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Better Together provides a space to share experiences with – and strategies for engaging – three critical global issues that PC(USA) global partners are challenging us to address together as the body of Christ.  These three issues are 1) addressing root causes of poverty, especially as it impacts women and children; 2) sharing the Good News of God’s love in Jesus Christ; and 3) working for reconciliation in cultures of violence, including our own.  The purpose of Better Together is to feed a conversation to shape concrete action strategies at the October 2012 “Dallas II: Better Together” consultation and beyond. 

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September 17, 2012

Addressing Poverty through Partnership

Heidi Worthen Gamble is the Mission Advocate for the Presbytery of the Pacific.

There is something horrific going on in impoverished communities in Northwestern Nicaragua located near sugarcane estates: disease and death at alarming rates from “CKD” or Chronic Kidney Disease.And this epidemic is almost completely unknown--not only to the outside world but to most people in Nicaragua.

Although there has been no causal link established, the CKD epidemic is unarguably a symptom of deep global poverty caught up in the web of its injustices: the exploitation of labor, global economics, environmental degradation, health, corruption of government, and lack of access to jobs, markets, political influence, health care, and education.

In Pacific Presbytery however we simply know those who are affected by this disease as our beloved friends, our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering and whom we love very much.

Since 2007 The Presbytery of the Pacific has been in a covenant partnership with the COOPEMULNAGTLE cooperative, a micro-credit loan cooperative serving three rural villages northwest of Leon, Nicaragua. Our partnership is facilitated by CEPAD and PC(USA) Mission Co-Workers.

Pacific Presbytery has committed itself to the partnership model for mission. However in early 2011 we began to hear reports of women, children and scores of men suffering and dying from kidney problems and CKD.

This led us to many debates and questions: How can we respond to an issue so massive and pervasive without any expertise to do so? How can we not? If we do respond, how do we do so within the partnership model of empowerment, accompaniment and mutual transformation?

Our response is still a work in progress for us. However, there are three approaches that have emerged out of our discernment process that have been helpful:

In July 2012 we sent down a CKD “Research Team” that was not a team of experts but rather people who had a heart for this issue and wanted to learn more. This ended up being a real strength, as our team joined up with members of the cooperative to visit agencies as equals, learning together. As a result the cooperative desired to be connected to a health clinic that works alongside communities in health, education and development, as well as a non-profit that addresses the injustices surrounding the CKD epidemic in Nicaragua.

The CKD team and members of the cooperative also went to homes interviewing people, praying and listening, letting them know that they are not forgotten. With their permission we are relaying their stories to worldwide researchers.

With God’s help we will continue to unravel the root causes of poverty and suffering in and with our partner communities in Nicaragua. Prayers welcome!

Question: What injustices have surfaced in your mission partnership(s) and how have you addressed them with your partners? What has worked? What hasn’t?

Tags: cgi, ckd, coopemulnagtle, dallas ii, mission, nicaraugua, pacific, partnership, pcusa, poverty, presbytery