Newsline Update for May 21, 2010

Haitians affected by the earthquake are receiving food assistance through Brethren Disaster Ministries and Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Haitian Church of the Brethren). Food distribution has included rice, oil, canned chicken and fish, and other necessities. (Above, photo by Jenner Alexandre)Below, Jeff Boshart, Brethren Disaster Ministries coordinator for Haiti, visits one of the fields of beans planted with seed loaned through the Church of the Brethren program.

“Seek the Lord and his strength…” (Psalm 105:4a).

1) Brethren work in Haiti receives second $150,000 grant.

2) Haiti bean seed program combines disaster relief, development.

3) Church World Service announces ‘Haiti Stage 2.’

4) Brethren Disaster Ministries begins project in American Samoa.

5) Grants fund Brethren project in Indiana, CWS response to floods.

6) Lutheran World Relief board meets at Brethren Service Center.

During a recent meeting, the Northern Plains District Board spent time at the “CWS Neighborhood: Cedar Rapids” project to repair homes damaged by flooding in Iowa in 2008. The Brethren were among 400 volunteers from different denominations who together put in 9,000 volunteer hours helping Church World Service repair 14 homes over a period of six weeks. Denise and Alan Oneal have served as the Brethren Disaster Ministries project coordinators in Cedar Rapids.

1) Brethren work in Haiti receives second $150,000 grant.

The Church of the Brethren disaster relief work in Haiti has received another grant of $150,000 from the church’s Emergency Disaster Fund. The work in Haiti responds to the earthquake that hit Port-au-Prince in January, and is a cooperative effort of Brethren Disaster Ministries and Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Haitian Church of the Brethren).

Brethren Disaster Ministries staff requested the additional allocation to continue feeding and shelter programs that currently are underway, and to fund the expansion of response into a number of new intermediate and long-term efforts. Previous allocations to this project total $150,000.

The new work will include home construction, providing potable water and sanitation facilities, agricultural projects, training for pastors in trauma recovery and resilience, medical programing in partnership with IMA World Health, purchase of a four-door truck for use in home construction, and construction of a warehouse and a guest house. The warehouse and guest house facility initially will be for use by American volunteers and staff, but in time is expected to become the headquarters of the Haitian church.

Also included in the grant is funding for a six-month evaluation of the response, to be carried out in July.

“The impact of the Jan. 12 earthquake, magnitude 7.0, is evident throughout Haiti,” said the grant request. “Crumbled buildings litter Port-au-Prince, Carrefour, Leogone, Jacmel, and many towns in between. Families throughout Haiti are housing and supporting those displaced, without adequate food or living space. Temporary housing, from tents to makeshift sheet shelters, offers little protection as rains begin. The United Nations reports that 1.2 million people or 81 percent of the 1.5 million displaced have received some type of shelter materials (tent or tarp). The challenge is that nearly 300,000 have not.”

The Brethren Disaster Ministries staff also noted signs of general progress in areas affected by the earthquake, including improved food distribution and better availability of drinking water. The Brethren in Haiti, especially the Delmas congregation, have “banded together to create their own community of support,” the staff noted. “An encouraging sign is that even as they rely on Brethren food and shelter, they are moving toward more independence and reducing the amount of direct aid required to survive.”

However, most of the relief efforts in Haiti have focused on those living in large encampments. “Haitians living in smaller groups or on the street near their demolished homes have received less aid. Most members of the Haitian Church of the Brethren indicate that Brethren relief is all they have received,” the grant request said.

To date the Brethren response has provided a number of temporary shelters designed for two-year habitation, feeding programs, material aid shipments, seeds for spring planting, and has employed Haitians at all levels of response activities. “A core philosophy of the response is to involve Haitian leadership in planning, decision making, and implementation of the response,” the Brethren Disaster Ministries staff wrote. “During the last three months Haitian Church of the Brethren leaders have grown into capable leaders of the response and are helping longterm planning.”

A separate grant is planned to continue Brethren support for the wider ecumenical disaster response by organizations such as Church World Service (CWS) and ACT Alliance, that addresses the significant breadth of need in Haiti. A third set of grants supports Haitian refugees in New York City being served through the Haitian First Church of the Brethren in Brooklyn.

