A sad time for TEAMS

Last month, we had to say goodbye to 9 of our loyal staff; a truly harrowing experience for them and the TEAMS management Board. The Pandemic has put paid to any fundraising for TEAMS for the past 17 months and with many of our long-standing supporters finding themselves with reduced incomes, or with concerns about their businesses, TEAMS income is less than 30% of what it was before Covid. Our financial reserves have been exhausted and to prevent complete failure, after much prayer and debate, the Boards in both the UK and Uganda have had to dramatically prune its programmes and budgets. We are fortunate that many of our core programmes have reached maturity, reaching the point where our objectives have been met. Ordinarily, we would have been starting new programmes to reach more people, but for the moment that is not possible. We pray however that following this painful action, TEAMS will emerge stronger and better place to rise to future challenges. We have said goodbye to the 3 sewing ladies who were part of SEAMS – our commercial sewing enterprise. With tourism stopped in its tracks, the Ugandan safari lodges who were good customers of SEAMS are not ordering new stock. Furthermore, with schools having been closed for such a long time, the staple part of SEAMS order books – making school uniforms – has also dried up. Our ladies have decided to start a smaller business themselves so TEAMS has given the sewing machines they have been using to them, in addition to paying them at least double the statutory minimum redundancy amounts. It is good to see that through our mentoring these ladies, they now feel confident to set up a micro business themselves. Similarly, we have also decided we can no longer afford to employ cooks to feed our staff at lunchtime. These two women have decided to set up in business themselves and cook for our remaining staff and others in the immediate community. We have donated pots and pans they used previously to them to kick start their concern. From now on, TEAMS will pay a fixed price per staff meal which will save TEAMS money whilst providing the seed-corn for the new business to get established. James, our agricultural programme manager is also leaving us. It has been impossible to make this programme viable, and whilst we had hoped to turn it into an educational one. Our lack of resources meant this was not able to happen. He has been given some of his tools and will continue to farm part of our land on a private basis. The local community are also taking plots of land on a tenancy basis. Land suitable for cultivation in Layibi is now scarce as more and more development takes place. Thus, TEAMS will generate a small income from our land instead of making a loss on this programme. Offering plots of land to the original local population (who are not part of the “new money” group who are moving in, is proving very popular. With site security being one of our most expensive programmes, a complete rethink of how we keep our site safe has been undertaken. Covid showed us the way forward! During the lockdown, 2 or 3 of our security staff volunteered to live permanently on site and thus found that it suited them better to do 2 – 3 weekly shifts rather than a series of 12-hour stints. We can now manage with 3 full time guards rather than 5 working shifts. Again, this helps TEAMS to reduce its costs. The staff who have not been made redundant have volunteered to take a 10% salary reduction for the next 6 months in solidarity with their former colleagues. The Ugandan management team have led from the front and agreed to take a 20% cut in their salaries. This shows just how much of a family TEAMS is. Please pray for those staff who no longer have a job with TEAMS. It is a very difficult situation to be in as unemployment is very high and job prospects are low. Pray also for their families and for our Lord’s provision. Please also remember our remaining staff and the sacrifice they have made by agreeing to a voluntary reduction in their pay. TEAMS does not pay high salaries and with inflation putting up basic commodity prices, they are going to find it difficult to manage. If you can spare any money at this time, please do pray about making a donation to TEAMS. Our “Donations” page provides our bank account details, or if a BACs bank transfer is not something you wish to do, please get in touch with the chairman of our UK Trustees, Duncan Watt, who will advise how other forms of financial support can be made.