Paul's Education Fund Update

Paul on placement in Buganda Road Court, Kampala, Uganda

Paul on placement in Buganda Road Court, Kampala, Uganda

Thank you to all who have been supporting the Paul Mutamba Education Fund. (To find out more about Paul's story and how I got involved go here.) It has been a busy several months as he completed his Diploma in Law with first class distinction at the Law Development Centre in Kampala and successfully applied for the Bachelor in Law degree course at Uganda Christian University in Mukono commencing this September. It's a truly amazing achievement to come from cancer recovery and a dead end degree to first class marks in such a competitive field as Law within one year. We are seriously proud of Paul's achievement and dedication and all of you who have come alongside to support him in this. 

Once Paul was accepted into the Law degree we then had the task of raising the £3000+ required to fund his tuition, accommodation and living expenses for this next academic year.

Our sponsored walk crew at the end of a very soggy slog through Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park in July 

Our sponsored walk crew at the end of a very soggy slog through Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park in July 

As part of this fundraising we held a sponsored walk in Scotland in July with about a dozen participants. This was a great encouragement and added new supporters to the cause as well as boosting the online fundraising at which will have passed £2000 once sponsor money still to be deposited is included. 

At this time I am delighted to be able to say that we have paid the bill for Paul's first term fees in full so he will be commencing in September. God is good. Thank you all so much!

We are well over half way to covering the costs for his entire year so keep sharing and let's see how far we can get!

You can keep up to date with Paul's progress (and the never dull Ugandan trials of life!) by signing up to receive my monthly email updates on this cause below. 

Learning the Art of Communication

Photographs by Colin Campbell

We are all experts at communicating. The human being is designed to communicate in so many different ways that we probably take most of them for granted. 

I was fascinated to read in January's National Geographic magazine that new born babies do not learn how to recognise language so much as are pre-programmed to react to certain kinds of repetitive auditory patterns in order to kickstart the brain's language development process of understanding syntax, phonology, semantics etcetera. Learning the difference between different sounds and then how those sounds in different arrangements can mean entirely different things depending on the structure of the word or sentence. When you stop to think about all that's involved in an 'empty' new brain learning to interpret (not just a single language it's exposed to but in some cases multiple) languages - it boggles the mind! 

Using near-infrared spectroscopy, the researchers imaged the brains of babies while they heard audio sequences. In some, the sounds were repeated in an ABB structure, such as mu-ba-ba; in others, an ABC structure, such as mu-ba-ge. The researchers found that brain regions responsible for speech and audio processing responded more strongly to the ABB sequences. In a later study they found that the newborn brain was also able to distinguish between audio sequences with an AAB pattern and those with an ABB pattern. Not only could babies discern repetition, they also were sensitive to where it occurred in the sequence.

Gervain is excited by these findings because the order of sounds is the bedrock upon which words and grammar are built. “Positional information is key to language,” she says. “If something is at the beginning or at the end makes a big difference: ‘John killed the bear’ is very different from ‘The bear killed John.’ ”

That the baby brain responds from day one to the sequence in which sounds are arranged suggests that the algorithms for language learning are part of the neural fabric infants are born with. “For a long time we had this linear view. First, babies are learning sounds, then they are understanding words, then many words together,” Gervain says. “But from recent results, we know that almost everything starts to develop from the get-go. Babies are starting to learn grammatical rules from the beginning.”
— 'The First Year' by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, National Geographic January 2015

Developing the ability to communicate is a staggering feat in and of itself, but learning how to use our gift of communication well is quite another matter, and by no means automatic.

Research by Albert Mehrabian suggested that when we speak about our feelings what we communicate is only 7% what we say while 38% is through tone and an amazing 55% is through body language. Those phenomenal observational processes that helped us harness the power of communication as newborns are obviously still providing us unconscious data during communication as adults. 

So how we communicate to others and to ourselves is very important as it can work for us or against us. 

In the business world savvy companies know this. And some have become masters at crafting their brand image. They rightly expend enormous resources on communicating to their clients and staff their 'brand values', their 'unique selling proposition' and such like, through a myriad of advertising and marketing channels in order to establish an appreciation and then trust for their brand in their customers.

