Around the world MCC works with many inspiring partners. They know their local context, have creative ideas and work hard to make a difference in their community. We asked MCC workers around the world to tell us about the partners they've encountered, the great work they do and the difference those projects make. Here's what some of them had to say:
MCC photo by Kaitlin Heatwole
Father Douglas Bazi is a Chaldean priest responsible for Mar Elia church center in Iraq, where over 100 displaced families have lived since fleeing their homes around Mosul last year.
Bazi usually has creative solutions to problems. Near the beginning of the displacement, when kids and adults alike had little to do in the hot weather, he organized competitions for kids to collect the most cigarette butts and other trash in order to receive prizes. This focused attention on taking care of the church’s grounds, provided activities for kids and discouraged adults from smoking.
Photo courtesy of Zakho Small Villages Project
A widow (name withheld for security) living in an area near territory controlled by the Islamic State group describes the impact of a project with our local partner Zakho Small Villages Project that provides beehives to female-headed households. “On Aug. 9, the terrorist groups controlled Sinjar and surrounded our village for about two months. During this time we did not receive any support. So we benefited from the remaining honey production (twenty kilos) to feed our kids at that crucial stay, and I also helped my neighbors in the village."
— By Kaitlin Heatwole, program coordinator in Iraq
MCC photo by Jeanne Jantzi
Phan Van Do, is advising MCC on addressing the legacy of the war in Vietnam. He says: "My history has so many ups and downs and is connected to war, killing, hatred, and love. I want to commit myself to helping….I do volunteer work with victims of Agent Orange, the poorest families. In my opinion, once we decide to help people, we should not differentiate between veterans from the North or veterans from the South or civilians. The criteria is to serve humanity first.”
— Jeanne Jantzi, one of MCC's area directors for Southeast Asia
MCC photo by Lindsay Linegar
Years ago, Ayikoru Florence (left) had an idea to start a tailoring program in Juba, South Sudan. She thought giving undereducated, war-affected women a chance to learn a trade would propel them out of poverty and into a sustainable livelihood. Since MCC began supporting the sewing program in 2009, now a project of the Episcopal Church of Sudan's Mother's Union, hundreds of women, including Anet Konga (right) have graduated from the program. In her community, Anet has established herself as a well-known tailor. Working out of her husband's motorcycle parts shop, she regularly earns about $117 per month. Here, the two women discuss ideas for improving Anet’s business.
— Lindsay Linegar, MCC program support officer in South Sudan
Palestine and Israel
This picture is of Hala'a and myself was taken at The Peace Center for the Blind in Shua'afat, East Jerusalem, where I worked. Hala'a has severe vision impairment and is a very passionate and positive leader among the other young girls. The Peace Center for the Blind is a boarding school for girls with blindness or vision impairments who are from low-income families from the West Bank. Part of my role at the center is to teach weekly piano. I believe playing piano is extremely valuable as it assists in the development of [the children’s] fine motor skills, which will later benefit them when learning to read braille. Even more so, playing piano gives the girls a much-needed respite from their often stressful living environments and rigorous studies. I have learned so much from my time at the Peace Center -- when to work, when to play, but most importantly to always be hopeful and to always continue no matter what the circumstance.
Ahmad is a participant of the Lajee Center in Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem, West Bank, Palestine. In this picture he's watching from the windows of Lajee as Israeli soldiers clash with youth from the camp. Unfortunately, this is a regular occurrence in Aida Camp. The Lajee Center is an MCC partner who provides youth from the camp with constructive and creative extra-curricular activities after school. Ahmad is a bright, quiet leader, among the youth of Lajee. My role at Lajee is to assist in the media unit with the production of their videos about the center and life in Aida Camp. MCC greatly values Lajee Center as a partner as they display some of the most genuine hospitality and provide us with a very raw glimpse of what life is like for Palestinians living in refugee camps — a truth that is a privilege to witness.
— Joanna Stauffer, A 2014-2015 Serving and Learning Together (SALT) participant
MCC photo by Shauna Frantz
These young Roma community leaders were once students being tutored by MCC partner Bread of Life Belgrade (BOLB). They are now staff and volunteers with BOLB, tutoring the next generation in the Roma community in Surcin, Serbia, where BOLB has been working the last decade. They encourage Roma youth to complete high school and go on to further education if they choose. BOLB provides monthly seminars for these youth leaders to learn more about child development, psychology and other skills. The project also intentionally integrates Roma and Serbian families in fun public activities, helping to break down exclusionary stereotypes in society.
— Shauna Frantz, MCC East Europe Program Coordinator