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Miller on Mozambique http://millermozambique.co.uk Mission stories from Beira and beyond Wed, 30 May 2018 11:48:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.7 A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words http://millermozambique.co.uk/uncategorized/a-picture-is-worth-a-thousand-words/ http://millermozambique.co.uk/uncategorized/a-picture-is-worth-a-thousand-words/#respond Wed, 30 May 2018 11:48:01 +0000 http://millermozambique.co.uk/?p=709 Continue reading

The popular idiom “A picture is worth a thousand words” refers to the notion that a complex idea can be communicated with just a single still image or that an image of a subject can communicate its meaning or essence more effectively than a written or spoken description does. Similar phrases exist around the world. In 1861, Russian writer Ivan Turgenev penned “The drawing shows me at one glance what might be spread over ten pages in a book”. Another well-used Chinese expression translates as “Hearing something a hundred times isn’t better than seeing it once”. This idea transcends countries and cultures and Mozambique is no exception.

In a sandy clearing between bare brick structures, a woman stands gripping a large book in one hand and, pointing with the other, asks the mothers seated before her a simple question. “What do you see in this picture?” Their eyes are drawn to the image of a young woman being dragged reluctantly toward a waiting, well-dressed, older man. “He wants to marry her, but she does not want to marry” someone exclaims. “Does she have to marry him?” the leader asks.  “NO” is the unanimous reply. “Why?” the leader probes. One capulana-clad mother squints up into the boughs of a mango tree as she searches her memory and then responds “because both people need to agree to marry, without free will it is not marriage”. When asked, the group murmur their agreement. The discussion then moves on to an animated debate about issues of consent in their own neighbourhood.

This group is just one of many in the communities of Manga Loforte, Beira currently using an illustrated album to raise awareness and reflection on legal issues relating to marriage. Designed by AMAC, the album uses pictures and stories to deconstruct and explain the law on marriage, divorce and cohabitation. The album was first used to train seven facilitators who work for the Christian development organisation Oasis Mozambique. They each received a copy of the album and trained a further group of 12 mother leaders, who in turn shared the information with a further 12 women as per the diagram:

Cascade diagram

Using pictures as focal points, the teaching and stories stream from one group to the next, in the process reaching those with little formal education or access to written law. As such, this method of training has been called “cascade” as, like a waterfall, information flows down through different levels of the community until it reaches people at the base.  Questions and issues arise from the trainings and this creates the opportunity for an AMAC lawyer to do a follow-up visit to each community to answer queries, provide more detail, give legal advice and also to take on cases when necessary.

Of course there are some challenges and limitations to this type of project. There are few men involved in the trainings, as it is generally more difficult to engage with and organise the men. Also, when people gain in knowledge and awareness, these changes can also bring disruption and even some conflict within the community. To this end, AMAC is also training and consulting with local leaders and government administrators, who can guide, advise and also help to resolve disputes within their communities.

There is still significant scope for improvement. However, many are already showing that they “get the picture”. Following training in Manga Loforte, eight couples who were cohabiting decided to legally marry, both as a public declaration of their commitment and to secure the marital rights and responsibilities provided by law. Such positive outcomes are very encouraging. To witness a couple dedicating themselves to each other before man and God is a surely a sight worth a thousand words.



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A Long and Winding Path http://millermozambique.co.uk/uncategorized/a-long-and-winding-path/ http://millermozambique.co.uk/uncategorized/a-long-and-winding-path/#respond Tue, 28 Nov 2017 17:16:30 +0000 http://millermozambique.co.uk/?p=703 Continue reading

Finding justice in Mozambique can take you on a long and winding path, with many snares and pitfalls lurking along the way. For most Mozambicans, the legal system is complex to navigate, expensive and in many cases not capable of producing the fair outcomes that reflect the needs of citizens. One particularly serious case that AMAC had been handling ended recently, with a seemingly positive result. The defendant was handed a prison sentence and ordered to pay compensation to our client. However, a survey of the challenges experienced along the way creates a different impression. Below are just some of the experiences from this one case that provoke reflection on whether justice has indeed been done:

  • Three different police stations visited before the complaint progressed at all.
  • On no occasion was the accused, who lived in the victim’s neighbourhood, held on remand, leaving the victim in fear of reprisal and further abuse.
  • Multiple court adjournments, usually due to the non-attendance of the defendant. Each time the matter was adjourned, the victim and her family had to spend more time and money travelling to attend court.
  • Several occasions on which the victim, a child, had to speak in front of her alleged attacker during trial, or witness him speaking from a just few feet away.
  • Four years taken from the initial complaint at the police station to judgment in court.
  • Two years imprisonment for the offender, a seemingly lenient sentence for a serious crime committed against a child.

