Mennonite Central Committee

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Watch: Dispatches from a SALTer in Colombia

Victoria Callow is currently living and serving in La Mesa, Colombia. (Photo courtesy of YouTube)

Victoria Callow entered the SALT program after graduating from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, with a degree in English education. (Photo courtesy of YouTube)

Our recent Focus on Education issue featured a reflection by Hannah Larson, a young woman serving in northeastern India with Mennonite Central Committee’s Serving and Learning Together program. 

Join ‘The Great Winter Warm-up’

Aleksandr Dmitriyenko holds MCC comforters he received in Zhytomyr, Ukraine, in 2016 during distribution to people displaced by violence in the eastern part of the country. (MCC photo by Colin Vandenberg)

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) will kick off its 100-year anniversary celebration in 2020 by bringing together volunteers in Canada, the United States and Europe to make 6,500 comforters in one day.

Learning to farm with droughts and deluges

Soba Bika Sunchiuri shows some of the vegetables she is growing in a plastic house provided by MCC, which helps her to grow plants in spite of irregular rainfall and deluges caused by climate change. (MCC photo by Luke Reesor-Keller)

With the technical help of Brethren in Community Welfare Society, Hulai Rishidev’s cabbage field is thriving. (Photo courtesy of BICWS/Mahendra Yadav)

Sunita Tamang holds her child, Emma Tamang, 2, in front of her newly built plastic house and the drip irrigation system she will use to grow vegetables in South Lalitpur, Nepal. (MCC photo by Avash Karki)

The weather patterns in Nepal used to be regular about 15 to 20 years ago, says Durga Sunchiuri, who grew up helping his parents farm their land in the mountainous terraces of Nepal’s Terhathum District. Not anymore.

Watch: MCC is 100

Mennonite Central Committee has helped people around the world since 1920. (Photo courtesy of YouTube)

Mennonite Central Committee is gearing up to celebrate its centennial next year, and the relief organization has started producing a number of articles and videos to mark the occasion.

You can watch one of those videos—a three-minute-long piece that covers MCC’s history from 1920 until the present day—below.

Politics and paper cranes

'I still make paper cranes often...' (Image by Anke Sundermeier/Pixabay)

As the policy analyst for Mennonite Central Committee Ottawa, I’m constantly engaging with Canadian politics. I mostly love politics, but it’s also so easy to get drawn into toxic and fruitless debates and arguments. In order to stay grounded, I’ve discovered that I need to regularly reflect on the roots of my political passion—so much of which involves peace and human dignity, specifically the human impacts of political decisions, the stories of people and communities, the inherent dignity of all.

Watch: "The Story of MCC Thrift"

The women who opened the first MCC Thrift Shop in 1972 are portrayed in a new video. (Photo by Paul Plett)

The story of Mennonite Central Committee’s (MCC) thrift shops is given a unique retelling in a new video.

Filmed in one camera shot, the video starts with the creation of the first thrift shop in Altona, Man. in 1972 and traces its growth into a North American-wide network of more than 100 shops that bring in millions of dollars annually to support MCC’s work.

MCC celebrates, serves where its work began

Vladimir Kozlov of New Life, an MCC partner, distributes relief kits, school kits, comforters and canned meat in Nikopol, Ukraine, on June 21. (MCC photo by Matt Sawatzky)

MCC Ukraine staff Anna Proshak, left, and Olga Litvinenko serve corn grits, rye bread and warm cocoa—a 1920s MCC “relief-kitchen dinner”—at a symbolic picnic on June 16. (MCC photo by Matt Sawatzky)

Mary Raber, left, a Mennonite Mission Network worker in Ukraine; Peter Wolfe of Langley, B.C.; Catherine Enns of Winnipeg; and J Ron Byler, executive director of MCC U.S., read from 1920s testimonies of aid recipients and MCC workers at the picnic in Khortitsa on June 16. Behind them is a memorial to Mennonite victims of Stalin’s repression. (MCC photo by Matt Sawatzky)

Under shade trees in a city park on June 16, about 40 Anabaptists shared a picnic of corn grits, rye bread and warm cocoa.

 

‘We became Mennonites’

Lydia Grigoryevna, second from left, gets a birthday hug after worship at Nikolaipolye Mennonite Church on June 16. (Photo by Paul Schrag)

Ivan Kapelushniy, pastor of Nikolaipolye Mennonite Church, greets Mary Raber, who serves in Ukraine with Mennonite Mission Network. (Photo by Paul Schrag)

Welcoming visitors from North America, Ivan Kapelushniy, pastor of Nikolaipolye Mennonite Church, led his congregation of about 15 people in singing “For God So Loved Us” in Russian.

“There are no born Mennonites among us,” Kapelushniy said on June 16 as mission worker Mary Raber translated. “We became Mennonites.”

