With the sponsorship of the German Exchange Services (DAAD), from 3rd to 10th December 2017, members of the International Community of Diaconic Management (ICDM), Professors and Partners met in Windhoek, the Capital City of Namibia to discuss, learn, share and strategize on one of the most pressing issues in the world: Poverty reduction. ICDM is the network of the alumni of Masters of International Diaconic Management now serving in their respective countries in Africa, Asia and Germany. This year, participants were privileged to meet the Minister of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare in the Republic of Namibia, Honourable Minister Bishop Dr. Zephania Kameeta, at the Ministry office and had a two-hour session on Poverty eradication, the role of the Church as well as other public and private Stakeholders in social transformation.
The 6-day meeting participants benefited from the lectures from professors and leaders in Church and Diaconia. Professor Martin Büscher, one of the two founders of ICDM and the Rector of Protestant University Wuppertal/ Bethel lectured on “Economic policies, poverty reduction and the role of the churches”. Indeed the Church through Diaconia has a role to play and with the competencies built in the Masters of Diaconic Management study programme, she is equipped to lead the change. Professor Nadine Bowers du Toit from Stellenbosch University, spoke about the Women in Leadership Development and she emphasized the role of empowered women in creating spaces for other including those who are marginalized and poor.
From the praxis side, the United Evangelical Mission (UEM) represented by Reverend Matthias Börner Head of the International Diaconia and Bielefeld/Bethel Training Center introduced the Bachelor of International Diaconia which is projected to start in 2020. Innovative part of the training is that it is planned to provide short time training on topics such as trauma-healing through Arts, conflict transformation, community development, etc and which are awarded by Certificates to develop the skills of diaconic managers or other practitioners in their field of interest. Consultations with partners Universties and experts in Africa, Asia and Germany are underway on the programme curriculum, content and profile.
From the management side of UEM, Chair Person of UEM Africa Regional Board Bishop Letlhage Mothusi Jairos, summarized his intervention on Poverty reduction in the following question: “In most cases, the poor and the decision makers are members of our Churches, is our message in the context relevant to both of them?”
Besides, the lectures and presentations from the experts and Church leadership, the participants to the third ICDM meeting, witnessed what the Church and Church bodies are doing to address the issues of poverty by visiting and interacting with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia (ELCRN), the Ecumenical Center on Social Diaconate Action (ESDA) and the ELCRN AIDS Programme (ELCAP) on one hand. On the other hand, participants discussed on the poverty reduction interventions in their respective countries and churches. The main insight was, it is high time that they “walk the talk” hence they came up with ICDM strategy for 2018! Next year, ICDM will be convening in Jakarta Indonesia in Spetember 2018. We look forward to new stories and new heights.
By Frederick Wong Lap Kay and Mathilde Umuraza