It is challenges such as these that lead most Mozambicans to tread other paths searching for justice, resorting to church leaders, imams, traditional leaders and even witch doctors to help them resolve injustices. At times, mobs of local people choose to take justice into their own hands, leading to a grisly end for criminals caught in the act and even for innocents found in the wrong place at the wrong time. At present, the formal legal system is marginal to the experience of justice in Mozambique. It is clear that this journey in pursuit of justice had a considerable cost for our client, in terms of emotional distress, economic cost, and lost time. Having reached the destination, was it worth it? The victim’s mother responded candidly, “We ran to justice. But as a mother, I do not think justice was done. I did not want to gain any money. I do not want their money, but to prevent the accused not to abuse other girls in our society.”

The challenges to access to justice are many and it is easy to feel downtrodden and disheartened. However, AMAC does experience a lot of positive outcomes, and many of the cases handled are resolved in a fair and timely manner. In particular, AMAC’s lawyers have experienced significant success in securing maintenance payments for mothers and children, and in compensating employees who have been unjustly treated at work. Yet even in difficult, serious cases like the one above, we can see God at work and some victories emerging from the chaos. The client was able to receive support from AMAC, and to know that someone was willing to advocate for her when no one else would. AMAC referred her to a professional counsellor who was able to help her process her experience. On the day of the trial she spoke confidently, with conviction, despite the presence of her attacker. Ultimately, the accused was found guilty, which reinforced the message that his crime cannot be committed with impunity.  Despite the challenges and disappointments she expressed a desire to become a lawyer, to help provide justice for other people. We hope that both she, and AMAC, can provide effective assistance to survivors of violence, challenge the unfair status quo and be a voice for the voiceless.

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Sign Up for Your Rights http://millermozambique.co.uk/uncategorized/sign-up-for-your-rights/ http://millermozambique.co.uk/uncategorized/sign-up-for-your-rights/#comments Sat, 30 Sep 2017 09:26:37 +0000 http://millermozambique.co.uk/?p=695 Continue reading

An exciting new initiative has been started to put justice in the hands of one particular group.  Of the many people groups living with disability in Mozambique, the deaf find themselves particularly isolated from the community and culture that surrounds them, often lacking anything more than basic communication skills with other people, including their own family members. In these circumstances, it is very difficult for them to acquire information, to learn the word of God, and to know and protect their own rights.

A young man called Rachid wants to change that.  Rachid is the young pastor of Hope Church for the Deaf, and he is involved in ministering to groups of young people with various disabilities. Rachid conducts weekly church services for the deaf community in Beira, communicating Biblical messages to them using Mozambican sign language. He is also passionate about helping deaf young people to be more empowered within society, with a greater awareness of their own value and respect for themselves and each other as God’s creations, made in His own image. As a result, AMAC and Hope Church have recently joined together to provide a series of legal education seminars for the deaf community in Beira. The intention is for these young people to become aware of the law and that each of them has both fundamental rights and a loving God.

To begin, a discussion group was held so that AMAC could listen to the deaf, and understand their issues.  Some of those mentioned included being used as cheap labour, being falsely accused of a crime, being sexually harassed and abused, conflicts within relationships and marriage, and being disinherited by family members. One man had been wrongfully accused of theft and was then held on remand, awaiting a trial. He languished in prison for 18 months because the court was unable to find an interpreter who could sign for him during the hearing. He was the sole breadwinner and during this time his family had no income, sliding further into poverty. Eventually he was released when Pastor Rachid and the Director for the local Deaf Association intervened on his behalf.

In September the first seminar was due, but it almost didn’t happen at all. The venue for the seminar had already been agreed. However, when it was learned that an NGO with international connections was coming, the price of using the venue rose from non-existent to exorbitant. Pastor Rachid openly told us that the venue’s owners wanted a slice of all the foreign money they imagined AMAC to have. However, Rachid was not deterred. He called around his friends and, the day before the seminar was scheduled, a church offered its building for free.

The seminar was a great success. An AMAC lawyer spoke on the subject of marriage and cohabitation and both Pastor Rachid and AMAC worker Felizarda communicated the information in sign. Some visual materials were used to aid understanding. In response the room soundlessly exploded in communication with a flurry of hand motions. One young man related how he visited his family in the village. Whilst there, another family offered their daughter to him in marriage and he accepted. She was only 14 years old and they separated shortly after marrying, but he had no idea that his marriage had not been legal until this seminar. Many others communicated that they had thought they were married, but now realised they were only cohabiting. There were so many questions and discussions that the session overran by hours. It was clear that these young people did not only lack basic knowledge on rights and the law, but also frequently fell into conflicts in which they inevitably suffered a power imbalance due to communication barriers. Through its legal aid programme AMAC may also be able to help when they come into conflict with other people and with the law, preventing them from being exploited and enabling them to achieve a fair outcome.

