Strengthening the Community
February 2004

“Strengthening the Community,” Ensign, Feb. 2004, 78–79

Strengthening the Community

Service Project Helps Afghanistan’s Orphans

What started with a simple request in a letter sent home from Afghanistan turned into a community effort throughout the Texas Panhandle in the United States.

Lieutenant Colonel David Lowe of the Amarillo Fourth Ward, Amarillo Texas Stake, is serving in Afghanistan and helping to rebuild schools. He sent a letter home to his wife, Suzanne, describing the extreme poverty of the country and the overwhelming number of orphans who are cared for in government-run institutions. He told her that some children in Afghanistan walk 10 miles to the nearest school through land that varies in elevation from 1,400 to 7,000 feet. He visited one orphanage that housed at least 1,200 children.

Brother Lowe suggested to his wife that a young man in the Amarillo Fourth Ward might undertake an Eagle Scout project to gather school supplies, warm hats, and gloves for the children of Afghanistan. Sister Lowe told others of her husband’s idea, and soon a stake-wide effort was organized to gather 1,200 school bags filled with school supplies, warm hats, and mittens.

Elementary school children spent a day making hats and bags for the project. Local businesses in Amarillo provided discounted goods or donated items for the school bags.

The humanitarian project culminated on 18 October 2003 with a women’s conference held at the Amarillo Stake Center. Completed school kits were gathered at the conference and shipped to Afghanistan. Brother Lowe plans to distribute the school kits as he travels through the country rebuilding schools.

Adapted from Church News, 25 October 2003.

Philippine Saints Celebrate National Family Week

As part of the Philippines’ National Family Week in September 2003, Latter-day Saints from the Toledo Philippines District, Philippines Cebu Mission, joined with their community in celebrating the family and emphasizing the importance of family history and family unity through family home evening. The Philippines Area Presidency asked a local committee to involve the community and members of the district branches in an activity to inform the community about family home evening and family history.

On the morning of 27 September 2003, Church members, friends, and full-time missionaries walked together in a parade with the Toledo Private Drummers and Buglers. The district presidency carried a banner displaying the theme, “The Home: Cradle of Culture and Values.” Participants marched from the meetinghouse to the heart of the city and back to the chapel as an opening to the day’s activities. All 11 branches in the district and all of the missionaries supported the events.

After the parade, members and friends met at the meetinghouse for a special program. The Toledo District Choir sang the national anthem and also the Family Week theme song, “Isang Piraso ng Langit,” composed by Mon Del Rosario.

Guest speaker Mayor Arlene Espinosa Zambo encouraged the audience to help make Toledo City a good place to live and thanked the Church for supporting National Family Week.

The district presidency awarded several members and families certificates in recognition of their exemplary attitudes. District President Yolando R. Cotejo challenged every family member to live as a good example.

Latter-day Saints and community members were then invited to visit the local family history center and learn how to trace their ancestors.

Library Books and Funds Donated in the Outback

Members of the Penrith Australia Stake spent 2003 raising funds to build a book collection for a library in Australia’s Northern Territory.

Tania Ligertwood of the Penrith Australia Stake suggested the “Building a Library in the Outback” project after traveling to some of the outlying areas of Australia and seeing many small schools with almost no library facilities.

In January, wards in the stake began collecting money for the project. Stake leaders asked the Alice Springs School of the Air to compile a list of needed books and supplies. Church members recently donated 150 books to the school.

School officials “were bewildered at such a generous offer from people they do not even know and were very grateful that their school had been chosen as the recipient of such a kind gesture,” said Marianne Walters, Penrith Australia Stake Relief Society president.

Adapted from Church News, 8 November 2003.

Church Provides Water for Liberian Refugee Camp

LDS Charities presented two new and functioning wells, called boreholes, to the Buduburam Liberian Refugee Camp in September 2003.

“This gift is made possible from donations from many throughout the world. It will give you the feeling of our Savior’s love for us,” Elder Derl Walker, a full-time missionary representing LDS Charities, said at the presentation. “We all need to remember what the Savior said to the woman at the well, that He would give her living water from which she would never thirst.”

The new wells mark the first useful boreholes at the refugee camp, which accommodates approximately 75,000 people. The water can be used for drinking and cooking.

In accepting the gift for the camp, welfare council chairman Francis Hinnah said, “We are grateful you are helping lift the burden from us. On behalf of the Liberians at the camp, we thank you.”

Orphans in Afghanistan received donations of school supplies and winter gear gathered by Church members in Texas and distributed by a Latter-day Saint serviceman. (Photograph courtesy of Church News.)

Members in the Toledo Philippines District helped celebrate Philippines’ National Family Week with events emphasizing family home evening and family history. (Photograph courtesy of Elder Wayne J. Richey.)