Kenya – Mennonite Dadaab support is more than ‘just financial’ says LWF

By Peter Kenny, LWF Communications Consultant

Geneva, 5 October (LWF) — The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) as the Dadaab camp management agency for the United Nations has expressed profound gratitude at the news it is getting a hefty contribution from Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in Nairobi.

The LWF, a member of the ACT Alliance, has announced that MCC has committed to a contribution reflecting a value of US$369,500 including funds for nonfood items that comprise 6,316 mosquito nets along with expertise for education projects.

 

Rev. Eberhard Hitzler, director of the LWF Department for World Service, said on 4 October, “The LWF highly appreciates the trust and the solidarity from Christians all over the world which we experienced in receiving a wide range of support. We are especially grateful about the latest development as we have received this contribution from MCC.

“This means for us much more than just financial assistance,” he underlined. “It is a symbol and an expression of the beauty that grows out of reconciliation between Lutherans and Mennonites. It makes us free to serve the neighbor and contributes to a wider reconcilitation.”

The population of the world’s biggest refugee camp is expanding rapidly at Dadaab. It is currently dealing with some 480,000 refugees fleeing war and famine in Somalia. They are expected to swell to around 550,000 by early 2012 making it larger than Geneva in Switzerland.

In a telephone interview from Nairobi Ron Ratzlaff, who represents MCC in Kenya along with his wife Martha told the LWF, “The appeal was launched in North America and has been allocated for specific projects in Dadaab.”

“The LWF is doing a good job as the lead agency in Dadaab,” he added.

In July 2010 at the gathering of its highest governing body the LWF at its Assembly, in Stuttgart took the historic step of asking the Mennonites for forgiveness for past persecutions. Delegates unanimously approved a statement calling Lutherans to express their regret and sorrow for past wrongdoings towards Anabaptists and asking for forgiveness.

The then LWF President Bishop Mark Hanson, the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) described the act of repentance and reconciliation as “communion building and communion defining. “We will not just look back; we will also look foward together to God’s promised future.”

“This sort of enhanced collaboration is exactly what we hoped for,” said Kathryn Johnson, LWF Assistant General Secretary for Ecumenical Affairs.  “The Stuttgart action could build on longstanding commitments to the care of refugees already shared by Mennonites and Lutherans.

“Now as we join together in projects like Dadaab our cooperation is enriched by the new appreciation which our church families have for one another. There is a special joy in working together with those with whom we are celebrating reconciliation.”

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