Collaboration between AMAC and Hope Church has the potential to transform lives within Beira’s deaf community. AMAC is in the process of organising further seminars and is also following up the issues brought in the first seminar. Hope Church has also been invited to lead AMAC’s monthly fellowship in October. Those of you who pray, please do so for the continuation of this work, that AMAC and Hope Church can help to place justice in the hands of the deaf young people of Beira and that in turn AMAC will grow in understanding of the lives of the people we seek to help.


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PINK http://millermozambique.co.uk/uncategorized/pink/ http://millermozambique.co.uk/uncategorized/pink/#respond Mon, 07 Aug 2017 07:58:47 +0000 http://millermozambique.co.uk/?p=686 Continue reading

The colour pink has become closely associated with women’s rights movements in many countries. In January of this year, diverse crowds coalesced in cities the world over to promote women’s rights sporting pink “pussyhats”. In Utter Pradesh, pink saris are worn by members of the Gulabi Gang, a grass-roots association fighting for women’s respect, autonomy and fair treatment, and against the proliferation of domestic violence and child abuse in their communities. “PINK” is also the name of a movie, an Indian courtroom drama released in 2016, that deals with themes of male privilege, sexual violence, corruption and the deeply entrenched social norms that support them. In a change to the usual format for AMAC’s monthly fellowship meeting, we decided to show the movie “PINK” to AMAC members and have a discussion afterwards.

Set in Delhi, PINK is about three young women who accept an invitation for drinks and dinner from three boys they meet at a rock concert. The boys make assumptions about the girls’ availability that leads one, Rajiv, to force himself on one of the girls, Minal, who then retaliates by smashing a bottle over his head in self-defence before escaping the scene with her friends. However, these initial events are not revealed until the closing credits. Instead, the film’s opening cuts between an injured Rajiv being rushed to hospital and the distraught girls fleeing back to their apartment. The girls’ situation deteriorates when Minal registers a complaint against Rajiv with the police. Rajiv is from a privileged family, which then launches a campaign of harassment and assault against the three girls before bribing police to ignore Minal’s complaint and bring charges of attempted murder and prostitution against the girls. Whilst Minal is languishing in her urine soaked police cell, a reclusive elderly neighbour who has witnessed some of the harassment of the girls arrives at their apartment. He turns out to be Seghal, a former advocate suffering from depression, willing to come out of retirement to offer his expertise at no cost. The following trial sequences, together with the film’s ambiguous opening scenes, test the audience’s own preconceptions, as the girls are subjected to an aggressive cross-examination that poses questions about the morality of their characters and motives.

Many of the injustices experienced by the girls in the film resonate with attitudes and behaviours we have witnessed in the course of our work. Negative attitudes towards independent women, the stereotyping of women from certain backgrounds, the assumption that women who drink alcohol or wear certain clothes or are out late at night are prostitutes, the belief that men are powerless in the face of such women and lack capability to restrain their own desires. The film provoked considerable discussion within our fellowship. A particular segment of the film saw the defence lawyer expose a corrupt police official who had written a backdated report. This incited much laughter and knowing smiles, with one AMAC member stating “this type of corruption is something that happens all the time here”. Another admired the defence lawyer, who he said “was always looking out for injustices, whether he is in court, at home or walking in the park, and doing something about it”. It was agreed that women go through many injustices and that they must stand up and take action, to be lawyers that make a difference in society. Another young man highlighted the need to improve lawyers’ professional skills to provide high quality representation for vulnerable people. One law student said that he “hurts deeply and cries inside when he sees injustices around him in society”. As the session closed, a request was made for members to pray for victims of gender based violence, some of whom are AMAC’s own clients.

For those of you who take an interest in matters of justice, and in particular those with a passion for fighting against gender based injustices, I enthusiastically recommend watching “PINK”.  There are many standout moments in the film, but the one that resonated most with me was far more understated than the dramatic scenes unfolding in the court room. As the elderly lawyer Seghal is walking in the park with Minal, a passer by comments “hey, isn’t that the girl…”. Minal instinctively pulls up her hood to cover her face, hiding her shame. A moment later, Seghal notices and gently pulls her hood back, revealing her face again. The meaning behind his action is clear, you have nothing to be ashamed of. Although PINK is not a Christian movie, that short scene formed a profound metaphor for what God has done for his people. We feel ashamed, not only of our own sin but also the shame imposed upon us by the assumptions of others in society. It is natural to want to hide away from the world. Yet God lovingly pulls the hood away, exposing us to the light and says, “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”.

