International news briefs: 30 November
Kyiv Corps lights the candle of hope
Despite the ongoing war, the onslaught of winter, constant air raid sirens, grief and weariness, the corps in Ukraine are focusing on the celebration of Christmas.
Last Sunday 26 November, Ukraine divisional leaders Majors Irina and Konstantin Shvab, lit the first Advent candle – the candle of hope – at Kyiv’s Lighthouse Corps.
Corps around the division are working to raise funds to buy little gifts for children, to provide food and warm clothing, and to hold Christmas services. Their regular ministries also continue, including Bible studies, Sunday school, youth groups, scouting, art therapy, and a range of classes.
For Ukrainian officers, ‘regular’ ministries now include supporting people who have lost loved ones in the war, helping traumatised children and adults, and helping provide material needs for internally displaced people.
General calls for prayers for Gaza
The Salvation Army welcomes the news of the temporary ceasefire and release of some hostages in the Israel-Hamas conflict. The Salvation Army prays for peace and the complete cessation of violence, and for the release of all remaining civilians who have been taken captive.
General Lyndon Buckingham comments: “Our prayers continue to go out to all those affected by this, and other conflicts throughout our world. Especially, we pray for those who have lost loved ones or who have sustained injury themselves.
“The Salvation Army is committed to peace-making and has a long-standing tradition of remaining neutral and non-partisan. As General, I call on Salvationists throughout the world to continue to pray for peace, to conscientiously pursue peace, and to equip themselves to become effective peacemakers.”
A Tanzanian shopping experience with a difference
From an unused strip of land to a thriving hub of commerce, The Salvation Army's Shukrani shops are changing lives in Mbeya, Tanzania. The vision behind the shops aimed not only to uplift the local community but also to make their training school more accessible to a low-income population.
Residents in the local community were using the vacant land for informal roadside vending. They sold various items like cooking oil, flour, rice, and other groceries; offered services, and eked out a living amidst the unpredictable elements.
The Salvation Army harnessed the potential of their training school students who embarked on a journey of community engagement and market research. They canvassed the area, spoke to the sellers about their needs and aspirations and discovered that these entrepreneurs craved legitimacy, security, and a proper selling space. However, they couldn’t afford new construction.
This grassroots market research formed the foundation of the project, identifying a waiting list of sellers eager to have legitimate shops. With The Salvation Army World Service Office’s (SAWSO) funding, 10 shops with storage and bathrooms were constructed, exceeding initial expectations.
The newly constructed shops were 100 per cent occupied from day one, and the local community rejoiced. The city even paved the street, signalling the dawn of legitimate business in the Shukrani shops precinct in Tanzania.
The rent generated from these shops is expected to recover the initial investment in less than five years, all of which will support The Salvation Army training school. Plans are underway to replicate this success. The local government regulations now prohibit street vending, increasing the demand for rented shops.
SAWSO is entering a second phase of the project, constructing six more shops to meet the growing demand for selling spaces.
The Shukrani shops stand as a testament to the power of community engagement, innovative thinking, and The Salvation Army's commitment to making a difference. This venture has not only empowered local entrepreneurs but also created a sustainable source of income to support The Salvation Army’s mission in Tanzania, illuminating a path toward economic empowerment for years to come.
A soccer field unites and empowers a community
In the heart of Ecuador’s Guayaquil, unity prevails as community cooperatives come together to change their lives. A soccer field brings them together and powers their self-sufficiency.
The city of Guayaquil in Ecuador's western region has witnessed The Salvation Army's unwavering presence for nearly four decades. It’s a difficult area where local communities have to grapple with issues such as gang activity, violence and drug-related problems. Many of them build houses wherever they can find land, even if it’s on an extreme slope of a hill. The concrete box homes are stacked on top of each other, with no formal streets, limited access to water and electricity, and little to no space for play.
To address these concerns, a group of community cooperatives emerged, providing mutual support and advocating for change. Despite their persistent efforts, they remained largely unrecognised by formal authorities. Their surroundings resembled a concrete jungle, with no safe or suitable gathering place for the community.
The Guayaquil Central Corps, located at the base of one of these informal settlements, began partnering with The Salvation Army World Service Office (SAWSO) to find ways to increase mission space and generate local income to support their community mission. The identified solution involved funding the clearing and levelling of a field at the base of the hill, addressing water runoff issues, and thus creating a soccer field that could be rented by the hour for games or activities, generating income that would fund their local programs and community assistance.
Construction took months, and once completed, local Salvation Army officers reached out to the community to promote the soccer field. That’s when an unexpected impact took place: the various cooperatives asked permission to use the space simply to have group meetings where they could unite their efforts rather than compete for resources.
By the mere change of having sufficient level space within walking distance for 30+ people to meet, they began to pool resources, invest in improvements, and take charge of their environment. They saw the field as their own and strived to enhance it.
The impact was profound. The field had been operational for a year, becoming a hub for both sports and fellowship. It attracted a diverse crowd, including police, lawyers, transit officials, and government employees who came to play soccer. This provided community members with an opportunity to engage with these officials, fostering valuable partnerships and networking opportunities.
One community member emphasised, “The Salvation Army invested in us and gave us the space we needed to become a community.”