Social Development at the Cathedral
(Mt 25: 35-45)

 

•St Alban’s Social Development Committee (SDC) was established as a response to the Bishop’s call for the Christian community to rise up against social challenges experienced across the Dioceses. The SDC used the good foundation created by the HIV/AIDS committee as a platform of launching other programmes that would have a holistic view in assisting and empowering the destitute, those without a voice and the vulnerable members of society.
•To create an efficient GOD-centered structure, the SDC was divided into four focus areas or Desks as shown in the figure below.
 

Vision

•To be a God-centered body that provides caring, supportive hands and effective response where the need is greatest through compassion and nurturing, as well as sustainable awareness programs that will promote and empower self-reliant communities faced with dire circumstances brought about by HIV/AIDS and Poverty.
 

Main Objectives

•Promote Christian values 
•Assist beneficiaries to achieve a measure of self-sufficiency
•To give relief and hope to many in despair
•Encourage the Church’s participation in Social Development programs
•Encourage youth to discover their talents and spiritual gifts
•Provide health service to those in need
•To pass God's love to those in dire poverty and ravaged by HIV/AIDS and related diseases
 

Programs

SDC’s mission is spearheaded through the following programs as per individual desks. 


Social Responsibility Desk

•The objectives of the desk are to:-
1.To pass God's love to those in dire poverty and ravaged by HIV/AIDS
2.To provide caring, supportive hands and effective response where the need is greatest
3.To give relief and hope to many in despair

•Projects:

  Fill-a-bag campaign

•This initiative has been fully embraced and adopted by the Cathedral congregation.  Parishioners fill the bags with non-perishable foods such as maize meal, sugar, salt, canned fish, cooking oil, soya, peanut butter, sunlight soap and dry beans. The beneficiaries of these food parcels over the past years, were patients at the Tshepang clinic in Ga-Rankuwa.

  God’s pantry

•Funds are also channelled towards replenishing the Cathedral’s God’s pantry. The food is given hungry and destitute individuals who seek any form of assistance from the church.

  Blanket distribution

•Yearly, more than 100 blankets have been distributed to the needy

  Jumble collection

•    Every so often, parishioners donate any form of clothing towards the needy.
 

Health Desk

•The objectives of the desk are to:-
1.To pass God's love to those in dire poverty and ravaged by HIV/AIDS
2.To provide caring, supportive hands and effective response where the need is greatest
3.To give relief and hope to many in despair

•Projects:

  Substance abuse and HIV/AIDS

•There is an alarming increase in substance abuse lately which is affecting all spheres of society resulting in an explosion of horrendous crimes like rape, domestic and school violence, murder, armed robbery, etc. Substance abuse is also one of the factors which encourage the spread of HIV infection, a major cause of disease, death and suffering within communities.
 

Teen Desk

•The objectives of the desk are to:-
•Assist the youth to have a closer relationship with God
•Encourage the youth to discover their talents and spiritual gifts
•Encourage youth to uplift the community through various projects regarding issues such as
• HIV and AIDS, Justice, Social Equality and Poverty Alleviation

•Projects:

  Bible study

•The teenagers are encouraged to attend the bible study during Sunday school session where they discuss the lessons of the day and how they affect their everyday challenges.
•Examples of topics discussed include:
–What being a Christian means
–Christianity as a lifestyle
–Being a good leader
–Emotional & Spiritual Intelligence

  Volunteerism and donations

•Fundraising activities such as car washing are used to raise money to be donated to those in need. Each year, the chosen charity receives the donations or volunteerism including cleaning, painting, etc.
 

Charitable Work

 

•In the previous terms, a lot of effort, time and attention of SDC were placed on short term charitable work and crisis disaster management. More than 2300 food parcels and clothing bundles were  donated to Tshepang Clinic in Garankua.
•Apart from these donations, a lot of clothing, blankets and ready to eat food were donated to the inner city recipients who drop in at the office asking for such assistance.
•As charity begins at home, other recipients of blankets and food packs were certain members of our congregation who were going through difficult times.
•The office is inundated and sometimes overwhelmed by the numbers of people needing help. Continued donation by parishioners of food parcels, clothing and blankets is greatly appreciated and is encouraged as this is sometimes the only way some of these recipients can meet the basic needs of food and clothing.
 

Self Sustaining Programs 

 

•While the latter continues, the committee has another objective. This is to build and strengthen more self sustaining programs that will involve input and more active participation of both donor and recipient communities.
•The current high unemployment levels as well as high prevalence of HIV/AIDS and limited opportunities for formal employment informed this objective.
•The Social Development Committee focused on Skills Development, Training and Education for the year 2014.
•Most of the time was spent on planning and development of such programs. Income generating activities like catering, baking and flower arranging were identified as initial skills development programs, to boost the financial capacity of participants.
•Training was planned to kickstart early in 2015 and has indeed started with training on basic cooking, next course on baking is planned for early next year.
•The main objectives are
–To promote self reliance through multi skilling of individuals.
–To promote the spirit of sharing by facilitating imparting of different skills amongst members of the congregation and recipient communities.
–To promote behavior change in the community by empowering people with skills and training 
•The targeted group is, but is not limited to youth clubs as well as some of the people who have been receiving donations from the Cathedral over the years.
•Appropriate training facilities are required at the church as well as the provision of training fees.
•SDC will monitor the impact of the training through visits to the beneficiaries over the months following the training. They will receive report-backs on the mentoring process within the co-operatives. New product lines, improved craft quality and greater income generation will be markers of the success of the training.
•This project follows an example of good practice in enterprise development by providing skills that have scope to improve its income generation. 
 

New considerations

•This project has breadth, although it does not reach all members of the community. It has reasonable depth, intensity and permanence in that it has the potential to impact positively on the vocational, economic and psychological aspects of the beneficiaries' lives.
•Consideration for:
1.sponsoring indigent members / delegates either fully or with a partial subsidy
2.payment or honorarium  for trainers
3.Seeking company donation for materials & / equipment in the long run
 

Looking forward

•As we all know, social investment and development is not a once off event It should be ongoing and sustainable in the short, medium and long term.
•The enormity of the task needs collaboration between different sectors and cooperation between corporates, NGO’s, Church Based organizations as well as recipient communities.
•Development of our communities through workshops, guided tours and demonstrations will be ongoing, as has been started on critical topics such as sexuality, drug or substance abuse, Gender issues, HIV/AIDS transmission and interventions.
•The need for charitable giving and disaster relief remain our firm commitment when & where a crises arises but our main focus for now will be on utilizing available resources to develop skills that will help rebuild this society for generations to come.
•We certainly are far better off than Haiti in that we are not starting to rebuild from scratch and we have a solid infrastructure and foundation on which to continue building.