Anglican International Development (AID) began operations in 2010, in solidarity with Anglican Christians throughout the world.
Over the next few years, AID partnered with churches around the world in the fields of microfinance, healthcare training, community sanitation, church development in agriculture. The founders of AID hoped to bring help and hope, especially in regions where access to basic, life-supporting needs had been denied to Christians. Following GAFCON (Global Anglican Future Conference) 2008, AID established a partnership with the Episcopal Church of the Sudan (ECS).
Since the 1950s, the Sudanese people had endured much civil war, waged between the overwhelming majority of Muslims in the north and the non-Muslim, non-Arabic speaking Sudanese in the south. During decades of war, more than two million people were killed and more than four million displaced – devastating the lives of men, women and children. The fighting relented only long enough for a number of fragile peace accords to be signed. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in 2005, gave the southern Sudanese autonomy for six years, after which a referendum for independence was held in January 2011. Amid much celebration, the people of Southern Sudan voted overwhelmingly for independence and became the newest nation in the world on July 2011.
However, another struggle then began: the battle to build the new South Sudan into a prosperous country reaching its potential. There was an urgent need to create long-term and sustainable economic development in the region so that, beyond independence, the South Sudanese could retain autonomy in their day-to-day living.
In response, AID established Manna Microfinance in 2011, working with the ECS and a partner organisation with many years’ experience in microfinance. Women formed groups and received small loans to set up essential retail, bakery and tailoring businesses – an important ingredient in developing the burgeoning economy. They then repaid the loan at a later date from the profits of their business, with plenty of support from Manna staff and their fellow group members along the way.
While microfinance provides a foundation upon which women can build a livelihood for their families, its most enduring benefit comes in the form of spiritual transformation. According to development economist Rebecca Shah, taking part in Christian-based microfinance programmes can generate what is termed spiritual capital, generating wider increased inclusion and empowerment of the poor and marginalised. Thus the benefits of such a programme extend into participants’ communities. Furthermore, holding to the Christian faith enables one to develop a sense of future-orientation which greatly assists in participation in development programmes such as microfinance over the long term.
Conflict struck South Sudan again in 2013, this time between warring factions within the country. Five years later and after almost 400,000 conflict-related deaths, fragile peace was once again agreed in September 2018, although pockets of fighting persist in some areas. However, despite these circumstances, we praise God that Manna Microfinance also persists and has done since it was first instituted. This miraculous endurance is attributed to the incredible, faithful perseverance of the late coordinator Rev Martin Jogoh, the Manna staff (Nancy, Felista, Stella and Susan) and most importantly, the women they serve.
‘As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.’
1 Peter 4:10-11
This post is adapted from a previous article written by Canon Chris Sugden (2011), one of the AID trustees.