NEWS ELSEWHERE: IOCC aids Somalian refugees; OCMC Videos; OCF Real Break Registration

BALTIMORE, MD:  IOCC opening doors to education for children of the famine

Somalia Students

As the young refugee children of Somalia’s famine begin to regain their strength under the watchful care of international relief organizations, many are heading back to class in one of the several elementary schools existing in the refugee camp of Bokolomanyo and other nearby camps in Dolo Ado, Ethiopia. For their older brothers and sisters, the nearest high school is more than 60 miles away leaving displaced refugee families desperate to find an accessible and safe place for their adolescent sons and daughters to complete their education. Responding to their needs and a desire to help, International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) in cooperation with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church Development and Inter Church Aid Commission (EOC-DICAC) is constructing the first high school in Bokolomanyo for teen refugees.

The hundreds of teenaged boys and girls now living in Bokolmanyo camp have endured years of Somalia’s internal conflict, drought and displacement that denied them stable communities in which to attend school on a regular basis. As a result, more than 500 of these young Somali refugees aged 15 to 20 have not had the opportunity to complete their education.

Access to a school and regular class attendance will be the first step in restoring some normalcy to the turbulent lives of these children. The first phase of construction will include four classrooms, an administrative office, storage rooms and living quarters for the school staff. Classrooms will be equipped with desks, blackboards, and teaching materials, and a new water and sanitation facility will provide the children and faculty with clean, running water.

IOCC Ethiopia Country Representative, Sigurd Hanson, says that although the first building phase will take several months to complete, the need for schooling is urgent and teens will soon begin attending class in tents provided by UNICEF. “This chance to learn will not only keep the children occupied with a productive activity, but contribute to an educational foundation that will enhance their development and their future prospects in the world,” says Hanson.

Growing into a teenager without an education is the harsh reality for thousands of adolescent Somali refugees who fled the famine in their country to find food and safety in the refugee camps of Dolo Ado, Ethiopia. In order to accommodate all 500 of the teen boys and girls currently living in the Bokolomanyo, additional financial support is still direly needed to complete construction of eight more classrooms, a library and a laboratory.

To make a gift, visit the IOCC’s website, call toll free at 1-877-803-IOCC (4622), or mail a check or money order payable to IOCC, P.O. Box 17398, Baltimore, Md. 21297-0429.

ST. AUGUSTINE, FL:  Foundation blessing for theological academy in Mwanza

The Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) has released a video which depicts a significant foundation blessing in Mwanza, Tanzania. The blessing marks the beginning of the construction of a new Theological Academy which is being built a few miles away from the St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral in Mwanza. A video of the groundbreaking for the Cathedral can also be viewed here.

Located between Kenya and Mozambique on the East African coast, Tanzania is a country with over 40 million people. Islam and animism combined constitute the religion of half of the people. The life is difficult and very harsh for the people of Tanzania, with the average life span around 52 years.

Though the first Tanzanians were baptized into Orthodoxy in 1963, having been taught about the faith by Greek and Cypriate immigrants, it was not until 1983, that the first Tanzanian priest, Fr. Sosthenes Kiyonga, was ordained. In the time since then, the church has grown dramatically: in 2006, there were more than 41,000 Faithful in Tanzania. There is a great need in Tanzania for continued Catechetical and seminary teaching, along with continuing to improve church infrastructure. To this end, OCMC has sent Missionaries, Mission Specialists, Mission Teams, and Support A Mission Priest (SAMP) funding to support the work of our brothers and sisters in Tanzania.

BROOKLINE,  MA:  Real Break registration opens for Orthodox college students

Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) has announced that registration is open for Real Break,the program that provides alternatives to the “traditional” Spring Break for college students. Real Break exists to provide students with the most authentic experience possible, and is modeled as a full Christian lifestyle, which includes fellowship, prayer within community, witness and service. In 2012, trips are planned in February and March for Toronto, Guatemala, Mexico, Constantinople, Houston and Romania. Registration and information are available at OCF’s website.