The latest grants from two Church of the Brethren funds--the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) and the Global Food Initiative (GFI)--have been given to Brethren Disaster Ministries work following flooding in the area of Columbia, S.C.; the church’s mission in South Sudan, where staff are responding to needs of people affected by the country’s civil war; the Shalom Ministry for Reconciliation in the Democratic Republic of Congo serving people affected by conflict; and community gardens related to Church of the Brethren congregations.
The staff at Brethren Disaster Ministries have directed an EDF allocation of $45,000 to support the rebuilding project near Columbia, S.C., to help the community continue the recovery from flooding that occurred in October 2015.
Brethren Disaster Ministries first worked through a partnership with the United Church of Christ Disaster Ministries and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to help repair some of those damaged homes, as part of the Disaster Recovery Support Initiative (DRSI). That site closed at the end of October 2016. To continue the recovery work, a Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding project site was opened in the same area of South Carolina at the beginning of October 2016 and is ongoing.
Since arriving, Brethren Disaster Ministries has been awarded $175,000 in grant money from the United Way of the Midlands for construction materials needed to contribute to the rebuilding work. The organization anticipates working in the Columbia area through the rest of the summer, and is monitoring other locations within the state as possible sites to move the project in the fall, to continue to help with Hurricane Matthew recovery.
The grant money will underwrite operational expenses related to volunteer support, including housing, food, travel expenses incurred on site, training, tools, and equipment needed for rebuilding and repair. This includes some larger repairs to Brethren Disaster Ministries vehicles to keep them safe for everyday volunteer use, and the cost of setting up a new shower trailer.
Brethren Disaster Ministries has directed an EDF grant of $10,000 to respond to needs in South Sudan. The country’s civil war has forced more than 3 million people to flee their homes, and nearly 7.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection, according to the United Nations.
The area is afflicted with a combination of multiple and deepening crises including war, inter-communal violence, economic decline, disease, and climatic shocks. A famine was declared in February 2017 in parts of South Sudan, affecting mostly Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and their host communities, which already were affected by the on-going conflict.
Until recently, the violence has been mostly north and west of the Church of the Brethren mission point in the Torit area. Since March, clashes between the Government of South Sudan Security forces (GOSS) and the militia from the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement-In-Opposition (SPLM-IO) has brought violence to this area. Ifoti, a community near Torit, was attacked in March 2017 by the South Sudan army, with 224 homes burned.
In June, the Church of the Brethren Peace Center in Torit was looted by GOSS, with some buildings and security fencing damaged, and clothing, personal items, and supplies taken.
This grant will provide $5,000 to assist the Ifoti community with emergency food and supplies, and $5,000 for initial repairs and replacement of supplies at the Church of the Brethren Peace Center.
Democratic Republic of Congo
Brethren Disaster Ministries has directed an EDF allocation of $5,000 to assist families displaced by violence in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The Church of the Brethren partner Shalom Ministry for Reconciliation and Development reported increased armed conflict in the eastern DRC in early July. The ministry is assisting a growing number of displaced families.
This initial grant of $5,000 will assist the ministry in providing emergency food and household supplies to displaced families from North Kivu villages. Additional grants to support a larger response are anticipated, as the fighting between the government focuses and local militias is anticipated to continue.
Allocations from the Global Food Initiative are made to support community gardens that are related to Church of the Brethren congregations. An allocation of $1,000 has been given to support a new community garden of GraceWay Church of the Brethren in Dundalk, Md., part of the congregation’s efforts to reach out to African immigrants in the area where there is an urgent need for attention to poor diet and health practices. An allocation of $500 supports the purchase of a van to be used in the community gardening work and other ministry efforts of Bill and Penny Gay in Circle, Alaska, in a ministry related to the couple’s home congregation at Pleasant Dale Church of the Brethren in Decatur, Ind. The Gays have been gardening in Alaska for eight summers, and have been asked to begin leading Vacation Bible School activities; they are inviting other Brethren to join with them in this ministry.