Every year, natural disasters, violence, and other emergencies put thousands of people at risk of losing their lives, their homes, and their sources of income. In the developing world, unrelenting poverty and disparity make disaster recovery especially difficult.
Through the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF), countless disaster survivors are given hope in desperate situations. The EDF enables the Church of the Brethren to actively support coordinated disaster relief efforts, mostly through faith-based international partners, wherever disaster strikes.
Philippines - Typhoon Haiyan
Typhoon Haiyan took more than 6,200 lives as it cut a 1,000-mile wide gash across the lush Philippine Islands on November 9, 2013. Sugar cane, rice paddies, fishing boats, and millions of coconut trees were demolished, crippling the country’s agriculture and fisheries sector.
BDM has outlined a plan to restore livelihoods for those least able to recover on their own. Three grants totalling $175,000 from the Emergency Disaster Fund are enhancing the livelihood development programs of partner organizations in the Philippines, including:
- $70,000 to Heifer International for replacing lost livestock, expanding agribusiness projects, and capacitating groups and cooperatives, while ensuring future disaster preparedness.
- $70,000 to Lutheran World Relief (LWR) for livelihoods recovery work with 20,000 coconut farmers and coastal fisherfolk, including assistance with the transition to cocoa and other priority crops, and restoration of seaweed farming and mangrove forests.
- $35,000 for recovery in the city of Tanauan, one of the hardest hit coastal communities in Leyte. Of this, $30,000 supports a Filipino non-profit, Burublig para ha Tanauan (BPHT), whose main objective is to create immediate livelihoods by providing fishing boats and nets, a sewing center, and pedi-cabs for families that lost their homes and source of income. The remaining $5,000 provides school supplies for Tanauan High School.
Nigerian Church of the Brethren - EYN
Escalating violence by a notorious terrorist group in northern Nigeria has heavily impacted the Nigerian Church of the Brethren, or Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN), as well as other groups in the region. Hundreds of people have been killed, schoolgirls kidnapped, and home and churches burned.
In March 2014, Brethren Disaster Ministries (BDM) forwarded $25,000 from the Emergency Disaster Fund to the EYN Compassion Fund, which assists those who have lost a family member, home or property due to this violence. As of May 2014, more than 350,000 Nigerians have been displaced by terrorism. This has put immense strain on host communities. BDM will continue to work with EYN and other faith-based partners to meet the broad needs of people impacted by this crisis.
In May 2014 Cyclone Yvette dumped the heaviest rain in 120 years on the Balkans, causing extensive flooding and landslides and adversely affecting over 1.6 million people. A $30,000 EDF allocation supports the Church World Service response in central Serbia and four regions in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Relief is focused on providing food, personal health and hygiene supplies; equipment disinfecting; tools; and agricultural assessment and relief. It also supports small emergency grants to local partners for doing needs assessments.
Serbia floods — Bread of Life
Bread of Life is a Brethren Volunteer Service placement sight working in the Balkans. While they don’t currently have a BVS volunteer, they have developed a program to offer assistance to families impacted by the May 2014 flooding from Cyclone Yvette. A grant of $5,000 will assist in purchasing the most needed items including furniture, appliances and building materials.
Gaza and West Bank humanitarian crisis
In June 2014, $7,500 was allocated to assist the Middle East Council of Churches in providing critical humanitarian assistance in Gaza and the West Bank, including job creation, medical services, cash support for the neediest families, and vocational training.
Afghanistan floods and landslides
A grant of $35,000 supports the Church World Service response to floods and landslides in Afghanistan following April 2014 monsoon rains. The CWS relief program is assisting 1,000 families by distributing mattresses, hygiene kits, one month of food, and tents. Mobile health teams and agricultural support programs have also been provided.
South Sudan Conflict
Two grants of $15,000 each are supporting efforts in response to armed conflict in South Sudan that has displaced some 200,000 people thus far.
The Church of the Brethren Global Mission program has staff and volunteers working in the Torit area of South Sudan, where many people are fleeing from the violence further north. The first grant is providing emergency support for families in the nearby villages of Lohila and Lafon. Funds are being used for the purchase and transport of maize, cooking oil, jerry cans, salt, and soap for those with the greatest need. The distribution is managed by Global Mission staffer, Athanasus Ungang, with support from local partners.
The second grant is helping the ACT Alliance distribute emergency food, water, sanitation and household supplies for displaced persons.
Honduras - Coffee Rust Plague
The worst coffee rust plague since 1976 has affected one-quarter of the planting surface in Honduras. Once the plague starts, the entire plantation must be destroyed. A grant of $10,000 from the Emergency Disaster Fund supports Church World Service, partnering with the Mennonite Social Action Commission of Honduras (CASM), as they assist 200 families at very high risk of food insecurity.
