MCC marks 75 years in India

Mar 26, 2018 by and

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Mennonite Central Committee is celebrating 75 years of relief, development and peace work in India, making it one of the oldest international aid organizations in the country.

MCC began work in India in 1942 in response to famine in Bengal province. More than 2 million people died from starvation, malaria and other related diseases.

Mennonite Central Committee supports a community school program at a hostel for girls run by Lee Memorial Mission in Kolkata, India. MCC provides funding to enhance the quality of education for needy students through better facilities, innovative teaching methods and by addressing the health and well-being of students. Pictured are students Priya Biswas, left, and Srilekha Das. — Dave Klassen/MCC

Mennonite Central Committee supports a community school program at a hostel for girls run by Lee Memorial Mission in Kolkata, India. MCC provides funding to enhance the quality of education for needy students through better facilities, innovative teaching methods and by addressing the health and well-being of students. Pictured are students Priya Biswas, left, and Srilekha Das. — Dave Klassen/MCC

Over the years, MCC has responded to other disasters and, through local partners, addressed systemic issues including poverty, conflict and gender inequity.

A two-day anniversary celebration in February proved MCC’s presence in the country has touched many lives.

MCC India representatives Gordon and Carol Zook said many lives are changed through educational partnerships, the Young Anabaptist Mennonite Exchange Network and the International Volunteer Exchange Program.

“At the celebration, we had six people share their stories, and there are thousands more, people whose lives are being changed, people whose communities are being changed,” said Gordon Zook.

Keynote speaker John Oommen has seen these changes firsthand and is participating in bringing them about.

He and his wife, Mercy, are administrators at Bissamcuttack Christian Hospital in Odisha, where MCC partners to educate nursing students and midwives from low-income families.

“All of us are part of a larger mission, like a jigsaw puzzle,” he said. “We all think we own the picture, rather than just fitting into the hole cut out for our piece and making the picture that much more beautiful. Our calling, our mission, is to share the suffering and pain of people. This is the example of Jesus.”

Wealth and poverty

Among the guests was one former MCC service worker whose connections to MCC in India date back more than 50 years.

Albert Lobe of St. Jacobs, Ont., began serving with MCC in India in 1966 in Palamau district, Bihar, and stayed there until 1969. He then worked in Kolkata in 1977-80 and 2013-14.

“Our years in this great country, three in Bihar and four and a half in the marvelous city of Kolkata, captured our imagination and changed us forever,” he said. “We remember these years in India with deep gratitude.”

According to the Zooks, while much has been done to touch lives and build hope in India, there is still work to be done.

“India will very soon be the most populous country in the world. While the headlines say India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, the scale of the population here means that any problem affects a huge number of people,” Gordon Zook said.

Carol Zook added that a chasm separates the wealthy and poor.

“While most people have cell phones in the cities, and even in the countryside, there are still rural villages without toilets and water,” she said.

The couple hopes to approach MCC’s future work in India through a lens of conflict transformation.

“For example, an irrigation project that brings water into communities also brings conflict into those communities because now there’s a resource to fight over,” Gordon Zook said. “We want to focus on equipping people to resolve conflicts.”


Comments Policy

Mennonite World Review invites readers’ comments on articles. To promote constructive dialogue, editors select the comments that appear, just as we do with letters to the editor in print. These decisions are final. Writers must sign their first and last names; anonymous comments are not accepted. Comments do not appear until approved and are posted during business hours. Comments may be reproduced in print, and may be edited if selected for print.

About Me

advertisement advertisement