Ministries of Central African Republic
Emmanuel Health Center in Gallo — $25,000
People come to the clinic for illnesses and injuries of all kinds. Over 80% test positive for malaria. An example of a three month period of activity at the clinic includes seeing 1,759 patients, having 57 deliveries (babies), and 247 in-patient hospitalizations for 1,152 bed days. Hospitalizations at any one time may be seven or eight to the full capacity of sixteen.
Community Health Program based in Gallo – This program provides distributed health education, vaccinations, and minimal prenatal care in the villages within a 50 to 75 mile radius around Gallo.
Since May of 2010, reducing maternal and infant mortality, treating malaria, water-borne illnesses, and injuries, and sending community-based health program teams to villages have been goals of this new clinic. Most of the staff is Central African. Operating expenses as well as additional facilities are needed to serve the many villages in the Gallo area. The clinic includes examination rooms, an operating room, patient rooms, an outdoor covered waiting area, a dispensary, water delivery system, septic system, and more. It will be a model for this type of facility in Africa. The project also includes staff training. With 1 doctor for every 38,000 people, the need for training staff is urgent.
Village Permanent School — $3,000
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Central African Republic began addressing the declining literacy levels and lack of village schools in 1998. The results was the Village Education Program. In conjunction with local parents associations, the program operates twenty village schools where no government schools have been built. In 2010, these primary schools included over 4,200 children of all faiths. Operating expenses for the schools are now supported by ELCA World Hunger funds.
Imagine two huts, a primary school with grades 1 to 6 divided between them. All children are sitting on narrow benches without backs, with a board in front of them serving as a table. Small children use slates to write on and older children have paper. Several permanent schools have now been built to replace the thatched huts. However, many villages are still hoping for permanent schools. The synod’s global gift will go toward building another permanent school building.
Teachers do not generally have formal teaching qualifications, although they are likely to be among the most educated in the area. The church and the government jointly provide short-term training before the school year begins. The curriculum of the schools is government approved, so that students who pass the state exams at the end of 6th grade are eligible to attend high school.
University Scholarships — $8,000
The only university in the Central African Republic is in the capital of Bangui. Since the Lutheran Church is most prevalent in the northwestern part of CAR, many students move away from their families to attend the university. Sometimes they have a relative or a friend in the capital who can offer lodging, but otherwise, they have living expenses as well as other expenses for study. Many students get by on a shoestring and less. The Lutheran Church in CAR is hoping to have more university graduates, so that there can be more Lutherans participating in the government and administration of the country.
Veterinary Project— $4,000
CARCattleThe diet of Central Africans is often deficient in protein. This deficiency is especially detrimental to the growth and health in children. Animal meat, milk, and eggs are important sources of protein. Cattle herders migrate through the western provinces of the Central African Republic supplying meat for markets. Rural villages may also keep a few cows, as well as goats and chickens.
The project to date has focused primarily on parasite control, as this is the fastest way to improve the health of African range cattle and small ruminants. It has also been oriented toward village livestock, as cattle are still scattered because of conflict. Goats and chickens are found in almost all villages. Pigs have been treated in several locations, and some cattle have been seen, with the largest herd containing 48 head.
Later the orientation of the project will broaden in scope to place more emphasis on husbandry, nutrition, and health protection. We also hope that improved security will allow for the introduction of a breed improvement program that will eventually produce cattle which are more efficient in terms of weight gain and milk production. The long term goal would be to produce a dual purpose breed suited to the environment of western sectors of the country.
Village Savings and Loan Program (Microfinance) — $2,000
The 170 microfinance groups are a ministry of the CAR Lutheran Church in partnership with Lutheran Partners in Global Ministry (LPGM). Villages who join an association – sometimes consisting of just women or mixed groups – meet each week (if members are unable to come they should send a trusted representative) to deposit money and make financial decisions as a community. Money is kept in a box with three locks. All three keys are given to separate trusted leaders who have to be present for the box to be opened. The money is counted each week in front of the community. Each member has a record book and as most are illiterate there is a stamp system that shows how much money they have deposited.
Loans are made from combined funds to start small businesses and repaid with interest. People learn money management and are surprised at the money they are able to save. An insurance system is also incorporated into the program. At the end of the nine-month period all the remaining funds are distributed (less outstanding loans) and the process beings again.
Translation of Sunday School Materials — $3,000
The Lutheran Church in CAR has a Sunday School Program, which brings together the children in one large group for story-telling, singing, children’s liturgy, creed, offering, and some time for games. The biggest challenge is getting Sunday school materials in French or in Sango or Gbaya (African languages used by most CAR Lutherans) for teachers and students. Our funds support an ongoing joint translation project by the Lutheran Church of CARA and of Cameroon. English language materials from the Southern African Lutheran Communion are being translated into French and then into Sango.
Visits and Communication — $5,000
These funds are used to bring visitors from the CAR Lutheran Church to our synod and to send members from our synod to visit the church in CAR. Some relatively recent examples of this include a visit from President Ndanga-Toué in 2016, sponsoring two youth for the ELCA Youth Gathering in 2015, sending a representative from our synod to the international partners meeting, attending the dedication of the Women’s Center, our bishop visiting the church in CAR. It also includes representation of our synod at the annual network meeting of U.S. partners and companions of the church in CAR.
All of these visits in combination with those of our missionaries are vital to the CAR companion relationship, particularly because of the challenges in communication with a country that has little internet and no functioning mail system.
A new priority for funding discussed with us by EEL-RCA President Ndanga-Toué during his recent visit includes the many churches which needs roofs. The CAR team will also be sending funds to help meet this need.
As it is, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you.”
~ 1 Corinthians 12:20-22a