Stories from Uganda: Discovering treasures in the slums of Kampala

Today I visited the Kosovo slum in Kampala. It’s the poorest community I have ever seen and on the surface it seems like a hopeless place. However this afternoon I listened to the stories of some of the most inspiring people I have ever met and I discovered treasures in the slums of Kampala.

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In the coming days I’ll be sharing the stories of local people who are committed to creating positive change in their communities. Today I want to start with Pastor Deo M. Mwanje of Word of Life Community Church who runs the Treasured Kids School, kindergarten, community development and social enterprise projects in the middle of the Kosovo Slum.

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Meeting with Pastor Deo at Treasured Kids Primary School in the Kosovo slum in Kampala

Pastor Deo grew up as a street kid himself. His mother came to Uganda as a refugee during the first genocide in Rwanda and met Deo’s father at a bar where she worked. His parents were divorced when he was 9 years old and from the age of 10 Deo went to four different schools. He moved to a different school, between five and ten miles from his home, every year because he was unable to pay the debt incurred after one year of education. At the age of 14 he got a job with accommodation but after two years he remained unpaid and finally he was thrown out on the street. Deo discovered that he had to be tough to survive on the streets and ultimately ended up in prison. When he was released from prison he hit a low point in his life and became suicidal. The transformation of his life began when he met a missionary who took him under his wing. Pastor Deo talks movingly about how he found new faith and hope for the future. He trained as an evangelist, studied theology and ended up in the Kosovo slum, which was nicknamed after Kosovo in the Balkans because of the similar levels of violence experienced there in the 1990s. Pastor Deo started the church with just three people and it has grown ever since under his leadership.

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Pastor Deo with his daughter Amanda

In those days the site of the school was a garbage dump where street kids foraged through the rubbish looking for something to eat. He recalled his own experience on the streets and remembered, ‘When I was on the streets I was a troublemaker to everyone but I was a treasure to God’ He looked at the children in the dump and saw them as treasured human beings and had the vision to start a school for them. With support from Fields of Life, the Treasured Kids Primary School was established and since then it has grown and developed into a range of education and community projects. The school has educated many children from the slum to give them a better future including one of Uganda’s most successful singers Levixone Lala.

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I was particularly impressed with the SACCO project which is a community bank that seeks to eradicate poverty through developing a saving and investment culture.  It reminded me of a Credit Union in Northern Ireland. Members of the SACCO can secure low interest loans for small businesses and job creation. Pastor Deo explained that this was a model of empowerment and development for people living in the slums, and was more effective in changing the community than simply giving people charity aid.

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Pastor Deo’s next dream is to build a Technical School in the slum so that young people can  gain vocational skills and then start their own business with a loan from the SACCO.

I was inspired by Pastor Deo’s story.  He sees himself as a pastor to the slum rather than a pastor to the church. He prioritises the huge social needs in the local community. ‘We love God by loving people’ he says. ‘We serve God by serving people’. I was moved by his vision and commitment and his view of the poorest people in the poorest communities in one of the poorest countries in the world, as treasures.

Tomorrow I’ll share the stories of two remarkable young men I met in the Kosovo slum.

 

 

Belfast author to blog Stories from Uganda

This Easter bestselling Belfast author, Tony Macaulay will join a team of volunteers from Northern Ireland who are returning to Ryamugwizi Primary School, in Ibanda, Uganda, to continue to support the growth and development of the school and the local community.

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Tony will be blogging live from Uganda, sharing the stories of the people he meets every day. The daily blogs can be found here.

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The REAP Project – Realise East African Potential

The REAP Project is committed to bringing about positive change through the provision of quality education, clean waterhealth promotion and other community based projects, by collaborating with Ryamugwizi Primary School and the surrounding community in Ibanda, Uganda.

REAP is working in association with the charity Fields of Life, who have been involved in projects with local communities and churches in a number of countries in East Africa such as Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

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Tony Macaulay Guest Author at Maryland Irish Festival

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Tony Macaulay, author, at the launch of his latest book ‘Little House on the Peace Line’

This weekend Tony Macaulay will be a guest author and speaker at Maryland Irish Festival in Baltimore, USA.

Tony will be speaking in the Hedge School Tent on Saturday and Sunday and will be signing copies of his books throughout the duration of the festival.

This is Tony’s first appearance at Maryland Irish Festival and it follows the USA launch of his latest book, ‘Little House on the Peace Line’ at Milwaukee Irish Fest in August.

Belfast author Tony Macaulay launches fourth book at Milwaukee Irish Fest

The USA launch of Tony Macaulay’s latest book, ‘Little House on the Peace Line’ will be at the Hedge School in the Cultural Village at Milwaukee Irish Fest on Saturday 19th August at 2pm. Milwaukee Irish Fest is the world’s largest celebration of Irish and Celtic music, culture and sport at Milwaukee lakefront from August 17 – 20.

