A first round of grants for 2012 has been announced by the Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF). Totaling $23,500, the grants have supported work toward food security in the Sahel region of northern Africa, Haiti, and Honduras.
The GFCF has given $5,000 this year for a total of $35,000 since 2009 for wells and food programs to NAGARTA, a nonprofit organization in Niger. Niger is in the Sahel region of Africa situated just south of the Sahara desert and continuing southward into the savanna regions that cross the entire continent, touching numerous countries. International aid agencies predict a coming famine as poor rainfall last year and this are endangering crop and livestock farmers. NAGARTA recently reported that since November they have completed 10 wells and trained community committees on proper installation and maintenance of wells.
Another grant of $3,000 was given to an initiative in Burkina Faso from the Church of the Brethren Foods Resource Bank (FRB) account. The church is involved in the FRB through the Global Food Crisis Fund. Along with other FRB partners, this project of the Office of Development of Evangelical Churches in Burkina Faso works with farmers involved with agroforestry, sesame production, and supplemental nutrition programs.
Also in April, a $3,000 grant was sent to L’Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti) for a pond project in the village of Aux Plaines on the island of La Tortue. The pond is used for watering livestock in the dry season. This is a second grant toward an effort that includes many local Brethren. The plan is to stabilize the sides of the pond. Animals will still have access while allowing for other possible uses of the pond. Last spring, a group from McPherson (Kan.) College spent one week on the island.
In early April, a grant of $12,500 was given to Proyecto Aldea Global in Honduras. PAG’s executive director Chet Thomas shared the following: “The Church of the Brethren has provided financial support to set up more than 200 family businesses over the past several years, that has provided a small economic miracle to the lives of these families. Currently we have families which have started with one small female pig and today have over 80 pigs in different stages of growth.” Thomas’s home church is Maple Spring Church of the Brethren in Hollsopple, Pa.
A new GFCF Review Panel is named
Along with a new manager–Jeff Boshart, who served most recently as Haiti response coordinator for Brethren Disaster Ministries–the Global Food Crisis Fund also has a new Review Panel which helps make decisions about grants. The five members are:
Merle Crouse of St. Cloud, Fla., who brings experience as a sea-going cowboy with Heifer Project, former district executive, and former denominational staff in Turkey, Germany, and Ecuador, and with the General Board’s World Ministries and Parish Ministries. He is on the ministerial team of New Covenant Church of the Brethren in Gotha, Fla.
Jeff Graybill whose family farm is located near Manheim, Pa., works with Penn State Extension providing educational programming in Lancaster County with special interest in nutrient management and no-till cropping systems. He holds degrees in Agronomy from Penn State and Cornell University and has participated in workcamps in Nigeria and Kentucky.
Beth Gunzel of York Center Church of the Brethren in Lombard, Ill., who previously worked in the Dominican Republic as consultant to the microfinance project funded by the GFCF. She holds degrees in Social Work and Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois and is an employment training manager at Growing Home, Inc., in Chicago.
Gretchen Sarpiya, originally from Genadendal, South Africa, and currently a church planter in Rockford, Ill., alongside her husband Samuel. As a discipleship trainer director, she worked in many African countries during her 16 years with Youth With a Mission.
Jim Schmidt, who farms over 1,000 acres of corn and soybeans near Polo, Ill., and attends Polo Church of the Brethren. He has a degree in Agronomy from the University of Illinois. Along with his wife Karen he has partnered with three other congregations and local business people who are now in their eighth year of having a Growing Project with the Foods Resource Bank.
For more about the Global Food Crisis Fund go to www.brethren.org/gfcf .