EDF gives grants to Brethren Disaster Ministries projects

Church of the Brethren Newsline
January 26, 2018

Volunteers work on the roof of Lorida (Fla.) Church of the Brethren, which was damaged in Hurricane Irma. This was one of several short term disaster response projects supported by Brethren Disaster Ministries in response to the extreme hurricane and fire season last year. Photo by Judy Braune, courtesy of BDM.

Brethren Disaster Ministries has directed grants from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) to the Disaster Recovery Support Initiative and the task of developing new project sites following the 2017 hurricane and fire season. In addition, a grant has been given to assist families displaced by violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Disaster Recovery Support Initiative

An allocation of $50,000 funds volunteer responses in the US Virgin Islands by the Disaster Recovery Support Initiative (DRSI), following Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Vital infrastructure such as water, power, and communications were almost completely severed. Initial estimates reported damage to 90 percent of the 50,000 structures on the islands of St. Thomas and St. John. The plight of survivors is further complicated by the high level of poverty and heavy dependence on the tourism industry for employment.

Brethren Disaster Ministries’ initial response was through the DRSI, a partnership with the United Church of Christ (UCC) and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). One DRSI staff member was deployed to St. Thomas shortly after Hurricane Maria,with supporting visits to other islands. In January, the other DRSI staff member and two UCC volunteers also deployed to St. Thomas to continue to support the development of local recovery efforts and volunteer responses. Brethren Disaster Ministries is acting as the fiscal agent for this initiative, with additional funds being provided by the UCC and the Disciples.

New project sites

An allocation of $25,000 supports Brethren Disaster Ministries in developing new project sites, providing short-term response programming and assisting with response planning related to last fall’s hurricanes and fire disasters. The money supports staff and volunteers as they travel around the hurricane and fire regions for planning meetings, evaluations, and response coordination. The grant also supports volunteers, districts, and partners who are providing short-term responses in affected areas. The funds are expected to support work in Florida, California, and the US Virgin Islands.

Democratic Republic of Congo

A grant of $10,000 to Shalom Ministry for Reconciliation in the DRC assists families displaced by violence. The country has a long history of war, armed conflict, and many different brutal militia groups. The Church of the Brethren partner, Shalom Ministry for Reconciliation and Development, reported last July about increased armed conflict in the eastern DRC.

Shalom Ministries is assisting the growing group of families displaced from this violence, and has provided written, pictorial, and financial reports showing the effective use of the first two grants given to the effort totaling $15,000. The relief team of nine members facilitated the distribution of emergency food supplies including ground corn, beans, cooking oil, cooking salt, and soap. In total, 950 households totaling nearly 7,500 people were served by the first two grants. This third grant assists families from the villages of Ngovi, Makobola, Mboko, and Uvira.

For more information about the Emergency Disaster Fund go to www.brethren.org/edf.

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