International news briefs: 1 February
Australian officers Commissioners Wayne and Robyn Maxwell, leaders of the South Pacific and East Asia Zone, spent time this week in the Philippines to conduct a territorial review.
Wayne is the International Secretary and Robyn is the Secretary for Women’s Ministries for the zone.
“These last few days have been so rich as we have shared in Officers’ Councils, Spiritual Day at the Officer Training College, time with the precious children at Joyville Children’s Home and a memorable visit with Tanay Corps – each place blessing us with a special cultural welcome, dancing and singing,” shared Robyn.
“We are especially grateful to Territorial Leaders and their amazing team for every courtesy shown to us.
"May the Lord continue to bless the Philippines Territory!”
Warzone ministry in Ukraine
The Salvation Army in Ukraine continues to reach out to those who are suffering, despite the heavy shelling that happens daily across the country.
Recently, a small team of officers and volunteers visited an area near the border with Belarus to provide supplies and a Christmas celebration for the children.
The people in these villages are still recovering from the Russian occupation they endured before Ukrainian troops liberated the remote area. Many homes have been destroyed, and there is no gas or electricity. There is only one employer remaining in the area, and many people have left.
“It is important that The Salvation Army in Ukraine comes to the villages like these on a regular basis to support people in need with the resources available through our supporters and donors,” says Major Konstantin Shvab, Ukraine Divisional Commander.
“It was great to see children and teenagers participating with great passion and enthusiasm in our events. It was also a great opportunity to express our love, tell them about the Good News and help the attendees to gain confidence that Jesus created the world for good.
“It was great to see lots of happy faces during our visits. The Salvation Army in Ukraine expresses its gratitude to all the supporters, friends, volunteers, donors and others who make visits like these possible.”
Learn for Work project
In the Rwanda and Burundi Territory, Territorial Commander Lieutenant-Colonel Jean Laurore Clenat officially opened and dedicated to God, new buildings for the Kayenzi Rukeri TVET ‘Learn for Work’ project.
Lieut-Colonel Clenant reminded those gathered that education is a significant and key tool for sustainable development.
Among its community development strategies, the territory aims to empower young women and men with vocational skills for employment opportunities.
Young people are currently being trained in advanced tailoring, advanced motor vehicle mechanics, and driving (theory and practical).
Following one of the worst outbreaks of cholera in eastern and southern Africa for many years – currently impacting 13 countries within the region – The Salvation Army is responding to the situation in Zimbabwe and Zambia.
The two Salvation Army hospitals in Zimbabwe – Howard Hospital in Mashonaland Central and Tshelanyemba Hospital in Matabeleland South – are setting up cholera treatment centres on The Salvation Army compounds, which are separated from normal hospital activities by a fence to prevent the spread of this highly contagious disease. The centres can treat up to 20 cholera patients each at any given time. If treatment is provided quickly after catching the disease, most patients can be discharged from healthcare facilities within three days.
In Zambia, The Salvation Army is also responding to the situation and currently planning a program that will include the provision of soap, chlorine and other supplies to at-risk communities, in combination with hygiene promotion and health-awareness measures.
The intention is to provide 575 at-risk households with essential hygiene, cleaning and water disinfection items, and to set up 10 communal handwashing facilities in four communities and cholera centres, targeting a total of 3450 people.
Participants in four programs from The Salvation Army’s Centre of Hope in Edmonton, Canada, now share their living space with some friendly four-legged friends.
Dr. Bob, Wilson, Freddie and Leroy are the names of the four cats who were brought into the centre’s facilities to accompany the residents and bring them some joy.
The new pet therapists have been assigned to different programs. Dr. Bob and Wilson live at Keystone and Cornerstone sober housing facilities respectively. Freddie frequents the Grace Village Supportive Housing building, while Leroy spends time with seniors at Grace Manor.
Vanessa Sim, assistant executive director at the Centre of Hope, says bringing the cats is already showing positive signs when it comes to improving the residents’ mood.
“We’ve seen some significant changes in some of the behaviours of our participants. It has been an amazing experience to see people come out of their norm.
“We know statistically and research-wise, that animals are excellent therapy. The interactions are wonderful. We’ve seen some significant changes in some of the behaviours of our participants. It has been an amazing experience to see people come out of their norm.”
Thanks to the arrival of the furry friends, residents are seen frequenting general areas of their facilities more often. The personality of the cats also blends in with the atmosphere of each facility, which helps with the transition for both the pet and for the residents.
All four cats hang around the building and like to be present during activities at each of the programs they are part of.
“It is a companion, it helps you through troubled times,” said David, a resident of Grace Village, referring to Freddie.
Vanessa has witnessed the positive impact of this initiative. She recalls seeing a resident make significant progress thanks to the cats’ presence.
“One of our participants, who is nonverbal and quite antisocial, was holding the cat and posing for pictures the other day. It was a bit miraculous, honestly. We had never seen such engagement from her in all the years that she has been there,” she shared.
“One of our participants, who is nonverbal and quite antisocial, was holding the cat and posing for pictures the other day.”
The new feline occupants have had a positive impact on the atmosphere at the Centre of Hope’s facilities. Staff members have noticed residents discussing the cats with one another as they walk by.
The initiative’s success has participants of other programs asking if they can get a cat as well. Vanessa says they are open to adding more furry companions in the future.
“We would certainly be open to each of the programs having a centre cat for sure. It’s been a positive experience.”