Friday, January 27, 2012

St. Paul's African Development Project wins Bishop's Outreach Award

Bishop Johnston, left; Sue Rainey, middle;
Wilma Bradbeer right;
receiving the award this morning
RESTON -- The big news for us as the annual Diocesan Council opened this morning is that our very own African Development Project won the Bishop's Award for Outreach, conferred by Bishop Shannon Johnston. Hundreds of people applauded as Sue Rainey and Wilma Bradbeer accepted the award on behalf of the dozens of volunteers here and in Kenya who have worked so hard on this project since 1985.

The certificate states: "The Bishop's Outreach Award honots an Episcopal church or related faith-based non-profite organization within the Diocese of Virginia whose mission and ministries for those in need give practical expression of exemplary Christian service and love of neighbor."

Here is more background on the African Development Project from the nomination forms:

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Begun in 1985 at St. Paul’s Memorial Church in Charlottesville, the African Development Project has supported specific, effective programs in East Africa that enable participants to grow more food, improve their heath, education, and income, and care for the sick and orphaned. ADP has direct links with the leaders of these programs, many of whom have visited Virginia over the years. This means that ADP’s supporters often feel a personal connection with those they are helping and are confident their donations are well used. ADP’s assistance goes directly to these programs and involves no overhead expenses.

Since its inception, ADP has worked with World Neighbors, an international development organization with several projects in Kenya, and the Oyani Christian Rural Services, directed by the Rev. Peter Indalo in western Kenya. Many guests from Kenya have spoken at events such as ADP’s fund-raising dinners called “Harambees.” They have taught ADP volunteers much about their needs and what works to bring lasting change. In 2007, Melanie Macdonald, the CEO of World Neighbors, discussed how communities are organized to solve problems in sustainable ways. Brief descriptions of these two projects follow:

World Neighbors program in Busia district, directed by Chris Macolo, teaches soil and crop improvement, goat and poultry management, and better nutrition for children and those with HIV/AIDS.

Oyani Christian Rural Services, led by the Rev. Peter Indalo, plants trees, provides clean water, teaches cabinetry and metal work, and provides school uniforms and fees for over 60 orphans.

Since 2005, when three women from ADP went Kenya, these projects have stretched its resources to help several additional organizations, including two that focus on helping AIDS orphans and their caregivers by creating new “families” in local communities:
Nyalwodep Project for Orphans, led by Rev. James Ouma, pairs orphans with widows who look out for their wellbeing, and provides meals and education.

The Kitui Development Center, led by Janet Mumo, enables thousands of villagers to meet their basic needs primarily through women’s groups and combats child labor and exploitation by teaching vocational skills. During the terrible unrest after the contested election in December 2007, the leaders asked for special contributions for their endangered participants; with generous donations from ADP supporters we sent emergency gifts that made a real difference.

The African Development Project holds an annual fund-raising dinner, the "Harambee," at St. Paul's Memorial Church, and sometimes at Trinity Episcopal Church, in Charlottesville. Since 1985, more than $600,000 has been raised for ADP through the Harambee dinners and with other gifts. The last fund-raiser, on September 30, 2011 had more than 100 people who attended. Those who attended heard inspiring, informative talks by two special guests from Kenya: Pastor James Ouma, and Kenya's Ambassador to the United States, Elkanah Odembo.

Pastor Ouma, who with his wife Alice directs the Nyalwodep village, where 65 widows care for 120 children orphaned by HIV/AIDS. The pressing needs are for money for food, better shelter, school fees, and a better water source.

Ambassador Odembo is an old friend of ADP, who visited here twenty years ago when he worked with World Neighbors. He described numerous positive changes in Kenya that inspire hope for the future. He also met privately with ADP and church leaders, talking candidly about the challenges facing East Africa and how the Episcopal Church can strengthen its presence and partnerships in his country.

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