Global Interfaith Partnership

The Global Interfaith Partnership (GIP) is an innovative model of interfaith and cross-cultural cooperation in which congregations from diverse faith traditions in Indianapolis are working with a similar coalition of congregations in rural western Kenya. The cornerstone of our work is the recognition that all people of faith, regardless of their particular faith perspective or cultural tradition, share a commitment to mercy and social justice. Building upon that shared commitment, the two coalitions are responding to the multiple needs of Maseno Division's most at-risk children. Over half the households in this rural area near Lake Victoria (Maseno Division of Nyanza Province) are in extr...

Global Interfaith Partnership
3808 N. Meridian Street
Indianapolis, Indiana 46220
United States
317-727-9735
http://www.globalinterfaithpartnership.com

Management Team

Ellen R Daniels-Howell

Board of Directors

Sohel Anwar, David A Berry, Judith Cebula, Darren Cushman Wood, Hope Hampton, Cheri Irmscher, Charles R Kelley, George Kelley, James A Lemons, Ann Reynolds, Clay Robbins, Shariq A Siddiqui, Steven D Tarr

Project Leaders

Ellen Daniels-Howell

Mission

The Global Interfaith Partnership (GIP) is an innovative model of interfaith and cross-cultural cooperation in which congregations from diverse faith traditions in Indianapolis are working with a similar coalition of congregations in rural western Kenya. The cornerstone of our work is the recognition that all people of faith, regardless of their particular faith perspective or cultural tradition, share a commitment to mercy and social justice. Building upon that shared commitment, the two coalitions are responding to the multiple needs of Maseno Division's most at-risk children. Over half the households in this rural area near Lake Victoria (Maseno Division of Nyanza Province) are in extreme poverty and 20 percent of the primary school children have lost one or both parents to AIDS or other diseases. Primary school children drop out of school or perform poorly because families lack basic necessities; tuition for secondary school is prohibitive for students whose family income often is less than a dollar per day. The mission of GIP's Umoja Project is to develop a compassionate and comprehensive system of care which responds both to the immediate and long-term needs of these orphans and vulnerable children. Working in partnership with a network of congregations, schools, women's groups, and other health and social service organizations in western Kenya, the Umoja Project provides multiple services which insure uninterrupted education, food security, safe housing, and healthy psychosocial development by supporting children and their families through direct assistance with school fees, school lunches, and services which address basic individual and household needs; building the long-term capacity of families, communities, and local faith-based organizations to sustain support for their children; and strengthening linkages among faith-based and community-based service providers to encourage cooperative and effective support for children in need. After five years of work, the Global Interfaith Partnership and its Umoja Project are recognized for being "different" from other service organizations. Most prominently we stand out because of our partnership model which permeates every aspect our organization: the coalition of congregations in Indiana partners with the coalition of congregations in Kenya to establish program priorities and implementation strategies; provide education and advocacy in their respective congregations, denominations, governmental structures and larger communities; and identify and mobilize human and financial resources to support the Umoja Project. women in Indiana partner with women in Chulaimbo to respond to girls' issues through the "Global Interfaith Sisters"; the Project partners with guardian groups, which enables the most disenfranchised members of the communities we serve to participate in program development; and the Umoja Project partners with schools and congregations for service delivery. This cross-cultural partnership model enables our two coalitions to build on respective strengths and resources while working together to build a strong service delivery system. For everyone involved, the Project has provided an opportunity to work with people of other faith traditions, focusing on what we have in common rather than what divides us.

Programs

Through its Umoja Project ("unity" in Kiswahili) the Global Interfaith Partnership assists children living in vulnerable households by providing support for education, food security, basic personal care and household needs, as well as emotional and spiritual support. While recognizing the immense need for immediate relief services, the Umoja Project is committed equally to the slower process of increasing the capacity of individual households and the local community to meet their own needs long-term. To that end, in our five years of service, our efforts have focused upon: 1. Building the long-term capacity of the community to care for children by fostering a network of congregations, schools, household guardians through which needs are identified and solutions coordinated. These institutional leaders had no history of working together on social issues such as orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), but have responded eagerly to this opportunity. Since the Project was initiated in 2007, 18 primary schools and a dozen secondary schools have designated a staff person to be the "Umoja Project link teacher" who works with the Project. Over 20 congregations are working with Umoja to identify children from within their congregations; and 10 representatives from congregations as well as other faith-based or community service organizations are meeting regularly to prioritize needs and approve service decisions. 2. Building a network of support groups for the children's guardians. The children's guardians from each partnering school establish a "self-help group" as the vehicle through which Umoja makes an initial assessment of household needs. In addition, the guardians offer mutual aid, participate in Umoja Project program decisions, and insure accountability from program participants. 3. Providing the support necessary to keep children enrolled in school, including: a. Providing uniforms, school supplies and exam fees for 600 primary school students. b. Providing tuition, uniforms, and school supplies for over 125 secondary school students. c. Initiating school-based food security programs which ensure that children have at least one nutritious meal each day (teachers identified hunger as the primary need affecting school attendance and academic performance). Currently 18 primary schools are providing a daily lunch to over 3300 students. d. Providing sanitary towels for 500 adolescent girls, allowing them to attend school regularly. Statistics show that girls miss over 6 weeks of school each year without necessary supplies, making them fall behind in their academic performance or drop out of school altogether. e. Providing psychosocial support for secondary school students. f. Providing evening and weekend food and other necessities for over 80 households in which children as young as 13 are heads of households for themselves and younger siblings. 4. Responding to the particular needs of adolescent girls, by: a. Hosting regular educational programs that focus on health, relationships, life skills, and girls' rights; b. Offering guidance and support through female mentors; and c. Inspiring and giving direction through interaction with local women professionals. 5. Providing relief services which respond to basic needs (e.g., blankets, home repair and new construction). While the focus of these services is to respond to urgent needs, households also benefit from the Umoja Project by employing guardians whenever possible (e.g. as tailors for the uniforms or as laborers for home repairs and construction). 6. Promoting sustainable development through employment and other income generating projects for household guardians. Currently we are focusing on the development of school-based income-generating projects which will allow schools to assume an increasing portion of the costs for the lunch program.

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