The recipient organizations of our international giving vary somewhat from year to year. The general rule is that one or more Seekers are personally involved in these organizations in some way. Recipients are chosen by consensus among the congregation at the start of every year.
Seekers Church supports many missions and ministries in the United States and other countries. The amount budgeted for international giving this year is 20% of what we expect to receive in offerings over the course of the year. Once our budget for the year was approved, and the overall amount available for international giving had been determined by the Stewards of Seekers Church, all members of the faith community were invited to request support for missions or ministries where they are personally involved.
After worship on February 17th the community affirmed support for eight international missions and ministries:
Bokamoso Youth Foundation – Winterveldt, South Africa
Othandweni Day Care and Guest House – Winterveldt, South Africa
PAVA (Programa de Ayuda a los Vecinos del Altiplano) – Chimaltenango, Guatemala
Collegio Miguel Angel Asturias – Quetzaltenango, Guatemala
Pueblo a Pueblo – Guatemala
Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) – Kabul, Afghanistan
New Story Leadership – Israel/Palestine
Muslim Women’s Coalition “Turabi Manzil” – Mysore, India
Here are the international missions and ministries we are supporting this year. To visit their web sites, click on the name of the organization.
In this category, we support international organizations that build the capacity of community systems or improve the quality of life, with some emphasis on women and children.
The Bokamoso Youth Foundation supports the Bokamoso Youth Centre, in Winterveldt, South Africa. The Center seeks to empower at-risk youth through life and work skills training, professional counseling, and administration of scholarships for further education that are funded by the Bokamoso Youth Foundation. The Bokamoso (the Tswana word for “future”) program has been offering hope and a future to the youth of Winterveldt since 1999.
Seekers supports the Centre through an annual exchange program that brings twelve young people from Winterveldt to share their life stories through poetry, songs and theatrical performances with people in the US. The intent is to raise awareness of the challenges young people face in Winterveldt, South Africa, and to widen the circle of support for the youth of the Bokamoso Youth Centre.
Seekers Church has had a connection with Bokamoso that goes back many years. The Foundation grew out of a decade of support within Seekers for the emerging partnership with Bokamoso, and many of us are actively involved with Bokamoso.
During the annual visit from Bokamoso, Seekers Church sponsors a career workshop, to help Bokamoso members plan for future employment, and to support Bokamoso staff as they plan for the long-term viability of their program.
Seekers’ link to the Othandweni Day Care at Winterveldt began in 2002 when Seekers were invited to help with its construction and the training of the Team to run what was then a guest house, designed to welcome visitors to the Bokamoso Life Centre and associated missions. In 2005, the Team added the Day Care operation. Presently they care for fifty neighborhood children at risk, many orphaned by HIV/AIDS. As a service to the community, they also run an After-School Program for about 60 junior high students. Othandweni provides an oasis of hope for pre-school children who otherwise would be running loose in a dangerous area, and for the junior high students a place to sing and dance and share their aspirations in a supportive environment.
In addition to financial support, Seekers has given time and technical support. In 2011, the Friends of Othandweni was formed to give more consistent support but with the goal that the Centre would eventually become sustainable with South African support. Many Seekers are involved. Click here to go to a recent Seekers sermon about Othandweni: “Living the Covenant with Othandweni.”
PAVA (Aid Program for Highland Communities) is a Guatemalan non-govermental organization (NGO) that works closely with rural communities in the Department of Chimaltenango, Guatemala to achieve long-term sustainable development through community-based projects and programs. A small, full-time staff based in Antigua, manages PAVA’s programs, providing technical expertise and coordination for:
• Infrastructure projects (including potable water systems, bridge construction, school construction, and community libraries);
• On-going programs in the areas of environment (including reforestation, appropriate technology and promotion of conservation and vegetable gardens); and
• Education (including scholarship programs which allow rural Guatemalan children to finish high school, and a professional development program for teachers to improve the quality of education in primary schools).
This year’s contribution will help fund construction of a village library in La Loma, Tecpan. The La Loma Library is the focus of this year’s work pilgrimage to Guatemala, sponsored by Seekers Church. This will be the 11th pilgrimage led by Seekers to support the work of PAVA. For more information, see the pilgrimage page on our web site.
Miguel Angel Asturias Academy is a private, non-profit Pre K-12 school in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, founded in 1994 to eliminate education disparities through subsidized tuition and creates informed, critically-thinking, socially conscious citizens through its curriculum.
