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NCC/CWS NEWS BRIEFS: Summer Livingstone Expedition Distributes Moringa Seeds in Tanzania; CWS Seeks Help for War-Torn Angola and Weather-Battered Zimbabwe; CWS "Gift of the Heart" Baby and Health Kits are Balkans-Bound; NCC Supports "Leave No Child Behind" Campaign and Lifting of Comprehensive Economic Sanctions Against Iraq

Summer Livingstone Expedition Distributing 100,000 Moringa Seeds in Tanzania

NEW YORK, N.Y. – An expedition retracing the route taken by Henry M. Stanley during his famous 19th century search for Dr. Stanley Livingstone is distributing 100,000 Moringa tree seeds during its 1,000-mile hike June 15-August 15 across Tanzania.

This is renowned expedition leader Jim Owens’ fifth major historic expedition since 1990. Last year, he led another 1,000-mile hike across Tanzania, retracing the steps of Sir Richard Francis Burton and John Hanning Speke in 1857 as they sought to locate the source of the Nile. That expedition distributed 20,000 Moringa seeds along the way.

The two expeditions’ "Moringa component" is thanks to Henry L. Rigali, an attorney and avid outdoorsman. Mr. Rigali learned last spring (2000) of Church World Service’s pioneering work to document the dramatic effectiveness of Moringa Oleifera leaf powder against malnutrition and to expand the tree’s cultivation, especially in Africa. A member of Second Congregational Church in Palmer, Mass., Mr. Rigali read about Moringa in a "One Great Hour of Sharing" Sunday bulletin insert.

Church World Service documented the Moringa tree’s effectiveness against malnutrition, especially among infants, children and mothers, in a 1997-99 pilot project conducted in clinics across southwestern Senegal, where the Moringa tree grows wild. CWS, the global service and witness ministry of the (U.S.) National Council of Churches, and its Senegalese partner AGADA now are expanding Moringa’s cultivation across Senegal, to other West African countries and beyond.

This scruffy-looking, fast-growing tree is in full leaf at the end of the dry season, precisely when other foods are the scarcest. Moringa leaf powder conserves well and is easy to use in porridge, biscuits, sauces served over rice or couscous and other recipes.

The eight Americans (including Mr. Rigali) and six Tanzanians on this year’s Stanley Livingstone Expedition are distributing the 100,000 Moringa seeds to rural farmers and villages encountered along their hike. They also are distributing medical supplies, sporting equipment, educational materials and gifts to local inhabitants.

"In Morogoro we will meet with tribal elders to negotiate the terms of the purchase or lease of a large tract of land for a Moringa plantation," Mr. Rigali said. "The plantation will be the site of an orphanage, hopefully within the next three years. Income from the plantation will help subsidize the orphanage.

CWS Seeking Aid for Internally Displaced in Angola, Drought Relief in Zimbabwe

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Church World Service is seeking support for two programs of emergency response, one in war-torn Angola and the other in drought- and flood-stricken Zimbabwe.

ANGOLA: A 25-year war in Angola has left hundreds of thousands displaced and totally destitute. As a result, one of Africa’s most resource-rich countries now ranks as the world’s 160th poorest nations (out of 174), according to the United Nations.

CWS is seeking to raise a total of $178,000 for food; household items including cooking sets, blankets, and clothes; seeds and tools; rehabilitation and management of health centers, and education projects, including the rehabilitation of schools and provision of school materials. School reconstruction will benefit some 6,000 children and health center improvements will benefit some 20,000 people.

$150,000 is for CWS partner, the Evangelical Reformed Church of Angola (Igreja Evangelica Reformada de Angola – IERA), which is providing assistance to 9,000 families (about 40,000 people) in the provinces of Uige, Kwanza-Sul and Huambo – areas where thousands of displaced war survivors are living in deplorable conditions.

$28,000 is for Share Circle, Inc., a local Angolan organization which is assisting refugees and displaced persons. Share Circle is a partner of the Church of the Brethren, a member denomination of the National Council of Churches and Church World Service.