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‘Good Enough’ Justice http://millermozambique.co.uk/uncategorized/good-enough-justice/ http://millermozambique.co.uk/uncategorized/good-enough-justice/#respond Wed, 31 May 2017 20:25:49 +0000 http://millermozambique.co.uk/?p=680 Continue reading

If you had a legal problem, where would you go? To see a lawyer probably, and then proceed to court if necessary. If you were the victim of a crime, you would likely go to the police.

How about a visit to your pastor?

The Bible encourages Christians not to take each other to court, but to resolve the dispute within the church (Matthew 18: 15-17, 1 Corinthians 6:1-8). It is widely believed that these verses relate to matters of civil law where one party has been wronged by another and is seeking some kind of compensation from them. Yet pastors in Mozambique and other Sub-Saharan countries find themselves handling an array of legal matters and different conflicts including theft, witchcraft accusations, domestic violence, and child abuse.

The Association of Mozambican Christian Lawyers (AMAC) has completed a report on a research done with Mozambican pastors that considers their experience of conflict and legal disputes. To someone coming from a developed country with a functioning justice system and the rule of law, the results are quite startling. More people are going to pastors for help with legal issues than to courts. 107 pastors were surveyed, and in the previous 12 months they had personally handled:

  • 86 legal disputes relating to children, including cases of physical and sexual abuse
  • 54 cases of domestic violence
  • 46 crimes, of which most were theft

The reason why these injustices were coming to pastors was clear. In Mozambique, access to the law courts is compromised by high costs, corruption, few courts and a lack of human and financial resources. Pastors are trusted by their church and in the wider community, and can provide a confidential, quick and free form of conflict resolution on your doorstep. Typically, the pastors would sit down with the parties involved and attempt some kind of mediation and reconciliation. In the absence of an accessible court system, this type of justice is a pragmatic alternative that could be described as a ‘good enough’ justice.

It is true that pastors lack the skills and knowledge of a legal professional, and most are without basic mediation skills. This is where the lawyers of AMAC can come in. We recently joined the Christian lawyers in Maputo as they hosted a conference for 147 pastors. Andrew Caplen, a Christian lawyer and former President of the Law Society of England and Wales, spoke on access to justice and the rule of law. His wife Lindsay, a Baptist pastor, delivered a message challenging God’s people to live ethically in order to fulfil God’s mission of blessing all nations. AMAC president Mateus Mosse impressed that one of AMAC’s primary roles was to partner with the church regarding justice issues. Dr Carlos Mondlane, the President of the Association of Mozambican Judges, spoke about cultural perceptions of domestic violence and his experience of these cases in court. The findings of AMAC’s research were also presented. Many of the pastors had never before realised that they were dealing with matters of law. An important conversation has started between Christian lawyers and pastors that can help improve access to justice for the poor and vulnerable in Mozambique. Christian ministers may not be lawyers or judges, but to the people facing injustices on a daily basis the justice offered by the pastors they trust within their places of worship is ‘good enough’.

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The Accident Avoidance Route Planner http://millermozambique.co.uk/uncategorized/the-accident-avoidance-route-planner/ http://millermozambique.co.uk/uncategorized/the-accident-avoidance-route-planner/#comments Sun, 26 Feb 2017 10:53:35 +0000 http://millermozambique.co.uk/?p=673 Continue reading

Whenever a speeding car zips past you in a rural hamlet, do you glance at the 30mph sign and begin lamenting political scandals? As a lorry undertakes you on the M25 do you silently curse MPs for claiming false expenses? If you lived in a developing country, maybe you would. Today I stumbled across a research that claims a real, perceptible connection between bad drivers and corrupt government. The report states that bad governance encourages lawless driving through poor accountability, limiting economic advancement, maintaining hierarchical social structures and discouraging legal enforcement. These connections have also been reinforced by other independent studies.

Despite the Miller family’s recent close contact with the bureaucratic complexities of Kampala I wouldn’t dare to point a critical finger at the authorities here in Uganda. So, instead I have decided to create a set of driving directions for my commute from our house in Kirinya to the Uganda Christian Lawyers Fraternity office (UCLF) in Wandegeya. I call it the alternative AA Route planner (alternative as the AA in this case stands for ‘Accident Avoidance’, not Automobile Association).

