February 29, 2012 | 1:23 p.m.
By the Office of Communications and Marketing
On Friday, February 24, Rajiv Shah, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), visited Bethel as part of a one-day Twin Cities tour to engage local leaders in conversations about faith and global development in the 21stcentury. USAID is the primary relief and development agency of the U.S. government, partnering with faith-based and community organizations to achieve America’s global development goals.
Shah is the highest-ranking government official in the current administration to visit a member institution of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU). He led the first response efforts after the recent Haiti earthquake, and is spearheading President Obama’s “Feed the Future” initiative to provide immediate assistance and extended support for food security to suffering people worldwide.
In his remarks, Shah noted Bethel’s “extraordinary accomplishment” in study abroad participation, which ranks 10th in the nation, and encouraged continued international engagement. He emphasized the contributions of faith-based organizations to global relief efforts, and acknowledged the average American’s commitment to worldwide relief efforts. “More than one-half of all American families gave to some form of relief effort after the Haiti earthquake,” he stated. “When we raise awareness, we raise resources.”
With a coordinated effort of caring people, community and faith-based organizations, and government resources, said Shah, “we today more than any time in history have the opportunity to end child hunger as we know it, to end preventable child death as we know it, to end child trafficking as we know it.”
Shah’s visit to Bethel was coordinated by Chris LaTondresse, a 2005 Bethel alumnus who serves as an advisor at the USAID Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. The event was attended by Representative Betty McCollum, local leaders in relief work, and selected Bethel community members, including student leaders.