Read letters from Dan and Elizabeth Turk
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Dan and Elizabeth Turk
Mission co-workers in Madagascar since 1994
Serving at the invitation of the Church for Jesus Christ of Madagascar (FJKM)
The Turks will next be in the USA for the 2015/16 school year. Email them or the Mission Connections office (Rachel.Anderson@pcusa.org) to extend an invitation to visit your congregation or organization.
About Dan and Elizabeth Turk's ministry
“We are excited about working with the Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar (FJKM) in its ministries of healing and hope,” write Dan and Elizabeth Turk. The Turks were invited to serve in Madagascar through FJKM’s development branch, within which are departments of health, environment, agriculture and safe drinking water. The FJKM believes that Christian witness should include ministry both to the physical and spiritual needs of God’s people and care for all of God’s creation. Dan and Elizabeth work as advisors to FJKM’s environment and health departments, respectively.
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Dan works with the FJKM environment department to help people improve their lives while living more in harmony with creation. With per capita income less than $250 per year, many Malagasy people have difficulty feeding their families. Less than 25 percent of the country's native forests remain today, the majority having been converted to grasslands. The cutting of native trees for fuelwood and to clear fields for agriculture continues to threaten the island’s unique animals and the more than 8,000 plants found only in Madagascar. FJKM has responded by helping people plant trees for fuel wood and construction wood, by promoting environmental awareness in primary schools and rural communities, and by encouraging more intensive agriculture through growing fruit trees and off-season crops. Dan is especially involved in efforts to plant fruit trees and native trees.
Elizabeth helps the staff of the FJKM health department design and implement a community health program. The program works with rural communities to prevent and treat the major illnesses that threaten health: malaria, measles, diarrhea and pneumonia. As part of this program, 34 of the 39 FJKM doctors have received training in community health, and more than 150 community health volunteers from rural areas are receiving training in health education techniques and basic health messages. These volunteers teach others in their communities how they can prevent and treat illnesses before they become life-threatening. Elizabeth also advises the family planning program and serves on the national AIDS Committee. The concern for AIDS awareness and education is a major focus of FJKM.
Madagascar remains one of the world’s poorest countries. Eighty-five percent of its population live on less than $2 per day. Located in the Indian Ocean 250 miles off the eastern coast of Africa, Madagascar is the world’s fourth largest island and is home to many unique species of mammals, birds and plants. The Malagasy are thought to be the descendants of Africans and Indonesians who settled on the island more than 2,000 years ago. In January 2009 the country’s president resigned amid political unrest that turned into violence. Andry Rajoelina assumed power with the military’s backing. Just over 40 percent of Malagasies are Christian, 50 percent adhere to traditional beliefs, and 7 percent are Muslim.
About Dan and Elizabeth Turk
Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Dan graduated from Davidson College in North Carolina with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology. He earned an Master of Science in agronomy and soil science from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and a Ph.D. in forestry from North Carolina State University. His doctoral research focused on the growth rates of more than 60 native Malagasy trees. Dan spent two years as a consultant in agroforestry to the Ranomafana National Park project in Madagascar. He is the author of “A Guide to Trees of Ranomafana National Park.”
Starting out in Anniston, Alabama, Elizabeth graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. She later earned a Bachelor of Science in nursing from Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion and a master’s degree in public health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Elizabeth served as a Presbyterian volunteer in Haiti, Zaire and Madagascar. Before going to Madagascar, she was a health education intern at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta and worked as a pediatric nurse in Orlando, Florida.
Dan and Elizabeth are members of West Raleigh Presbyterian Church in North Carolina. They have a son, Robert, and a daughter, Frances.
Dan - February 14
Elizabeth - May 24
Robert - February 7
Frances - January 9