In this issue: Good news from North Korea | South Sudan: Midwives saving lives | Gender equality: UnitingWorld says YES! | Thailand: Volunteering thrives | It’s that time again- Everything in Common Gift Stall |
It’s extremely hot in North Korea right now and in a letter from our partners, who are working hard to feed families and save lives after twin typhoons and severe flooding destroyed crops, we’ve got a little bit of light relief: Mr H writes that they’ve managed to take the children from the orphanage to the beach and supply some ice cream as a bit of a treat! It’s a lovely human image in a country where people often feel too far from help.
Mr H writes to us that in the middle of the very hot weather the children have been delighted to visit the beach and have been making use of some body boards – a common enough sight here in Australia but pretty rare in North Korea! He also tells us that workers have been incredibly grateful to be supplied with meals while on the construction site of the new kindergarten and medicines continue to be distributed from the clinic.
Thanks so much to everyone who has responded to our call for assistance over the last few weeks in the wake of twin typhoons and severe flooding during July and August. More than 212,000 people were left homeless after floods destroyed houses and farmland. Critical food shortages threaten North Korea’s 24 million people. One in five children are already malnourished.
Our workers in Ra-son, the K’s and H’s, are involved not only in distributing food aid to desperate families but in the long-term work of training nurses to provide medical help to sufferers of tuberculosis.
You can watch a short video here, made by a worker from the World Food Program who has just returned from North Korea. It captures rare footage of people dealing with the effects of the flooding. Please give a donation to our work here.
200,000 refugees have fled the war-ravaged country of Sudan for its southern neighbour in the past year. Refugee camps in South Sudan, the world’s newest independent country, are stretched to their limits. Meanwhile, the rest of the country lacks the infrastructure and resources we take for granted. UnitingWorld is working with local partners to seed hope in South Sudan.
In South Sudan a maternal health crisis looms. Only 23% of births are attended by a trained health worker. It is estimated that 10,000 women die during childbirth every year. The country desperately needs to train more midwives.
UnitingWorld is working with the Presbyterian Relief and Development Agency to meet this need. After two years of study student midwives will go back to their communities to work, helping mothers during pregnancy and making sure babies are delivered safely. The Uniting Church in Australia is home to a vibrant South Sudanese community. We invite you to join with us, and them, in this vital initiative. We’ll be letting you know more in the coming month about how you can get involved.
“Gender equality matters not only because of the basic principle that men and women are equal but because it’s one of the keys to unlocking development.” Prime Minister Julia Gillard at the Pacific Islands Forum, Aug 29, 2012. UnitingWorld is right on board with new programs to support Women’s Development in the Pacific.
Did you know? Only 3.5% of Parliamentary seats in the Pacific (excluding Australia and New Zealand) are held by women, compared to a global average of 20%. 60% of women in some Pacific nations have experienced physical or sexual abuse.
UnitingWorld welcomed news earlier this month that the Federal Government plans to fund a new initiative to boost the role of women in the Pacific: Pacific Women Building Pacific Development. The initiative openly acknowledged the vital role that churches play in providing resources to women so they have access to economic development and leadership opportunities. UnitingWorld’s new projects in the Pacific aim to listen to the hopes of women and support them as they find ways to tackle domestic violence and create opportunities for employment and full participation in their communities. Read Kathy Pereira’s blog here about the inspiring experience of ‘Sitting and Dancing on the Mat’ with Pacific Women and stay tuned for details of the new projects.
Volunteer Val Bock is currently undertaking a short term of service at the McKean Rehabilitation Centre in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where she continues work she began with leprosy patients over 40 years ago. Val began working at the McKean Rehabilitation Centre back in 1970 when it was a 600 bed hospital for leprosy patients, including a school for children.
Leprosy can now be cured and patients no longer need to be admitted for care but are treated as outpatients. Today, the Centre focuses on Aged Care and is a thriving multi-cultural community. Val is working in the kitchen, teaching English classes and running activities for residents – all with an irrepressible spirit of love. She’s observed many changes in the village since she was part of community life in the 70s. Attending the local church this week she writes: “It was wonderful meeting lots of old friends – and their children and grandchildren! They are amazed that I can still speak Thai and are wonderfully affirming! I was part of this congregation when I lived here – there were about 50 of us. Now there are hundreds, plus a few other English speaking congregations.”
Please continue to pray for Val, giving thanks for the heart she has for those with whom she serves and for all our volunteers across Asia, Africa and the Pacific. Why not check out some volunteering options here?
Incredible to think there are only 101 sleeps until Christmas (give or take a few…) That means it’s time to start planning for your Everything In Common Stall! Everything in Common is the Uniting Church’s own opportunity to give creative, life-changing gifts to the people who need them most.
Last year, together we contributed to healing the sick, helping the blind to see and freeing people from poverty through creative gifts like eye tests for people in Vanuatu, taps and water tanks for communities in Zimbabwe, stationary packs for students in Fiji and of course… pigs. We’re back again this year and can’t wait for you to contact us to let us know how we can help you and when you plan to hold your stall.
Get in touch with UnitingWorld on 8267 4267 for all the details.