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Joining Hands Makes Final Visit to Egypt

The Joining Hands teams from Iowa and Egypt. The Joining Hands teams from Iowa and Egypt.

By Nancy Lister-Settle, Hunger Action Advocate

On May 29, 2015 four members of the Presbytery of Des Moines left for their final Joining Hands visit to our partners in Egypt. There was a bittersweet feeling as preparations were made, but this quickly changed to an air of celebration when the group arrived in Egypt. Since the launch of the Joining Hands initiative in 2000, the Presbytery of Des Moines has partnered with a network of churches, nongovernmental organizations, and grassroots associations to identify and address root causes of hunger and poverty through collaboration and advocacy. 

There have been successes (networking and advocacy were new concepts in Egypt) and struggles (the country has been through two revolutions in recent years), but our Joining Hands partners have achieved several significant goals.

This Presbytery group -- Dave Best (First United Presbyterian, Atlantic), Denise England (First Presbyterian, Audubon), Elizabeth Smith (Central Presbyterian, Des Moines) and Nancy Lister-Settle (First Presbyterian, Dallas Center) -- have been to Egypt many times during the partnership, and the local Joining Hands team has hosted delegations from the Egyptian network here in Iowa as well. These exchanges were key to creating the close bond that has supported the members of the network in their efforts.

This visit culminated in a celebration of 15 years of partnership, with past and current directors of the Presbyterian Hunger Program’s Joining Hands program in attendance. During the gala event, the network was recognized with the Presbytery’s Just Neighbors award, which was officially presented at the 500th Stated Meeting of the Presbytery of Des Moines on June 6.

While the Joining Hands partnership will end after 2015, the delegation and the network members all expressed gratitude for everything they have learned together, and renewed their commitment to fighting hunger and poverty in the future. Alhamdulilah—thanks be to God.