|United Methodists join in Sudan water mission project|
Adel Dut holds seeds for planting outside a refugee camp
in the South Darfur region of Sudan. The United Methodist Committee on
Relief and a United Methodist church in Ohio are collaborating to
improve water and sanitation systems in the camps. UMNS file photos by
Paul Jeffrey, UMCOR.
A UMNS Report
By Linda Bloom*
April 12, 2007
Adut Malek Wul and her children sit on a woven mat given to them by UMCOR.
Water is a basic need everywhere and is particularly important for
displaced people in camps in South Darfur, Sudan, and their host
Now a four-year relief project is focusing on re-establishing water
supplies and improving sanitation in refugee camps in the war-torn
African nation. The ministry is an outgrowth of a continuing
collaboration between Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church in Tipp City,
Ohio, and the United Methodist Committee on Relief.
The project is coming together at a time when continuing violence and
political instability pose a threat to humanitarian assistance in
Darfur, where at least 400,000 people have been killed and more than 2
million driven from their villages during four years of fighting between
rebels and militias.
"Water is absolutely the most critical health need in Darfur," said Karen Smith, a Ginghamsburg staff member.
The Ohio church’s fundraising efforts for Sudan have inspired other
congregations, including a New York church where musicians and actors
performed in a March 26 benefit concert called "Songs for Darfur: The
In all, the Ginghamsburg church has raised more than $1.8 million for
its work with UMCOR in Sudan, which started in February 2005.
The initial focus was on providing basic needs for displaced people
but now includes ministries involving education, agriculture and health.
The first contributions came at the end of 2004, when the Rev. Mike
Slaughter challenged the 4,000-member Ohio congregation to give half of
what they would spend on Christmas gifts to the Sudan offering. UMCOR
and Ginghamsburg used the $317,000 raised for a self-sustaining
The 2005 Christmas "miracle offering" raised $530,000, and a
five-year child protection and development ministry was launched with
UMCOR and now serves 15,000 children.
"Our goal with the 2006 miracle offering was to raise at least
$500,000 for year two (of the child protection program)," Smith
explained, adding that Slaughter also encouraged the Ginghamsburg church
family "to go above and beyond that."
The result was a $1 million "miracle offering," including donations
of some $81,000 from other churches and organizations in Ohio, Alabama,
California and Wisconsin.
Ginghamsburg approached UMCOR about the idea of starting a water
project with the additional half million dollars raised. Marc Maxi, who
leads UMCOR’s nongovernmental division, said a need exists for clean and
potable water because the same water "was being used not only by
animals but by human beings."
The plan is to rehabilitate wells and drill bore holes at the sites
of 10 existing water yards, which are protected areas where separate
water resources will be available for humans and livestock. The project
will benefit about 220,000 people.
Placing the water resources near operations for the child protection
ministry – which includes education, food security, teacher training and
school rehabilitation – completes "the holistic approach that we are
taking," Maxi said.
"Water is absolutely the most critical health need in Darfur."
The approach also enhances child protection, according to Smith,
because "generally, in Darfur, it is the job of the girl children to go
out and collect the water for the family."
A delegation from Ginghamsburg, UMCOR and the United Methodist Board
of Global Ministries will visit South Darfur in June to evaluate the
ministries and get updates on peace efforts.
Other churches have started their own fundraising efforts to help
Sudan. Last December, the Rev. Paul Dirdak, then UMCOR’s chief
executive, spoke about the Ginghamsburg Christmas offerings at the
Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew, United Methodist, in New York City.
Victoria Clark, a long-time member and Tony Award-winning Broadway
actress for "The Light in the Piazza," was among those inspired to
respond and conferred with the Rev. James "K" Karpen after the service.
"Paul was the inspiration that moved me into action," she said.
St. Paul and St. Andrew already had collaborated on a benefit concert
for Sudan last November with an interfaith partner, Congregation B’nai
Jeshurun, which netted a few thousand dollars for UMCOR.
This time, the goal was larger and involved the New York theater and
music community. Concert hosts were Clark; Jane Kelly Williams, a
singer-songwriter and church member; and Cheyenne Jackson, whose
Broadway credits include "All Shook Up," "Aida," and "Thoroughly Modern
"With our belief that hope fuels the brilliant writers, the wise
activists and those who work diligently for peace, we are here to answer
the stronger calling in each of us that believes something can and will
be done so that the spirit and homes of the refugees are restored and
they are freed to flourish as a people," Williams wrote in the concert
More than 600 people attended the concert, which raised $20,367.
Because most of the expenses were donated, the bulk of the proceeds will
go to UMCOR, except for a $2,000 donation to the Darfur People’s
Association of New York, which ships clothes and school supplies to
Darfur refugees in Chad.
Included in the total was a $1,000 grant from the Children’s Relief
Fund in Denver, secured by Jon Mikel Zeigler, a church member and the
concert director. Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS also gave a $5,000
grant in honor of the participating artists.
The water project and other work can be supported through donations
to "Sudan Emergency," Advance No. 184385. Checks can be dropped in
church collection plates or mailed directly to UMCOR at P.O. Box 9068,
New York, NY 10087-9068. To make a credit card donation, call (800)
554-8583. Online donations can be made at http://secure.gbgm-umc.org/donations/umcor/donate.cfm
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sudan relief continues during uncertain period
Ohio church, UMCOR collaborate on Sudan Project
UMCOR allocates $1 million to Sudan start-up work
Ginghamsburg Church: Sudan