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Tony MACAULAY. Book launch of Little House on a Peace Line (Tony MACAULAY), Duncairn Centre for Culture and Arts, Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Tony arrived in Milwaukee earlier this week and recorded this interview with WUWM local public radio.

‘In 1985, I went to live on the other side of the peace line. Everyone said my head was cut.’

Driven by the conviction that things can change and that he can change them, Tony Macaulay takes up a job running a youth club in the staunchly nationalist New Lodge, in an area known as Murder Mile, with youth unemployment at 90 per cent.
Challenge enough you might think, but it’s also a requirement of the job that Tony, a Protestant from the Shankill Road, and his wife Lesley live in the local community.

As the realities of life in a working-class republican community start to hit home, Tony’s idealism and faith are pushed to the limit. Inspiring, heart-breaking and often laugh-out-loud funny, this is the story of how one couple kept the faith in a little house on the peace line.

Tony Macaulay has spent more than 30 years working for peace and reconciliation both here and abroad. He is also a writer and broadcaster, and his first three books, Paperboy, Breadboy and All Growed Up, were critically acclaimed bestsellers.

 

New Tony Macaulay memoir published today!

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‘In 1985, I went to live on the other side of the peace line. Everyone said my head was cut.’

Driven by the conviction that things can change and that he can change them, Tony Macaulay takes up a job running a youth club in the staunchly nationalist New Lodge, in an area known as Murder Mile, with youth unemployment at 90 per cent.

Challenge enough you might think, but it’s also a requirement of the job that Tony, a Protestant from the Shankill Road, and his wife Lesley live in the local community.

As the realities of life in a working-class republican community start to hit home, Tony’s idealism and faith are pushed to the limit. Inspiring, heart-breaking and often laugh-out-loud funny, this is the story of how one couple kept the faith in a little house on the peace line.

Tony Macaulay has spent more than 30 years working for peace and reconciliation both here and abroad. He is also a writer and broadcaster, and his first three books, Paperboy, Breadboy and All Growed Up, were critically acclaimed bestsellers.

For further information, to request an interview with Tony and/or to request a review copy of Little House on the Peace Line please contact:

Jacky Hawkes, Blackstaff Press
Email: jacky@colourpoint.co.uk
Little House on the Peace Line
Paperback £9.99 €12.99
978-0-85640-992-9
Publication date 8th June 2017
www.blackstaffpress.com

It’s the Paperboy Audiobook, so it is!

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This week in Los Angeles, Belfast author Tony Macaulay launched the audiobook version of his bestselling memoir ‘Paperboy’.

The audiobook is narrated by the author and brings to life the stories and characters of 1970s Belfast. It also includes an hilarious ‘Glossary of Terms’ as a special extra feature to help listeners who are not familiar with the Northern Ireland vernacular to understand everything from ‘hallions’ to ‘guiders’.

The audiobook is published by Black Dog Media and is available for download on Audible, Amazon and iTunes.

Tony says, ‘I’m excited to launch the audiobook while in the USA as I have had so many requests for an audio version during my book tours here over the past six years.’

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Tony reading from ‘Paperboy’ in Malibu this week.

Belfast Author’s Los Angeles Book Tour

This week Belfast author, Tony Macaulay will be in Los Angeles for a series of book readings, signings and talks. Tony will be reading from his coming of age memoirs about growing up in Belfast, Northern Ireland during the Troubles. He will also be speaking at various universities about his work in community based peacebuilding .

The main events are:

  • 11th February 2017: Afternoon Tea at Rancho Chiquita, Malibu, California (sold out)

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  • 12th February 2017: Mediators Beyond Borders, Los Angeles, California

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  • 13th February 2017: Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, Pepperdine University School of Law,  Malibu, California
  • 14th February 2017: Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California
  • 15th February 2017: University of California, Irvine, California
  • 16th February 2017: California State University, Dominguez Hills, California

As part of the book tour Tony will be launching the new audiobook edition of his first book ‘Paperboy’.

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SPECIAL EVENT IN MALIBU FEATURING NORTHERN IRELAND AUTHOR AND FILM CHARITY

On Saturday, February 11, 2017, L.A.’s 2015 Irish Woman of the Year, Geraldine Gilliland, will host a special afternoon event featuring Northern Ireland author and peacebuilder Tony Macaulay and the international award-winning charity Cinemagic.

The event will take place from 2-5 p.m. at Rancho Chiquita, Gilliland’s elegant hacienda-style estate nestled high in the Santa Monica mountains overlooking a spectacular panoramic ocean view and 250 acres of rolling hills. Rancho Chiquita is host to many charity fundraising events, weddings, private cooking classes, and film shoots.

