Saturday, March 29, 2014

A New Committee in Batey 7

A shot of the drainage ditch to the northeast of Batey 7. The community is entirely surrounded by sugarcane fields which are cut periodically by deep drainage ditches to assure that the land, which is extremely flat, maintains its productivity. This particular drainage is within a few feet of the last row of houses and is a breeding ground for mosquitoes and, whenever it rains, a receptacle for human waste.

New committees are not something Jenny or I (Mark) would normally get excited about.

But this one was different. This past February, Jenny participated as an observer in the formation of the "Consejo de Desarrollo y Salud Comunitaria" (The Counsel for Community Health and Development) in Batey 7.

This new group came about when the Community Development Committee (CDC) invited Batey 7's Youth Group for Development Club (Club Juvenil de Desarrollo) to a joint meeting. The CDC is the group with which Jenny and I have been working using the strategies we are learning from CHE (Community Health Evangelism). The second week of February Jenny arrived at the afternoon meeting with newsprint, markers and masking tape, but she assured the joint group that her only role would be to help write what people were saying.

As they talked, participants shared the goals and activities of their respective groups.  One thing they discovered was that both groups have identified the malignant drainage ditch as one of the priority  problems for Batey 7. But even more than that, the participants felt that they could work better together. So they set a date to meet again, and February 27th, they created the Counsel for Community Health and Development, with the executive committee made up of an equal number of representatives from each original group.

Each committee will continue to exist and work on their own agendas. But every two weeks, the executive committee of the counsel is scheduled to meet to discuss the points they have in common.

Neither Jenny nor I know for sure what will come of this, but coming as we do from two different Reformed traditions (Moravian & Presbyterian) and two different professions (health & agriculture), we really do believe the PC(USA) World Mission philosophy that we work better together. We think this new development has to be a good thing--adults with their experience and maturity working together with the youth, with their energy and vision. Pray with us for this new initiative, that it may become a powerful engine for transformation.

Kelvin (right, in black and white shirt), the assistant coordinator for the youth group, explains some of the goals and objectives of Batey 7's youth group.

Participants in the joint meeting of the Community Development Committee and the Youth for Development Club when they formed a new initiative, the Counsel for Community Health and Development.

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