Brethren Disaster Ministries has directed grants from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) to assist with refugee resettlement in the United States, the Brethren Church of Rwanda response to Burundi refugees, Heifer International’s response to the earthquake in Ecuador, Church World Service (CWS) emergency preparedness and home construction in Haiti, and Proyecto Aldea Global’s work toward emergency preparedness in Honduras.
US refugee resettlement
An allocation of $15,000 has been given to CWS to assist with refugee resettlement in the US. The international refugee and displaced persons crisis has reached levels not seen since World War II, with 65 million displaced by violence and 21 million of these considered refugees. In response, the US government has agreed to take in additional refugees, and in turn CWS’s Immigration and Refugee Program will be resettling more refugees. The US plans to resettle 15,000 more refugees in 2016 than the 70,000 refugees resettled in 2015, and up to 100,000 in 2018. CWS is seeking support for refugee housing, food, and medical care. Ideally local churches would provide much of this support by sponsoring refugee families. However, the larger influx of refugees and reduction of churches willing to sponsor them has created a need for this direct aid to CWS. For more information about refugee resettlement go to www.brethren.org/refugee .
Burundi refugee crisis
An allocation of $14,000 has been given to a second phase of the response to the Burundi refugee crisis being carried out by the fledgling Brethren Church of Rwanda. Since April 2015, Burundians have been fleeing their country following election violence and a failed coup. In July 2015, President Nkurunziza’s third election resulted in escalating violence, human rights violations, and some 400 or more deaths. A year later, Burundi families continue to flee into neighboring countries trying to escape violence and reports of a potential genocide. The Brethren Church of Rwanda, under the leadership of Etienne Nsanzimana, has requested an additional grant to support 219 at-risk families numbering 1,750 people. The majority are women, children, and youth. In March, a grant of $25,000 provided emergency food and supplies to 325 families or 3,125 refugees most at risk, at a cost of $8 per person per month. This grant is requested to start the second phase of relief work in Kigali town. Funds will provide for food distributions of cornmeal, beans, rice, and cooking oil, as well as porridge SOSOMA flour (a mixture of soy, sorghum, maize, wheat, and millet), which is an important cheap balanced diet for malnourished children and nursing mothers.
Heifer Ecuador earthquake response
An allocation of $10,000 supports the Heifer International response to the earthquake in Ecuador. On April 16, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake occurred in Ecuador, centered approximately 17 miles from the towns of Muisne and Pedernales in a sparsely populated area. Widespread damage included homes, businesses, and infrastructure was seen in more than a 200-mile radius of the epicenter. At least 660 people were killed and 30,073 people injured. Heifer International has been working in Ecuador since 1954 and has projects in the area most impacted by the earthquake. Heifer partners, farmers, and families in the communities of Muisne, Manabi, Calceta, and Fortaleza del Valle sustained significant damage. Immediate needs included shelter, food, and water. Longer term needs include home reconstruction, rebuilding irrigation systems, crop processing units, and safe structures to preserve crops and protect livelihoods. An initial $10,000 grant helped Heifer Ecuador assist 900 families in Fortaleza del Valle and 300 families in Muisne. This grant will provide counseling and trauma support to families with children, will start housing reconstruction for families with the greatest need, and will support economic and ecological recovery including entrepreneurship for women.
CWS development work in Haiti
An allocation of $10,000 supports CWS emergency preparedness and home construction programs in Haiti. In a continued response to the 2010 earthquake, CWS issued an appeal for its 2016-18 phase of this program, which seeks to contribute to the Haitian people's efforts to eradicate hunger and poverty and promote peace and justice. Funds will help support this large long-term recovery and development program, including two areas that fit with the mandate of the Emergency Disaster Fund: emergency preparedness, and construction of 135 homes for earthquake survivors.
PAG emergency preparedness in Honduras
An allocation of $8,700 supports emergency preparedness in Honduras, through Brethren Disaster Ministries’ partner organization Proyecto Aldea Global (PAG). In the midst of the challenges of extreme poverty, violence, and frequent natural disasters such as hurricanes and flooding, PAG has been supporting local communities in Honduras with education, community development, disaster response, and many other programs. Storms in 2015 depleted PAG’s emergency response supplies and its ability to respond to new disasters. With the hurricane season already underway, PAG is in need of food items, personal hygiene supplies, and medicine to prepare for upcoming tropical storms and provide critical early relief to families. Funds will cover the shipment of emergency supplies including canned chicken--provided by the Mid-Atlantic District and Southern Pennsylvania District joint meat canning program--plus blankets and hygiene kits. In addition, a $3,000 grant to PAG will cover the purchase of medical supplies.
For more about the Emergency Disaster Fund or to donate online go to www.brethren.org/edf .