Monday, April 1, 2013

SIFAT brings the world to Randolph County

News to Know
Story by Sarah Corson and Marie Lanier


SIFAT has various appropriate technology water pumps installed in Mad Indian Creek, which feeds into Lake Wedowee, to teach leaders from communities where there are no electricity or diesel pumps.  At one time, SIFAT used this gabion dam of rock- filled wire baskets to create a waterfall to pump water with a hydraulic ram.

WOW! The boats keep coming, pulling up to dock under the pines along the shoreline of Lake Wedowee. The slogan “Come by boat, come by car, come as you are!” is well known. SIFAT hosts local ministers and singing groups for Worship on the Water (WOW) each Sunday from Memorial Day through Labor Day at Lakeside Marina.

Randolph County’s SIFAT, a nonprofit, interdenominational, Christian training center was founded four years before Lake Wedowee came to be. When the lake’s backwater came up to within sight of the back of SIFAT’s 176-acre property, everyone was excited. Begun in 1979 to provide training for church and community leaders of some of the poorest places in our world, SIFAT emphasizes holistic community development using appropriate technologies as tools.

Village and church leaders from more than 85 countries have come to study at SIFAT in the last 34 years, and our local friends often take them on boat rides on the lake. These leaders learn how to purify and pump water using appropriate technologies, such as rope and washer pumps or bicycle parts. They learn to use solar energy to cook.  Growing more food is high on their priority list and that includes technologies such as composting, irrigation, learning of different highly nutritional plants.  Students learn to make leaf protein concentrate and can add powdered dried leaves from plants such as kudzu to foods like cakes, pastas or soup to ensure their children have a balanced diet.  Other classes include microenterprise and health.

Both Randolph County residents and lake visitors have joined graduates of SIFAT’s training on short-term mission teams in developing countries throughout the world. SIFAT currently serves alongside its graduates in Bolivia, Ecuador, Uganda and Zambia. While in these countries, we can compare lake communities to our lake community! Lake Titicaca, Lake Cuicocha and Lake Victoria are just a few that our team members have visited. More than just being tourists, though, our teams live the SIFAT mission of sharing God’s love through service, education and personal involvement with a needy world by bridging the First and Two-thirds Worlds to learn from one another and encourage each other.

Locally, SIFAT offers retreats for all ages and week long youth experiences each summer through Learn & Serve.  SIFAT opens a window on the world for Americans through its Global Village, showcasing simulated housing from Africa, Asia and South America.  The Urban Slum features realistic dwellings used in overnight retreats and the annual 48: A Slum Experience, when high school and college students spend 48 hours learning about life in such poverty stricken neighborhoods. Campus facilities are also open for rentals. Visiting SIFAT is like traveling around the world, without leaving Randolph County. Many have said that SIFAT is Randolph County’s second biggest tourist attraction…second only to Lake Wedowee.

Lake Wedowee brings visitors to our area, and many of them find SIFAT.  We welcome people to come for tours, participate in short-term mission teams or join one of our Learn & Serve retreats or camps. For more information or to contact SIFAT, please visit www.sifat.org.


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