If we stand in front of a map of the world and put a mark on countries of the poor, countries torn by war, natural disaster, political strife, the globe takes on an air of futility.

What can I do? I'm one person. Nothing I do can make a difference.

Talk to the Habitat for Humanity people... one house in one community in one year... since 1976 volunteers with Habitat for Humanity have built homes for 225,000 people in 90 countries. It all started with one little project, one first house.

It's the drop in the bucket with the ripple effect.

When people see that they can make a difference, the ripple effect is enormous. And that's why 15 people from Burton Avenue United Church leave for Nicaragua, Central America, in two weeks. For two weeks they will put their shoulders to the wheel, their nursing skills to medical facilities, their energy to projects that will make a difference in this tiny country.

Why Nicaragua? Reverend Joe Reed lives in this country, working with a mission group. When Reverend Pat MacDonald from Burton AVE U.C. called Joe for advice, he recommended service in Nicaragua. Joe respects and loves the Nicaraguan people. He's built relationships and believes that by working alongside, entering into their lives, coming to know about them, understanding their language, their culture, the social issues and political issues that plague them... well, these understandings make for much more effective 'aid.'

"It's about 'being' rather than 'doing'," she said.

Pat said that it's likely the lives of the 15 people joining this missions will be more profoundly changed than the people they go to help.

The group began its Nicaraguan connection by first raising $2500 to be used for a building project. That goal met, they began to raise money to pay for their own travel and living, about $2500 for each person. The group is participating in the micro loan project where 700 women are on waiting lists for micro loans that enable them to start their own small businesses. In all cases, these loans are paid back.

Lots of fundraising has been taking place among this Mission group. They've sold greeting cards that explain the micro loan program. They held a dinner dance that raised $10,000. They decided to raise money for physicians travel packs that contain $5500 worth of essential medicines and supplies all assembled and produced for $550. They thought they'd hold a walkathon to buy two medical packs. People got excited about the project and they raised enough money to buy seven medi packs.

Pat says the group has raised 10 times its initial $2500 goal. They're donating $5000 to a building project and $10,000 for micro loan projects, $4000 for medi packs and the rest will go to medical clinics affected by Hurricane Felix.

Before they even get there, this Mission group has created many ripples.

Who's doing all this? One is a 17 year old boy. Another is a 77 year old woman. Six are over age 65. A young woman in her early 20's, a father with a new born baby... some middle aged folks who have decided it's 'time.' It's the first time this group has gone as an actual group and they hope to meet some of the women who've developed businesses with the micro loan funds. They will visit the city dump in Managua, home for thousands of people. They'll study other projects that need doing, and they'll work side by side with Nigerians who are making a difference in their country.

Quite a commitment for a church with 200 families as its members!

For Nigerian people who have lived through horrific turmoil of tyranny and disappearance and political oppression, the opportunity to build a youth centre, lay a floor, dig in gardens that produce food... it's new life and new beginnings.

The team will work in a senior citizens home where only people with no extended family live out their final days.

Third project is a youth drop in centre for street kids. Spending time with this project is on the agenda for some of the team.

"We want to meet people where they are, joining what's already taking place."

Religious component? More spiritual component. It's looking at one spot in the world where one drop in the bucket can ripple to much, much more.

Thanks, Pat. Thanks Lois Lois Delaforce for calling me about this. Thanks, Burton AVE U.C. folks to supporting your 'troops.'



.......

To increase the ripple effect...
Nicaragua Project
Burton AVE United Church
37 Burton AVE, Barrie, ON L4N 2R3
705 726-0401
revpat@bellnet.ca

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