What started out as a way to stay connected during the pandemic quickly turned into a great opportunity to come together, albeit virtually, as a viable working (and supportive) network.
Thanks to three of our PWRDF staff members, Suzanne Rumsey, Kim Umbach, and Janice Biehn, who reached out to diocesan and parish reps, board members, other staff members and interested parties to ask if this was something we’d like to try. Thus in April 2020 it began, first as a weekly gathering, and now held on a bi-weekly basis.
The format is quite simple: a guest speaker, territorial acknowledgement, lots of praying, and then a coffee/chat time.
A great benefit to me personally is the variety of speakers. I’m learning a lot about the work of PWRDF and how so many people all over the world are being touched, not only financially, but spiritually and supportively where they live.
Several of our partners have shared how PWRDF is supporting their projects.
Village Health Works in Burundi is one, and Wade Zamecheck shared some news from where he sits:
Founded in 2005, Village Health Works is a grassroots organization that provides quality, compassionate, dignified health care in rural Burundi. With funding from PWRDF, village health works has continued to operate ambulances, expand the maternal and newborn health clinic, and facilitate educational sessions which emphasize the importance of women, female youth, pregnant and lactating women, infants, and children accessing health services. The clinic saw an increase in the number of patients (especially women and children under 5) visiting the clinic, averaging over 150 per day. 94.22% of births were attended by skilled birth attendants and 99.38% of mothers and newborns received postnatal care within two days of birth. 76.85% of pregnant women attended at least four antenatal care sessions. This positive result was partly attributed to the ultrasound machines purchased by the project.
We also heard from Mark Brender with Partners in Health, Rwanda:
Since 2005 Partners in Health has been working with the Rwandan government to improve healthcare within the country. Since the end of the genocide in 1994 the country has seen its infant mortality plummet from almost 245 infant deaths per 1,000 births to now just under 40 deaths per 1,000 births in 2015, however there is still work to be done. Rwanda is in desperate need of modern medicine and healthcare, and PWRDF has collaborated with PIH to help make it a reality. PIH has worked on reducing infant malnutrition and illness, providing in-home medical support and training for volunteers and medical staff.
Another great message came from Dr. Josephine Kizza in Uganda, the founder of St. Jude’s Family Projects.
St. Jude’s focuses on teaching three main groups: women, children and youth. In Uganda, most of the farming is done by women, and many don’t have a lot of food to eat. By teaching them how to grow their own food in their gardens using simple methods, they can eat, and can also feed their families. They can also teach their children how to grow food. One program that focuses on that is the Super Women program, where local women train other women to plant and grow seedlings (baby plants), to plant and fertilize banana trees, to make soap to improve hygiene and health, to collect rainwater and use it for their gardens, and to raise piglets so they can use their manure to help their plants to grow big and strong.
Other speakers included our very own Primate and Archbishop, Linda Nichols, Simon Chambers from ACT Alliance, and so many more, all of whom have enriched my experience with this wonderful organization.