Mennonite Central Committee

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What is nature to you?

The shortest route from Wopisa-Gabriyèl to get medical assistance requires descending this waterfall. (MCC photo by Ted Oswald, 2017)

If you’ve ever invited me to go camping with you, you’ll know I’m not exactly what you would call “outdoorsy.” I enjoy nature, but I don’t really see the need to sleep in it, much less in a stuffy tent with sticks and rocks poking into my back. I feel the same about hiking—I’m just fundamentally unable to understand the appeal of walking for hours through the woods, tripping on rocks and being pestered by insects, just to turn around and walk back again, having accomplished nothing but getting myself exhausted and sweaty?

MCC announces program cuts, changes due to COVID-19

Tha Thi Ke stands in her family’s first cornfield in Vietnam’s Phu Tho Province. In 2001, MCC encouraged farmers to grow winter corn crops and find other ways to supplement income from their rice yields, helping them remain on their land rather than being forced to migrate. (MCC photo by Jack Leonard)

Mushiya Christine, Kayaya Lulula and Veronigue Lumba Misenga took part in a support group for older refugees in 2017, run by MCC partner Refugee Social Services in Durban, South Africa. These elders can feel isolated and stressed, but home visits and support groups help them feel connected. (MCC photo by Matthew Sawatzky)

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) has scaled up its work to respond to the global crisis, increasing projects related to water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH), local health initiatives and food relief.

The gift of giving time

After 46 years, Margie Steingart still works at the Christian Benefit Thrift Shop in St. Catharines, Ont. (MCC 100 stories for 100 years photo)

Many people have given their time to volunteering, but few have a record of volunteering for the same organization for 46 years. Margie Steingart has that distinction. She has volunteered for the Christian Benefit Thrift Shop in St. Catharines, Ont., since it opened in January 1974, making her, at the age of 93, the oldest volunteer there.

MCC set to address COVID-19 threats

Thiciano Pareja Saucedo, 8, washes her hands at El Comedor de Niños, an after-school program for children in the Montero area of Bolivia, about an hour from Santa Cruz. One of its main goals is to improve nutrition and health outcomes in the community by teaching children about healthy eating, gardening and hygiene. (MCC photo by Matthew Sawatzky)

Middle East Council of Churches, an MCC partner, distributed MCC relief kits, which contain hygiene supplies, to the most vulnerable displaced people and host community members in a neighbourhood in the Syriac Orthodox diocese in Aleppo, Syria, in 2016. This year, MCC’s partners in Syria and Lebanon will distribute individual hygiene kits and food to help people protect themselves from the novel coronavirus. Names are withheld for security reasons. (Photo courtesy of MECC)

As COVID-19 spreads and worsens, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) continues its worldwide work while attending to the health and well-being of its staff. 

We need more Peters!

Kayel Truong, centre in white shirt, and crew cut hair for free every Saturday for homeless people living in downtown Calgary.

Peter Worsley

“We need more Peters! He’s only one man,” exclaims ex-offender Kayel Truong, when asked about the Bridges Ministries program run by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Alberta to help prisoners of faith successfully reintegrate into the community.

Four ways MCC is responding to COVID-19

Angela Bifuko Bahati (centre, orange dress) and her family live in the Mubimbi camp outside of Minova in eastern DR Congo. They have access to a clinic supported by MCC. (MCC photo by Matthew Lester)

Things like frequent handwashing and social distancing have become the new normal. This is life during the COVID-19 pandemic. These measures help reduce the spread and keep everyone safe. We’re all in this together.

MCC invites community to participate in day of prayer

Kitchener, Ont.—In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mennonite Central Committee is inviting supporters to join the organization in a day of prayer on Wednesday, March 25. “Times of uncertainty call us to reach out to the most vulnerable in our community: those locally and globally who will be most affected by this crisis,” MCC Ontario said in a statement. “We believe this is a time to recommit ourselves to caring for our neighbours and acting generously—whether in our own homes, across the street or around the world. We invite you to join us... as we come together for #MCCdaytopray.

Water from stone

Aïchatou Hamidou sits with the women who make up her WASH team after finishing their morning errands in Kobiteye, a government camp supporting around 6,000 refugees. (MCC photo by Colin Vandenberg)

With a series of quick, practiced strokes, Aïchatou Hamidou clears the area around a newly built latrine with a long broom made from dry grass.

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.

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