Tony Macaulay grew up in 1970s Belfast – an experience that has shaped his life and inspired his writing. Following successful spells as a paperboy and a breadboy, he has gone on to spend more than 30 years in peacebuilding and leadership development both in Northern Ireland and abroad. Macaulay is a regular contributor to ‘Thought for the Day ‘ on BBC Radio Ulster and ‘Prayer for the Day’ on BBC Radio 4. His books ‘Paperboy’, ‘Breadboy’ and ‘All Growed Up’ have become critically acclaimed bestsellers. His new book ‘Little House on the Peace Line’ will be published in April 2017.

Among the many accolades of Macaulay’s work, the Belfast Telegraph has written: “Macaulay has succeeded in shining a powerful light into the lives of ordinary people and how they coped with circumstances of extraordinary brutality.”

Cinemagic is an award winning festival with a 25-year history that embraces the magic of film, television and digital technologies to educate, motivate and inspire young people through film screenings, industry workshops, practical master classes, filmmaking projects and outreach activities. Cinemagic currently delivers festival programs that reach over 40,000 young people a year in Belfast, Dublin, Los Angeles, New York and London, and will return to L.A. for its 8th year from February 9-20, 2017.

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A renowned chef, author, restaurateur and philanthropist, Gilliland arrived in Los Angeles from Northern Ireland in 1975, beginning her extraordinary career in the culinary industry. Today she owns two critically acclaimed and distinctively different restaurants on Main Street in Santa Monica: Lula Cocina Mexicana, a bold, bright and colorful cantina famous for its murals and Signature Lula Margaritas; and Finn McCool’s Irish Pub, boasting her late father’s beautiful bar shipped painstakingly over from Ireland through the Panama Canal.

Belfast ‘Paperboy’ in the USA

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Belfast author, Tony Macaulay is returning to the USA this month for a series of talks and readings from his bestselling memoirs, ‘Paperboy’, Breadboy’ and ‘All Growed Up’.

The book tour schedule is as follows:

Wed 12th October 2016: Goshen College, Indiana

13th October 2016 : Book Reading in Notre Dame Bookstore, Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana

14-16th October 2016 : Guest Author at Chicago IBAM (Irish Books, Art & Music), Chicago

Sun 16th October 2016 : Ellis Avenue Church, Chicago

Tony says:

‘I’ve been surprised and delighted by the interest in my books in the USA. I have found there to be a particular interest in colleges and universities in the USA because of my experiences as a peace builder. Also, my voice as a writer from a working class Ulster Protestant background appears to spark curiosity among many readers in the Irish American community in particular.’

Author Tony brought to book in braille by Maghaberry prisoners

IMG_0295aPRISONERS at Maghaberry have reproduced in braille a trilogy of books by local author Tony Macaulay for Lisburn Library. Copies of ‘Paperboy’, ‘Breadboy’ and ‘All Growed Up’, which draw on the Belfast author’s experiences growing up in Northern Ireland, were each painstakingly translated into braille by a group of 10 prisoners. And earlier this week, 15 volumes of the specially compiled books were presented to Tony and Lisburn Library to make available to partially sighted and blind people throughout the province.

Mark Mooney, Instructor in the Braille unit at Maghaberry, revealed: “This is the first time we have reproduced anything by a Northern Ireland author. We’ve done Bibles in braille, children’s books, which we sent to Malawi, and even an Irish language text book, but this is quite a new venture. “It took about four months to complete all three of the books. It was a real team effort, but I know, individually, each of the guys involved got a lot out of it – an innovative rehabilitation project which allowed them all to give something back to the community.”

In his books, Author Tony Macaulay, who was raised at the top of the Shankill Road in West Belfast at the start of The Troubles, draws on his experiences growing up with stories which reflect a turbulent social history, with entertaining insights, wit and humour.

Speaking at the presentation of the braille books in Maghaberry, Tony said: “I am delighted to have my books translated into braille for two main reasons. Firstly, it means that blind and visually impaired readers can enjoy the books. Secondly, I believe the Braille Unit at Maghaberry is a brilliant example of prisoners contributing positively to our community.”

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Lisburn Library manager Diane McCready added: “Libraries NI is delighted to offer partially sighted and blind people in Lisburn and beyond the opportunity to enjoy this trilogy of books by renowned Belfast author Tony Macauley. “Tony’s books have proved very popular in our libraries and by offering this range of his books in braille, we are fulfilling our commitment to make our services accessible to customers, including those who are blind or partially sighted.”

The books can be borrowed from Lisburn City Library for free and can be requested through any public library in Northern Ireland.

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