“We feel that it is a privilege to be working for the kingdom of God in this part of the world.”
- Rose Shenk
Names: Bruce Buckwalter and Rose Shenk
Hometown: Harrisonburg, Virginia (Community Mennonite Church)
Assignment: As representatives for MCC’s work in Ethiopia, we supervise a talented group of Ethiopian staff. We also work alongside 14 partner organizations that implement projects in food security, education, health and emergency relief.
Typical day: Answering emails, monitoring projects and editing MCC’s database of information alongside staff members. Our house and office are on the same compound, and we enjoy morning tea and lunch with staff each working day. At least once a month, we travel to project sites to visit partners and meet with project participants.
On serving: We both firmly believe that as Christians we should love our neighbours as ourselves. This motivates us to do what we can to serve those around us.
Joys: Ethiopia is a large, diverse country in terms of the people, the terrain and the culture, and MCC has projects in almost every region. We love seeing the good work that MCC is supporting. Rose enjoys planning partner meetings, staff meetings and retreats and writing about our life and work here. We are continually impressed with the high capacity and dedication of our partners, and we enjoy providing support in any way that we can.
Challenges: Communication, including slow, intermittent internet, and a complicated and bureaucratic working environment.
On being part of MCC’s work with uprooted people: Year by year, Ethiopia continues to be one of the top countries in Africa as far as hosting refugees. MCC supports, with canned meat, refugees from South Sudan who have fled to western Ethiopia to escape violence in their own country.
MCC photo/Rose Shenk
We also work with pastoralist groups in the Afar region of Ethiopia and in Somaliland who are increasingly affected and uprooted by climate change-induced drought. Visiting these communities and hearing their stories makes us realize that even though our lives in Addis Ababa may occasionally be inconvenienced due to power outages and water shortages, we ultimately have confidence in our personal security and know that our basic needs will be met.
We are continually humbled by the resiliency of those folks who really are living on the edge of survival. And we are challenged by how they live more with less every day, uphold a modest carbon footprint and struggle to maintain their unique cultural identity in the face of great odds.