ZIMBABWE: Zimbabwe has suffered from a series of weather-related disasters this year: a severe dry spell in January that destroyed most of the planted crop, followed by floods in February and March affecting the northern part of the country, particularly the Zambezi basin.

Rural families have been severely hurt by these calamities, with many selling off their livestock at very low prices due to an economic depression. These factors are, in turn, contributing to the nation’s political instability. Between 10 and 24 percent of children under age 5 are reported malnourished.

Christian Care, a Zimbabwean ecumenical organization and long-time CWS partner, is making food immediately available to 14,900 adults, 1,500 children below 5 years of age and 1,500 school-age children in regions affected by the droughts and floods, including Harare, Matebeleland and Midlands.

This response includes components of food for work, water and sanitation, supplementary feeding for infants and young children and school feeding. CWS is seeking $85,000 from its member denominations in support of Christian Care efforts.

CWS "Gift of the Heart" Baby and Health Kits Are Balkans-Bound

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Church World Service is sending a shipment of CWS "Gift of the Heart" Baby and Health Kits, along with school and sewing supplies, valued at $293,725, to Bosnia, for arrival this month (June).

In February 2001, CWS provided $335,000 worth of "Gift of the Heart" Health and Baby Kits in Serbia. In 2000, CWS distributed 25,970 School Kits, 64,750 Health Kits, 3,366 Baby Kits, 19,160 blankets, 14,425 sets of bed linens and 1,950 sewing kits in the Balkans.

The "Gifts of the Heart" kits include an array of supplies and are helping families in the Balkans who are trying to recover their disrupted lives and livelihoods.

National Council of Churches Supports "The Act to Leave No Child Behind"

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Council of Churches is among a wide variety of organizations and child advocates to join in supporting "The Act to Leave No Child Behind," unveiled at a news conference here May 23.

The Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar, NCC General Secretary, was present as Senator Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut), Congressman George Miller (D-California) and Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund, announced details of the bill. Ending child poverty is one "spoke" in the NCC’s 10-year focus on ending poverty, said Dr. Edgar, who serves on the steering committee for CDF’s "Movement to Leave No Child Behind."

The comprehensive measure includes specific proposals with the aim of ensuring health insurance for every child and their parents; ending child hunger through expansion of food programs; lifting every child out of poverty (half by 2004, all by 2010); fully funding quality Head Start, child care and preschool programs; making sure every child can read by fourth grade and leaves school ready for work and life; providing all children with quality after-school and summer programs, and protecting all children from neglect and abuse.

Contact: Gigi Hinton, Press Secretary for the Children’s Defense Fund, 202-662-3609;;

NCC Joins Call for Lifting of Comprehensive Economic Sanctions Against Iraq

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ms. Brenda Girton-Mitchell, Esq., Director of the Washington Office of the National Council of Churches and its global witness and service ministry, Church World Service, is among 13 signatories to a May 21 letter to President Bush asking that comprehensive economic sanctions against Iraq be lifted.

Church for Middle East Peace, based in Washington, D.C., initiated the letter, which cites the sanctions’ contribution to the "worsening humanitarian crisis in Iraq." The NCC is a member of Churches for Middle East Peace.

"As religious leaders and concerned citizens we seek your support for addressing the worsening humanitarian crisis in Iraq by quickly ending the comprehensive economic sanctions which have been in place for more than a decade," they wrote to President Bush.

"We are well aware that the embargo is by no means the sole cause of the continuing suffering of the Iraqi people," they wrote. "Actions of the Iraqi government also contribute to the present situation of mass deprivation and suffering. The Iraqi government’s actions, however, do not relieve the international community of its responsibility to end the dreadful suffering caused by the embargo." To continue the embargo "effectively punishes the Iraqi people for the misdeeds of an authoritarian regime over which they have no control."

Contact: Churches for Middle East Peace, 202-546-8425;;


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