Rainwater Harvesting – UK & Rwanda

MapRainwater harvesting is simply intercepting and storing rainwater for use in a variety of ways. In the UK many of us water our plants with rainwater. We save on our water bills and the plants benefit too, especially those which are lime-hating, as our piped supply in this area is taken from groundwater containing chalk.

A few are more adventurous in storing larger quantities of rainwater for flushing toilets and even, after filtering, for washing. There are environmental benefits too due to a reduction in chemicals used for treatment and power for pumping the water otherwise supplied by the utility company.
In Rwanda, where members of TRINITY have been visiting for the past 10 years, rainwater has been an even more valuable asset.

Once the cost of the infrastructure (gutters, pipes, tanks etc) has been provided, the system can be installed by local labour enabling the use of an essential, natural, free resource, sustainable for about 10 months of the year in much of the country. This includes Rusizi and Nyamasheke Districts in the far south west where I’ve been working on small systems for individual houses and large ones for schools and churches for the past 9 years.

Apart from the air we breathe, water is the most essential resource in life as we can’t survive without it for more than a few days. Whilst we can take it for granted here in the UK – just turning on a tap for a pure, reliable supply – that is not the case in Rwanda where many have to walk for miles to the nearest available source, in some cases a swamp, to fetch it in heavy jerry cans. Usually the carriers are women and children. The government have made good progress in developing water sources but there are still many who live in remote areas who do not have access, or cannot afford to pay and these supplies can still be polluted.

Dirty water 1

Rainwater harvesting, in combination with membrane filtration (another area of my work in Rwanda) is a huge blessing, providing safe drinking water, on the doorstep.

The benefits of household scale systems can be summarised as follows:

  • A relatively clean water supply at the point of use – often cleaner than alternative sources

Water tanks1

  • Improved personal hygiene resulting in less disease and consequently more time available for school or other tasks.
  • Less risk of assault on women in remote areas if fetching water from a source away from home.
  • Fewer injuries. eg carrying a full 20 litre jerry can weighing 45 lbs for several kilometres can damage a woman’s neck, hips and pelvic area (causing problems with pregnancy). The children also help carry smaller jerry cans and feel the strain (see below and right).


  • For any with a piped supply there are similar financial and environmental benefits to those listed above for those in the UK.
  • The associated benefits for the government are a healthier and more productive population requiring less healthcare and water supply resources.

The benefits of large systems are similar, especially for those schools with only a rainwater source.

I hope you will feel enthused to do your bit to conserve water and rush out and buy an extra water butt in the spring to store free rainwater for years to come! You will save on your water bill as well as the resources needed to treat your Southern Water supply – and your plants will prefer the natural product…


Rob Hoy

Poverty in Lewes

Many simply assume that Lewes is home only to those who can afford the exorbitant house-prices and to shop at Waitrose every week, but you might be surprised to know that statistics show over 20% of children in the Lewes district are living in poverty. (It is a bit lower in the actual town, for example Landport 11%). endchildpoverty.org.uk

end.child_.povertyOf course poverty here does not look like the pictures we see of people starving, or refugees living in tents, in other areas of the world but it still has a big impact on those living around us. For example, according to Department for Education statistics, by the end of primary school, pupils receiving free school meals (available only to those from low-income families) are estimated to be almost three terms behind their more affluent peers. Children from low-income families are more likely to die at birth or in infancy than children born into richer families, and are more likely to suffer chronic illness during childhood, or to have a disability. cpag.org.uk

And of course it’s not just about children, if they are living in households with low enough income to be classed as being ‘in poverty’, then so are their parents or carers. This is happening right here on our doorsteps, in our communities, not in a foreign land but perhaps with our own neighbours, friends, or those we worship with on a Sunday.

love your neighboursSo what does this mean for us, as Christians, as a church and as neighbours? Of course the bible talks about loving our neighbour and helping the poor but what should that actually look like? In Luke 3:11 John the Baptist tells the crowd who ask, what should we do?

“Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”

And in Isaiah 58 God talks to Isaiah in a vision, saying:

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”

foodbankTRINITY already supports the local foodbanks, which is a great start and we know from experience that there are many in dire need locally being helped through them. So be encouraged that when you pop some pasta or a tin of veggies into the box, they will actually make a real difference to someone’s life. But to some extent this is only a partial remedy, that one academic described as “a sticking plaster on the gaping wound of poverty”. We need to go a step further and begin to think about why people need to go to foodbanks in the first place, in the 21st Century, here in a relatively well off area. As the old saying goes, give a man a fish and he feeds himself for a day; teach him to fish and he can feed himself for life.

So where do we start? Well TRINITY is linking up with a new initiative called ‘End Hunger UK’  endhungeruk.org which has been formed by various charities and organisations – secular and religious – to encourage people to think deeper about poverty in their own communities. As part of this we are hosting a ‘Big Conversation’ to gather people across the town who are looking at this issue, or working on it already. We hope that in doing so we can gather resources, work together and be more effective to reach those who truly need help and support, at ground level.

We are hosting our Big Conversation on Thurs 23rd February, 7.30pm (venue TBC). The evening will be designed around a group discussion, to get people talking and listening. We want to ask what’s happening already and Social_media_image-02how can we work with you? Please help us spread the word – can you invite those you know who have a heart for this issue or are working in this area?

Let’s share our food with the hungry, or give away a coat to someone in need, but more than that, let’s seek to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke that keep people trapped in poverty.

facebook.com/endhungerlewes / #EndHungerLewes / endhungeruk.org


Jules Middleton

The Suffering Trinity

3 personsThe Son’s obedience and the Father’s suffering would be meaningless without the third person of the trinity, the Spirit. The Spirit, even now, connects us to this moment in history that, defined God’s relationship with us. At the moment of Jesus’ crucifixion, the vision of the Trinity is most available on earth for “the Son suffers death in our God-forsakenness, the Father suffers the death of his beloved Son and the Spirit binds the other two together through unspoken sighs.” The encircling motion, and the divine connection between the three persons, who all feel the anguish of the cross event, binds humanity to the will of God. Sara Loperana

Some moments in our lives we are blessed by a revelation of divine wonder. I remember one such event when I was in a work camp in Italy and had gone down to the beach for a star-lit swim. I dived into the sea and floated on my back to be suddenly struck by the amazing beauty of the awful immensity of the universe shining down compared with my tiny insignificance floating in a dark sea, and amazed that God should be interested and even love me.

Recently Steve has been talking a lot about the love of Jesus for us and our desire and duty to reciprocate that love. Also, recently we had a Trinity connect event explaining a little about the Trinity of the Godhead.

I think the idea of God as a loving community of three persons bound together in a loving servanthood of love is a life changing concept. God has always existed as a unity of three persons bound together in an inseparable bond of intimate love, pleasure and adoration.

SwimThis continued when Jesus came to earth, we see the three persons of the Godhead in an intimate moment of love when the Father says of Jesus, “This is my beloved Son, and I am wonderfully pleased with him.”  (Mat 3:17) and in John 17 we see Jesus’ intimate relationship with his Father, as he prays for his disciples.

However, we have to ask ourselves what happened to the unity of the Trinity as Jesus was crucified and He cried out,” My God why have you forsaken me?” As Jesus bore the full weight of the sins of the whole world he felt the pain of the whole wayward world lying heavily on His shoulders, the pain of separation by sin, (our rebellion and disobedience), from intimate communion with God. What was experienced at the heart of the Trinity at that moment was something we mere humans cannot fully understand. Somehow the unity of pleasure in community and adoration was fractured; to be replaced by a unity in pain and suffering still bound together by that pain and agape love which is prepared to die for the life of another.

As limited mortals, we cannot fully comprehend the depths of what happened when Jesus died, however we can fall down and worship the pure love of the Godhead as we kneel at the foot of the cross and are overwhelmed by all that Jesus did for us on behalf of the Father and the Spirit; knowing that any form of suffering, bereavement or separation has already been experienced by the loving Trinity. We are comforted in the knowledge that as we pray the Spirit helps us with groans too deep for words. The same prayers of compassion with which the Spirit encircled the cross of Jesus.


Ian Hempshall