Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"How can I help?" 1/23/2008

A Friend in Chicago wrote to ask, "What should our Quaker meeting be doing to help Friends in Kenya?" Here are some more ideas:
  • Remind Friends that over half the world's Quakers live in Kenya (with 150,000 or more members and approximately 2,000 monthly meetings), and most are very poor under the best circumstances--the current crisis is taking an enormous toll on individual Friends and on Quakers as a corporate body in every respect, emotionally, psychologically, educationally, nutritionally, economically and in terms of health, security and transport.
  • Encourage Friends to visit the Kenya News blog regularly:
  • Make a link to this blog on your monthly meeting's website and ask the yearly meeting to do the same.
  • Identify one member of the meeting as a "Kenya point person" to be especially attentive and share news with the meeting--ask them to contact me so that I can send them email "alerts" when there is something urgent to report or to see on the blog.
  • Contribute to AGLI's effort to meet the huge demand for AVP (Alternatives to Violence Project) workshops and peace skills training by contributing online.
  • Contribute to FUM's Kenya Relief Fund, to assist the projects chafing under rising prices due to shortages of essentials (like Friends Theological College, Kaimosi and Lugulu hospitals, Samburu and Turkana missions), and to help the Yearly Meetings that are providing shelter and assistance to the needy refugees in their area.
  • Announce that Friends have conducted a Quaker Peace Conference in response to the post-election violence and ensuing humanitarian crisis. It's taking place this week in Kakamega, 24-27 January. Look for reports to come out of that timely meeting.
  • Feature Quaker service and ministry projects in Kenya: make a posterboard or use a bulletin board to illustrate the work of FUM, AGLI, RSWR; include a map of Kenya, and some news updates on the situation weekly. This could be a project for the Peace and Social Concern Committee, the First Day School children, or an intergenerational activity.
  • Write an epistle of support and encouragement to Kenyan Friends, ask everyone in your meeting to sign it, take a photo of your meeting, and send to Friends United Meeting for distribution to the Kenyan Yearly Meetings: c/o Eden Grace, Friends United Meeting, African Ministries Office, PO Box 478, Kisumu 40100, Kenya. (It will help to defray domestic Kenyan postage costs if you send a contribution of $50.00 to Friends United Meeting, 101 Quaker Hill Drive, Richmond, IN 47374. Send 15 copies of your epistle to Kenya if you want a copy to go to each YM, 30 if you also want a copy to go to each YM women's group/USFW, 45 if you also want a copy to go to each YM youth program!)
  • Write to FCNL to encourage them to distribute some materials on how Quakers can give input to elected officials about the post-election crisis.
  • Write editorials for local newspapers or magazines you read, to raise awareness about Kenya's situation
  • Look for AFSC's upcoming article about peacemaking efforts by Friends in Kenya and encourage them to continue to support those efforts.
  • Include a piece on Kenya in your upcoming newsletters--any material off the blog would be suitable (there's a concise chronology and Kenya Country Profiles on the right sidebar, as well as documents issued by Kenyan Friends for peace efforts, such as the Friends Church of Kenya's Pastoral Letter to leaders or Nairobi YM's discussion on the Peace Testimony, as well as the Inter-Religious Forum of Kenya's Peace Proposal)
  • Plan a fundraiser event (like Chicago Northside's Simple Meal on 2/10, or a concert, or a tag sale, or a silent auction, etc.) to raise funds for AGLI and/or FUM.
  • Invite a speaker: Patrick Nugent and/or Benson Khamasi (ESR student), or a member of staff at Friends United Meeting, or someone from AGLI, or Roland Kreager of RSWR, to speak to your monthly, quarterly or yearly meeting about Kenya's post-election crisis and the ways the crisis might impact Friends ministry and Quaker service projects in Kenya.
  • Pray for peace and unity to prevail in Kenya.

That's a quick brainstorm... let me know if you come up with other creative ideas!

We hope to produce "Ten Talking Points" on the post-election crisis and on peace-building efforts, to be posted here soon, to help Friends speak to the media or write letters to the editor.

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