The AA Route Planner

From Kirinya, Bweyogerere, Kampala to Wandegeya, Kampala via Northern Bypass.

11.2 miles

32 minutes in theory, anywhere between 45 minutes and two and a half hours in reality.


0.0           Leave home (unless heavy rainfall has washed away the road outside your house) and navigate the narrow, uneven murram roads. Take care to drive slowly over the large, protruding rock outside the primary school so as to avoid another scrape on the already scored and dented undercarriage of the car. Beware of scattered and distracted schoolchildren.

0.1          Turn left onto Kirinya-Bukasa Road and continue. Moderate your speed to drive around multiple potholes and roadkill. Ignore passing vehicles that attack the aforementioned potholes at speed as if they were a challenge to the driver’s masculinity. Also pay attention to the temperament of the local roadside cattle herd. If they are docile, proceed as normal, if they appear restless give the ambling bovines a wide berth by passing on the opposite side of the thoroughfare.

1.1          Turn right onto Kireka Road whilst eyeballing the lines of roadside boda bodas (motorbike taxis) for any sign of movement. Be sure to observe in all directions at once whilst proceeding forward as a motorbike could and will appear from any direction. Please note, motorbikes appear always to have right of way, no matter what direction they are travelling.

1.2          Turn left at the Industrial Area Road and approach the railway crossing. Do not look for lights or signal, you will need to look down the track to see any approaching train, which will also announce its arrival via intermittent blasts of a horn. Clear the crossing and continue.

1.3          Turn left onto Namboole Road. Continue to follow the road around the Mandela National Stadium.

2.0          Approach the first of many roundabouts with caution. There are no regulations for roundabout use in Uganda or if there are, nobody appears to know them. Try to join the roundabout swiftly to avoid antagonising the drivers behind you. Once on the roundabout be prepared to brake quickly. Informal rules dictate that vehicles attempting to join the roundabout at high speed always have right of way and you will need to stop sharply to avoid a collision.  Do not use your indicators to signal that as these will probably be ignored. A flailing arm out of the window is a more recognised signal of your intent to turn off.

2.1          Pray for protection and mercy as you join the busy Northern Bypass. Watch for the waves of minibus taxis (matatus) lapping to and from the verge. Continue, both to pray and to navigate the bypass. Follow the Northern Bypass for 7.6 miles.

9.7          Hit the inevitable traffic jam at Kalerwe. Continue at tortoise pace whilst continually rotating head 360 degrees to anticipate numerous boda bodas darting in front of your vehicle from several directions. Practice a meditation-like mindset to quell the rising road rage. At the roundabout take the first exit onto Gayaza-Kampala Road.

9.8          You have nearly reached your destination…or have you? Proceed incrementally through the heavily congested market area whilst taking care to give way to bicycles, hawkers, customers, street preachers, children, goats and chickens. Retract side mirrors if you wish to keep them intact. Amuse yourself by marvelling at the objects that can balance on the back of a boda boda – cages full of hens, a windscreen, a metal gate, goats, a sofa.

10.8        After the longest mile of your life take the 2nd exit at the next roundabout. Continue down Bombo Road, past Makerere University and…

11.2        Congratulations, you have arrived whole and healthy at the UCLF office.

Although my morning commute has been given a light-hearted treatment, many accidents occur every day. In 2013 alone 2,937 people were killed in motor accidents in Uganda. In truth, I give a little sigh of relief and thank God each time I arrive at my destination. But I have come to realise that I am not immune to a little careless driving myself. Just as a driver can become more negligent in an environment of poor governance, so those entering into a reckless driving environment can become influenced by it. I did small things at first, cutting up a taxi or using a big 4 wheel drive to bully other drivers on a roundabout. I can recall feeling a flicker of smug satisfaction at blocking other vehicles that were jostling for position with me. Then came angry gesticulations and insults uttered under my breath. It may be that external things such as corruption influence bad behaviour on the roads, but the responsibility for how we choose to respond in any environment is individual, and we need to own it. In this moment I need to commit to driving responsibly and with integrity, as a testimony of my faith. So if you see me traversing the streets of Kampala, dodging potholes in Beira, or gliding over smooth tarmac in Eastbourne please let me know, how am I driving?




