Week of Compassion Supports Small Farmers and Sustainable Development the World Over

The Week of Compassion Advisory Committee met for their annual spring meeting from May 22-24. The Committee had the privilege of gathering in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts, at the site of our partner organization, Equal Exchange. For the past five years, Week of Compassion and Disciples Home Mission have together partnered with Equal Exchange Co-Op to help support fair trade efforts with small stakeholder farmers around the world. For decades, as stated in our Purpose and Priorities Guidelines, one of WoC’s priorities has been to “directly benefit small-scale farmers and the urban poor.” Through our Disciples Coffee Project, Disciples purchasing coffee or other fairly traded products through Equal Exchange (such as tea, chocolate, almonds, etc.) have been able to support small farmers directly, have enjoyed delicious and robust coffee, and have supported Week of Compassion’s Food Security Fund. With every pound of coffee Disciples of Christ purchase, 15 cents comes right back to WoC’s Food Security Fund so that we can support more agricultural assistance projects. The Committee was able to meet with the Equal Exchange staff, tour the facilities (including the amazing coffee roasters!), and experience an authentic “cupping” (a coffee tasting) in the Quality Control Lab. If you are not yet a part of the Disciples Coffee Project, or would like more information on Equal Exchange and fair trade in general, please click here.

In addition to deepening their knowledge of fair trade and WoC’s support of small farmers, the Committee also reviewed many proposals for sustainable development projects around the globe. The annual budget for Sustainable Development projects for the 2012 fiscal year is $305,000. The Committee approved a total of $157,000 in projects at their May meeting. We were pleased to approve the following development programs through Global Ministries, Church World Service, and IMA World Health:

Tanzania - Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control - $10,000
Tanzania - Combating Burkitt’s Lymphoma in Children - $20,000

South Africa - Ons Plek Girls Shelter - $6,000

Kenya - Biamiti School Improvement Project - $10,000                                 
Republic of Georgia - Empowering Youth at the Tbilisi Youth House Foundation - $18,000
Chaco Region, South America - Food Security for Indigenous Weenhayek Communities - $18,000

Paraguay - Teko Joja Ha Pora Project (Community Development and Human Rights)- $20,000
Israel/Palestine - Interfaith Program for Educators and Principals - $5,000
Philippines - Organic Farming and Poultry Project - $10,000
Afghanistan - Orthopedic Workshop and Physical Therapy Center - $20,000
Sri Lanka - Strengthening Interfaith Relations - $10,000
India - Emmanuel Boys Hostel - $10,000

Week of Compassion understands sustainable development as Church World Service defines it, which is to “promote durable institutions of civil society that empower communities to ultimately become self-reliant and free from dependence on external aid.” In addition to the extensive responses WoC makes to relief and emergency situations as they arise, we are equally called to respond to requests for self-help and to promote the development of people victimized by economic, sociological, educational, or spiritual privation. We also aim to fund programs which get to the heart of the root causes of poverty, hunger and injustice.

We thank you for your ongoing support which allows us to continue to channel resources to communities that offer people the opportunity to be empowered and involved in their own development.

Thanks for your courageous compassion! What a joy it is to serve with you!