MCC

‘Everything was getting better’

Victoria Mamani Sirpa noticed that her family was healthier after they started growing and eating vegetables grown in their greenhouse in El Alto, Bolivia. (MCC photo by Matthew Sawatzky) 

Victoria Mamani Sirpa, left, an agricultural technician and teacher for Fundación Communidad y Axión, visits Luciana Llamaca de Condori’s greenhouse in El Alto, Bolivia. (MCC photo by Matthew Sawatzky) 

Before 2008, Victoria Mamani Sirpa had only ever cooked with four vegetables: carrots, chard, celery and onions.

An exciting opportunity

Manitoba native Annalee Giesbrecht is serving a three-year term with MCC in Haiti. (Photo by Elizabeth Peters)

A view of the Caribbean Sea outside the city of Jacmel on Haiti's southern coast. (Photo by Annalee Giesbrecht)

Jean Wesley blows bubbles at MCC partner Sakala, a community centre in the historically marginalized Cité Soleil neighbourhood of Port-au-Prince. At Sakala, kids learn about building peace through urban gardening and soccer. (Photo by Annalee Giesbrecht)

The sun rises over the mountains of Haiti's Artibonite Valley, where MCC has been working in reforestation, agriculture and community development since 1982. (Photo by Annalee Giesbrecht)

Members of an agricultural collective in Haiti's Central Plateau start a meeting with a song. This agricultural collective, orgwoupman, is supported by PDL (Partnership for Local Development by its initials in French), an MCC partner that provides training on conservation agriculture and community development. (Photo by Annalee Giesbrecht)

Annalee Giesbrecht is getting more than she bargained for when she agreed to serve with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC)—and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

When she arrived in Haiti to work with the relief organization, she planned to be away from Canada for a year. A few months later, however, she was offered the opportunity to extend her term to three years.

Equipping leaders at home and around the world

Peace campers practise their listening skills by responding to commands during an ice-breaking session. (YSPP photo by Alouny Souvolavong)

Lydia Cheung was a participant in MCC’s Summerbridge program last year. She helped with children’s programming, including a carnival and two weeks of day camp at her home church, South Vancouver Pacific Grace Mennonite Brethren Church, where she also helped with youth devotions and worship. (MCC photo by Rachel Bergen)

Rorisang Moliko, 27, is a former IVEPer currently working as the demonstration farm manager at Growing Nations Trust in Maphutseng, Lesotho. (MCC photo by Matthew Sawatzky)

Participants from several African countries are pictured at the 2017 Africa Peacebuilding Institute in Johannesburg, South Africa, at the eMseni Christian Conference Centre. (MCC photo by Zacarias Zimba)

Youth from Soroti Town, Uganda, learn about pig farming at Arapai Agricultural College. (Photo courtesy of APED)

People often say that young people are the future. Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is working with partners in Canada, the United States and around the world to invest in opportunities for young people to serve. It is committed to nurturing and developing the leadership skills of a new generation, with a focus on Anabaptist values such as peacebuilding and servant leadership.

To serve and to give

Sandra Luna assists Jimmi Bedoya, 3, at Centro de Capacitación del Niño (Children’s Training Centre) in El Progreso, Soacha, outside Bogotá, Colombia, where Luna teaches Grade 1 and acts as one of the coordinators of the school. (MCC photo by Colin Vandenberg)

I was born in Santander in north-central Colombia. My husband and I married when he was 17 and I was 15, and we decided to come to Bogotá to look for a better life.

Edmonton store to contribute to Ten Thousand Villages sustainability plan

Board members of the Edmonton Ten Thousand Villages store met on June 27 to decide whether to contribute $100,000 toward a TTV sustainability plan. The board includes (from left) Adrienne Wiebe, Alexandra Ketchum, Robert Proudfoot, Helen Mc Cabe, Kurt Sawatzky, Ghenette Houston, Phyllis Schneider. Not pictured: Kari Morton and Irma Stickland. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

On June 27, 2018, supporters of the Edmonton Ten Thousand Villages (TTV) store voted overwhelmingly to grant its board the authority to gift $100,000 to the TTV program of Mennonite Central Committee (Canada), in a one-time attempt at a sustainability plan.

Supporting uprooted people around the world

Mushiya Christine, left, Kayaya Lulula Clementine and Veronique Lumba Misenga take part in a support group for refugee seniors in Durban, South Africa. (MCC photo by Matthew Sawatzky)

A camp for refugees in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. (Photo courtesy of World Renew)

Jean Pierre Mpiana and Yabu Miadi carry a sack of corn flour, oil and beans they received during a distribution by the Evangelical Mennonite Church in Congo, an MCC partner. They were among 180 households of displaced people who received a three-month supply of food. (MCC photo by Mulanda Jimmy Juma)

Reverend Riad Jarjour, president of the Forum for Development, Culture and Dialogue, holds some of the contents of monthly food packages for Syrian families. (MCC photo by Emily Loewen)

Wanda Waldner, left, Najwa Hussein Al Mohamad, Elaine Hofer, Reyad Alhamoud, Paul Waldner and one-year-old Lee Waldner meet together at Green Acres Colony. (Photo by Ava Waldner)

There are more than 65 million displaced people worldwide—nearly double the population of Canada. The United Nations says this number is unprecedented and the need for humanitarian assistance is only growing. 