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Muzungu Muganda http://millermozambique.co.uk/uncategorized/muzungu-muganda/ http://millermozambique.co.uk/uncategorized/muzungu-muganda/#respond Wed, 28 Dec 2016 15:36:12 +0000 http://millermozambique.co.uk/?p=667 Continue reading

Becoming ‘dad’ is life changing. My resources, time, energy, future have all become focused on the tiny person that squirms and screams a few feet from the place where I used to sleep. This transition is a shock to the system, but thankfully I have inspiration to draw on. I can already identify parenting habits adopted from the positive role models of my own father and my grandfather, as well as using tips from friends and even examples of fathers from literature and popular culture. In short, the raw material for becoming a British father was available. Yet nothing could prepare me for becoming ‘Taata Patience’.

Being a British ‘dad’ is at times far removed from the Ugandan expectations of being ‘taata’ (meaning father in Annet’s native tongue of Luganda). Annet and I are parents to a child that will be raised in a household of two distinct cultures and, once back in Mozambique, will be living in a third. This also has implications for our daughter’s sense of identity, and recently we have taken to calling her ‘Muzungu Muganda’ to reflect her combined heritage. Muzungu is a word widely used by Bantu peoples to refer to a white person, and a Muganda is a person belonging to Annet’s own tribe, the Baganda people.

I have included below for your amusement and/or consternation, some of the Ugandan contributions that have recently surprised Taata Patience:

  • Whilst placing Patience in her car seat I was warned by a passing mother that the seat “is dangerous for a young baby and would break her back”. The same mother then hopped on to a motorbike taxi clutching her own new-born and was carried off at high speed.


  • Having specifically bought a fan to help cool the room for Patience I have been repeatedly told by horrified visitors that the fan will spread disease.


  • Other visitors have come bearing money for Patience, which they give to her directly, pressing the note firmly into her tiny hand. Apparently, she will grow up poor if this is not done.


  • You must throw the baby into the air and catch her each day from birth in order to banish her fear of heights. I have heard it proudly proclaimed that no Ugandan has a fear of heights, and this practice is the reason why.


  • A string of beads must be placed around the baby’s waist in order to give her an attractive figure when she is older.


  • I asked a friend if she liked the beautiful yellow dress that Patience was wearing that day, which was a gift from the UK. She replied that if a baby wears yellow it will go blind.


  • I found a relative pulling on Patience’s legs. When I asked why she replied that she was making sure that Patience would be tall when she grows up.


  • Breastfeeding is a perilous activity in Uganda. It is said that if milk gets into the baby’s ear she will go deaf, and milk left on the baby’s face will result in an outbreak of pustules and sores!


  • And the winner for most frequently cited reproach is… for not placing Patience in a full set of winter clothing including gloves, woolly hat and several layers of blankets. As the full force of the equatorial sun blazes overhead I am repeatedly told that our already sweating baby is cold and in danger of catching pneumonia.

Of course we bear the above comments and practices with good humour and sometimes a friendly explanation as to why we cannot follow that particular piece of advice. We have been blessed by a great number of visitors who come bearing gifts and good wishes. I have also noticed glimpses of respect from relatives and friends who observe the active interest I take in my child. As I aspire to be a good father I realise I must incorporate and balance both British and Ugandan elements in my parenting style, and Annet also faces the same challenge as Maama Patience. Only then will our baby daughter grow to appreciate and even revel in her dual cultural inheritance. Only then can she be Muzungu Muganda.


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Land of a Thousand Hills http://millermozambique.co.uk/uncategorized/land-of-a-thousand-hills/ http://millermozambique.co.uk/uncategorized/land-of-a-thousand-hills/#respond Sat, 26 Nov 2016 13:22:42 +0000 http://millermozambique.co.uk/?p=662 Continue reading

American economist Thomas Sowell once wrote “You will never understand bureaucracies until you understand that for bureaucrats procedure is everything and outcomes are nothing.”  The less I write here about Ugandan bureaucracy, the better.  Suffice it to say that, like Thomas Sowell, I am coming to understand bureaucracies.  Our little family is experiencing an unexpected extension to our stay in Kampala as we attempt to satisfy the considerable (and implausible!) documentary requirements of state officials. Although frustrating, this additional time has allowed us to reinforce old relationships and establish new connections with the Christian lawyers of East Africa. Next week, I will be begin assisting the Ugandan Christian Lawyers Fraternity (UCLF) nearly eight years since the time I first walked through their door as a wide-eyed Africa novice starting a seven month internship. At that time the UCLF’s Director was a certain Annet Ttendo. Sitting across from her that first morning in Uganda I had no idea of the incredible journey that God had in store for both of us.

Reconnecting with UCLF has been exciting, but so was the opportunity to talk and share with our Kenyan and Rwandan colleagues. A conference arranged by the British based Lawyers Christian Fellowship allowed Christian lawyers from Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Mozambique and the UK to meet at Jinja, Uganda for seminars and fellowship. From this conference I found myself invited to Kigali, Rwanda to visit the Lawyers of Hope.

