Afghanistan has been in a state of war, turmoil and instability for decades. It is one of the least developed countries in the world, and the lives of ordinary Afghans continue to be threatened by an array of issues. MCC supports schools, teacher training and peace education through the Global Family education sponsorship program; responds to urgent needs through efforts such as food aid and food-for-work projects; and promotes a variety of other work to build peace in this war-torn country.
Bangladesh, the world’s most densely populated country, is in a delta facing the Bay of Bengal and crisscrossed by rivers draining water from the Himalayan mountain range. MCC work began in the area following a devastating cyclone in 1970, a year before Bangladesh became a nation. While MCC continues to respond to cyclones and flooding, major emphases of MCC program today include job creation work to develop new technologies and materials for building and handicrafts, agricultural and livestock projects to alleviate hunger, HIV and AIDS awareness; support for schools; and peace trainings.
MCC began work in Cambodia since 1979 shortly after the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime, during which an estimated 2 million people perished through starvation, forced labor and killings. While Cambodia has undergone dramatic changes in the decades since then, the country still faces significant challenges of debt and instability. Poverty and illiteracy remain obstacles for many Cambodians, especially in rural areas. MCC works through local partners, focusing on peace work, agriculture, income generation in rural areas and education.
MCC works primarily in higher education in China, providing teachers through Mennonite Partners in China (MPC), an organization that is also supported by three Mennonite mission boards in Canada and the U.S. Through Mennonite Partners in China, MCC workers teach in universities, medical colleges and other four-year institutes in Sichuan province. MCC supports education through Global Family projects and responds to disasters including flooding and earthquakes.
MCC India is MCC’s oldest, continuous program, beginning in 1942, five years before India’s independence. MCC focuses its efforts in the Eastern states of Bihar, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal and in working with eight Mennonite church conferences of India through the Mennonite Christian Service Fellowship of India. MCC responds to flooding and drought and provides aid after conflicts such as interfaith violence in Orissa in August 2008. MCC also funds long-term work to help communities better support themselves and build peace. India has the largest number of Global Family sponsorships, helping to support basic education and vocational training for young adults.
MCC, which has served in Indonesia since 1948, focuses on education and works closely with Mennonite World Conference member churches and with universities. The Indonesian church is the oldest Mennonite group outside of Europe and North America, with about 71,300 members. On the island of Java, MCC connects to Indonesian Mennonites’ work in education, peace-building and interfaith relationships. MCC also has a strong emphasis on support for education and HIV and AIDS awareness in Papua, the largest and one of the most marginalized provinces.
MCC has worked in Laos since 1975, serving as one of the few non-governmental organizations in the country for the first 15 years. Today, MCC work focuses on community development, with projects in health, education, agriculture, food security and peace building. MCC projects promote good nutrition; support farmers in raising animals, fruit trees and increasing their rice yields; help map village land; educate students in making informed life decisions and AIDs awareness; and educate communities about family and land laws, peace building and conflict resolution. Through Global Family, MCC helps improve the quality of education for students by improving the teaching skills of teachers. Global Family also funds a young adult peace building group that provides peace and conflict trainings in schools
Myanmar, also known as Burma, is one of the most impoverished and isolated countries in the world. Two-thirds of the labor force works in agriculture, and half of the nation’s gross domestic product comes from agriculture. Poverty is pervasive in both urban and rural areas. A devastating cyclone in 2008 exacerbated the situation. After the cyclone, MCC provided relief and continues to partner with agencies assisting cyclone survivors in areas of health, trauma healing and agriculture.
Nepal has made significant milestones toward peace, but the process remains fragile, with continuing strikes, unrest and violence. MCC supports efforts to equip grassroots community workers to build peace in their own contexts. Global Family supports education in settings from the capital city of Kathmandu to a remote mountain stone quarry where children work alongside their parents. MCC responds to disasters such as flooding and supports a partner group seeking to create a network of community groups to respond to disasters locally.
Since 1995, MCC has provided more than $15 million in assistance to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, also known as North Korea. Food shortages and malnutrition are common in North Korea, with more than a third of the nation’s children chronically malnourished. MCC has sent canned meat, agricultural assistance, blankets, newborn kits, health kits, school kits, medical equipment and sewing supplies to institutions such as orphanages, baby homes, tuberculosis hospitals, rest homes and cooperative farms. MCC also supports agricultural initiatives and exchanges.
MCC works with the Korean Anabaptist Center, a nonprofit resource and networking center for Koreans interested in discipleship, peace and Christian community. It operates in partnership with Mennonite groups in Canada and the United States and with independent churches in Korea. MCC is providing some support to a Korean Anabaptist Center initiative to develop a Northeast Asia Regional Peace Institute, which would focus on building peace among people from countries including China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan.
Vietnam is a land of rural villages and of bustling cities. It has become home to thousands of factories that produce shoes, toys and other items that are exported throughout the world. MCC’s community development work focuses on helping rural communities adapt to the changing economy. In the northern provinces of Phu Tho and Vinh Phuc, MCC works with partners in agriculture, income generation, women’s reproductive health, children’s nutritional needs and HIV and AIDS prevention. MCC funds the construction of preschools and has created a peace education program.