Highlights from 12 years with CHIPS!
We’re sad to say that after 12 years with us, Paul Maxwell-Rose, our Co-Director (Programmes) has decided it is time for him to open a new chapter and explore other opportunities outside CHIPS. We caught up with him this week to chat about his highlights!
Tell us about one highlight of your time at CHIPS…
There are so many choose from! I vividly remember one brilliant training session for our Community Animal Health Workers in Ghana, where so many things just came together. We had a fantastic mixed-tribe group of people. living together for three days of intensive learning and sharing experiences.
I could see before my eyes all this amazing bonding taking place across the ethnic divides and new relationships being built. It was really special and was such a great case study of our practical peacemaking projects in action.
The photo on this page shows Paul (left) and Desmond (right) at this meeting in Ghana while newly-trained community Animal Health Workers tell the group what they have learnt, and make a declaration of how they are going to use their new skills to help their community.
And which moment will last with you from CHIPS’ work in Brixton during the pandemic?
Towards the end of our summer film-making project this year, there was a fatal stabbing outside our office. It was an awful moment and so scary for all our team and the young people – especially as many of us knew those involved personally.
But on the following day something remarkable happened. We all gathered together – the young people, the film crew and our CHIPS team. We talked, we cried, we prayed, we shared our anger about the brokenness and injustices around us. There was such openness and honesty, but we refused to let the incident break us and above all we came away with a great sense of hope and a determination to change things.
In that group, among the young people and the team, I could see so many leaders who were determined to not have the attack the day before define them or their community. They were imagining a different future and were committed to bringing about transformation in their area. That will live with me for a long time.
And dare we ask, what’s your funniest moment?
That’s got to be when Desmond, our Ghana team leader, and I fell off a bridge in Ghana! We were negotiating a fast-flowing river on a motorbike and the ‘bridge’ was really just an old tree trunk. The bike slipped into the water, along with ourselves and our belongings.
Thankfully, someone appeared just at the right moment to help pull us – and the bike – out. We allowed the bike to dry for a few minutes and amazingly it started up again straight away, so we merrily continued on our way, looking like drowned rats!
What are you most proud of?
This is an easy question – it’s the team we’ve got now! I always felt I would want to leave CHIPS when we had a really good team who didn’t need me anymore. And that’s where we are today – we have bigger, stronger and simply fantastic teams of people in both Brixton and Ghana. I have real confidence not only in their talents and abilities but also in their approach to peacemaking.
In Brixton in particular, the pandemic has forced us to adapt and evolve quickly and we now have a group of local people with real, lived experience from the communities we partner with who are incredibly talented and capable. You couldn’t ask for a better team and it’s been a privilege to help build it.
What leaving message would you like to share with our supporters?
First, I want to say how incredibly grateful I am to each of you for your support in every way, from prayer to giving, to sharing advice and helping us to make connections – and on a personal note hosting me in so many of your homes and at your churches. Believe me, we simply couldn’t do our work without you: you have really helped us to get to where we are today.
Second, we should remember that peacemaking is not all about charities ‘running projects’. Peacemaking is a calling for all of us, and we can fulfil it in so many different ways and in many areas of our lives – from challenging injustices and inequalities and campaigning for change, to building relationships with our own neighbours and across our communities.
Practising peacemaking does not have to be complicated. But it always requires plenty of reflection, prayer and a willingness to throw ourselves into it, taking action and getting alongside God in our communities to join him in his peacemaking work. When we truly grasp that and respond, I believe we’ll be a lot closer to seeing the Kingdom of God come in our communities!