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Help start new mission stories

Six new mission partners are currently in need of funding to go out to places including the Holy Land, Lebanon and Tanzania.

Any one of these might be blessed to see God move as he has in Neema Crafts in Tanzania. Our mission partner Ben Ray takes up the story…

Ben and Katy Ray, mission partners with Neema Crafts
“Your gifts make our callings possible.” Ben and Katy Ray, managers of Neema Crafts in Tanzania.

Sereti (pictured above) is one of the most positive and inspiring people I have ever met.

She works with us at Neema Crafts here in Iringa, Tanzania. She’s always smiling and full of laughter.

You’d never really guess her story, how much it’s taken to get this far.

“Just let her die.”

At two weeks old Sereti’s legs were so badly burned that doctors had to amputate them at the hip.

When she came back from hospital, people in her community told her father, “Just get rid of her, she will be no use – just let her die.”

People no longer saw Sereti as a child; they only saw her disability. They thought she could only be a burden.

Sereti survived, but she was from a poor community; she had no wheelchair or special help. Instead, she learned to move around by wedging herself in a bucket and rocking from side to side.

“I have learned that I am not cursed, but instead God loves and cares for me.” Josephat is one of the longest-serving staff members at Neema Crafts.


Too often this is what life is like in Tanzania for someone with a disability. They must struggle alone and find their own way to cope. Their disability may even be seen as a curse, a stigma they will have to carry.

They will have to struggle to get even basic education. No one is ever likely to employ them.

Neema workers on new hand-trikes
Mobility is a big concern for people at Neema – simply being able to get around is a freedom that changes their lives. Neema gives all its staff a hand-trike, wheelchair or bike.

But Sereti has a special tenacity and she has faith.

At 10 years old, she found church funding for her education. She travelled hundreds of miles from her home to take up a place at a boarding school, completed her primary education and passed her O-levels well.

But then there was no more money for school and there was no work either. Difficult years passed.

A place to thrive

It was then that Sereti heard about Neema Crafts which is a programme of the Anglican Diocese of Ruaha.

Neema began in 2003 with three young deaf men making paper. Church Mission Society support – the kind of support you help to give – helped make it possible.

Today Neema employs 115 people, all with some kind of disability.

“This is your story too. You have given us this freedom to work at Neema. Let's support other mission partners about to begin their work.”

We make crafts that sell in Tanzania and across the world. We have a shop, a guest house and a thriving cafe.

We now make enough profit to fund training programmes for people with disabilities, as well as outreach work in Iringa and in the villages beyond.

Hope that transforms

What this means for people like Sereti is that, often for the very first time, they have work and an income; they have hope. It transforms their lives.

Sereti now works as Neema’s bookkeeper. She is a joy to be around. Sereti, this person they said should die, is someone we rely on and trust, with skills and ability we need. We’re hoping that she’s soon going to qualify as an accountant.

People like Sereti are showing the community here in Iringa that if someone has a disability, it doesn’t mean that they can’t work or study or achieve things. It doesn’t mean that they can’t serve you in a cafe.

Miriam Knowles in the therapy office
“Every person deserves to be loved, nurtured and given the best opportunity to achieve what they can in life.” Therapist Miriam Knowles (right) is also supported through your gifts.

This is your story too

Our staff’s work, and the profit Neema now makes, means that for the last year we have been able to take on the funding of our own therapy centre at Neema, giving help to, among others, around 100 disabled children.

The therapy programme is run by our fellow Church Mission Society mission partner Miriam Knowles.

This is your story too – for it is your support that helps pay Miriam’s salary and living expenses. It works out at less than £19 a month for every disabled child Miriam sees.

It’s work that can help transform a child’s mobility and support families as they care for and encourage their children.

You set us – and others – free

Your gifts through Church Mission Society have made our callings possible – for me and Katy and for Miriam too. You’re helping us to transform lives like Sereti’s and attitudes to disability in a whole community.

You have given us this freedom to work at Neema and it would be wonderful if you can make a gift today to support other mission partners about to begin their work.

I know that six new mission partners currently need funding to go out to places including the Holy Land, Lebanon and Tanzania.

Let’s walk with them and pray with them. Let’s support them.

With best wishes and love from Neema,

Ben Ray
Mission partner