National Lutheran News

Lutheran World Relief promotes peace because “peace is three meals a day”

Kathryn Wolford, stepping down from leading LWR, spoke to ELCA women in Columbia Heights.

As she prepared to move from leading the highly-respected relief agency, Lutheran World Federation (LWR) to heading up Twin Cities-based McKnight Founda-tion, Kathryn Wolford told Lutheran women, “Lutheran World Relief is a good steward of your money. Hardly anything goes to overhead.”

Speaking at the 2006 Women’s Gathering of the Minneapolis Area Synod’s Women of the ELCA in Columbia Heights on Sep-tember 30, Wolford took delegates on a fast-paced world tour to explain where the relief agency’s multimillion dollar budget is spent.

* In a refugee camp near the Sudan/Kenya border, peace has been declared in the midst of a brutal civil war. “But,” says Wolford, “the peace isn’t holding. So LWR is providing help — repairing clinics and building schools. One refugee said, ‘Peace is three meals a day.’” She thanked Wolford for helping make that possible for people like her.

* In Niger (Africa), a country ranked dead last among 177 U.N. development targets, LWR distributed food, helping locals achieve sustainability. Said one recipient, “You treated me like a human being. For that I’m thankful.”

* In the Asian tsunami disaster zone, LWR went in with relief, including provision of coolers and weight scales. They help women who fish sell directly to customers, eliminating the middle man and saving money.

* In the Pakistan earthquake zone LWR provided its famous Lutheran quilts.

* In Peru a shipment of LWR school kits prompted a parent’s written response, “These kits fill my heart with emotion. They will help our children. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

* In Tanzania, East Africa, LWR gives seed money for microcredit business opportunities for struggling women wanting to improve their lives. One woman used her funds to buy a cooler and start a popsicle business. Another bought 20 chickens and started an egg business. She now has 167 chickens and has earned enough to build herself a new house.

* In Bolivia there is a problem when people can’t overcome the red tape and the expense of getting social security cards, which open their lives to more economic opportunity. Wolford said it sometimes took two years’ salary to get a card. So LWR set up local legal clinics to help cut through the paperwork. Now people can settle land title issues, make money as farmers and build family security.

Wolford explained that LWR works through local organizations “which is a big change from the ‘old days’ when we’d send LWR staff around the world to ‘do it ourselves.’ The new system is a great improvement,” she said.

She praised supporters of the ELCA/LCMS-sponsored agency for meeting a challenge to increase sales of fair trade coffee from 45 to 100 tons in one year.