A Letter from Jim McGill, serving in Niger and South Sudan
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Dear friends and family,
When Jodi and I decided to accept the invitation to work with the Eglise Evangelique de la Republique du Niger (EERN) one request that was asked of Jodi was to help establish an EERN nursing school. Jodi spent much of her time working together with her colleagues to build upon the existing Nigerien nursing curriculum to meet the standards of the West African Health Organization for a Bachelor of Nursing and Obstetrical Science. The school qualified as a university and began with its first class of five students, whom Jodi was able to mentor for their first year. As I write this letter this week, these five students will all be taking their final exams to qualify to be registered as nurses in Niger – meaning that all of the instruction they have received has met or surpassed the government standards. So, it is an exciting time for Jodi to see this first class of nursing students preparing to begin their nursing careers.
As I mentioned in the last letter, the EERN WASH Section has begun supporting manual pit emptiers by developing a partnership with the Ministry of Water and Sanitation and the Ministry of Health of the Government of Niger, and with the national association of sanitation in Niger (the AAFV), whose president, Mr. Ibrahim Kimba, also serves as the secretary for the continent-wide Pan-African Association of Sanitation Actors (PASA). The work of the people who empty pits is critical to the functioning of the city, yet they are most often treated as untouchables.
In preparation for meeting with a group of manual pit emptiers, our training modules were vetted by the secretary general of the Ministry of Water and Sanitation. These modules included health, safety, and dignity; national laws, regulations, and guidelines for liquid waste and fecal sludge management; advantages in belonging to a nationwide association; and the tools and technologies that are available to improve working conditions.
In association with the government, we gathered 20 leaders of pit emptiers at the EERN school at Banifandou to discuss with them as to how we can improve their working conditions. The gathering was opened by the Secretary for Sanitation of the Ministry of Water and Sanitation and by the EERN Secretary for External Partnerships, Issaka Moussa. Outcomes from this gathering of leaders of pit emptiers included:
- Shared experiences being heard, including deaths that have occurred in pits
- Formal instruction on health and safety related to pit emptying
- Proper PPE distributed to each leader to demonstrate to all emptiers the required PPE
- Visual and practical use of emptying tools that were fabricated by EERN WASH at the SMART Centre
- Visual presentations of more expensive evacuating machines that manual emptiers can either rent or contract their services to do the evacuation work for the owner of the equipment.
- The formation of a manual emptiers association, and election of a president for the association, as needed to begin proper advocacy on behalf of all manual emptiers.
Using EERN’s time and resources to work with latrines and those who do the emptying may not be the first thing one thinks of when considering how PC(USA) witnesses the love of Christ alongside their partner churches. Although maintaining and improving living space through the removal of both liquid and solid waste can be proven to be equally as important to health as access to water, rarely do people want to use their resources for things that people do not want to talk about. However, leaders within the national government, leaders within the city government, and as well city residents who hire these emptiers to resolve their plumbing and sanitation issues (all of whom are practicing Muslims) are recognizing this work within the church and thanking them for taking a lead in supporting the pit emptiers and working to improve their working conditions.
Perhaps, a bit less abstract of how WASH can be integral to the work of the church can be seen in the current flooding situation in Pochalla, South Sudan. Six days ago, Mr. Othow Okoti, who has been working with us in WASH with the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan, sent me a message saying the handpumps in Pochalla County were underwater and there was no safe water for people to drink. The SMART Centre had imported water filter elements to work with local businesses to provide a sustainable market for household water filters and Othow was one of the first South Sudanese who was taught about filter production and sales. We also contracted with the local business Water4Life Consultancy to begin the sell filters to then purchase replacements, so filters are always in stock. Trinity Presbytery has been working in South Sudan, including working in Pochalla, for many years. Trinity Presbytery keeps an emergency fund for South Sudan and welcomed this use for these funds. The airport in Pochalla was re-opened this week and the filters are scheduled to be shipped on the first commercial flight. Miraculously, many different pieces that have resulted from long-term partnerships have come together for the Church to be able to address the immediate needs of people living in Pochalla.
The family celebrated Salome’s 21st birthday on September 28 via Zoom linking the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, Decatur, Georgia, and Niamey, and will be celebrating Selena’s 21st in three weeks.
We appreciate all of your support and prayers and pray for God’s blessings for each of you,
Please read the following letter from Rev. Mienda Uriarte, acting director of World Mission:
Dear Partners in God’s Mission,
What an amazing journey we’re on together! Our call to be a Matthew 25 denomination has challenged us in so many ways to lean into new ways of reaching out. As we take on the responsibilities of dismantling systemic racism, eradicating the root causes of poverty and engaging in congregational vitality, we find that the Spirit of God is indeed moving throughout World Mission. Of course, the past two years have also been hard for so many as we’ve ventured through another year of the pandemic, been confronted with racism, wars and the heart wrenching toll of natural disasters. And yet, rather than succumb to the darkness, we are called to shine the light of Christ by doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with God.
We are so grateful that you are on this journey as well. Your commitment enables mission co-workers around the world to accompany partners and share in so many expressions of the transformative work being done in Christ’s name. Thank you for your partnership, prayers and contributions to their ministries.
We hope you will continue to support World Mission in all the ways you are able:
Give – Consider making a year-end financial contribution for the sending and support of our mission personnel (E132192). This unified fund supports the work of all our mission co-workers as they accompany global partners in their life-giving work. Gifts can also be made “in honor of” a specific mission co-worker – just include their name on the memo line.
Pray – Include PC(USA) mission personnel and global partners in your daily prayers. If you would like to order prayer cards as a visual reminder of those for whom you are praying, please contact Cindy Rubin (email@example.com; 800-728-7228, ext. 5065).
Act – Invite a mission co-worker to visit your congregation either virtually or in person. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to make a request or email the mission co-worker directly. Email addresses are listed on Mission Connections profile pages. Visit pcusa.org/missionconnections to search by last name.
Thank you for your consideration! We appreciate your faithfulness to God’s mission through the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Rev. Mienda Uriarte, Acting Director
Presbyterian Mission Agency
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
To give, please visit https://bit.ly/22MC-YE.
For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6
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