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Rasha Zayadien enjoys meeting the volunteers who make it possible for MCC to send school kits and other material resources to people experiencing poverty and hardship. Joanie Peters

Rasha Zayadien enjoys meeting the volunteers who make it possible for MCC to send school kits and other material resources to people experiencing poverty and hardship. Joanie Peters

International volunteer experiences heart of MCC

Gladys Terichow
March 20, 2008

SASKATOON, Sask.—Rasha Zayadien of Jordan has seen the smiles of gratitude of people who received blankets, newborn kits, school kits and other material resources from MCC.

Now she is working in the MCC Centre here in Saskatoon and meeting some of the people who make it possible for MCC to send these shipments to many different countries.

She is surprised how much work is done by volunteers, especially elderly volunteers. “They are willing to help even if they are tired,” she said. “I feel sometimes they are the heart here—they are the ones that give energy to the whole MCC. They want to do as much as they can to help people in other parts of the world.”

Zayadien is in Canada for one year under the International Volunteer Exchange Program (IVEP), a cultural exchange and peace-building program for young adults between the ages of 18 and 30.

A highlight, she said, was joining the volunteers in a prayer service when a shipment of bales was sent to the MCC warehouse in Plum Coulee, Manitoba. “I think it is amazing how they pray for people in other parts of the world,” she said.

She has four brothers and one sister and grew up in the village of Smakieh, a small Christian village of about 2,000 people. She is a graduate in agricultural engineering, specializing in plant production.

When she submitted her application to join IVEP she didn’t have steady employment and was grieving the death of her mother. “I thought maybe this is God’s plan for me and that new doors are opening for me,” she said.

As she was preparing to leave for Canada she was notified that she was the successful applicant for a job with the Jordanian government. “It would have been my job for my whole life,” she said. Another obstacle to continuing with her plans to come to Canada was her sister’s marriage. Both daughters had been living with their widowed father and he now lives alone.

These new situations kept her awake at night but as she reflected on her plans for the future she sensed that joining IVEP was the right decision for her. “This was a very difficult decision but I really thank God that I’m here. I’m sure this was the right decision.”

She is learning more about the Canadian culture, the Mennonite faith and MCC. “Everything is so interesting for me,” she said. “I’m learning about Mennonites. I didn’t know Mennonites had churches. I just thought Mennonites were helping people.”

Working in the MCC Centre gives her the opportunity to meet some of the people who assist people in other parts of the world. “I really like how people here want to help MCC,” she said. “They phone and ask how can they can help others—when they hear about something happening (earthquakes, floods and other disasters) they just want to help. People want to help and MCC provides the bridge so that they can help.”

This past year MCC Saskatchewan shipped 268 bales filled with 4,283 new blankets, 1,738 school kits and 1,040 newborn kits and other material aid.