Major accomplishments of the Brethren response as of April 30:

— 21,000 hot meals provided to schoolchildren in Port-au-Prince;

— monthly dry food distribution to 165 families or approximately 825 people–equivalent to 49,500 meals a month–with most food purchased in Haiti and some locally grown;

— funding provided for Dominican Brethren to bring food aid to their families in Haiti;

— partnering with Vine Ministries (an organization with ties to the Church of the Brethren) to help an additional 112 families receive food aid;

— 21 leaders and teachers in Eglise des Freres Haitiens employed to support the response, 20 Haitian construction workers employed to build temporary housing, 4 Haitians employed to monitor and evaluate the response;

— temporary wood and tin shelters built in the three Brethren communities of Marin, Delmas, and Tonm Gato, housing 120 people, in a construction effort that also includes three multipurpose rooms for worship, meetings, children’s activities, storage, and shelter for neighbors;

— a medical clinic provided by American and Haitian medical professionals that treated more than 1,300 Haitians, with trauma counselors working alongside the medical team and in the surrounding community;

— 6,225 pounds of seed distributed to 250 farmers for spring planting;

— 100 water filters and 1,000 CWS Hygiene Kits waiting in customs in Haiti to be distributed, with shipments en route carrying 94 standard tarpaulins and 220 extra large tarpaulins, 306 Family Household Kits, and 62,500 pounds of canned chicken donated by Southern Pennsylvania and Mid-Atlantic Districts.

For more about the work in Haiti visit .

2) Haiti bean seed program combines disaster relief, development.

Haitian Brethren church leaders are actively implementing a new seed distribution program, according to Jeff Boshart, Haiti coordinator for Brethren Disaster Ministries. The program is combining disaster response with development of agriculture in communities where churches and preaching points of Eglise des Freres Haitiens (Haitian Church of the Brethren) are located.

Following is Boshart’s e-mail report:

“This program will become a seed loaning program run by each participating church. Jean Bily Telfort, general secretary of Eglise des Freres Haitiens and pastor of the Croix des Bouquets congregation, has studied agriculture and has met with farmers in each participating congregation to share the hopes for this project.

“The leadership in each church developed the list of participants and the conditions for repayment of the seeds. Each participant will receive up to 25 pounds of bean seed, and will need to return an amount something closer to 27 or 28 pounds (including an “interest” payment also made in seed). Lead farmers have been identified in each congregation to receive and store the seed to be re-loaned next year.

“In term of actual dollar amounts, the price of beans at planting time is significantly greater than at harvest time, so the value of the beans returned is actually less, even though the quantity is greater. It will be up to each congregation to decide how long they wish to continue this project.

“Jean Bily reported that the help was enthusiastically received. Over 500,000 people are internally displaced in Haiti, having fled Port-au-Prince after the earthquake of Jan. 12. Many of these people have moved in with rural relatives and have strained already limited food reserves.

“To date $2,000 has been provided for seed purchases, and when completed over $5,000 will have been disbursed and 240-270 farmers will receive this help within the next month. In the area south of Port-au-Prince, farmers already have planted and their beans are up.”

In other news, the Brethren Revival Fellowship (BRF) Brethren Mission Fund is helping build worship shelters for some of the rural outlying churches not directly affected by the earthquake.

3) Church World Service announces ‘Haiti Stage 2.’

Church World Services (CWS) is announcing a new phase of its relief effort following the earthquake, called “Haiti Stage 2.” The effort marks transition of the international NGO’s focus on emergency response to sustainable recovery and rebuilding, for example by helping expand rural food co-operatives and reuniting child domestic workers with their families.

Initial Haitian government plans to relocate large numbers of families to cities outside Port-au-Prince are being thwarted by land ownership issues and costs, a CWS release said. But CWS is dealing within those realities and expanding its work to help families recover where they are, and to support host communities stretched to accommodate migrating survivors. Those programs will range from repair of houses damaged by the quake and expansion of host homes where survivors are permanently relocating, to building food security for all by expanding already-successful farm cooperatives.

“We’ll still be providing emergency aid as needed, but we’re now working with partners in Haiti to respond to some very specific needs and for the longer-term development programs that are necessary to truly enable Haiti to build back better,” said development and humanitarian assistance director Donna Derr.

The new specific rehabilitation focus will include permanent house repair for homes that can be made habitable and safe with minor repairs, expansion of host housing in locations outside quake-affected areas, increasing food security and food availability for the displaced and their host communities, basic services and transitional support for displaced people now living in spontaneous encampments, rebuilding and expanding local capacity to provide services and protection for vulnerable children and youth in Port-au-Prince, individual small grants for quick livelihood recovery, direct services for 1,200 people with disabilities and their families in metropolitan Port-au-Prince, ongoing provision of material support particularly to people still living in tent camps, and continued management and operation of a Santo Domingo to Port-au-Prince humanitarian corridor between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

In Fonds Parisien and Ganthier, near the border with the DR, CWS and partners Servicio Social de Iglesias Dominicanas and Christian Aid are serving two spontaneous camps of displaced people-survivors who had no assistance until CWS’s partner agencies arrived. “Here, we’ll provide food, water, and temporary shelter materials and assist residents in leadership formation and community organizing,” said Derr.

