Community Development

Mar 22, 2018 by Edward Okiror

Renewing the Mind

(UGANDA) Apai is a small fishing village in Uganda’s northeastern district of Kaberamaido. World Renew and our local partner, the Pentecostal Assemblies of God, work there to address the challenge of HIV and AIDS among over 490 households. Solomon Emyedu, 41, is a fisherman and lives with his wife Immaculate and their 11 children in Apai village.

Mar 21, 2018 by Carol Musoke

Are you ready to EMBARK?

(UGANDA) Greetings from a bright-blue-sky Kampala, Uganda! This is our first newsletter of 2018 and I don’t think it’s too late to wish you a blessed new year! As I write this, I am reminded of theologian John Mbiti’s famous quote “I am because WE are and, since we are, therefore I am”—my favorite description of the traditional African values of community support and cohesion.

Mar 19, 2018 by Bethany Cok

Opening Up to the Idea of Change

A year and a half ago, I paid my first visit to World Renew partner Diaconia Chiapas in Mexico. Without a World Renew office in Mexico, Diaconia Chiapas receives support from our Guatemala team. Before my visit, World Renew staff told me there was a good chance we wouldn’t be able to keep working with this partner. During my visit, I could see why. Diaconia Chiapas was struggling with leadership and vision. They had chosen a new board of directors, as they do every few years, but some of the older men, many of whom had been with the organization for many years, were having trouble accepting that they could no longer make all the decisions themselves. They were also challenged by the new board president’s being a woman; culturally, machismo still led some board members to see women as less competent. But since that visit, Diaconia Chiapas has overcome all these struggles and more. They have grown and flourished as they walk alongside rural communities in Mexico who are working towards holistic development. Diaconia Chiapas provides support for this goal with trainings in agriculture, health, community organization, and Christian service programs. And the new board leadership, especially the new president, has played an integral role in strengthening their work. From here, I’ll let the staff of Diaconia Chiapas explain, in their own words, the changes they’ve seen in these communities largely thanks to the tireless work of María Méndez Montejo, the new board president: When Diaconia began arriving in these marginalized communities to give trainings as part of their programs, we noticed that in the majority of the communities only men participated and the women would stay at home. The women seemed very shy, and their participation in any workshop was minimal. If they did attend, they would always sit separately from the men, whether it was a church event or an event in the community. Though we tried to motivate the women to participate in these activities, they seemed closed off to the idea of change. When the board of directors of Diaconia Chiapas changed membership last year, María Méndez Montejo became the president. Sister María began by visiting each of the three communities where Diaconia Chiapas worked, encouraging the women to participate in the different activities DC would facilitate in those communities. The staff of DC are all men, and up until this point, most of the important positions on the board had been held by men as well. María looked for creative ways to encourage the women to participate, including dynamic group activities, Biblical reflections, and simply continuing to show up for these women. Because of María’s presence, we’ve seen a change in attitude among the women in these communities. Now, women attend trainings, actively participate, and even take initiative. The women also have a desire to serve others around them, and their trust in DC as an organization has clearly increased. The women in the communities always ask that María come to the activities we host in their communities. Diaconia Chiapas is thankful to Sister María for her courage and leadership. She has been a pillar of our work for community transformation. We at World Renew praise God for the tireless work of María, the other board members, and the staff of Diaconia Chiapas! We couldn’t have imagined a year and a half ago that a partner struggling so much would overcome all the challenges thrown at them and actually strengthen their work in the communities because of it. God’s hand has been clearly at work here, and we’re excited to see the impact that Diaconia Chiapas will continue to have in the rural communities in Mexico as they grow as an organization.

Mar 14, 2018 by Carlos Guzman

On Chickens and Security

Bitelia Vega lives in Buena Vista, a community located on a mountain in the department of Yoro. Families in Buena Vista practice an agricultural way of life: farmers produce coffee, corn, beans and vegetables which they sell in nearby communities. Alfalit, a World Renew partner in Honduras, has been promoting sustainable agricultural practices and economic growth initiatives among farmers in Buena Vista, with a special emphasis on supporting women in income-generating activities.