The families are being provided with vegetable seeds, plantain trees, aquaculture, chicken coops, as well as help with improving agro-livestock production, agricultural inputs, nutritional education, access to alternative livelihoods, and on-site technical assistance.
Syria - Civil War
In September 2013, Brethren Disaster Ministries provided a grant of $100,000 from the Emergency Disaster Fund in response to an appeal from ACT Alliance. The ACT Alliance has been helping coordinate humanitarian aid since the beginning of the civil war in Syria. This appeal provides direct aid to Syrian people struggling to survive in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey for 12 months. The intent of the grant is to designate 50 percent to support the IOCC work in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, and to designate 50 percent to be applied where needed most.
Myanmar (Burma) - Flood
Flash flooding caused by monsoon rains in Myanmar (Burma) during August 2013 affected 23,000 people with loss of farmland, livestock, food stocks, and seeds. An allocation of $3,000 from the Emergency Disaster Fund provided food items such as rice, cooking oil, and beans to 800 households in the township of Pha Ann, through Church World Service.
Haiti – Hurricane Sandy
Haiti was still recovering from the 2010 earthquake when Hurricane Sandy pounded the impoverished island nation in late October 2012. The resulting floods displaced some 200,000 Haitians, caused 104 deaths, damaged infrastructure and farms, and reignited a cholera epidemic.
In July 2013, the National Committee of the Church of the Brethren in Haiti formally requested assistance for the community of Marin, where approximately 10% of the homes were destroyed. BDM has responded with a grant of $75,000 to rebuild homes for 15 families in Marin.
The Haitian Church is managing all aspects of this response, with BDM oversight. This realizes one of the goals of the Haiti Earthquake Response – to build capacity in the Haitian Church to lead their own disaster responses and other social ministries.
Angola - Emergency School Program
Brethren Disaster Ministries has provided a grant of $17,000 from the Emergency Disaster Fund in response to a SHAREcircle appeal in June 2013. The appeal is a part of an intervention program aimed at providing food resources, bicycles, wheelchairs, school materials, and hygiene kits to children returning to Angola with their families in the aftermath of a protracted civil war.
This grant provided shipping of material aid from the Brethren Service Center to support students in three schools in the Angolan provinces of Bié, Kwanza Norte, and Kuando Kubango. SHAREcircle has been a BDM partner for over a decade.
Haiti & the Dominican Republic – Canned Meat
Last fall, Hurricane Sandy left many homeless and without stored food in communities with Church of the Brethren members. In May 2013, BDM provided a $13,000 EDF grant for the prepositioning of 37,500 pounds of canned chicken in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The Southern Pennsylvania and Mid-Atlantic Districts of the Church of the Brethren donated the meat for this distribution. The shipment was to be divided the Ministry Center in Haiti, and the Church of the Brethren and a partner organization in the Dominican Republic.
Aid to Palestinians in Occupation
In the last five decades, Palestinian Christians and Muslims alike have been steadily impoverished by the loss of land, jobs, and freedom of movement. Bethlehem is under occupation, and the separation wall makes business difficult. The result is a despairing people reaching for hope. A $15,000 grant, approved on June 13, 2013, has provided relief to 500 needy persons in the Bethlehem area with urgent medical care and a family food subsidy. Our partner in this project is the Good Shepherd Society, a local nonprofit that COB staff and board members visited in Dec. 2012.
Thailand–Burma Refugee Camp Fire
On March 22, 2013, a cooking fire grew out of control causing near total destruction to two sections of the Ban Mae Surin refugee camp on the Thailand-Burma border. The fire killed 36 people and destroyed more than 400 houses, leaving 2,300 people homeless, while community buildings, schools, a clinic and food warehouses were also razed. An EDF allocation of $3,500 supported the building of emergency shelters and provided 10 days of emergency food.
Lafon, South Sudan Fire
Brethren Disaster Ministries has provided a grant of $6,800 from the Emergency Disaster Fund for the South Sudan village of Lafon, following a destructive fire that swept through the village on January 25, 2013. Prior to the fire, the Church of the Brethren had already formed a relationship with this remote village.
The fire completely burned 108 homes and buildings, including stored food and the grass needed for replacing thatched roofs. The BDM grant funded the purchase of tarps, bags of food, machetes and axes, which will provide emergency shelter for the rainy season and the tools they need to rebuild. Brethren missionary Athanasius Ungang and BVS worker Jocelyn Snyder are facilitating the purchase and delivery of these supplies.
Haiti Earthquake Response
EDF grants totaling nearly $1.5 million made possible the comprehensive Brethren response to the catastrophic Haiti earthquake of January 12, 2010. See details of the Haiti Earthquake Response, which was completed in 2013 and included emergency relief, home rebuilding, sustainable agriculture, and clean water projects. The EDF also funded the construction of a Ministry Center and Guesthouse to house volunteers and serve as headquarters for the Church of the Brethren in Haiti.