MCC photo/Anna Vogt
Central America has long been burdened by resource extraction and foreign control. While the region bears the scars of that history, it is also home to dignified and resilient communities of people committed to resistance. Several of our partners are indigenous communities dedicated to reaffirming their own identities; others are coalitions defending themselves and their places from abuse by governments and corporations. This includes:
- Sustainable agriculture projects that value local knowledge and support holistic theologies and faith communities
- Education programs to reduce violence aimed at women and children, and strengthen indigenous justice systems
- Civil society coalitions promoting government transparency in public services;
- Indigenous media projects that value local history, identity and place
- Local, nonviolent defense of watersheds and ancestral lands against mining and other extractive industries
Seed Central America approaches this work imagining peace less as structure to build and more as a web of relationships to recognize and join. As a group we learn to see the complex interactions of systems including politics, law, economics, community institutions, interpersonal relations, historical narratives and religious identities. As we journey together toward a world where everyone can flourish, we learn about ourselves and put our faith in what Jesus showed us: that another world is possible, and that it already exists.
MCC photo/Colin Vandenberg
Colombia has suffered greatly through a long internal armed and social conflict exacerbated by United States military aid and foreign economic interests. Now, Colombia finds itself in a context where peace accords have recently been signed. MCC’s partners, like Colombian Anabaptist churches and institutions, continue to work to transform the results of decades of injustice and violence into seeds of hope, justice and lasting peace. The Seed program in Colombia works very closely with these Anabaptist churches supporting their peace efforts.
In most cases, participants will live in the community where the local partner is located. It is also expected that the participant will develop relationships of support within the community and church.
As one of the Latin American countries with the largest indigenous population the Plurinational State of Bolivia (which includes 36 nations) challenges the concepts of what development should look like. While Bolivia experiences national economic growth from extraction industries, indigenous values of environmental and social reciprocity remind us that economic development must be checked with community and family well-being, identity rights, gender and racial equality and agricultural sustainability.
The Seeders in Bolivia walk with a variety of local organizations that work through the complexities of providing new opportunities for marginalized populations while also valuing culture, identity and gender. In urban settings, Seed volunteers work in child and family support services. They work in after school or daycare projects for vulnerable children and parents facing economic hardship or domestic violence. Other participants work with urban gardening, bringing nutrition, community building and new economic opportunities to migrant populations.
In rural settings, Seeders work with sustainable agriculture in isolated, indigenous communities in the high-plains of Bolivia, where the impact of modernity intersects with tradition, culture and gender. Others serve with a partner organization that accompanies communities as they work through the impact of mining and water contamination on community well-being, cultural identity and health.
Learn more on the Seed Southern Africa blog.
In Southern Africa, the majority of people in rural communities depend on agriculture to support their families. Changing weather patterns, disasters and soil erosion continue to make farming more difficult. Our partners have found conservation agriculture can help people have stable access to food despite unpredictable markets and weather.
The Seed program in Southern Africa supports our partners and the farmers they work with in food security programs. It also provides young leaders from the Southern Africa region with an experience that expands their worldview and increases their technical knowledge in conservation agriculture. Participants will build leadership skills so they can continue to make a difference in their home communities or wherever they go after the program ends.
This program includes eight participants, six from Southern Africa and two from North America. Seeders will work with partners in Mozambique, Lesotho, Zambia and Zimbabwe. We encourage each participant to learn the local language and to live in the community where they’re serving.
All the placements are with partners working on food security and conservation agriculture. Each Seeder will have their own demonstration plot so they can practice the skills they’re learning and encouraging farmers to try. We meet as a group several times a year for participants to share what they’ve been learning. And we also coordinate exchanges with partners to increase sharing and networking.
The next Seed group in Southern Africa is tentatively planned to start in 2019 with a focus on peacebuilding.
Africa Great Lakes
MCC photo/Karen Dawson
The conflict in the Africa Great Lakes region is extremely complex. With a history of violence and displacement, large segments of the population live with some level of trauma. There are many armed groups in the region, and some receive funding and support from different governments and foreign organizations. This increases people's suspicions and stereotypes about outsiders.
In this context, our vision is to create a peaceful and just society in the Africa Great Lakes region by building connections and supporting local capacities for peace. Seed participants accompany local partners serving people who have been marginalized, uprooted or displaced. This includes:
- Community-based trauma healing and resilience programs
- Food security, relief and livelihoods projects
- Education and health initiatives
- Facilitating dialogue between hostile parties and divided communities
- Reintegration of combatants and families of combatants