Red dirt and rolling hills, tranquil papyrus fringed lakes and terraced tea plantations formed the backdrop while our Jaguar Executive Coach chugged up hill and down slope trailing puffs of diesel. The serenity outside of the window revealed little of Rwanda’s traumatic past. Upon crossing the border from Uganda, first impressions show this diminutive country to be well organised and debris free, in contrast to its larger neighbour states. Indeed, Rwanda’s reputation for litter free landscapes, verdant valleys and precipitous peaks has earned it monikers such as ‘land of a thousand hills’ and ‘the Switzerland of Africa’. Much of East Africa’s perennial bustle was absent despite intensive farming and the presence of hillside toiling labourers. No roadside food vendors, no honking taxis, no begging children and belligerent hawkers. Arriving in Kigali by dusk further enhanced this impression, as the coach glided to the bus park on perfectly tarmacked streets bordered by pristine pavements. There were even street lamps! I found myself wishing that other African countries could come and learn from Rwanda.

Yet it is easy to allow the appearance of order and cleanliness to obscure some of the injustices that lie below the surface. A visit to Kigali’s Genocide Memorial was a sobering reminder of how swiftly injustice can accelerate. When I did meet with some of the Lawyers of Hope (LoH), they were quick to remind me of the issues they have to deal with on a daily basis. Child rights abuses, gender based violence, inheritance disputes, detainees’ rights ignored and land wrangles are all frequently occurring and LoH run a number of well organised projects to address these injustices. In particular, LoH focus their resources on protecting children from abuse, neglect and exploitation by empowering local communities to establish child protection committees and supporting existing community leaders and institutions. You can read more about Lawyers of Hope on their website including some stories of people they have helped here. I am thankful to Safari, Egide and Juves who welcomed me so warmly and provided so much stimulating discussion and inspiring ideas. The time spent with LoH, UCLF and the Kenyan Christian Lawyers is valuable and prompts the realisation that we are all working as part of God’s greater justice mission.

After spending several days in Kigali, the novelty of order and regimentation began to fade. I found myself almost yearning for the lively, noisy, dusty roadside chaos of the rest of Africa. As the return coach meandered through coffee crammed valleys I was able to reflect on the promise and challenges of Rwanda. It has taken time and hard work to develop to such a high level following the genocide of 1994. Given more time and the efforts of our kindred spirits at LoH it is my hope that Rwanda will be an increasingly impressive example of social justice to its larger sub-Saharan peers.


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No room at the inn http://millermozambique.co.uk/uncategorized/no-room-at-the-inn/ http://millermozambique.co.uk/uncategorized/no-room-at-the-inn/#comments Wed, 31 Aug 2016 18:20:46 +0000 http://millermozambique.co.uk/?p=651 Continue reading

Last week I finally sat down with a cup of sugary African tea and my laptop to start the blog update I had neglected to write for four months. I had in mind to write about our experiences as prospective parents in Mozambique and, more recently, in the UK. As it was still a month before our baby was due, I thought it good timing to narrate the story so far as follows…

“Of course, our lives changed dramatically following Annet’s positive pregnancy test. We attended a local clinic for antenatal appointments, waiting for some hours on the clinic veranda alongside capulana-clad women for our turn in the midwife’s office. I was the only man in attendance and the gathered women couldn’t help themselves from openly staring. Annet’s pregnancy progressed normally, although she was advised by a UK based doctor to take medication to prevent a blood clot occurring, Annet having previously suffered from a clot after a flight in 2012. This was complicated as, after meeting with several different medical professionals it appeared that the medication was not available in Beira.

We managed to secure an appointment with one of Beira’s handful of obstetricians via a friend who is a trainee doctor. Our friend guided us to the maternity ward of the central hospital where she regaled us with stories from her own experiences. With a smile she told of her previous shift during which a large crab had been discovered scuttling between beds on the ward! When our time came we entered a very basic room with an ancient, gel-encrusted ultrasound machine. However, we will not forget the kindness and professionalism of the obstetrician, whose demeanour put us both at ease.  We knew that all was well with the pregnancy before returning to the UK for the baby’s birth.

The day after the UK held its EU referendum we arrived at Heathrow Airport. We never could have anticipated what happened next. At passport control Annet was questioned vigorously by Heathrow Border Force and then detained for five hours. She was eventually released and given weeks to leave the UK. The Border Force mistakenly believed that Annet would abuse public NHS funds and so they cancelled Annet’s five year visitor’s visa to the UK. We appealed but, although the Border Force admitted that there was no intention to misuse the NHS, they still did not want to reverse the decision. Simply put, it was clear the Home Office did not want our baby to be born in the UK. As a result, we had to board a flight to Annet’s native Uganda and we arrived in Kampala on 1st August with only eight weeks to go before Annet’s due date.