My university training and early career was in graphic design, which is essentially communicating a message by visual means, so I have spent years observing and shaping this kind of communication activity. 

Whether the communication achieves the company's aims of creating a favourable impression on those to whom it is communicating is, as ever, less about what they are saying as how they are saying it. 

In our personal lives too, we, and others around us, are continually informed or deceived through how we communicate and conclusions and assumptions are drawn by us all, with varying degrees of accuracy, a million times a day as we go about daily life. 

It's interesting that the amount of conscious control we exert over speech, tone and body language is in inverse proportion to their weight as carriers of truthful communication. It's like our bodies are designed for truth telling and will do their best to sabotage our attempts at deceiving ourselves and others by the subliminal means less under our conscious control. This is, of course, because deceit is bad for us in the long run - and for others. 

Eventually truth emerges and the connections based on the false information disintegrate as they adjust to the new reality. We see it happen in relationships, in business, in all areas of life - resulting in broken families, celebrity scandals, product recalls, stock market crashes…the list goes on. 


So it's important to be honest in what we communicate but also think about the way in which we communicate that honesty that best serves our purpose. 

John Townsend gives an illustration of what healthy confrontation is like: the truth is like a car travelling across a bridge of trust between two mountains and the more serious the truth you want to transmit the stronger the trust required between you and the recipient. The weaker the trust, the more painful will be the transmission of the truth. 

Some of us withhold the truth about our feelings because we have made flawed assumptions about the bridge being too weak (I am finding I tend to err on this side of the spectrum!). Some of us are selfish and reckless with expressing true feelings because we take no thought to building a bridge to support it in the first place! 

Better out than in, yes, but some thought to the means by which we get things off our chest will mean it's better for those around us as well as us. 

So much of what we do as humans is communicate and there is no area of life where it's not used. In your family relationships, in your workplace relationships, in your organisational communication - why not take the cues from your biological wiring to learn how to tell the truth well and live more true to yourself and to others?

Who Hates January?

I hate January. I didn't used to, or perhaps I didn't notice that I did. But certainly over recent years I have recognised a particular malaise that tends to accompany the arrival of winter's darkest month. It's all down to light for me I am sure. I am a light thirsty person. The first thing I do when I leave the bedroom in the morning is open all the curtains in the house. I cannot abide closed curtains in a house during the daytime. I want to let as much light in as possible and feel part of the world outside. 

Winter Roost-ColinJCampbell.jpg
rain on window-ColinJCampbell
Winter sun through rolling clouds-ColinJCampbell

The late onset January resentment doesn't make sense really considering I grew up several degrees of latitude further north than where I now live - where daylight hours in winter are even shorter and it is dark by 3pm. And outdoor activities were restricted by Atlantic gales and horizontal rain most of the month. But always there was the lit fireplace. That dancing light and warmth in the epicentre of the home -the beating heart of winter days while the sun was temporarily on holiday in the Southern hemisphere. But in our present home we have no fireplace, so perhaps that's something. Maybe Scottish winters were never meant to be endured without fire creating a cosy, mesmerising haven to refuge in while winter gnashes its teeth outside. (Mental note to self: next home must have a fireplace.)

Cottage in the rain-ColinJCampbell
Bonfire at Lunderston Bay3-ColinJCampbell
Bonfire at Lunderston Bay-ColinJCampbell
First flush of winter-ColinJCampbell

Sunshine is the ultimate energiser. It not only illuminates our world but also provides our bodies with essential vitamins and benefits we don't fully understand. So it shouldn't really be a surprise that its absence knocks things out of kilter somewhat. Not a good thing in a month when many are setting new goals and resolutions for how they are going to do life differently in the year ahead. And as someone who now works from home but who grew up in the wide open spaces of the Outer Hebrides my mood is peculiarly tied to what is happening outside my window. 

I had great plans for establishing new disciplines from the get-go in 2015 - this was going to be The Year of Discipline! But January had other plans and just laughed me off. The new morning routine was swept away by irregular sleeping patterns. The get fit efforts took a left turn into the doctor's office with annoying ailments to be treated instead and the new long term work goals got forgotten in the familiar flow of the urgent but unimportant.