Sponsors provide a welcome into their community

The private sponsorship group welcomes Christian and Esperance Manwengwe to Calgary last December. (Photo courtesy of Daria Soltysiak)

Danny and Anna Manwengwe make pizza at their home in Calgary. They arrived from the Democratic Republic of Congo by way of Kenya last December. (Photo courtesy of Daria Soltysiak)

There are 23 million refugees around the world, with 1.2 million in need of resettlement outside of their home country or region.

In 2017, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) helped groups resettle 442 people through the Blended Visa Officer Referred (BVOR) program. That was about one-third of all people who arrived in Canada in that category.

True connections

A Grade 3 class at Hagar Association made signs for International Tolerance Day to promote ethnic and religious tolerance in the region. Hagar is a bilingual MCC-supported school educating 330 Arab and Jewish children from age 1 to Grade 6 in Be’er Sheba, Israel. (Photo courtesy of the Hagar Association)

Tal Dayan, right, and Lev Zemer Gilboa-Oppenheim, left, attend Hagar Association, a bilingual MCC-supported school in Be’er-Sheva, Israel. (Photos courtesy of the Hagar Association)

Walk into Hagar Association, a school in Be’er-Sheva, Israel, and it looks like almost any other school. But if you listen closely, you’ll hear children speaking both Hebrew and Arabic, and see them playing together—uncommon sounds and sights in the region.

Supplying food to people displaced by violence

Agnès Ntumba, second from right in a blue shirt, and her family share a pot of beans that she made from supplies that were part of a food distribution she received earlier that day. (MCC photo by Mulanda Jimmy Juma)

Agnès Ntumba carries a sack of corn flour and oil she received during a distribution by Communauté Evangélique Mennonite in the Democratic Republic of Congo. (MCC photo by Mulanda Jimmy Juma)

Kanku Ngalamulume, 10, lost his entire family to violence in Kasai. In Tshikapa, where Kanku lives, Congolese Mennonites are distributing food packages of maize flour, beans, oil and salt, and hygiene supplies for women. (MCC photo by Mulanda Jimmy Juma)

Jean Felix Cimbalanga, a representative of Communauté Evangélique Mennonite in the Democratic Republic of Congo, explains how a food distribution will work to a group of displaced Congolese people. The distribution in the Kabwela area of Lomami Province took place on March 23 and 24, 2018, with food and hygiene supplies provided by MCC and numerous Anabaptist organizations. (MCC photo by Mulanda Jimmy Juma)

Agnès Ntumba remembers the day her husband and seven children fled the violence that took over their village in the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“I saw people being killed. They were coming to kill us, and we had to escape,” Ntumba said.

Open letter on Syria

J. Ron Byler, left, and Rick Cober Bauman, centre, play games with children from the orphanage run by the Syrian Orthodox Church in Homs, Syria. (MCC photo by Emily Loewen)

“If one member suffers, all suffer together with it” (I Cor. 12:26).

In February, we were part of a Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) delegation to Syria, including Damascus, Homs, Hama and Aleppo. We witnessed the devastation of war and heard testimonies of faith from people who have been living in difficult circumstances now for seven long years.

Bridging Borders in the ‘City of Bridges’

As depicted in Wavelength Entertainment’s series, Bridging Borders, a group of friends from Saskatoon’s Nutana neighbourhood sponsors a family from Sudan. Sponsors and newcomers quickly become friends. (Bridging Borders Facebook page)

In the third episode of Bridging Borders, Dana Krushel, left, MCC Saskatchewan’s migration and resettlement coordinator, connects a Syrian woman with a sponsorship group who help her family come to Canada. Kushel and the woman laugh together at the airport as they await the arrival of the woman’s family. (Bridging Borders Facebook page)

In each episode of Bridging Borders, Dana Krushel, left, MCC Saskatchewan’s migration and resettlement coordinator, welcomes sponsored families and tells them they are no longer refugees but permanent residents of Canada. (Bridging Borders Facebook page)

A new television documentary series featuring the work of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Saskatchewan is currently airing on City-Saskatchewan TV.

