- Rice Bowl 2017
Each year the Churches Together in Rome, the joint committee of English speaking Churches in Rome, joins during the Lenten season to sponsor one or more outreach projects around the world, through donations from specially organized events, church services and private donations. This year the Rice Bowl funds will be split between two projects:
Assistance to Street Children in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
The Bright Star project is centered in the capital city of Ethiopia: Addis Ababa. It has a long-established relationship with the Lutheran Church in Sweden. Because of severe economic deprivation there has been a migration of poor rural families to the capital. There, without education and training and without a foothold in the existing economic structure of the city, many families fall into destitution and many children roam the streets, some as orphans, some as neglected members of families that remain marginalized but intact. These children are prey to exploitation in many forms. The Bright Star organization is a registered charity in Ethiopia, training indigenous workers to address this systemic evil. Bright Star is currently focusing on vocational training for mothers, including culinary and hairdressing skills for small business initiatives. In this way Bright Star hopes to enable families to remain together. It is also seeking out commercial sex workers, to offer them alternative means of earning a living through vocational training in a number of areas. Especially targeted are juvenile offenders, those older children who have been committed to some form of incarceration, to attempt to equip them to have some means of livelihood once released from prison. The provision of breakfast and lunch to younger children enrolled in school in the capital has also helped them to concentrate on their lessons throughout the day. Rice Bowl funds would increase the money that currently helps Bright Star operate in all these essential areas, ministering to these critical needs of poverty-stricken children and families in the tenth-largest city in Africa.
Renewed support for a Refugee Camp near Aleppo, Syria
A refugee camp (it must remain unnamed for reasons of security) was established in March of 2011 by seven residents of Aleppo who had themselves fled the city but who were committed to remaining in their country to try to help other refugees. In these almost six years of war they have managed to continue the existence of this place of refuge for roughly 1,000 persons, mostly women and children: Muslims, Kurds, and Christians living together, all fleeing the chaos and violence of their former city, Aleppo. The aftermath of the fall of Aleppo to government forces in December continues to have tragic consequences.
The existence of the camp has been almost daily threatened by the proximity of Syrian government forces, ISIS, Kurdish troops, and the Syrian Free Army so that relief of any kind from the Red Cross, Red Crescent and other aid agencies has been almost impossible to obtain. The most basic need is to continue to provide food each day for 1,000 persons at a rough cost of one euro per person per meal. Materials to construct housing, blankets for warmth, and generators to refrigerate medicines, baby formula, and other basic necessities are also needed, up to now purchased from funds that were able to be raised from a few outside donors. Murhaf and the six others have also managed to create a school to provide some education for both children and adults throughout this time. They hold classes for a total of 412 children and adults: children from ages 5 to 15 who have classes in the mornings and adults up to age 60 who meet in the afternoons, three times a week. All ages of students study together, despite the grade level. English, Arabic, history and geography, math, science, physics and chemistry, drawing, coloring and music, religious studies, and social activities are taught by former professors and teachers, all volunteers.
The need is great; the need continues; every euro we send to Murhaf and his fellow administrators is put to immediate use for the desperate and traumatized former citizens of Aleppo. Our direct link to the refugee camp, Murhaf, is a long-term and trusted friend of a senior teacher at St. Stephen’s School, Rome.
Churches Together in Rome
All Saints’ Church (Church of England)
St. Paul’s Within the Walls (Episcopal)
International Christian Fellowship (Assemblies of God)
Rome Baptist Church
Ponte Sant’Angelo Methodist Church
The Salvation Army
Santa Susanna Catholic Church
St. Andrew’s Church of Scotland (Presbyterian)
St. Patrick’s Catholic Church
Basilica di San Silvestro in Capite (Catholic)
Church of Sweden
Evangelical Lutheran Church
Rome International Church