Mar 13, 2018 by Ruairidh Waddell

The Church IS One Foundation

The above play on the title of the famous hymn, “The Church’s One Foundation,” is intentional. In our previous newsletter we mentioned, and Steve has already alluded to, our November forum. This gathering of all our partners from across the region focused on the opportunity and responsibility the church here has to be a primary agent of transformational change. The church IS the foundation upon which change must be built within our respective nations. Nowhere is this more true than in Zambia, where our three partner organizations collectively serve a third of the country’s population that congregate in their churches and prayer houses every Sunday. To influence and lead over five million people is both an astonishing privilege, but also a massive responsibility. The discussions we had in November could have gone on for days as we tackled the silence of the Church on many issues affecting the most vulnerable in society, as well as the impact of poor governance on not just the poor, but also the country as a whole. In mid-December, following the partners’ forum, we received word that the leaders of our Zambian partners — The United Church of Zambia, The Reformed Church in Zambia, and the Presbyterian Church of Central Africa — were having an initial meeting focused on collaborating to raise and strengthen the collective voice of the church and how best to use this combined strength to provide national guidance, advocacy, and restorative justice for the poor, marginalized, and most vulnerable in society. Over two subsequent meetings, the church leadership and diaconal staff drafted and agreed upon a Memorandum of Understanding that officially announced their partnership: “Responding to God’s call to mutual ministry, mission, and witness that express Jesus Christ’s prayer for the Church that is one, and in recognition of the Holy Spirit’s movement in the Churches, the CCAP, RCZ and the UCZ enter into a partnership. This partnership is informed by and reflects the common heritage of the Reformed tradition around the world. This is a shared history of Christians, who have struggled to overcome the barriers of colonialism, nationalism, race, and culture, and tireless efforts of Christians to establish ties, in order that as individual denominations and working together, the Churches may be more faithful and effective in the witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The CCAP, RCZ, and the UCZ share the same space and environment in Zambia. Their members therefore experience similar challenges in many spheres, including the political, economic, social, technological, environmental, and spiritual aspects of life. The partnership between CCAP, RCZ, and the UCZ is voluntary and is a mutual relationship that aims at enabling the three Churches to more effectively witness to the most poor, marginalized, and vulnerable in society.” The three churches plan to retreat together for three days in March to discuss and confirm the form this relationship will take and how it will seek to actually bring about true and lasting change that will influence and transform the lives of those it seeks to serve. It is a real privilege for me to be able to walk alongside these churches and their leadership as they seek to deliver this ministry to their nation. World Renew will be there to support them in any way we can and to live out that famous hymn’s lesser known verse: ’Mid toil and tribulation, and tumult of her war She waits the consummation of peace for evermore; Till with the vision glorious, her longing eyes are blest, And the great Church victorious, shall be the Church at Rest. Until next time, Ru

Mar 13, 2018 by Juvêncio Mataria

Extreme Weather Pummels Northern Provinces of Mozambique

In January of this year alone, the city of Nampula recorded over 450 mm (18 in) of rain in just 5 days and three rivers burst their banks, killing nine people and leaving entire areas without electricity. In February, the districts of Lago and Mecula and the city of Lichinga in Niassa province also saw severe rainfall that destroyed gardens, farms, and over 1600 houses, leaving thousands without shelter or food.

Mar 13, 2018 by Troy Sanon

A Post-Hurricane Twist on the Haitian Tradition of Konbit

After Hurricane Matthew devastated Haiti in 2016, World Renew joined forces with our local partner there, the Federation of Organizations and Agricultural Technicians of Léogane (FOTADEL), to organize "cash for Konbit” activities. In Haiti, a konbit is an event where the community comes together to accomplish something to benefit one member of their community or the community at large. To participate in a konbit is to help your neighbor. In rural Haiti, when a farmer needs help to prepare his or her garden, they call for volunteers and a konbit happens! Members of the community come together to get the job done and, in return, are provided with food and drink. On the hills of Léogane, FOTADEL decided to try a post-hurricane version of a konbit by calling for people to work together on each other’s farms in exchange for a small amount of money. In adopting and modifying the cultural practice of konbit for a post-hurricane landscape, FOTADEL creatively used a great Haitian resource — its people — to support those in need of help rebuilding their food supplies, while equipping the helpers to be able to take care of their own needs for food and provisions. Participants best knew their families’ needs and so were able to meet them, while also supporting the recovery of the entire community through replanting and the injection of money into the local economies. With a selection criterion that prioritized the most vulnerable, the “cash for konbit” program has far exceeded its initial goal of helping 350 farms. 1,750 people “came out for konbit” and reestablished far more than the target of 200 hectares (almost 500 acres).

Mar 1, 2018 by Carolyn Dean

A Historical Step Forward

This year for the first time 10 girls from the Rshi ethnic group project villages in Phia Lor cluster have come to town to study in middle school. Until three years ago no girls in that area had completed primary school but now there are nine who had the determination to come to town to study. The tenth girl is Pher, the younger sister of a World Renew staff member who is from the Rshi ethnic group. Pher completed middle school equivalency in the non-formal education classes that our project supports in her village and is now continuing in upper secondary school in town. She also comes to the office to work as an intern/volunteer after school. World Renew provided these girls with uniforms, school supplies, and money for renting textbooks amounting to about $25 for each student.

Feb 20, 2018 by Steve Sywulka

Transformative Growth

The Southern Africa Ministry Team is growing in different ways. Growing in number: We are so grateful to God for extra hands (and brains) to help us be more effective in impacting this region! Two new staff members have joined us:

Jan 3, 2018 by Tom Post

Land Justice in Laos

“They will die if they are forced to move to the lowlands. Our purpose is to prove that life can be full and healthy for the people of the mountains of Laos.” Over the last decade, Mike Fennema, Country Consultant for World Renew in Laos, and over 40 Lao national staff and seconded staff of various nationalities have faithfully worked to improve land security and the quality of life of the vulnerable people groups in the districts of Phongsaly and Xiangkhouang.

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