MCC celebrates 75 years of service work in India

MCC supports a community school program at a girls’ hostel run by Lee Memorial Mission in Kolkata, India. Pictured are students Priya Biswas, foreground left, and Srilekha Das. (MCC photo by Dave Klassen)

Maheshwar Pujari, pictured with his wife Shakuntala Pujari of Sinisingi village in India’s Orissa region, has seen an increase in rice yields now that he follows the system of rice intensification method of rice cultivation, and after a diversion-based irrigation system was installed in his village in 2013. (MCC photo by Pabitra Paramanya)

Children aged three to five attend an MCC-supported preschool in Andulgaria village, India, in a child-friendly environment to prepare them for primary school in the formal education system. (MCC photo by Dave Klassen)

Canadian Bert Lobe travelled to Kolkata to celebrate MCC’s 75 years in India. (MCC photo by Sanjib Khan)

This year, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is celebrating 75 years of relief, development and peace work in India, making it one of the oldest international aid organizations in the country.

MCC may allow exceptions to ‘lifestyle expectations’

The boards of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Canada and U.S. have approved the possibility of exceptions to the “lifestyle expectations” for some MCC personnel, although those parameters have not been completely defined.

The updates came as the boards reviewed MCC’s human resources framework at their annual joint meeting on March 16 and 17, 2018, in Abbotsford, B.C.

New MCC Ontario executive director appointed

John Head has been appointed as the new executive director of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Ontario, effective immediately. He replaces Rick Cober Bauman, who transitioned to executive director of Mennonite Central Committee Canada last fall. In 2014 Head came to MCC Ontario as associate executive director, focussing on operations. Since the departure of Cober Bauman last fall, he has served as interim executive director.

From hand to hand: the journey to North Korea

Natalie Gulenchyn, who is in her 80s and volunteers at Mennonite Central Committee’s material resources warehouse in Winnipeg, sewed the medical kit bags that were transported to North Korea. (MCC photo by Rachel Bergen)

It’s been a long trek for eight small bags of medical supplies. They have been packed and re-packed, crossed an ocean, passed through three countries and numerous airport security checks. On this day, the bags have reached their destination—a small medical clinic on a farm near Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea.

‘Serving the Lord with gladness’

Opening of the MCC Ontario building in 1964. Pictured from left to right: MCC executive secretary William Snyder, Fred Nighswander, Henry H. Epp and Abner Cressman. (Kitchener-Waterloo Record file photo / Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

When Kathy Hildebrand attended the 1969 annual MCC meeting, she commented to executive secretary William Snyder, ‘I didn’t come to shop at Marshall Field! I came to hear what MCC is doing.’ (Burton Buller photo / Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

William Snyder, MCC’s executive secretary, left, congratulates the retired Orie O. Miller, MCC executive secretary emeritus, at a dinner honouring him on his 75th birthday at the 1968 annual meeting of MCC in Chicago. (CM photograph collection / Mennonite Archives of Ontario)

When the indomitable Orie O. Miller retired from Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in 1958, there was a lot of speculation about who would fill his big shoes. In Miller’s mind, though, that question had been settled years earlier, when he chose, out of the rich Civilian Public Service (CPS) talent pool, the unpresumptuous William Thomas Snyder to be his associate.

MCC B.C. ‘refocusses’ Aboriginal Neighbours program, releases staff

As part of a relationship-building event at Peace Mennonite Church, Richmond, B.C., Darryl Klassen, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) B.C.’s Aboriginal Neighbours program coordinator, presents local elder Ruth Adams with an MCC blanket. In Salish culture, this is an expression of adopting someone into the family. (Credit: MCC BC)

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) British Columbia has decided to dismiss long-time Aboriginal Neighbours program coordinator Darryl Klassen. The decision, which was made early this year, will take effect at the end of December. Klassen, 64, has worked with MCC B.C. for 25 years. 

Can we talk?

Harley Eagle, right, Mennonite Central Committee Canada’s co-coordinator of Indigenous Work with his wife Sue, speaks with other MCC staff and partners at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. (Credit: courtesy of MCC UN office)

Vincent Solomon, the Aboriginal Neighbours coordinator for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Manitoba and a priest for the Anglican Church of Canada, says a blessing for the many MCC infant care and relief kits donated by Native Assembly 2014 participants this summer. (Credit: MC Canada/Dan Dyck)

Roland Ray, left, of the Mathias Colomb First Nation, Sandy Bay, Sask., shows Les Hurlburt how ancient rock paintings depict the land that once belonged to the band, at the fifth annual Spruce River Folk Festival this summer. (Credit: Donna Schulz)

Tension gripped my gut as I drove to a Mennonite church in Altona, Man., with an indigenous friend. We were doing a joint Sunday morning presentation about hydropower impacts. 

I wondered if an indigenous person had ever been in that church. I debated making excuses for whatever suspicion, or worse, my people might direct toward him. I tried to muster grace. 

Introduction to NARPI

NARPI stands for Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuilding Institute and is run through collaboration among several organizations across South Korea, Japan, and China. Their goal is to meet regularly for several weeks in the summer to gather peacebuilding practitioners and students from Northeast Asia to share their experience, get to know one another, and learn new knowledge and skills for peacebuilding in their contexts. 

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