Community Development

Apr 15, 2012

The Power of Volunteers

“This is one of the most enriching and amazing experiences of my life!” enthused Sarah DeGraff on her blog recently. The 24 year-old Grand Rapids native wrote from her new home in Managua, Nicaragua, where she is volunteering through World Renew for one year with World Renew’s partner, the Nehemiah Center. DeGraff is assisting with a pilot project focused on preventing human trafficking. She is also providing support to other community development efforts.

Apr 14, 2012 by Joseph Mutebi

Hope Restored

We recently conducted an evaluation after a three-year project on mitigation, care, and support of people living with HIV and AIDS in Koboko Archdeaconry. During a time of reflection, our CRWRC evaluation team noted that the HIV and AIDS support groups exhibit a strong sense of hope to live positively amid the effects that HIV and AIDS have on them. Their health status has not stopped them from living a fruitful life. “We were desperate and without hope. The situation was gloomy and difficult. CRWRC’s EmbraceAIDS program helped us open up to one another.” Now, these participants see the future through the lens of hope. EmbraceAIDS has given them synergy, creativity, and focus.

Apr 2, 2012 by Kristen deRoo VanderBerg

Standing on God's Word: The Ministry of Moises Colop in Guatemala

On February 4, 1976, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake rocked the Latin American country of Guatemala. Because the quake occurred in the early morning hours, most people were still asleep in their adobe style houses. These structures came crashing down: many were completely destroyed and more than 23,000 people lost their lives. An additional 76,000 people were injured and hundreds of thousands were left homeless. It was this disaster that brought the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) to Guatemala for the first time. It also introduced a local Guatemalan man, Pastor Moises Colop, to the work of CRWRC—work that he would later be a part of for more than 34 years.

Mar 25, 2012 by Kristen deRoo VanderBerg

From Pigs to Patience: Shaping CRWRC's Values

“There is nothing like living for a time in a different culture to broaden your horizons or change your value system,” said Fred Schuld who served with CRWRC in the Philippines from 1970-1974. Schuld’s mission in going to the Philippines was to help local families increase their household income through agriculture and livestock programs. CRWRC had recently made the switch from being only a “relief” agency to one that was focused on “development” using a “self-help” approach. Schuld was the first CRWRC staff member to join the Christian Reformed Church ministry in the Philippines and put the theory into practice. It wasn’t without difficulty.“We started out by providing the community with capital to start up a poultry project and a food store,” said Schuld, “But the people in charge used their capital to meet the immediate needs of their family, and the businesses failed. We hadn’t understood the local culture. If the family needs food, or a child needs to go to a clinic, any ‘extra capital’ gets quickly used up to meet those immediate needs. In a culture of poverty, people live day to day and are unaccustomed to planning ahead for the next month or the next year.

Mar 11, 2012

Protecting the Seed Rice: The Origins of the Foods Resource Bank

“The seed rice will be eaten!” was the worried greeting I received on one of my visits to Sierra Leone in the mid-1990’s. I was CRWRC’s West Africa Regional Director at the time, and while no one was yet admitting the country was at war, rebel attacks were growing more frequent even in the communities where CRWRC and Christian Reformed World Missions had programs. After losing their crops to looting and burning, desperate residents were resorting to eating their seed rice in an effort to survive.

Mar 7, 2012 by Kristen deRoo VanderBerg

A Big Hand for Equality

Gender equality is central to meeting the needs of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, men and women alike, concludes a new ACT Alliance report launched to mark International Women’s Day on March 8. The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, a member of ACT, contributed two case studies to the report. In one of these, a Senegalese program that educates adolescent girls is challenging gender norms, young women are encouraged to form healthy relationships. As they increase in self esteem, they also become mentors to girls in their own neighborhoods. A second CRWRC study illustrates how women’s involvements in deep democracy projects in Kenyan conflict zones are building systemic, peaceful resolution.

Feb 20, 2012

CRWRC Internship Forges Friendship for Life

They came from different parts of North America, with different backgrounds and interests, but the experiences that Roxanne de Graaf Addink and Janet Phillips (nee Vliegenthart) would share over a two year period in Kenya 23 years ago would unite them for life. “It is a bond that keeps us connected when our work spans the globe, when we’ve faced tough times, or just when we celebrate the small joys of children and life,” explained Roxanne.

Feb 14, 2012 by Joseph Mutebi

Unleashing Human Potential

Since last August, government workers and other civil servants have been receiving training at the Emanuel Cathedral Council in Arua, Tanzania. The learners express great gratitude for their new knowledge about topics like the church in society, stewardship, financial planning and budgeting for institutional growth. One training participant, a principal for a primary school in Arua and the Muni secondary school for girls, said that thetrainings helped her generate the Annual school budget for 2012: “I did not know how to make a budget. This kind of planning was always the responsibility of the treasurer in the past so budget approval and monitoringwere not based on a good understanding of the budget process.”

Feb 14, 2012 by Chris Enns

How is the New Year?

Warm greetings to all our supporters around the world. We pray that your Christmas and New Year celebrations were a wonderful time with family and friends to celebrate our Savior’s birth and all the blessings He has given. For many here in Tanzania, hardships are frequent so the arrival of a new year is a time to celebrate that God has provided perseverance in struggle and granted aother year of life. A common greeting in the New Year goes like this: