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Africa University assists Hurricane Katrina survivors

 


Africa University assists Hurricane Katrina survivors

Sept. 21, 2005       

By Andra Stevens*

MUTARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS) — United Methodist-related Africa University is reaching out to assist displaced families in communities devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

The university, based in Mutare, has donated a shipment of bedding, originally designated for ministries in Africa, to ongoing efforts to care and provide for evacuees in Louisiana and Mississippi.

“We know how it feels to lose everything,” said Vice Chancellor Rukudzo Murapa. “There are students, faculty and staff here who are and have been refugees, so we know firsthand what those affected by Katrina are going through and facing. We feel honored to be able, out of our meager resources, to assist persons who need immediate help.”

The donation, consisting of about 15,000 sheets and pillowcases, was a gift to Africa University from one of its partners, Methodist Healthcare in Memphis, Tenn. When Methodist Healthcare made the gift last December, the shipment was sent to a warehouse operated by Christian Alliance for Humanitarian Aid in Houston to await delivery by container to Zimbabwe. The bedding was due to leave the United States in October, but the university decided the evacuees needed it more.

Through in-kind support from Federal Express, the bedding is being delivered to Baton Rouge, La., and Jackson, Miss.

“More than anything, Africa University’s ability to be a part of this humanitarian effort is evidence of the power and commitment of the United Methodist connection,” said James Salley, the university’s associate vice chancellor for institutional advancement.

Though United Methodists were among those who felt Katrina’s catastrophic force, congregations in the affected states pulled together to offer their churches and homes as shelters and to provide relief and comfort wherever they could. They’re being supported by the United Methodist Committee on Relief and through donations, the mobilization of volunteers and other efforts throughout the church.

“This is an opportunity for us to show and give back some of the love and compassion that has been shown to Africa University and Africa by so many people in the United States, especially in Louisiana and Mississippi,” Salley said.

Last June, United Methodist churches in both Louisiana and Mississippi launched million-dollar campaigns to assist Africa University in its mission to train professionals and leaders for Africa. The campaigns were focused on providing scholarships for disadvantaged students and facilities for teaching and academic support.

Communities that were poised for greater outreach to Africa were crippled by the storm. Hurricane Katrina inflicted heavy damage and left hundreds dead after it hit the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29 and moved inland. As much as 80 percent of the city of New Orleans was flooded, vital services were disrupted and people were cut off from help.

Africa University opened in March 1992 as the first private university in Zimbabwe and the only university related to the worldwide United Methodist Church by action of General Conference. The university has a current enrollment of more than 1,200 young people from 22 African countries.

*Stevens is director of information and public affairs at Africa University.

News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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