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Presbyterian Disaster Assistance hosts Kenyan church leader

 

Organization of African Instituted Churches seeks to build on partnership with PC(USA)

By Rick Jones | Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Nicta M. Lubaale with Organization of African Instituted Churches (left) meets with Luke Asikoye, associate for international disaster relief with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance at the PC(USA) offices in Louisville. Photo by Rick Jones

LOUISVILLE – A representative from a Kenya-based church organization visited the Presbyterian Mission Agency on Monday to discuss the plight facing South Sudanese refugees. The Rev. Nicta M. Lubaale, general secretary of the Organization of African Instituted Churches (OAIC), was hosted by Presbyterian Disaster Assistance.

Lubaale met with representatives of PC(USA) ministries to share the experiences of people who have been forced to leave South Sudan. Years of war and conflict have prompted thousands to leave their homes to escape the violence and persecution. Many have moved into northern Uganda in hopes of starting new lives.

Lubaale has been traveling abroad to raise awareness and create partnerships with other organizations.

“We are working to support the needs of people who have come here for refuge. For instance, one local health facility needs mattresses. There are simply not enough,” he said. “The facility is designed to help about 200 people a week, but it has been averaging 1,000 a week.”

Chronic hunger has also been major concern in the region, and Lubaale has consulted with PDA and the Presbyterian Hunger Program to look at ways to alleviate the problem.

“We continue to look at what we can do that hasn’t been done. There are pieces of land that refugees can use to begin growing food,” said Lubaale. “But it’s not just about food; it is also about people recovering their dignity. When they start tilling the land, it’s a process of recovering dignity, knowing that they are producing.”

OAIC is also providing training to refugees so they can transform their methods of farming.

Lubaale says OAIC is also working toward providing psychosocial support.

“People have had to leave their homes. They didn’t choose to, the war forced them to leave,” he said. “This has forced them to leave some of their family behind while dealing with the trauma and bloodshed associated with war.”

Lubaale says the region is also grappling with the impact of climate change such as multiple cycles of drought in eastern Africa. The droughts have decreased crop production, and the resulting lack of food stunted children’s growth.

“We not only want to raise and lift up these emergencies, but begin to move toward solutions to climate justice,” said Lubaale. “About 3 percent of the greenhouse gases come from Africa, yet the people living there suffer the most as it relates to climate change. We’d like to work on this together.”

Luke Asikoye, PDA’s associate for international disaster response, hosted Lubaale at the PC(USA) offices.

“It is important for Nicta to come and connect with other people, so they can hear the stories directly from him,” said Asikoye. “It is one thing to hear what’s going on from people like me, but others involved in this work need to hear from those who are living through it and see it on a daily basis.”

Asikoye is hopeful that the PDA partnership with OAIC will continue to grow.

“He didn’t come here to look for money, but a partnership. He wants to share exciting things that are happening and to see what we can do to help,” said Asikoye. “We are meeting with him and helping to close some of the gaps he’s had. It’s a true partnership that we’ve been working and developing for six years.”

In addition to PDA, Lubaale met with representatives of the Presbyterian Hunger Program (PHP).

“Meeting with Nicta and hearing about his work with OAIC was a real privilege,” said Valéry Nodem, international associate for PHP. “Through his dedication and hard work with churches and communities from different corners of Africa, Nicta is an inspiration to us in the work we all do. I’m looking forward to continuing to learn from him and to explore ways we can work together in the future.”

People interested in making contributions to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s disaster-relief work in South Sudan can click here. For more information about relief efforts in South Sudan, click here.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and the Presbyterian Hunger Program are able to respond to needs across the world because of gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing.


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