We felt very disappointed with the way Annet was treated by the Home Office in the UK, yet we saw God’s provision in abundance during this difficult time. We found time to get lost amongst a labyrinth of cotton and muslin in Mothercare, making some essential purchases for the baby along the way.  Annet was also able to access the medication she needed. The encouragement given by our friends, family and supporting churches during this difficult time was incredible. Such people made Annet feel very welcome in the UK. Yet our enforced removal also reminded us of another story, long ago, of a soon-to-be mother who was told that there was no room for her. Luke 2:7 tells us what happened next ‘And she gave birth  to her firstborn, a Son. She wrapped Him in swaddling cloths and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn’. The Son of God was born in basic surroundings and laid in a manger used to feed animals. He went on to fulfill a ministry that reached out to rejected and vulnerable people at the margins of society. Despite struggling with feelings of rejection, we knew that God would be with us in Uganda and He would bless us no matter where we are.”

…And so, satisfied with the above summary of the rather dramatic last few months, I put down the laptop and resolved to edit the following day. However, I never made it that far. Our story was to take yet another unexpected twist…

“Annet, I think your waters have broken”

“No, I haven’t felt any pain, no contractions. It’s probably just something normal.”

I stared at a growing puddle on the tiled floor…“Annet, YOUR WATERS HAVE BROKEN!”

Cue blind panic (from me) and desperate calls to midwives and relatives. We arrived at Nakasero Hospital on the evening of 24th August. A feeling of dread crept over me as the emergency doctor immediately sent Annet for an ultrasound scan. The images revealed that the baby was fine but had barely enough fluid to continue that way. If any more fluid was lost there could be trouble.

The next morning, Annet was put on a drip and labour was induced. It was still one whole month before our baby was supposed to appear. We prayed, as we had done many times before, for a swift, uncomplicated delivery. I then disappeared for an hour to eat sausages and cogitate upon impending fatherhood. I had often heard mention of 48 hour labour marathons where dads-to-be linger aimlessly around the wards before being sent home to return later. As such, I shuffled back to the maternity suite with no expectation of any real progress. I couldn’t have been more wrong! In fact I returned just in time to see my wife being assisted into the delivery room. Shortly afterward, we were proudly holding our baby daughter, Patience Michelle Miller. Although premature, she weighed a healthy 5lb 11oz and we were left thanking God and the incredibly professional medical staff. In all, Annet’s labour had lasted only 90 minutes. Never underestimate the power of prayer!

My friends, as Annet and I sit up at 3:00am marvelling at the noisiest member of our nascent family we thank you for your prayers and support. We have a precious gift, and the story of her arrival is a special one. God has provided and now we can look back at the all the drama of the last few weeks and not feel any bitterness or disappointment, because we have been blessed in the most profound way.

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Justice Matters http://millermozambique.co.uk/uncategorized/justice-matters/ http://millermozambique.co.uk/uncategorized/justice-matters/#respond Fri, 22 Apr 2016 17:45:12 +0000 http://millermozambique.co.uk/?p=643 Continue reading

Andrew Caplen has a passion for justice ‒ both in its legal sense and as an essential facet of the God’s character and the Christian life”.

These words introduce the blog of Andrew Caplen. Andrew is the Immediate Past President of the Law Society of England and Wales, a dedicated advocate on Access to Justice issues and, most recently, our guest in Mozambique. Since late March he has been travelling Uganda and Mozambique to witness how Christian lawyers organisations are impacting the lives of the poor, vulnerable and marginalised. The Beira office of AMAC was the last port of call on this extensive expedition.

Our visitor was only in Beira for three days but much was accomplished during such a short period of time. This included visits to two universities to speak to law students on Access to Justice, sharing Andrew’s testimony with local Christian lawyers over lunch, multiple meetings, and a seminar on inheritance law with a women’s group from Manga Baptist Church. However, it is Andrew’s own words that best describe his experiences here and in Maputo and Uganda. Therefore, this blog post is dedicated to the blog of another. Please follow the link to Andrew’s blog, called “Justice Matters”. On its pages you will find powerful testimonies of how God is working to transform the lives of those suffering injustice.

Andrew’s visit has been a great encouragement to us. Please pray for him as he returns to the UK and shares his experiences, insights and the importance of justice to God’s kingdom.

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