Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Seattle Area Group Continues Mission Work In Drug-Ravaged Guinea-Bissau

by April 30th, 2010

From Chris Collins, who was raised in Shoreline, just north of Seattle, and now works as a reporter for the Fresno Bee. With his family, he’s long been involved in mission work and would like to share this:

Flame is a Christian Seattle-based nonprofit that runs a school in Guinea-Bissau, one of the tiniest and poorest countries in the world. The West African country is quickly gaining an international reputation as the continent’s first narco-state. As the United States cracks down on the cocaine trade, Latin American drug cartels are increasingly turning to Guinea-Bissau and other poorly-governed states in West Africa as places where they can ship their product in bulk and then smuggle it into Europe. It’s estimated that the drugs that flow through Guinea-Bissau each year are worth more than the country’s GDP. As a result, many of the unemployed and poor in Guinea-Bissau are turning to this lucrative new trade instead of contributing to their country’s economy and society. Cocaine addiction among Guineans is a rising concern.

Flame is trying to help counter this trend. The trade school it has built in Canchungo, the country’s third-largest city, offers a post-secondary education that gives its students piratical skills that translate into jobs. It offers classes in sewing, computer basics, auto mechanics, and English. The school’s administrators and teachers are all native Guineans. The school has been open for more than two years and has more than 100 students. It has become a critical asset in the community. Eventually, Flame hopes to build similar schools in other cities in Guinea-Bissau and throughout West Africa.

Flame will host its annual fundraiser this Saturday, May 1, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Christian Reformed Church (14555 25th Ave NE in Shoreline).

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