A SIMPLE BABY SCALE—the kind you hang a tiny infant
hammock from—is making all the difference in the
impoverished district of Fufunsa in Zambia. The scale
is kept in a local church and new parents make regular
post-natal visits to ensure their babies are thriving. In the
past, babies would be delivered in a hut in a village set-
ting. Now, when mothers are about to deliver, they go
to the nearest health facility. Japhet Ndhlovu, Program
Coordinator in the United Church’s Church in Mission
Unit, says that seeing how the Women for Change (WFC)
mother-baby initiative has reduced deaths among preg-
nant women in rural areas is “very impressive.”
Fufunsa is just one place in Zambia where WFC is
changing lives and successfully tackling poverty, illiter-
acy, and domestic violence. The organization’s motto is
“Women and Men—Equal partners in development” and
it focuses on gender-based issues. “WFC’s does not enter
a community and say, ‘okay here we are we’ve come to
teach you.’ Rather they create a space for dialogue. In
that dialogue people discover new knowledge and act
upon it,” says Ndhlovu.
Another success is WFC’s work with local authorities
to change property laws so women can own land. It also
provides access to reproductive-health information and
delivers human-rights workshops that teach men “they
cannot raise their hands to their spouses,” says Ndhlovu.
The DCIP website ( dcippalestine.org) is
rich with personal accounts of what life
is like for Palestinian youth. One of many
tragic stories is that of 11-year-old shepherd Fadel Abu, who was shot in the groin
and left for dead when he ran away from
a military jeep. He survived but will never
be able to have children of his own.
“This is the 50th anniversary of the
occupation,” says a source who works
with DCI—Palestine on behalf of the
United Church. “Two generations have grown up knowing
no other way of life. Children have seen their fathers and
grandfathers hauled off to jail.”
A few years ago this source, who visits Palestine at least
once a year, met a woman whose son was shot and killed
at a demonstration. “There was this palpable kind of anger.
I thought she was angry at the Israelis but she was mad at
herself. Her son had seen his father arrested and his mother
humiliated so many times he wouldn’t listen to his parents.
The organization, which is supported by Mission & Service, also nurtures sustainable development in rural communities. In Fufunsa, locals have traditionally worked as
subsistence farmers. A few years ago, WFC introduced
an innovative seedling program. Farmers grow more
than they need and sell the surplus in local village markets. With the money they earn, they can buy land, or pay
school fees so their children get an education. Freedom
from subsistence farming is a double blessing because
it also curbs the practice of selling young girls into early
marriage, which is another issue that WFC works on.
“The idea behind WFC’s work is you don’t have to keep
giving people fish all the time; you teach them to fish,”
He’d say, ‘who are you to talk to me? You
can’t even protect yourself.’”
In this harrowing environment DCIP
provides hope through invaluable ser-
vices that include: defending children
in Israeli and Palestinian courts; acting
as the only conduit between the legal
system and Palestine families; training
paralegals; and holding civil-rights work-
shops so Palestinians know their rights.
The organization also talks with decision makers and politicians in Palestine, Israel, and abroad—
always hopeful that it may mitigate the ravages of a half-century long occupation. DCI—Palestine Advocacy Unit
Coordinator Ivan Karakashian estimates the organization
has helped about 7,000 children and families since it was
founded. And with Mission & Service support, it is determined to keep hope alive.
Peter Carter is a freelance writer who lives in Toronto.
women and children
Mothers learn how to cook healthy food for babies
using local food items.