By Patricia Kisare
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
How does one find hope in this increasingly unjust world? How do you stay motivated in your work? These are probably the most frequently asked questions that I hear when talking with church members.
Sometimes the injustice we see in our communities (and beyond) pushes us to want to do something. But other times, situations can seem so dire and paralyzing that they leave us with feelings of hopelessness.
In my advocacy work I have felt both.
As is the case in any peacebuilding work, changing systems that perpetuate injustice requires persistence and resilience. But I am also inspired and energized as I see the tremendous work being done by many of Mennonite Central Committee’s partners around the world.
This past summer I had the opportunity to visit Beza Community Development Association, one of MCC’s partners in Ethiopia. In 2007, Beza began an outreach program to people living around Entoto Mountain, located just outside of Addis Ababa. The majority of people living in this area are HIV positive. They move to Mount Entoto because they believe a spring there has holy water that can heal them.
The lack of adequate shelter, jobs and social services provide a big challenge for this isolated community. In response to these needs, Beza established various programs to help improve the lives of the people living in the Entoto Mountain community.
With support from MCC, Beza provides vocational training, counseling and tutoring services to many of these families. Most of this work is done by young volunteers from universities in Addis Ababa, who are motivated by their faith and desire to serve their communities. Furthermore, participants receive health care services, including free antiretroviral medications provided through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
Beza is only one of many local organizations doing remarkable work to improve the lives of those in desperate need. From Guatemala to eastern Congo, similar works abound thousandfold. The efforts of these local staff and volunteers build hope in the communities they serve and help to inspire the work of building a just world.
Peace on the Hill is a monthly column in PeaceSigns written by staff of the MCC Washington Office highlighting congressional developments and detailing ways the church can continue to be engaged in the work of peace and advocacy.