The United Church of Christ Genesis Fund has awarded the Vermont Ibutwa Initiative (VIBI) a $12,000 grant in support of the organization’s efforts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo! VIBI’s mission is to bring healthcare access, sustainable livelihood opportunities and community support (including school tuition for 100+ children) to women and their children in the South Kivu region of the DRC. The lives of VIBI participants have been destabilized by civil war, rape and the challenges of living in such an impoverished community. The grant, which represents about 25% of the annual budget for this grassroots organization with close ties to our congregation, will be used in the next year to broaden U.S. support for VIBI’s mission. Cleophace Mukeba, VIBI Executive Director and First Church member, accepted the grant with gratitude for the potential that it holds to empower this important work into the future. Lucy Samara, Director of Outreach Ministries (who wrote the grant), joins others on the VIBI Board of Directors to express enthusiasm for the blessing of this important support from the UCC!
The Genesis Fund was established in 1996 from funds raised through the Make a Difference Campaign. The Genesis Fund provides seed money for faith-based projects, domestic and international, that are innovative or experimental, represent a new initiative in Christian mission, or that may be deemed controversial. Many of you will recall that our congregation was an enthused participant in the Make A Difference Campaign in the mid-1990’s; how wonderful to see these resources empowering a global mission with roots in the mission of our congregation!
In the summer of 2016, more than 100 children of VIBI participants in the DR Congo completed a year in school. The photo above captures a moment during a celebration at the end of the school year. The collage also includes pictures of women (all VIBI participants) harvesting beans and corn from the agricultural land that the Vermont Ibutwa Initiative purchased for this collaborative, sustainable livelihood effort. VIBI is making great progress! Volunteers are needed to help organize educational events and programs. Please contact Lucy Samara to learn more. Thank you.