Audrey Assad concert to benefit nonprofit helping Tanzania

| April 12, 2017 | 0 Comments

An upcoming concert will draw on a soulful voice to help poor villagers in Tanzania access much-needed water.

Audrey Assad

Audrey Assad will perform May 7 at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul to benefit Partners 4 Hope Tanzania. Molly Druffner, a parishioner of St. Michael in Stillwater, launched the nonprofit in 2015. The proceeds from the event, Concert for Hope, will be used to buy water tanks for people in the village of Bwambo.

Druffner said the organization aims to raise $30,000 to fund 100 water tanks for families’ homes and farms.

“There’s plenty of water on top of the mountain,” Druffner said, “[but] there’s just no way for people to access it because it costs $500 to buy a water tank, and nobody has $500. Most people live on $1 a day.”

Concert for Hope

2 p.m. May 7 at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul

General admission: $40; $20 for ages 12 and younger

Tickets are available at the Fitzgerald Theater box office and

Druffner has been making trips to Tanzania annually since 2009 with her husband, Mark, and seven children. They serve through Los Angeles-based Mission Doctors Association. Mark is a physician and spends a month or more seeing patients in a Tanzanian hospital, while the rest of the family serves the hospital and village in other ways.

Out of that grew Partners 4 Hope Tanzania. Among its projects are helping local women start businesses and children attend Catholic schools.

Molly Druffner, founder of Partners 4 Hope Tanzania and a parishioner of St. Michael in Stillwater, visits with women in Tanzania. Courtesy Molly Druffner

“We started Partners 4 Hope because we saw a lot of other needs, specifically in the parishes,” Druffner said. “We saw the needs of the village being much greater than just Mark volunteering at the hospital. Because I loved meeting the people and working with the people so much, this just kind of grew out of that.”

One of the current projects is the building of a church in the village of Ngujini, a project funded, in part, by St. John the Baptist in New Brighton. The relationship started with a trip that its pastor, Father Michael Skluzacek, made to Tanzania two years ago. The parish then raised $30,000, about half the cost of the new church.

Construction began in January 2016 and is scheduled to be completed in October, when the building will be dedicated by Bishop Rogath Kimaryo of the Diocese of Same. Druffner will be there for the dedication, along with Father Skluzacek.

“There were a couple hundred people coming to Mass underneath a tree for the past 40 years,” Druffner said. “He [Father Skluzacek] had been at the site, and he actually baptized two kids there.”

Beyond the new church, Druffner hopes to build a bigger project: partnerships between the 22 parishes in the Diocese of Same — where Partners 4 Hope Tanzania serves — and parishes in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. St. Michael and St. Mary in Stillwater are already on board. So is St. Jude of the Lake in Mahtomedi; some of its members and the pastor, Father Cory Rohlfing, are going to the dedication of the new church in October.

Druffner emphasized that the need is dire.

“Every parish in the Diocese [of Same] is struggling from poverty, including the priests,” Druffner said. “Some of the priests don’t even have enough food or water themselves. … In fact, one of the priests came to our hospital because he was malnourished, just a couple weeks ago.”

The idea to invite Assad, a Catholic, to perform for a fundraiser came from a love for her music Druffner shares with Rita Bagley, Partners 4 Hope’s executive director and a parishioner of Transfiguration in Oakdale.

“Rita and I listen to Audrey Assad Radio on Pandora in our office every single day, all day,” Druffner said. “So, we’re just huge fans of hers. So, Rita just decided to call her up one day and ask her if she would do this concert. And, she said yes.”

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Category: Local News