The United Methodist Reporter is offering the latest headlines in the RSS format.
World Methodist honor goes to mental health pioneer Staff Reports, Aug 15, 2011
Staff and Wire Reports
Rosalind Colwill, a champion of mental health care in Nigeria, is the 2011 recipient of the World Methodist Peace Award. She was at the World Methodist Conference in Durban, South Africa, on Aug. 5 to receive her award from John Barrett, chair of the World Methodist Council.
“When it was intimated to me about this award, I felt three very distinct emotions,” Ms. Colwill said in accepting the award.
“Firstly, unworthiness in the light of the former recipients; secondly, I reflected on my strong Irish Roman Catholic mother who taught me so much, but never imparted any conflict resolution skills to me which has dogged me my whole adult life; and thirdly, upon further reflection, I feel the emotion of great joy and gratitude.”
Ms. Colwill, who these days works in spite of limitations from a stroke, serves as a mission partner from the British Methodist Church on assignment with the Methodist Church in Nigeria.
A trained social worker, she initially worked with leprosy sufferers in Nigeria. She encountered many with mental health problems and became increasingly aware of the number of impoverished people with mental illnesses and learning disabilities where she worked. She gathered support locally and internationally and in 1990 developed a pioneer project in a small village in the Southeast of Nigeria. Ms. Colwill developed a holistic and community-based approach to care. The project known as Amaudo Itumbauzo has over the years become known internationally for pioneering mental health care in the region.
The project has treated and supported hundreds of adults and children in their own homes, developing education, training and awareness and in so doing, reducing stigma and ultimately preventing destitution and homelessness.
Currently, the organization has six major projects, including Amaudo Okopedi, a center for the rehabilitation of mentally ill adults; a long stay village for former Amaud Okopedi residents and adults with learning disabilities; Project Comfort, a community-based outreach to children with learning disabilities; a community mental health program active in five Nigerian states; and a mental health awareness program.
The World Methodist Peace Award is presented annually to an individual or group who works for peace, justice and reconciliation in their lives and in their ministries. Ms. Colwill joins the ranks of peace ambassadors such as former South African President Nelson Mandela, Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, and former President Jimmy Carter.
Other recipients are the late former president of Macedonia, Boris Trajkovski, the community of Sant'Egidio in Rome, and the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo in Argentina.
For more than three decades the World Methodist Council has presented the World Methodist Peace Award. Criteria for the award are courage, creativity and consistency in work and witness to peace.
The Peace Award concept was initiated in 1976 by the Rev. Stanley Leyland during the 13th WMC held in Dublin, during a time of intense conflict in Northern Ireland. Reportedly, Dr. Leyland was so inspired by a presentation by Rev. Eric Gallagher about the Northern Ireland conflict that he moved that the World Methodist Peace Award be established in an effort to affirm peace.
The first award went to a peacemaker from Northern Ireland, and the decision was for the award to be bestowed on activists “in other areas where the concern for peace is of a great consequence.”
The World Methodist Peace Award Committee was subsequently established and selects a worthy recipient annually.
The 20th World Methodist Conference took place for the first time in South Africa on Aug. 4-8, at the International Convention Centre Durban (ICC) in Durban.
This assembly convenes every five years to bring together members of the worldwide association of churches in the Methodist/Wesleyan tradition. The 2011 World Methodist Conference marks the 20th gathering of the Methodist/Wesleyan family from 74 member churches representing more than 132 countries.