News briefs

Tokyo Area Fellowship of Mennonite Churches chair Norihiro Miyazaki wrote Mennonite World Conference (MWC): “More than 20,000 people have died and many are missing mainly in Tohoku region where no Mennonite churches exist…. We are 200 km from the exposed nuclear power plant’s site and are now living with the fear of radiation pollution. Please pray for the conclusion of the radiation leak.”—MWC release
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Four Grade 6 students at Princess Margaret School, Winnipeg, including Canadian Mennonite University professor David Balzer’s daughter Kezia, inspired their classmates to make 500 bookmarks and give them to anyone who donated a dollar or more for tsumami-devastated Japan. They raised more than $2,700 for Mennonite Central Committee’s relief efforts.—Winnipeg Free Press
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In Kansas, Missouri, and Arkansas, Mennonite Disaster Service continues clean-up and roof repair efforts with hundreds of day volunteers from nearby Mennonite churches. Some 6,953 homes were totally destroyed in Joplin, Mo., and 875 others were damaged. Nearly half of homeowners do not have insurance. MDS has accommodations available and is accepting one-week volunteers in Birmingham, Ala. Mark donations for these disasters “spring storms 2011” and preferably submit online or by phone until the postal strike is over.—MDS release    
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Northview Community Church (MB), Abbotsford, B.C., has invited MB Mission to share their new office and ministry centre, beginning in fall 2012. MB Mission’s weekday occupation of a weekend and evening worship centre is both economical and fitting with their mission to partner with local churches. The mission is outgrowing their current office space. They anticipate training 15 new long term workers in September (with childcare needs for up to 10 preschoolers). MB Mission is grateful to Columbia Bible College for hosting them these past 12 years.—MB Mission release
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After the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003, Palestinians in Iraq became targets for violence and many fled Iraq, only to become stranded in a Syrian refugee camp. More than 230 Palestinian refugees from Syria’s Al Hol refugee camp have recently resettled in Canada through the federal government’s private sponsorship program.In response to the urgent need to resettle more Palestinian refugees unable to return to their homes in Iraq, Mennonite Central Committee’s refugee assistance program is seeking sponsors for the families from Al Hol who are eligible for resettlement in Canada.—MCC release  

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In the Slave Lake, Alta., region, 432 homes and 300 apartments were lost in the May 16 wildfire. The transition from fighting fires to rebuilding is slow. Mennonite Disaster Service says money, not material aid, is needed. —MDS release  
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Joined by 6 South African students, 13 graduate and undergraduate students from the University of Winnipeg and University of Manitoba travelled to South Africa in June to learn first-hand about the Apartheid experience and how reconciliation is an essential part of healing.—U of W release
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Last summer, floods covered one-fifth of Pakistan, leaving 20 million people in need of assistance. Since October, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is helping 300 of the poorest families in Shangla district in Khyber Pakhtukhwa (KPK) province start farming again by providing each with a dairy cow or buffalo, fodder, building material, and training through a $600,000 sustainable livelihood program implemented by MCC partner Church World Services.

Also with Church World Services, another $277,000 MCC-funded project is repairing 32 water supply systems and 300 latrines and hand-washing facilities for 4,500 families in 35 villages in the Kohistan district in KPK. Donations to MCC’s Pakistan flood response totalled $1.53 million.—MCC release
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The board of directors of LCC International University, Lithuania, announced a search for a new president after a mutual agreement with Dr. Kyle B. Usrey to conclude his service. Academic vice president Dr. Marlene Wall has been appointed interim president.—ICOMB release
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This spring marks the first season of Canadian Mennonite University’s (CMU) new on-campus community shared agriculture (CSA) farm, a 2-year collaborative urban farm project of the university and the CMU Farmers’ Collective, where “emerging farmers can practice the craft of land stewardship while growing healthy, local food for sharers.” For $450, each shareholder receives an estimated 12 weekly boxes of vegetables. CMU International Development Studies (IDS) instructor and collective member Kenton Lobe says next year’s task will be exploring the farm’s linkage to his courses on development issues – food security, land stewardship, and project development.—CMU release

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