As many of you know I've spent the past year living in Akron Pennsylvania and working for Mennonite Central Committee (mcc.org). It's been a major transition moving from the Dominican Republic back to the States. I've missed my prior work, my co-workers, and many friends in the Dominican Republic. I was glad to get to go back to visit in March 2015, and I hope to go back to visit them soon again in 2016! Here's an update on my past year :).
Here are a few quick photo memories of Decembers in the Dominican Republic:
But it has been nice to be closer to my parents here in Pennsylvania over the past year too, and to get caught up on their lives.
I've had a few adventures at MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) over this past year as well!
At MCC I get to support Humanitarian and Development work around the world. This year MCC has walked alongside local non-profits doing sustainable development work in 60 countries. We've responded to major disasters like the earthquake in Nepal, and the refugee crisis in Syria. In my position I've had the opportunity to support a Haitian non-profit organization building earthquake resistant houses in Haiti, a Zimbabwean non-profit that's teaching farmers new agricultural techniques in Zimbabwe, a Chaddean non-profit that is creating jobs through new locally made products that are good for the environment in Chad, and a Congolese peace-making organization that's part of the Congolese Christian churches, that is risking their lives every day working to prevent an escalation of violence in Congo -- and more. So it's been an interesting year.
As part of my work at MCC this fall I spent several weeks of September and October in Central Africa, (in Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo). I plan to post more about some amazing people I met on that trip, here on the blog, soon. But for now, here are a few photos:
Kids in Burundi
Refugee Family living in a Refugee Camp in Congo.
They've lived in the camp for 7 years with no option to return home safely anytime soon.
During my time in Central Africa I was inspired by the work of MCC's Rwandan, Congolese, and Burundian colleagues and partners, as they work to help needy people in their communities and countries to obtain food, safety, improved education, healthcare, and peace.
We spent time with refugee families who had fled violence in Congo, (pictured above), and I was amazed by their courage in the face of having lost homes, possessions, family members killed in war, and currently living and raising their children even now in a place that isn't completely safe. I was impressed by their welcoming smiles and their dreams for better days to come, even while they have with no clear hope of being able to return home safely anytime soon, as the violence continues around them.
This Christmas I am reminded that Mary, Joseph, and little Jesus lived as refugees too, when they fled to Egypt to escape from King Herod. I'm praying for Peace and Justice around the world this Christmas, and I'll post (here) a few stories about some amazing Congolese people making a difference in Congo, soon!
May you, your family, and friends be blessed with Peace and Love in the New Year! - Janelle