I washed up at the end of the month very much like a piece of flotsam in a January storm, not knowing how I got there exactly and feeling very unaccomplished and not at all enamoured with 2015. 

The Cold Firth-ColinJCampbell
Wet and wild Ardgowan Forest-2-ColinJCampbell
Blinded alike from sunshine and from rain-ColinJCampbell

But you know what? January ended.

It is now February and the increasing daylight has been pleasantly unhindered thanks to cold and clear weather allowing the sunshine to pour into the house each day, leaving us blinking and realising just how much spring cleaning will be required in due course. 

Snowdrops are already blooming by the roadside and bulbs are shooting up in the planters - apparently unfazed by the snow gathering around them.  Yes, Spring is around the corner! The long, dark waiting of Winter will soon give way to the creative energy of Spring and my malaise will be forgotten as nature works with me, instead of against me, to harness new disciplines and create new things of 2015. 

Great Western Road Sunrise Glasgow-ColinJCampbell
Lewis Winter Sunset-2-ColinJCampbell
Invincible Summer-ColinJCampbell

Despite January's best efforts I still declare 2015 the Year of Discipline, because discipline is a process, not a one-time opportunity, by which we achieve new quality of character and standard of living. It's value is not diminished but, rather, enhanced by repetition. The more repetition required to achieve the discipline the greater the impact it will have. 

So don't let January write you off - be pleased to find your self on the other side of it with the ability to try again and make February your ally in changing your life for the better this year. You can do it!

As depressing as the month of January can be, its quietness in the lull after Christmas can suit it to taking some time to step aside from the busyness of life to reflect on the year past and look ahead to making changes for the year ahead.

Below are some resources I found really useful as I took time to do that this year.

Happy New Year - Allen's Home Shop Appeal FUNDED!

Happy New Year all!

How was your year? For me 2014 was a year very much defined by visiting Africa for the first time and all the new things that flowed out from that experience - challenging and exhilarating!

You can find out more about these activities on the Causes page but one of them was this lady Allen for whom we were burdened to help - you can read the backstory in my earlier blog post

Allen in her house with a crop of tomatoes she grew to sell

Allen in her house with a crop of tomatoes she grew to sell

A huge thank you to all who gave to this as our Christmas cause this year via MyDonate:

I am astounded that it has exceeded our £200 goal, as you can see at the donation page above, and now stands at a total of £389 including Gift Aid! Amazing. We are so grateful to all who contributed to this. 

Various family and friends donated to this appeal as a Christmas gift to us, and my wife and I also ran a stall at the church craft fair in November selling baking and some printed goods I had designed (which were also for sale on Etsy and on my website shop). 50% of of the craft fair proceeds went to this appeal. Thank you to all our customers who supported us in this way.

Now, thanks to your generosity, we have raised funds to give her (and possibly others) capital to buy goods and supplies to sell in her shop and begin to create a sustainable income for her family.  

Allen outside her new home shop extension

Allen outside her new home shop extension

I have spoken with World Shine UK about making the funds available to the liaison at the WSF School in Rwentobo, Uganda (where Allen lives) to administer it appropriately and get her business up and running well. This will make such an amazing difference to her and her 6 children in that very impoverished rural area. I will keep you appraised on how things develop. 

In the meantime if you want to be informed of other income generation projects like this in the future please sign up to my mailing list here

Wishing you all a blessed and purposeful 2015!

Allen's Home Shop

Allen lives in rural Uganda and struggles to feed her five girls and one boy while dealing with a violent alcoholic husband who provides no income. When I met her she was by all appearances a hopeless soul, listless and trapped.

When I was in Uganda in March 2014 I was able to pass on a photo of our family and money (from me and my siblings which we had raised for our mum's birthday) to Allen's child Rona who our Mum sponsors through World Shine UK. I asked the World Shine Foundation School's Child Development Officer what needs the family had that this money could go towards and, thanks to her guidance and stewardship, this money enabled them to build Rona's mother a shop extension to her two room mud brick home in order to generate an income selling produce for her family of eight. The extension is now completed (see below) but start up funds will enable her to begin trading goods.

To see her standing in front of her house with its shop extension, built thanks to the facilitation of the Child Development Officer at WSF School, and smiling with new hope was tremendous.