MCC partner serves people ‘society doesn’t want’

Natalia Mezentseva, second from left, director of New Life, a Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) partner in Ukraine, accepts an MCC centennial paperweight from North American visitors. Looking on are MCC board member Robert Enns of Calgary, left, and Viktoria Rab­chen­yuk, second from right, and Tatiana Yorzh, right, New Life women’s house residents. (Photo by Paul Schrag)

Natalia Mezentseva oversees a household of “women in difficult circumstances.”

With an affirming and instructive place to live, thanks to a Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) partner, their circumstances are better already.  

A group of visitors on an MCC learning tour heard their stories, cuddled a baby, applauded a child’s poetry recital and prayed with them on June 21.

Quilts on display at Abbotsford museum

An exhibit of Mennonite Central Committee B.C. (MCC B.C.) quilts is on display at the Mennonite Heritage Museum in Abbotsford, B.C., until the end of August, when they will go to the Tradex to be sold at the MCC B.C. Festival for World Relief on Sept. 13 and 14. All proceeds from the quilt sales support MCC’s work with uprooted and vulnerable people locally and globally. The public is encouraged to visit the museum or stop by the MCC quilt room (open Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays) at the MCC Centre on Gladys Avenue in Abbotsford.

—By Amy Rinner Waddell

Four decades of welcome

Group photo from a picnic held at Willowgrove Camp in August 1979. Harriet Dick is pictured front left. (Photo courtesy of Harriet Dick)

Harriet Dick, back right, and son Alan, back left, host a refugee family in the Dicks’ backyard in Toronto. (Photo courtesy of Harriet Dick)

A Vietnamese couple’s wedding in 1983, to which Nicholas and Harriet Dick were invited, a signal of their ongoing friendship. The Dicks played a big role in further refugee efforts, including helping to settle a very large extended family of Kosovars. (Photo courtesy of Harriet Dick)

A horse-and-wagon ride at Willowgrove Camp in August 1979. (Photo courtesy of Harriet Dick)

Toronto United Mennonite Church was the first church in Canada to receive privately sponsored “boat people” who were fleeing Vietnam and Laos during the chaos of the Vietnam War. 

MCC Saskatchewan hosts successful relief sale and auction

A shopper admires the wares of Irene Harms at the artisan market, new to this year’s MCC Saskatchewan Relief Sale and Auction. (Photos by Donna Schulz)

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Saskatchewan hosted its 49th annual relief sale and auction at Saskatoon’s Prairieland Park on June 7 and 8. An estimated 750 people took in a supper and concert with Saskatoon bluegrass band, Corner Grass on June 7, while about 2,500 people attended the sale the following day.

The first signs of promise

Francesco Zuba, coordinator of the Association for Assistance to Orphan Children, stands in front of the damaged preschool in the Munhava neighbourhood of Beira, Mozambique. (Photo by Paul Shetler Fast)

Two broken chalkboards thrown by the 190-kilometre-per-hour winds of Cyclone Idai bake in the sun on what remains of the crumpled tin roof of one neighbourhood’s only preschool.

How do we respond to the stranger at our gate?

"If someone declares to us, 'I am a refugee,' we must listen carefully and discern. This has roots in Old Testament law which speaks about caring for the stranger in your land." (Image by Capri23auto/Pixabay)

What is a Christian response to migration? While on a day to day basis, I tend to deal with the nuts and bolts issues of refugee resettlement and Canadian and international policy related to it, I regularly ask myself that question.

MCC wants Canadians to #ChooseWelcome

In light of the highest level of refugees on record, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Canada is calling on individuals, communities, neighbours and faith groups to change lives through Canada’s Blended Visa Office Referred (BVOR) program. The program matches the most vulnerable refugees identified for resettlement by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) with private sponsors in Canada; the Government of Canada gives up to six months of income support.

MCC assisting after Cyclone Idai

Issa Ebombolo, MCC’s peacebuilding coordinator for Zambia and Malawi, unloads cooking oil in the village of Tomali as part of MCC’s Cyclone Idai flood relief project in Malawi. (MCC photo by Amanda Talstra)

Issa Ebombolo was not expecting the level of malnutrition he encountered among people displaced by flooding in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai. But upon arriving in southern Malawi, where he helped distribute food and relief supplies, Ebombolo was taken aback by the dire need for food assistance.

'Everything is possible'

Alma Darweesh, left, Reem Younes, Krista Neustaedter Barg and Brian Darweesh at Younes and Darweesh’s citizenship ceremony. (Photos courtesy of Reem Younes)

For Reem Younes and Brian Darweesh, everything seems possible now that they’re citizens of Canada.

Originally from Syria, Younes and Darweesh moved to Winnipeg in 2015 as privately sponsored refugees, welcomed by a Mennonite community there.

MCC cuts Canadian programs to focus on advocacy

Labrador Innu elder Elizabeth Penashue, left, hosts an MCC learning tour. (2016 MCC Newfoundland and Labrador Facebook Page photo)

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Canada is cutting about $350,000 from its Indigenous Neighbours, Restorative Justice and Low German programs. The changes are driven by a decrease in thrift store income, a shift to more international spending, and a decision to “go deeper” rather than wider. 

