Recently Jim and I were able to spend time installing an Internet Cafe as a part of The Anchorage Project in the inner city of Dublin, Ireland. The director there is an Irishman named Joseph Donnelly who grew up in this part of Dublin and can tell stories of what its like to live in this area. He knows it; he lived it. He knows there’s a loss of hope in his town now more apparent than ever as the recession is taking a nasty toll on the economics of Ireland.
Several years ago, the board of directors of an old mission house approached Joe and asked if he and his wife could do anything with the old mission house to change the neighborhood. This is the same mission house that Joe as a teenager vandalized and threw rocks at before having his life transformed by God. The Donnelly’s idea was to use the mission house to now bring hope into the neighborhood. Their mission was that hope is comprised of four aspects: beauty, children, community, & justice. This old mission house is now called The Anchorage Project.
Beauty is being lived out through the use of plants and birds that are sold through the Anchorage Project. They train people on how to take care of these plants and birds, and while it can seem strange, all sorts of people from little old ladies to tattooed young men come to the center waiting for their flowers.
Children are cared for through the Anchorage during the children’s morning programs and special events that happen in the neighborhood. Parents see the joy that the kids have and the sense of play that is inspired at the Anchorage. Through their children’s eyes, they have a sense that things will be alright.
Community is beginning encouraged as the Anchorage Project starts a cafe which includes the Internet Cafe. This is a safe place for people to gather. They can come in and have something to eat and drink, sit around and chat with friends, get on the Internet, socialize or just talk with one of the people working there. Those who serve in the café aren’t there for a job but are wanting to care for people living and working in the neighborhood.
Justice is the final aspect of bringing hope and all the other parts play into it. Almost every part of beauty, children and community has a small fee, such as the flowers are sold or time purchased on the Internet Cafe computers. They are priced to be inexpensive to the community but they do create a revenue source so that every year the neighborhood, via the Anchorage Project, is able to give help to in places like Africa, Southeast Asia or Eastern Europe. Hope is found in the realization that even though they don’t have much, they are still able, as a neighborhood, to help others.
So how do computers help bring hope to the inner city? By being a part of an overall plan, computers and technology can further the vision and mission of ministries. The vision of a computer center, as part of the café, continues to build a sense of community by getting people out of their homes and together. It also meets a real need by tapping into an opportunity for people to have access to the internet, for everything from research to communication. A way for this poorer neighborhood to have a greater variety of tools to make their lives better. And this is all done in the name of Christ and for the purpose of exposing others to HIS Kingdom.
We were delighted to share in a small part of what The Anchorage Project is doing to impact their community and the world.