YORK (UMNS) — A major donation from a United Methodist family will
underwrite school expenses for 2,000 children in Zimbabwe whose parents
have died of AIDS.
Officials of the United Methodist Committee on
Relief (UMCOR) and the Zimbabwe United Methodist Church announced the
new education project on June 18.
The gift of about $3 million,
along with $500,000 from the United Methodist Board of Global
Ministries, will cover costs of primary and secondary education,
including vocational training, for the children for six years.
existing orphan trusts and two new communities will be selected as
project sites. Girls and children with disabilities will be a special
focus of the new program. It will also help participating families and
communities with school feeding programs and birth registration.
Zimbabwe about 7,000 children are under the care of several orphan
trusts supported by UMCOR, the international humanitarian aid agency of
the church. The new funds will help the church increase its service to
these orphans, says the Rev. Paul Dirdak, UMCOR’s chief executive.
Rev. R. Randy Day, the board of global ministries’ chief executive,
called ministry to children a top priority in global Christian mission
as he praised the donors.
Planned as a sustainable project, with
involvement of church and community representatives in Zimbabwe, the
effort could be extended another four years, if additional funding is
identified. Both the Zimbabwe East and West annual conferences of the
United Methodist Church are key stakeholders. A 13-member board will
oversee the project, coordinated by faculty from Africa University.
of the church’s new project coincided with Zimbabwe’s first national
AIDS conference June 15. Health ministry officials say up to 3,000
people in Zimbabwe die of AIDS-related illnesses each week. Complicating
the pandemic are other humanitarian crises, such as armed conflict,
poverty and lack of access to health care.
Contributions can be
made to UMCOR Advance #982842, AIDS Orphans Trust, and to UMCOR Advance
#101218, AIDS Awareness and Children Impacted by HIV/AIDS in Africa.
Donors can place their checks in church offering plates or mail directly
to UMCOR, 475 Riverside Dr., Room 330, New York, NY 10115; or make a
credit card donation by calling 800-554-8583.
*Linda Beher is communications director for the United Methodist Committee on Relief.