"Short mission trips will allow women to build friendships
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Short mission trips will allow women to build friendships
A UMNS file photo by Jane Malone
Zimbabwean women work in the gardens at a Shalom Zone project in a suburb of Mutare.
Zimbabwean women work in the gardens at Isheanesu, the Shalom Zone project at Hilltop United Methodist Church in a high-density suburb of Mutare, Zimbabwe. The gardens feed church members and children in an after-school program. The Women's Division and Mission Volunteers office of the denomination's Board of Global Ministries are forming a partnership that will enable U.S. women to build friendships with women in countries such as Zimbabwe. A UMNS file photo by Dean Snyder. Photo number05-457. Accompanies UMNS #365, 6/24/05
June 24, 2005
By Kelly Martini*
NEW YORK (UMNS)—The Women’s Division and Mission Volunteers office of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries are forming a partnership that will enable U.S. women to build friendships on short mission trips in Zimbabwe, Uruguay, Cambodia, Sierra Leone and Cote D’Ivoire.
The goal of the program, called “Ubuntu eXplorers,” is to enable U.S. women to understand and share together the daily life, struggles, culture, challenges and opportunities of women from one of the countries. During the one- to two-week trips, members of United Methodist Women also will get a firsthand look at the programs and projects supported by their annual giving of about $20 million.
The program will begin in 2006 with an April visit to Zimbabwe. Trips to Uruguay in August and Cambodia in September will follow. In 2007, the Women’s Division and Mission Volunteers will host trips to Sierra Leone and Cote D’Ivoire.
“Ubuntu” is an African word and proverb meaning, “I am human because you are human.” According to Ubuntu psychology, “Sharing ourselves and our gifts with others optimizes our collective and individual humanity. Even in the sharing and the giving, the individual or ‘other’ group receives the gifts and the glories of humanity.”
Jeanie Blankenbaker, staff executive for Mission Volunteers, said the idea of “Ubuntu eXplorers” came as an answer to a prayer from Grace Musuka, coordinator of women’s work for the United Methodist Church in Zimbabwe.
A UMNS file photo by Dean Snyder
Women produce meals from this kitchen in Zimbabwe as part of a United Methodist program.
The women of Isheanesu in a high-density suburb of Mutare, Zimbabwe, produce meals from this kitchen and the adjacent bread-baking oven, in two Shalom Zone enterprises at Hilltop United Methodist Church. From left are: Trawde Mhlanga, Audrey Chivhumze and Caroline Chanderia. The Women's Division and Mission Volunteers office of the denomination's Board of Global Ministries are forming a partnership that will enable U.S. women to build friendships with women in countries such as Zimbabwe. A UMNS file photo by Jane Malone. Photo number 05-458. Accompanies UMNS #365, 6/24/05
“A couple of years ago, Grace asked me if it would be possible sometime for just women to come to Zimbabwe to worship with her women, to share in laughter and cry in sadness, to enjoy each others’ company in Christian love, as sisters of faith, letting the women in Zimbabwe know they were not alone,” she explained. “When we called Grace to ask if she’d still like us to come, she immediately said, ‘Can you come yesterday?’”
Karen Prudente, staff executive for international opportunities with the Women’s Division, said grass-roots women’s organizations, supported by United Methodist Women, will host the visitors.
“Participants will learn about the cultures of the area, travel, pray, sing, cry, teach, work, listen and tell stories, and engage as Christian sisters,” she added. “They will visit and have a mission experience at institutions such as schools, clinics, women’s training centers, hospitals, nurseries.”
The experiences will differ depending on the trip chosen. “Ubuntu eXplorers volunteers might teach at a workshop where local women exchange tips on Bible study and devotions, basic health and nutrition, artisan crafts, singing and liturgical dance,” Prudente said. Participants will share their experiences upon their return home.
Team leaders for the first three pilot programs have been selected, and team members of 10 to 12 women—with at least one member being a young adult—will be recruited.
Costs will be under $2,500, and team members will be asked to provide one suitcase of resource materials suggested by the host organization.
For more information and registration forms, go to http://gbgm-umc.org/umw/ or http://gbgm-umc.org/vim/ubuntu.htm. Interested women may also call Mission Volunteers at (212) 870-3825 or the Women’s Division at (212) 870-3911.
*Martini is the information officer for the Women’s Division.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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