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Cablegate: Taft Grant Recipient Marks Project Completion

VZCZCXRO4533
RR RUEHLN RUEHPOD RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #3344 3240838
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 190838Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0794
INFO RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS MOSCOW 003344

DEPARTMENT FOR PRM/ECA AND EUR/RUS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREF KIRF EAID RS
SUBJECT: TAFT GRANT RECIPIENT MARKS PROJECT COMPLETION

REF: (A) STATE 6779, (B) STATE 35430, (C) MOSCOW 1540

1. (U) Summary: The Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy (MPC) held a
ribbon-cutting ceremony November 17 to celebrate successful
renovations on its new Parish Center, a social services office and
refuge for mainly African refugees and vulnerable migrants in
Russia's capital. Approximately 35 attendees, including religious
leaders and Russian and African supporters of the Center's
nonsectarian humanitarian mission, heard the USG's generosity and
community spirit extolled by MPC's pastor. End Summary.

PRM (through Embassy Moscow) the lead project donor
--------------------------------------------- ------

2. (U) In the Ambassador's absence on official travel, Refcoord
represented the Embassy at a celebration held to mark the official
opening three weeks earlier of newly renovated quarters for MPC's
Parish Center. In September, State/PRM had awarded MPC $20,000 from
the Julia V. Taft Fund for Refugees (refs) in order to outfit what
is now named the "Ambassador's Room," a library and computer center
for beneficiaries of the Parish Center's services to displaced and
isolated Africans. Other donors to the project were:

-- Evangelical Lutheran Church of America ($15,000);
-- Peter Gerwe, President of MPC ($10,000);
-- American Baptist Church ($5,000); and
-- MPC parishioners ($2,000).

Though far from the city center, the new Parish Center location is
convenient to public transportation. Only the rumble of passing
trolleys disturbs the peace of its suite of freshly painted rooms in
church basement space made available by the Ingrian Lutheran Church.


3. (U) The Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy is an interdenominational
Christian ministry established in 1962 to serve the English-speaking
community of Moscow. Because its services are in English, MPC has
attracted a corps of parishioners from Anglophone Africa (and later
their friends from Francophone Africa) - many who came to Russia as
students and then sought refugee status when changed regimes in
their home countries made them afraid to return. Today, MPC serves
refugees based on need and regardless of religious affiliation.

4. (U) In addition to referring carefully selected individuals to
the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, MPC maintains a Task Force on
Racial Attacks that catalogs refugees' reports of harassment and
racist violence. Earlier this month it opened a medical clinic to
serve the African refugee and student population in Moscow. Embassy
Moscow's RMO is volunteering at the clinic, providing patient care
and working to ensure adequate medical supplies and pharmaceuticals
through a network of physicians in the U.S.

A Tribute to Partnership
------------------------

5. (U) MPC Pastor Robert Bronkema introduced the Center's ribbon
cutting by noting the presence of interested dignitaries, including
the provost of the Russian American Christian University. "The
Parish Center provides a much needed refuge for people who today
call Moscow their home, while their real homes are much farther
away," Bronkema observed, adding: "With a partner such as the U.S.
Embassy, who also considers this very vital work, we are able to
provide relief, education, and safety to those who otherwise would
be adrift and in danger in Moscow. Without the aid of the U.S.
Embassy this center would not have been possible."

6. (U) In her own remarks to the assembled clergy, volunteers, and
beneficiaries, Refcoord praised the reinforced, cleaned, and
comfortably furnished space. She cited the words of Julia Taft
herself from a 2005 speech to the Women in International Security
Summer Symposium: "I encourage each of you to engage - assert
yourselves and use your talents to empower the institutions and
peoples in countries emerging from conflict. Remember, the
countries may be broken - but the people are not. They need the
resources and opportunities you can provide them to craft their own
destiny."

BEYRLE

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