UCSB Africa & the Middle East Workshop

Question 3: What is the role of religion to Civil Society organizations?

Mae Cannon

Role of Religion on World Visions' work in the Middle East:

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization providing hope and assistance to tens of millions of people in nearly 100 countries around the world. Motivated by our faith in Jesus Christ, World Vision serves alongside the poor and oppressed as a demonstration of God’s unconditional love for all people. World Vision serves all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. We seek to honor God in all that we do; to honor our donors and the public by being transparent about our motivation; and to honor those we serve as well as our colleagues in the field. Our passion is for the world's poorest children. The ability of these children to reach their God-given potential depends on the physical, social, and spiritual strength of their families and communities. To help secure a better future for each child, we focus on lasting, community-based transformation. We partner with individuals and communities, empowering them to develop sustainable access to clean water, food supplies, health care, education, and economic opportunities. World Vision works in several regions of the Middle East including Afghanistan, Jordan, Lebanon, and Israel/Palestine. Throughout the years World Vision has been involved in the Middle East, serious conflicts throughout the region have had profound impact on the lives of children. As a Christian organization, World Vision affirms that all people have the right to life, food, liberty, security, education, and adequate health care.  These rights also have been enshrined in such international agreements as the UN International Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), highlighting the responsibility we all have to ensure these rights are protected for all children throughout the Middle East.

Rosalind Hackett

I am interested in how religious organizations that are engaged in humanitarian and peacebuilding work adapt to changing political 
attitudes and circumstances.  How do grassroots groups negotiate periods of government/international neglect and intervention?  How do they transform from a crisis response group to a post-conflict resource?  How do they balance local legitimacy, national recognition/criticism, and international acclaim? My principal case study will be the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI) in northern Uganda because it has weathered all the above.  Along these same lines of reconfiguration and transformation of civil society organizations with religious leadership or leanings, I plan to discuss a fast-growing, multi-sited organization, AFRUCA - Africans Unite Against Child Abuse, that has capitalized on growing political support for global campaigns against human trafficking while addressing local and African diasporic fears about the "growing problem of child branding  as witches and as possessed by evil spirits."