For many years central Indiana faith communities independently provided support to a partnership between Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis and Moi University School of Medicine in Eldoret, Kenya. The support of Indiana faith communities contributed immensely to fostering the health and social welfare of Kenyans.
However, as our congregations became aware of the magnitude and the complexity of the needs of children orphaned or made vulnerable by the AIDS pandemic, it became apparent that we would be most effective working collectively. In 2006, 10 central Indiana Jewish and Christian congregations came together to form the Global Interfaith Partnership-Indiana. Focusing upon a shared commitment to justice and mercy, the Indiana coalition subsequently created a working partnership with the Global Interfaith Partnership of Chulaimbo which encompasses 26 congregations in Kenya’s Nyanza Province. Together our congregations developed the Umoja Project (“unity” in Swahili) to respond to the issues facing orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in the Maseno Division of Nyanza Province.
The vision of the Umoja Project is to develop a compassionate and comprehensive system of care which responds to the needs of OVC in Maseno Division. This is accomplished by:
- Supporting children and their families through broad-based services;
- Building the long-term capacity of families, communities, and local faith-based organizations to implement, coordinate, and sustain services for OVCs; and
- Strengthening linkages among faith-based and community-based service providers to coordinate coverage and maximize effective practices.
Our partnership model enables our two coalitions to build on respective strengths and resources while working together to build a strong service delivery system. Members of each coalition provide education and advocacy in their respective congregations, denominations, governmental structures and larger communities as well as mobilize the resources necessary to support the Umoja Project.