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United Methodist gift to assist 2,000 AIDS orphans

 


June 18, 2004

By Linda Beher*

NEW YORK (UMNS) — A major donation from a United Methodist family will underwrite school expenses for 2,000 children in Zimbabwe whose parents have died of AIDS.

Officials of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and the Zimbabwe United Methodist Church announced the new education project on June 18.

The gift of about $3 million, along with $500,000 from the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, will cover costs of primary and secondary education, including vocational training, for the children for six years.

Two existing orphan trusts and two new communities will be selected as project sites. Girls and children with disabilities will be a special focus of the new program. It will also help participating families and communities with school feeding programs and birth registration.

In Zimbabwe about 7,000 children are under the care of several orphan trusts supported by UMCOR, the international humanitarian aid agency of the church. The new funds will help the church increase its service to these orphans, says the Rev. Paul Dirdak, UMCOR’s chief executive.

The Rev. R. Randy Day, the board of global ministries’ chief executive, called ministry to children a top priority in global Christian mission as he praised the donors.

Planned as a sustainable project, with involvement of church and community representatives in Zimbabwe, the effort could be extended another four years, if additional funding is identified. Both the Zimbabwe East and West annual conferences of the United Methodist Church are key stakeholders. A 13-member board will oversee the project, coordinated by faculty from Africa University.

Announcement of the church’s new project coincided with Zimbabwe’s first national AIDS conference June 15. Health ministry officials say up to 3,000 people in Zimbabwe die of AIDS-related illnesses each week. Complicating the pandemic are other humanitarian crises, such as armed conflict, poverty and lack of access to health care.

Contributions can be made to UMCOR Advance #982842, AIDS Orphans Trust, and to UMCOR Advance #101218, AIDS Awareness and Children Impacted by HIV/AIDS in Africa. Donors can place their checks in church offering plates or mail directly to UMCOR, 475 Riverside Dr., Room 330, New York, NY 10115; or make a credit card donation by calling 800-554-8583.

*Linda Beher is communications director for the United Methodist Committee on Relief.

News media can contact Linda Bloom (646)369-3759 or e-mail: newsdesk@umcom.org.

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Resources

General Board of Global Ministries

UNAIDS

Assistance for Orphans Act

AIDS Education Global Information System

International Initiatives of the United Nations Regarding HIV/AIDS

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