Allen outside her new extension July 2014

Now we hope to raise funds to give her capital to buy goods and supplies to sell in her shop and begin to create a sustainable income for her family. You can donate to World Shine UK for this cause via my fundraising page on BT MyDonate® by clicking the link below. 

If you wish to be kept updated on the progress of Allen's home shop project or any future sustainable livelihood or income generating projects then join our mailing list below. 

Raising funds for Cancer Survivor Paul

"Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." – 2 Corinthians 1:4

Me and Paul in Uganda, March 2014

Me and Paul in Uganda, March 2014

I came in contact with Paul in January 2013 through my consulting work for a Ugandan charity he also worked for, though we didn't meet in the flesh until I visited Uganda a year later in March 2014. In addition to our common interests of design and technology was the fact that we had very similar personalities and I was really touched by Paul's earnest faith in God despite a very tragic background story. 

Little did I know it was about to become more tragic still. A week after I returned from my Uganda trip Paul revealed he had been diagnosed with stage one colon cancer. He had been undergoing checks for some time but been in denial about it until he received biopsy results that confirmed the undeniable truth. He collapsed in despair. As a student with no job or family support in a third world country where hospital treatment costs a lot of money it might as well have been a death sentence he held in his hand. 

He had recently had an overseas sponsor suddenly withdraw funding without explanation for his information systems course he was in his second year of at university and was entirely dependent on the little the Uganda charity's founders could spare him to cover his fees since he had been taken into their home along with their own six children.

Of course, knowing his circumstances, when I heard this news I knew it would be impossible for that family to fund the medical treatment required as well as every other demand already upon them so I contacted someone who had recently began to sponsor Paul's university fees and we set about planning what kind of assistance we could mobilise to get him through this. 

We rallied round Paul to offer spiritual and emotional support first of all and thankfully he came around to accept the prospect of surgery (which he had rejected out of hand as too frightening to contemplate) while I sent out an email appeal to friends and family contacts for anyone interested in joining a network to provide prayer and financial support for Paul during this process. 

What followed was a whirlwind 2 months of almost daily health crises and answers to prayer that left us all astounded by the power God mobilised through people motivated by love for this boy. Prayers for his healing went up in those first 2 weeks and when he went for his pre-surgery colonoscopy the tumours which had been present at the last colonoscopy in January had gone, leaving only dried scars in their place. The surgeon and his doctor were dumbfounded and thought he had gone elsewhere for surgery in the interval. It seemed that something miraculous had happened on Paul's behalf. But still the effects of his chemotherapy he had been undergoing remained, and brought him close to death through delirium and malaria on several occasions, during the subsequent two months as his body slowly recovered from its effects. But by May he had regained his appetite and strength and we received this amazing picture of him as testimony to the miraculous change in 2 months. And thanks to the network of supporters he was able to pay for all the necessary hospitalisations and checks and medication throughout that period - an amount of over £1000 all provided by donations. An inconceivable amount for him. His joy, amazement and thanks was full!

Now we are continuing to support Paul in his further education as he pursues a career in law. We see this as not only a continuation of our Christian privilege to support him materially given his lack of social and economic resources but as an investment in his future potential as a contributor to others around him in future and his community. 


To find out the latest on Paul's story and how you can help support this cause check out our blog posts under the tag Paul Fund below or sign up to our mailing list for updates on his progress. 

Bring to the world something new

'It was written of a writer who died some years ago, "He was asked to endure the sufferings of those who bring to the world something new."

Our Lord Jesus brought "something new" to the world; and as I have thought specially of the suffering from which He did not shrink, I have found myself wondering if we realise that we are all called to bring something new, not to the world as a whole, as He did, but to some part of it; and that if we are to do this we must be ready for what it costs. 

To break with all worldy customs; to live utterly seperate from the spirit of the world, so that we shall not say, "What is the harm of this and that?" but simply shall have lost all relish for what is not of the Father; to live as those who truly lay all on the altar - time, strength, posessions, literally everything we are and have; to live, not nominally but truly, in unity; this will cost us something. Are we ready for what it will cost?'

From Thou Givest, They Gather by Amy Carmichael