“Celebrating the Church of the Brethren’s 300th Anniversary in 2008″
(May 13, 2008) — A second grant of $35,000 from the Emergency Disaster Fund of the Church of the Brethren is in process to support the work of Church World Service (CWS) in Myanmar following Cyclone Nargis.
Denominational staff also are monitoring how the Church of the Brethren may take part in disaster response following the earthquake that hit China yesterday, and the severe storms and tornados in the central US this past weekend.
Donations are being received to the Emergency Disaster Fund in anticipation of further grants responding to these disasters. Congregations and individuals may contribute to Church of the Brethren disaster relief work by sending donations to the Emergency Disaster Fund, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120.
The death toll from yesterday’s earthquake in China has now exceeded 12,000 in Sichuan Province, according to the official Xinhua News Agency, in news reports this morning. The reports said that more than 18,000 people were still buried in debris near the epicenter of the 7.9-magnitude earthquake.
More than 20 people were killed on May 10 by severe storms and tornadoes that destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes across the mid-south United States, according to a report yesterday from Disaster News Network. Most deaths were in northeastern Oklahoma and southwestern Missouri. Affected areas included the towns of Picher and Quapaw, Okla.; Newton County, Mo., near the town of Seneca; central Georgia south of Atlanta; and Bentonville and Stuttgart, Ark.
In Myanmar, the disaster relief support given through CWS is reaching those in need, the agency said yesterday in an e-mail report. The Church of the Brethren has already released a $5,000 grant toward the CWS effort in Myanmar, with funds from the Emergency Disaster Fund.
“Local organizations are distributing food, water, and emergency shelter supplies purchased in country throughout the affected areas,” CWS said. “Myanmar (Burma) still has open land-trade routes with Thailand and India that allow for the importation of supplies, meaning local markets still have commodities available.”
The CWS Asia-Pacific Regional Office in Bangkok, Thailand, is organizing the response to the Cyclone Nargis among faith-based, nongovernmental organizations that make up the Action by Churches Together (ACT) International Alliance.
Initially, CWS is providing emergency relief assistance–water (including purification supplies, bladders, and tanks) and shelter (tarps and blankets) supplies to assist some 3,000-4,000 families. In collaboration with IMA World Health, CWS also is providing basic medicines and medical supplies to equip clinics to treat some 100,000 people for up to three months.
CWS said it is uniquely suited to respond to the crisis in Myanmar because of its 60-year history of engaging local organizations to meet humanitarian needs. “CWS is appropriately licensed by the US Government to provide financial help to Myanmar (Burma),” the report added.
“Now is the time to support local organizations who are on the ground providing much needed urgent assistance to cyclone survivors,” CWS said. “ACT-supported local organizations are already responding through the distribution of rice, clean water, and temporary shelter items…. It is critical that we ensure that this major disaster does not turn into ongoing catastrophe.”
An update on Cyclone Nargis from CWS, dated May 12, reported that the official death toll is now almost 29,000, with 33,000 missing, but various estimates put the number who have perished as a result of the disaster at some 100,000. As many as 1.9 million people need emergency assistance.
The Church of the Brethren Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren General Board. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. To receive Newsline by e-mail go to http://listserver.emountain.net/mailman/listinfo/newsline. Submit news to the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Church of the Brethren news and features, subscribe to “Messenger” magazine; call 800-323-8039 ext. 247.