Child domestic workers, former gang members, teen mothers also will benefit. At the outset of its response, CWS determined to expand an existing program focusing on the ongoing needs of the country’s most vulnerable children, including those who work as domestic servants. The agency’s long-term assistance will continue that work in Port-au-Prince, along with support for former gang members and teenage mothers in Lasaline and Carrefour Feuilles. Part of that work will include a pilot family reintegration project to reunite “restavek” children and their families.

During the quake, local partner FOPJ (Ecumenical Foundation for Peace and Justice) was left homeless like many of the children it serves. CWS plans to assist with the purchase a new building in which to house its community center for children.

The Church of the Brethren has contributed $150,000 to the work of CWS in Haiti through a grant from the church’s Emergency Disaster Fund.

— Lesley Crosson and Jan Dragin of Church World Service provided this release.

4) Brethren Disaster Ministries begins project in American Samoa.

A Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding project has begun on the South Pacific island of American Samoa, repairing and rebuilding homes damaged by the Sept. 29, 2009, earthquake and tsunami. The event caused 15-20 foot waves that reached up to a mile inland, splintering houses, destroying cars and boats, and scattering debris along the coastline.

In the wake of the disaster, 277 homes were destroyed. Thirty-four American Samoans lost their lives, ranking this small island nation number two in the world last year for percentage of population killed in a disaster.

With numerous homes in need of repair, Brethren Disaster Ministries was invited by the American Samoa VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) and FEMA to assist in repairing and rebuilding homes on the island.

In January, an assessment team was sent to the island including associate director Zach Wolgemuth and volunteer A. Carroll Thomas, to continue conversations with local partners and develop a plan for involvement.

By the end of March, Brethren Disaster Ministries opened a project to help meet the ongoing repair and rebuilding needs. The effort involves coordinating and managing skilled volunteers from the island, led by BDM volunteers who are trained as disaster project leaders working in conjunction with Samoan construction workers who are employed through the American Samoan government to help repair and rebuild homes.

The first group of project leaders to serve on American Samoa included Cliff and Arlene Kindy of North Manchester, Ind., and Tom and Nancy Sheen of Trinidad, Calif.

— Jane Yount serves as coordinator for Brethren Disaster Ministries.

5) Grants fund Brethren project in Indiana, CWS response to floods.

Two grants from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund are supporting a Brethren Disaster Ministries project in Winamac, Ind., and Church World Service efforts following flooding in the northeastern United States.

An allocation of $25,000 continues work by Brethren Disaster Ministries along the Tippecanoe River in Indiana following heavy rains and flooding in 2008 and 2009. The funds will support repair and rebuilding of homes in the Winamac region as well as the efforts of BDM and its volunteers including housing, food, travel expenses, tools, equipment, and supplies. Previous allocations to this project total $25,000.

A grant of $4,000 responds to a CWS appeal for assistance following record-breaking flooding in Rhode Island and other states. Funds will support material aid shipments and the work of CWS as it provides resources to affected communities.

6) Lutheran World Relief board meets at Brethren Service Center.

The Lutheran World Relief (LWR) Board of Directors met at the New Windsor (Md.) Conference Center May 13-14. An afternoon was devoted to a tour of the Brethren Service Center campus and the Material Resources program.

LWR ties with the Church of the Brethren date back to 1951, when the Material Resources Distribution Center first began shipping quilts, soap, and other items for LWR. Board members and staff had an in-depth look at the Material Resources operation with director Loretta Wolf. During the tour Thomas J. Barnett, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sierra Leone, blessed a container filled with quilts being packed for shipment to his country.

LWR has several fair trade projects and works closely with SERRV, which is a partner organization at the Brethren Service Center. This visit gave LWR leadership a closer look at the Chocolate, Coffee, and Handcraft projects at SERRV.

IMA World Health, which has its headquarters at the Brethren Service Center, received the Friend of LWR Award. The award was given on the basis of “Exemplary Provision of Health Resources” and is the result of 50 years of partnership and collaboration since IMA’s founding in 1960.

— Kathleen Campanella is director of partner and public relations at the Brethren Service Center.

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren,  or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Newsline regularly appears every other week, with special issues as needed. The next regular issue is scheduled for June 2. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. To unsubscribe or change your e-mail preferences go to .

Forward Newsline to a friend

Subscribe to Newsline

[gt-link lang="en" label="English" widget_look="flags_name"]