Asturias Academy currently serves approximately 300 students from varying backgrounds: indigenous, non-indigenous, poor, working class and middle class. The Academy’s curriculum is based on the popular education theory of Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, in which systems of injustice are confronted and transformed on the basis of all as teachers and learners. The Academy has two main missions: get ALL Guatemalan children in school and break cycles of poverty through education.
Many Seekers have visited the Asturias Academy and we welcomed the founder to Washington DC on his last visit.
Pueblo a Pueblo was established in 2001 to address the widespread poverty, illiteracy and poor health afflicting the communities surrounding Santiago Atitlan, a T’zutujil community nestled on the shores of Lake Atitlan in the Western Highlands of Guatemala. This village of 43,000 residents is one of the largest indigenous Maya communities in the Americas. Their name, which can be interpreted as “village to village” or “people to people,” celebrates the bond between local and international supporters and the indigenous families of Guatemala.
Today they work in multiple communities in the Santiago Atitlan region.
• Reducing maternal and infant mortality;
• Teaching new mothers about parenting, child care and family planning;
• Helping children stay in school and succeed;
• Keeping infants and children healthy with regular medical and dental exams;
• Delivering nutritious meals at school;
• Teaching children to grow their own vegetables;
• Improving literacy with a school library and ongoing literacy activities; and
• Providing the facilities, education and clean water needed to keep children healthy and teach them good sanitation and hygiene habits
AIL is an Afghan women’s non-governmental organization (NGO) which was founded in 1995 by Dr. Sakena Yacoobi to help address the crisis of poor access to education and health services for Afghan women and children and subsequently their inability to support their lives, and the impact this has on Afghan society as a whole. AIL’s internationally recognized work plays a major role by creating or reconstructing education and health systems capable of reaching the women and children of Afghanistan–whether in refugee camps or in their homeland. AIL’s visionary programs have had a major impact and are now being replicated by the Afghan government and other NGOs in the region.
AIL presently has offices in Kabul and Herat, Afghanistan and in Peshawar, Pakistan. It is run by women and employs 70% women. AIL believes that an educated people are the key to a future developed Afghanistan. With that in mind, AIL works to empower all Afghans who are needy and oppressed by expanding their education and health opportunities and by fostering self-reliance and community participation. AIL’s goals are to lay a foundation for quality education and good health for years to come and to provide comprehensive education and health services to Afghan women and children, so that they can support and care for themselves.
Our link to AIL began many years ago through a personal connection with Sakena, who visited Seekers during a recent trip to Washington DC.
New Story Leadership seeks to inspire a new story of possibility for the Middle East by bringing outstanding Israeli and Palestinian students to Washington DC to experience American culture, history and democracy. Through living, learning, and working together, these future leaders come to respect difference, not to fear it, and to view the conflict with new eyes. Before, during and after the program, NSL strives to support all its graduates as they return home with a new hope about building a better future together.
Seekers Church is pleased to be hosting the US office of New Story Leadership in our facility, and members of Seekers and the Eyes to See Ears to Hear Peace Prayer mission group have an active partnership with NSL during their annual visit to Washington D.C.
In recent years, the world has awakened to a need to better understand Muslims and their faith. Many are only now realizing the contribution Islamic civilization has made to global society. For example, the principles of democracy, equality, justice, and communal welfare are inherently Islamic values introduced with the advent of the faith. Ultimately, these fundamental Islamic principles are designed to create harmony and balance in society.
The Muslim Women’s Coalition (MWC) is dedicated to upholding these and other Islamic principles by uniting American Muslim women who seek to serve the worldwide community with compassion, love and goodwill. Women occupy a unique role in society. As the primary caregivers and nurturers of our children, women are the heart of the family. MWC aims to reach beyond the family, and use this position to serve the local, regional, and global communities. A non-profit, community service organization, MWC is primarily a conduit to provide relief and support to those in need, domestically and overseas. The Muslim Women’s Coalition also aims to serve as a resource for all Americans to learn about women in Islam. They provide the interfaith, media and policy-making communities access to timely, relevant information, and act as a channel for the Muslim woman’s viewpoint on issues pertaining to domestic policy, civil society, and foreign affairs.
Women of Seekers Church work in partnership with the local office of MWC, and offer a contribution this year in honor of Uzma Farooq.