October: A New Purpose for Don Jose’s Land in Costa Rica

Editor’s Note: Each month, we mail an article with our contribution statements to the previous month’s donors. Click here to download a PDF version.

Written by Kathy Bryson, International Training Director

Note: Three SIFAT donors purchased land in Costa Rica this year for our SIFAT Central American Training Center’s permanent home. We are excited to share more news in the next issue of the SIFAT Journal.

In this article, the title of Don is given to a gentleman to show respect and honor.

Don Jose grew up in rural Costa Rica with six siblings. They were poor, but proud, and worked hard to survive on their small farm. When Don Jose was 10, his father gave him a small plot of land to work. He said, “Son, it is your job to make it produce.”  He showed Don Jose how to prepare the land and gave him seeds to grow cilantro. “You are in charge. We are counting on you to help us survive.”

Don Jose finished primary school. no one went to high school; there was not one nearby. The next step was to work to make a living, supporting the family.

This year, SIFAT bought property in Costa Rica for a permanent Central American Training Center. Don Jose (above) sold us the land and is excited to be part of SIFAT’s new center. He shares his testimony in this article.


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July 2020: Graduates in Action Around the Globe

Editor’s Note: Each month, we mail an article with our contribution statements to the previous month’s donors. Click here to download a PDF version.

Written by Marie Lanier, Promotions and Marketing Coordinator

SIFAT has been training community leaders in development for 41 years. As community needs change, our graduates’ ministries often shift their focus. A global pandemic? That is definitely a call for adaptation to meet immediate needs. Around the world, governments are enacting strict lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, which has led to economic hardships and job loss, inflation and food shortage. We reached out to a few of our graduates  for updates, so we can better understand the challenges they face, but also to see the ways they are thriving, despite unexpected circumstances.

Awon (center) leads a Bible study with a group of college students quarantining together in India.


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Learn & Serve: Birmingham Youth Support SIFAT Training Graduate in Nigeria!

Pastor Ogbatabo is a pseudonym for one of our SIFAT graduates and trainers in Nigeria. Because of his work in a violent area, we want to protect his identity for his safety. Pastor Ogbatabo submitted a proposal to SIFAT, which was approved as a SIFAT international project. 

SIFAT’s Learn & Serve department pledged to help Pastor Ogbatabo fund his project through educating North American youth on the issue of smoke inhalation around the world and allowing them the chance to partner with SIFAT through financial contributions.  Several L&S staff members and leaders from various participating groups have contributed.  One inspiring story of a group committing to fund Pastor Ogbatabo’s project comes from Canterbury United Methodist Church of Birmingham, Alabama.

When students from Canterbury UMC met Pastor Ogbatabo while at SIFAT during Summer 2013, they decided they wanted to sponsor his project in Nigeria. After telling their friends and parents about Pastor Ogbatabo and his work, they decided to take up an offering once a month at their Sunday night youth program.

Canterbury UMC students keep a tally of the amount raised each month on their prayer (chalkboard) wall in a drawing of the rocket stove.


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International Project Update: Pastor Ogbatabo’s Cookstove Training in Nigeria

Pastor Ogbatabo is a pseudonym for one of our SIFAT graduates and trainers in Nigeria. Because of his work in a violent area, we want to protect his identity for his safety. Pastor Ogbatabo submitted a proposal to SIFAT, which was approved as a SIFAT international project. 

Pastor Ogbatabo and participants from the fuel efficient cookstove training that took place in Nigeria during September 2013.

Pastor Ogbatabo, one of SIFAT’s International Practicum graduates, is currently holding trainings in Nigeria to educate community leaders on the importance of fuel efficient cookstoves and water purification.  Pastor Ogbatabo will be holding six trainings during the next year to train about 360 people in making fuel-efficient cookstoves. These stoves not only help the environment by using less firewood, but also improve air quality in the kitchen and help girls go to school—the girls are usually given the task of gathering firewood, often spending most of the day walking to collect wood and keep the fire going.
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Training – Field Study: Water, Water Everywhere

 Our May Field Study was held on SIFAT’s campus May 12-25. Sarah Murphree, SIFAT co-founder Sarah Corson’s great-niece, participated this year. She has been blogging about her experience and giving readers a glimpse of what types of appropriate technologies and community development topics are being presented, as well as a look into who some of the participants are.  A 2012 graduate of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Sarah recently directed and produced two short films, one taking first place in the 2013 Nashville Film Festival. She is currently working on her third film, a documentary about Camp Koinonia.

One of the subjects covered during the Field Study was the need for clean water. Alabama Water Watch, a water quality monitoring program covering all major river basins of the state, came to educate us about water quality. We watched informative videos and learned about the need for clean water globally. We then had the chance to test the water here at SIFAT.

Clean water was one of the main topics covered during the Field Study.


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