asked people in leadership in The United Methodist Church, professionals in
various disciplines and individuals in villages how they get information,
distribute it and get value from it. The answers are enlightening as well as
disturbing. Enlightening because people want accurate, truthful information
upon which they can base good decisions. Disturbing because the lack of
communication infrastructure is leaving out those who lack the resources to
purchase cell phones, Internet connection and television to get
While assessing the need for communications technologies within The United Methodist Church in Africa, my first stop is Uganda. In Uganda I have travelled from south to east to talk with as many people as possible.
A common theme is developing. The need for information is great. Existing communications systems leave out those who are “off the grid.” The poor don’t have access to cellphones, electricity or the Internet. In a world where information is moving electronically this is a deadly handicap.
At every stop, I’ve heard a similar refrain. “Help us to communicate with each other better. We don’t even know what our brothers and sisters nearby are doing unless we go and talk with them in person. This is not an easy thing to do,” one person said.
These friends have also made me more acutely aware of the importance of communication for other reasons. Communication is inextricably related with development, health and spiritual discipline. Communication is an integral component for empowering women, developing sustainable household income among poor families and for teaching about rights and responsibilities of citizenship. In countries just emerging from the brokenness of war, caught in the grips of poverty these issues are up close and personal.
To be able to communicate is to have a voice in the society. To lack the ability to communicate is to have no voice. In the 21st. Century this is a deadly loss.