This week we received news from Iringa that a windstorm came through the northern part of the Diocese and took the roof off of two of the houses used for teachers at Mtera Secondary School. While the buildings have been rendered uninhabitable for the time being, we are grateful to report that nobody was injured and plans are already underway to repair the damage that has been done. As part of that crisis response, the Executive Leadership of the Iringa Committee and I have made an immediate commitment to offer financial assistance on behalf of the entire BKB-SPAS community.
Here's how and why that decision was made:
- The call for assistance was initiated by our companions and came directly from the top leadership of the Diocese.
- The situation at hand is a natural crisis and is best responded to by emergency relief - as opposed to rehabilitation or development efforts.*
- The request is for a specific, time-bound project, with measurable goals and comes with appropriate supporting documentation.
- In this instance, Diocese leaders don't have the financial resources to respond to this crisis entirely on their own. Unfortunately, the cost to fix the roofs exceeds their budgeted amounts for repairs and contingencies.
- We aren't being asked to shoulder this alone. In addition to the Saint Paul Area Synod, headmasters and leaders from other schools, congregations, and organizations are also being asked to contribute.
- At the Synod and Diocese level, education and the development of schools like Mtera is one of our shared strategic goals.
- Finally, we have cash in the bank. Composed of funds collected through guest preaching gifts and general donations, the 'Common Basket' allows us to respond nimbly and quickly to general requests as they come in throughout the year.
As crises occur, or new initiatives develop, there can be the temptation to jump straight to item number seven when making a decision. As a leadership team and a committee, we are trying to slow that process down ever-so-slightly by intentionally considering all of the other factors at play. In doing so, our hope is to be not only good stewards of our shared resources but, even more so, to live into the accompaniment values that guide us - mutuality, inclusivity, vulnerability, empowerment, and sustainability - in order to grow closer to one another and to better reflect the love of Christ in whom we are all made one.
Thank you, in advance, for your prayers for the Mtera Secondary School community as they rebuild the damaged houses. Thanks also to all who have contributed to the Common Basket and allowed us to faithfully join our companions in responding to this crisis in a timely manner.
The Rev. Peter Harrits, Director of Bega Kwa Bega & Assistant to the Bishop
*For an introduction to different types of aid and suggested strategies for using the right strategy while ministering to those in need, check out When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert.