Located in the heart of Africa, the Central African Republic (C.A.R.) faces a multitude of challenges that have left a significant portion of its population living in poverty.
One of the main challenges is political instability, with multiple coups and ongoing violence. This instability has led to a breakdown in the rule of law, a lack of access to basic services, and significant displacement of populations.
As a result, poverty is widespread, with over 60% of the population living on less than $2.15 per day. [source] The lack of infrastructure and services makes it challenging for people to meet their basic needs, and the ongoing instability has made it difficult for the government and aid agencies to provide support. Rural areas lack access to education due to persistent insecurity. At the same time, violations of human rights – especially against women and girls – has increased.
LPGM was founded by a strong and very personal connection to C.A.R. It is a tale of three Tims and of God’s glory in triumph over tragedy (read a 1993 article from The Lutheran Magazine, "A Tale of Three Tims" (.pdf)).
Illiteracy is another significant challenge in C.A.R., with only about a quarter of adult women able to read and write. This lack of literacy is a barrier to accessing information and participating in decision-making processes. It also makes it difficult for people to obtain formal employment and to fully engage in the economy.
Working alongside the social work arm of the ELC-CAR (OSEEL), LPGM will provide the funds to establish literacy and post-literacy program. OSEEL has a long history of peacebuilding, education, and economic empowerment in western C.A.R. LPGM and OSEEL worked together from 2012-2018 to establish Village Savings & Loan associations that continue to this day, giving women entrepreneurs the financial support they need to thrive.
In July 2021, the Lutheran Church in the Central African Republic (C.A.R.) sent a plea asking LPGM for emergency, life-saving food and basic necessities for internally displaced families around Bouar and Baboua, two of the cities where the church has a strong presence.
LPGM’s mission is focused on providing access to quality education to people on the margins — especially for women and girls. But students cannot learn when they are at risk of starvation. This acute crisis affects our shared mission: to listen, respond and bear witness to local needs and priorities.
Investing in these life-saving measures quickly, made possible by you, was the first step we could take toward providing brighter futures for these children and families.
Thanks to your gifts, families are being given food kits to help them through the crisis. Rice, beans, oil and spices are purchased locally in C.A.R., which allows the church to move quickly while supporting the local economy.
In spite of the violence in C.A.R., the Village Savings and Loan Program had a remarkable economic impact on communities and individuals. In these groups, no outside capital was invested, so participants did not become indebted to an outsider. Instead, members continue to contribute what they can at weekly meetings. Loans are made from the combined savings, and at the end of a cycle, the savings and collected fees are distributed to participants.
Begun in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in C.A.R. via a European Union grant, over 160 savings groups were initially created. The E.U. grant ended, but church leaders wanted to continue training new groups in the program so that it would continue to grow. LPGM stepped in to assist in that growth.
Between 2012 and 2018, LPGM supported 491 VSL associations that engaged 12,482 members. The program’s continued growth amidst the country’s challenges affirms our belief in efforts to educate and empower community members to foster sustainable improvements, one person at a time.
January 2010 marked the dedication of a new health facility in a remote town in western CAR. The Emmanuel Health Center was a result of collaboration between the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the C.A.R., Global Health Ministries and LPGM. While only three partners started the project, over 20 additional partners provided support throughout.
The plaque at the center’s entrance speaks of hope from the prophet Isaiah: “Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth. No longer shall a child live but a few days, nor will the elderly not live a full life.”
LPGM’s 20+ year partnership with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of C.A.R. continues, despite the political and economic troubles in the country.