Many churches around the world donate to charities to fight poverty. However, the African Methodist Episcopal Church  created its own agency to support the poor in Africa and the Caribbean. Its Service and Development Agency (AME-SADA) has been providing humanitarian assistance and development aid in Haiti and Africa for decades.

Though AME is an American church, it was founded by those of African descent. The church has three stated purposes, and the third addresses its work through its Service and Development Agency : to “provide continuing programs which will enhance the entire social development of all people.”

AME-SADA was founded 28 years ago, with the aim to “help people help themselves.” However, the church itself has been working in Haiti for more than 125 years. AME-SADA receives financial support from its own church members, the American government, donators and foreign institutions. In 2011, the agency was awarded the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund to help their Cholera Prevention Program in Haiti.

In line with its motto of helping people help themselves, the Service and Development Agency provides health, education, and micro-credit programs. However, in emergencies such as the Haitian earthquake in 2010, AME-SADA provides quick relief.

In Haiti, AME’s  Service and Development Agency has a Child and Maternal Health Program that offers services such as pre and post-natal care for women aged 15-49, newborn care, disease and malnourishment care, family planning and counseling. The agency also supports outpatient clinics for treatment, health education and counseling. It provides water purification tablets, cleansers, disinfectants and oral rehydration packets for the treatment of cholera.

SADA-KREDI is closely related to AME-SADA’s healthcare programs. Some groups in the Haitian communities asked the agency for help supporting the clinics, and so AME’s Service and Development Agency brought members from clinic support groups to work at village banks. Three thousand women participate in an orientation for business and group dynamics, which lasts for 9-12 months. Then they are given loans of $500 in local currency for nine months.

AME-SADA also provides health care in Port-au-Prince in Haiti for 30,000 elementary school children.

Though the majority of AME-SADA’s work is in Haiti, the church has other programs in South Africa. AME has had churches and schools in the country since 1896. The agency’s college, Wilberforce Community College, provides higher education and encourages younger students to stay in school.

 – Kimmi Ligh

Sources: African Methodist Episcopal Church 1, African Methodist Episcopal Church 2, AME-SADA 1, AME-SADA 2, AME-SADA 3, Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, Our Health Ministry
Photo: Our Health Ministry