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South African Student Continuing to Serve Her Community

September 23, 2013

In 2008, Global Ministries supported Nozuko Toli, a member of the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA), as she studied at the Asian Rural Institute (ARI) in Japan. ARI is a training center for Rural Leaders.  Founded in 1973 by Rev. Dr. Toshihiro Takami, the aim of the program is to invite and train local grassroots leaders to more effectively serve in their communities as they work for the poor, the hungry, and the marginalized.  Each year from April to December they bring together about 30 leaders from countries primarily in Asia, Africa, and the Pacific to take part in their Rural Leaders Training Program.  The training focuses on sustainable agriculture through integrated organic farming techniques, community building, and leadership.  It is community based and hands-on learning is emphasized in all areas.  Working together they grow and share their own food.  At the heart of the program is the concept of 'Foodlife' - a term designed to recognize and value the interdependency between life and the food that sustains all life.

Ms. Toli recently sent stories concerning the work in which she has been involved since returning to South Africa following her training. She is working with Gqunube Green (a Christian eco-village) focusing on an outreach program that works in materially poor communities and unemployed youth. Ms. Toli says that as she works with communities, it is important for them to realize that “it doesn’t matter whether you have a big or small piece of land next to your house.  Even a door size garden can feed your family.”  Since fertilizers and pesticides are both expensive and dangerous to the environment, Ms. Toli teaches communities in organic and sustainable farming practices.  She notes that during the trainings, “people ask many questions because this type of farming is new to them. After the workshop we give them seedlings to plant in their gardens and the following week we visit them three times. Then we continue with another group. In this way we can reach many people!”

Global Ministries is thankful for international partners like the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa and Asian Rural Institute, which not only seek to make a difference for marginalized communities in their own contexts but are willing to work together cross-culturally as we learn from one another.  We also give thanks and keep in prayer Ms. Toli, who is continuing to use her skills and love of agriculture to effect change in her community.

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