM?
FS: We have now grown to the point of working with 260 pastors as the social mobilizers of CHM. Those pastors identify the families who are especially in need and who own at least one acre of land. Each pastor works with up to 20 farmers in the community near the church.
Every two weeks, the pastor meets with the farmers whom he oversees for coffee farming training as well as for Bible study in a program we call “Coffee Evangelism.” The pastor also acts as the distributor of all the resources that the farmer needs for his coffee farm.
If a family doesn’t have an acre of land, CHM also has other programs that we administer focused on raising chickens and pigs for sale.
HF: Can you walk us through a new CHM farmer’s path to self-sufficiency?
FS: Each farm requires an investment of $450 to purchase the farm implements as well as 300 coffee seedlings. Coffee plants require a few years to begin to produce a viable crop, so our farmers have to learn patience and pruning at the same time. After 4 years, the plants begin to produce enough mature coffee berries to harvest for sale.
HF: How many families are involved with CHM now?
FS: We now have 767 families involved in our coffee ministry, and we have seen over 230,000 coffee trees established. If all of these families had fully producing farms, we would expect to harvest almost 1400 tons of green coffee beans!
One component of our CHM self-sustaining program is that each farmer is required to repay one-half ($225) of his initial setup fee back to the ministry in order to “pay it forward” to other families in need.
HF: What’s coming next for CHM?
FS: We are excited to have just completed our first warehouse/office for
our CHM coffee ministry, and we also just received funding for a five-ton truck to bring the harvested coffee berries to the warehouse.
Our next step is to raise $50,000 to purchase a coffee processor to help us bring our coffee to the marketplace. Currently, we have to work through a middleman system that is receiving much of the profit that CHM farmers should enjoy.
HF: How can people get involved?
FS: We have a number of ways to partner with Celebrate Hope. If people would like to sponsor a family to start their coffee farm, they can do so with a one-time $450 donation.
We also have a child sponsorship program that involves sponsoring a child and his or her family at $35 a month. This support will take at least one child to school, and 28 percent of each month’s contribution will go toward developing a coffee farm for that family.
We believe in results with a deadline, and you only support this child and family for six years. At that period of time, the family will be self-reliant, and their earnings will be 10 times the money the sponsor gives in a year.
If people feel called to help us acquire our coffee processing machinery, they can contribute to that $50,000 project.
Contact Celebrate Hope Ministries
Fredie’s personal email: