The Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Initiative (GFI) has announced a series of grants supporting a new Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) position in Ecuador, agricultural training in Mexico and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a community garden and soup kitchen in Alaska, and a water project in Burundi.
A grant of $8,030 supports the placement of a BVS volunteer with GFI partner Fundacion Brethren y Unida (FBU, the United and Brethren Foundation). FBU grew out of the work of the Church of the Brethren in Ecuador from the 1950s until the 1990s. Numerous BVSers served in Ecuador during those years. FBU currently regularly receives volunteers from Europe, North America, and South America, as well as university groups and local school groups from within Ecuador through various programs. The BVS volunteer will be involved with work on the FBU farm, in the local community teaching English, and with the executive director of FBU on grant-writing and social media. FBU will contribute housing, training in agro-ecology, wifi, utilities, and kitchen and laundry facilities. The grant will cover the volunteer’s stipend, food allowance, in-country transportation, a return plane ticket to the US at the end of their term, and miscellaneous expenses.
Please pray… For these grants from the GFI and those who benefit from them. May God bless this work and make it fruitful.
A grant of $3,500 has been given to a coffee start-up business for a group of individuals in Tijuana who are associated with Bittersweet Ministries and the Mt. Horeb Church (soon to be a Church of the Brethren pending government approval). Project leaders are working with select community members to train them on roasting, marketing, and selling coffee that will come directly from farmers in southern Mexico. The project’s success will be reflected in the reach that the small coffee-growing communities are able to obtain and in the reinvestment of the profits they have. The grant funds will cover the cost of purchasing coffee directly from farmers in Colima, Mexico; the remodeling of a storage room in Bittersweet’s Goat Shack restaurant/guesthouse; training in marketing; shipping; a coffee maker; cups and spoons for taste testing; and permits for selling and distributing coffee. GFI has struggled to find a way to impact the poor who live in urban areas. The recipients of this training will benefit by gaining a skill and some business training.
A grant of $4,500 supported a Dryland Vegetable Production workshop hosted by the leadership of Eglise des Freres au Congo (the Church of the Brethren in the DRC), which was attended by 20 participants. Joseph Edema of Uganda, a trainer from Healing Hands International which is based in Tennessee, led the event. Funds helped purchase the drip irrigation equipment, the costs for staff, meals for the attendees, and hoes that were given to those attending the workshop. The proposal was created by Pastor Ron Lubungo of Eglise des Freres au Congo, with input from Edema and GFI volunteer Christian Elliott. The GFI sponsored a successful Dryland Vegetable Production workshop in July 2022 in Burundi that was well received. Several participants from the DRC attended and requested a workshop be held in their country.
A grant of $9,050 supports the Stone Soup Cafe community garden and soup kitchen in Fairbanks. The grant request was submitted by Bill and Penny Gay of Pleasant Dale Church of the Brethren in Decatur, Ind., who have been volunteering in various locations in Alaska for over a decade of summers. They have received numerous grants for gardening projects in the villages of Arctic and Circle, Alaska, and members of the congregation have participated in Vacation Bible School activities as well as the community gardening. The project includes general upgrades of the kitchen, constructing and renovating raised beds at the garden, and building a greenhouse to start more plants not only for the soup kitchen in Fairbanks but also to be planted in the project at Circle.
A grant of $6,380 supports the construction of a water tank in the capital city, Bujumbura, by the Church of the Brethren in Burundi. The main congregation in Burundi is located in the city, where municipal water service is intermittent. The tank will store potable municipal water when it is available, and distribute it free of charge to community members. A new nursery school that is being opened by the congregation also will be served by the water tank.
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