How steam wells work to relieve droughts in Ethiopia

MCC's first steam well, constructed in Bidu, Afar, in northern Ethiopia. (MCC photo by Rose Shenk)

Sisay Kasu, left, project manager for MCC Ethiopia, and Hussien Edris, project coordinator for Afar Pastoralist Development Association (APDA), look at the sediment trap leading into a birkat, a traditional water catchment system that MCC and APDA have expanded and modernized as part of an emergency water project in northern Ethiopia. (MCC photo by Rose Shenk)

From where he is standing, MCC Ethiopia representative Bruce Buckwalter can feel warm air escaping from underground steam vents. Notice the dried grass that grows from moisture making its way to the surface from the underground steam. (MCC photo by Rose Shenk)

MCC Ethiopia representative Bruce Buckwalter, left, and Sisay Kasu, MCC project coordinator in Ethiopia, stand in 40-degree C heat next to a traditional Afari steam collection structure in the Afar Desert in northern Ethiopia. (MCC photo by Rose Shenk)

In parts of the world where the effects of climate change are severe and rains are dangerously infrequent, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is supporting innovative projects to improve access to water.

In the Afar region of Northern Ethiopia, MCC supported the Afar Pastoralist Development Association (APDA) to build and maintain a steam well benefitting 60 households.

North Korean farmers visit Manitoba, build relationships

Jennifer Deibert, left, MCC North Korea program coordinator, and North Korean agricultural delegates An Hui Jun and Jon Bom Ho talk shop with Martin Entz, a professor in the plant science department at the University of Manitoba, at a research farm in Carman, Man. (MCC photo by Colin Vandenberg)

Donna Rice, MCC representative for Northeast Asia, and Ambassador Ri Yong of the North Korean Mission to the United Nations, and others share a meal at the home of Charlotte and Ernie Wiens in La Salle, Man. (MCC photo by Matthew Sawatzky)

In those first few minutes after arriving at Syl’s Restaurant in Carman, members of a delegation from North Korea sit at the edge of the outdoor eating area, where they see local resident Rene McFarlane at a picnic table with her son Lane. The visitors move toward McFarlane and, with the help of a translator, a conversation about families in both countries begins.

MCC supports vulnerable people on the move

Daniel (a pseudonym) took this photo as members of the caravan he is with in Mexico climb aboard big trucks that will carry them north for a while. (Photo courtesy of Daniel)

This asylum seeker, unnamed for his protection, takes the bus from Casa Alitas, a respite house in Tucson, Ariz., to his next destination. The vast majority of asylum seekers from Central America have family in the United States with whom they plan to stay while awaiting a decision from immigration courts. (Thomas Nilsson photo: thomasnilsson@mac.com)

An asylum seeker at Casa Alitas, a respite house in Tucson, Ariz., shows his ankle-tracking monitor put on by an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent at the Nogales, Ariz., port of entry. (MCC photo by Katherine Smith)

MCC East Coast funds the work of Rachel Díaz, left, a consulting attorney who helps immigrants attending Anabaptist churches in the U.S. to know their rights and get the legal status they are seeking. She is pictured with clients Maria Lopez Solis and Genry Rivas and their son Daniel Andre Rivas Lopez. (MCC photo by Andrew Bodden)

A mural at Centro de Atención a Migrantes en Éxodo (Center for Attention to Migrants in Exodus), a migrant shelter for families and individuals in transit, depicts Jesus riding on top of ‘La bestia’ (‘the beast’) with migrants who ride the train to the north. (MCC photo by Laura Pauls)

María Socorro Pineda, centre, stands with her daughter Evelin Briggith Lopez Pineda, 17, and son Herson Alfredo Pineda, 13, at their house. The family left with a migrant caravan in October but were forced by illness to come back home. (MCC photo by Jill Steinmetz)

When Magdalena Marcos Perez of Guatemala learned to diversify the produce in her garden through an MCC-supported project, she began to make more money. She used to consider migrating to the U.S. (MCC photo by Matthew Lester)

Daniel (a pseudonym, for security reasons) doesn’t have just one reason for leaving his daughter, 8, and parents in Honduras. He has many reasons for joining a caravan of thousands of migrants walking toward the U.S. border with Mexico.

“I was forced to leave because there weren’t jobs or opportunities, plus the insecurity and violence. It was a little bit of everything,” he says.

Congratulations, Simon Eng

Linda Dickinson, MCC Alberta’s material resources coordinator, presents Simon Eng with a cake honouring his achievement in packing 35,000 school kits over the past 12 years. ‘I may not have much, but I have my hands,’  is something he has said many times over the years. (MCC Alberta photo)

Every Tuesday, the bell at the front desk of the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Alberta headquarters in Calgary dings incessantly, whether a receptionist is sitting there or not. “Hi, Simon!” someone says, and Simon wanders off to get a coffee and a snack, and then he ambles down the hall to the material resources warehouse.

‘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.

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