Showing posts from April, 2015

Encouraging each other

Mehrunessa is the youngest of five daughters. Her father died last year and her house burnt down, so she and her mother are now living with her brother’s family. At age 15, her mother is looking for a good groom so she can be married off.
Through the Nepali Girls Social Service Centre (NGSS) in Darjeeling, India, Mehrunessa receives support for school through MCC’s Global Family program. She is one of about 90 children and their families who receive school fees and food support of just under $200 each year. Mehrunessa walks more than two kilometers to school and back every day.
There are 43 other girls in Mehrunessa’s class at the Ghoom Girls High School. She takes all of the classes that North American girls her age would take and her favorite is geometry. She hopes to continue school through grade 12, but that is five years away. When she gets home from school, she will help her sister-in-law with housework and also carry water up the hill to her house. 

We visit Aloo Bari farm, a pot…

When loneliness can be overwhelming

My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.  Exodus 33:14 
Nestled between Nepal and Bhutan in the very northern tip of India, the tourist town of Darjeeling is an unlikely place for an MCC partner to be working with people infected with HIV/AIDS. The West Bengal Voluntary Health Association (WBVHA) is responding to the needs of a community that experiences high migration patterns from neighboring countries, including truck drivers, sex workers and day laborers.
In a country of 1.2 billion people, the relative number of people with HIV/AIDS in India is relatively small – 2.75 million cases nationwide and 7,000 in the Darjeeling district. But the vision of the WBVHA is to provide home-based care and support without discrimination to those who are infected and their families.
During the last 10 years, more than a thousand people who are HIV positive have received help and care from the WBVHA with MCC’s support. The WBVHA also works with hospitals, religious leaders, schools a…

A gift of a cow

In the village of Bandar Kharibari in northern Bangladesh, the gift of a cow is making a crucial  economic difference in the lives of families.
Through a five-year grant from the Canadian Food Grains Bank (CFGB), MCC is working with its partner, Bangladesh Rural Improvement Foundation (BRIF), in the northwest section of Bangladesh, the poorest region in one of the poorest countries of the world.
In the villages around Dimla, including Bandar Kharibari, most families own less than half an acre of land. Families work for larger land owners during the August to November rice growing season. There is plenty of work during the planting and harvesting times, but almost no work in the months in between, known as the monga, or the famine season. 
The CFGB Monga Mitigation Project has identified 1,900 families in the region to receive a gift of a cow. Before the project, almost no one owned a cow, or if they did, they were rearing it for their landlords. Project leaders determined that livestoc…

I am a person of value

Just over two dozen young Bangladeshi women sit in a circle at the end of a three day peace education training. When these Hindu, Muslim and Christian women are asked what they learned, one young woman talks about controlling anger and another says peace is when you are in good relationship with other people.
Each woman who responds stands up to speak and everyone claps when each responder is finished. Another woman talks about discrimination against women and violence in her country, and finally a young woman stands and says, “As women, one day, we will mostly be confined to our homes, but today I have learned I am a person of value.”
We are north of Bogra in the village of Nijpara in the northern region of Bangladesh. MCC is working with the Catholic church in four villages here with an integrated approach that includes attention to food security, health and sanitation and peace building.
Earlier in the day, Father Albert Soren greeted us warmly when we arrived at the church. Most of…

Flow, water, flow

You will bring water out of the rock for them; you will provide drink for the people and their livestock. - Numbers 20:8 
Water out of a rock. God did it for the people of Israel thousands of years ago and it is happening again today.
In the village of Sinisingi, the water is flowing. Over 2,500 meters of irrigation pipeline have been laid from the water source high in the mountain rocks to the village. This Gravity Water Flow System has revolutionized the lives of these villagers.
The village is in the district of Gajapati, one of the most remote parts of the Orissa region of India. The land is barren and the tribal groups who live here on the edge of the forest land rarely have the water they need for daily living and growing crops.
With the irrigation pipeline, villagers now have enough water to drink and to grow their crops. Before, the women had to walk more than half a mile to get clean water. “It was a crisis,” one of the women tells me, “But now, we can grow many different kinds…

Sunday morning in Korba, India

Go and tell them . . . I have seen the Lord. (John 20)
I preached last Sunday morning in Korba, India. This congregation is almost 100 years old and it shares a faith tradition similar to my own in Goshen, Indiana with the former General Conference Mennonite Church.
And so I find myself telling this congregation about my own congregation. About our ministries in the community and about our Easter traditions the week before.
I find out later that this congregation has had its own challenges through the years, but it still has maintained a consistent Christian witness for almost 100 years in the predominantly Hindu culture surrounding them.
“We have a heart of joy welcoming you,” a women’s choir sang to me. I am presented with flowers and a garland is put around my neck. The chairman of the congregation prays with thanksgiving for the missionaries and for MCC.
As I prepare to preach, I realize it is Sunday morning here in Korba but only Saturday night back in Goshen, and so when I preach,…

Give them something to eat

And all ate and were filled. - Matthew 14:20
It is difficult to miss the miracle that is happening here. People who did not have food in the dry season, now have enough food to eat.
In the village of Raikachar in central India, a new canal helps families store enough water from the monsoon rains to plant a second crop each year when the weather is traditionally dryer. MCC partner CASA (Church Auxiliary for Social Action) says there are many villages like this one where people can be empowered to increase the quality of their own lives.
“This is how we share the love of God with the people,” Dr. Sushant Agarnal, director of CASA, tells us. MCC’s project is one of 25 that CASA is implementing, and in most of the villages CASA is working in, most of the projects revolve around agriculture and virtually all of them involve water.
In Raikachar, more access to water means water can be used for gardening and for bathing. There is more food to eat and some left to sell as well. The quality of l…