Brethren Disaster Ministries staff have directed a large grant from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) to fund completion of the tornado rebuilding project site in Dayton, Ohio. Additional grants support disaster relief in Honduras, where work continues following last year’s Hurricanes Eta and Iota; the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where the Brethren in Goma continue aid to those affected by the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo; India, in support of the COVID-19 response of IMA World Health; and Northern Plains District, which is helping organize rebuilding following the derecho that left a trail of destruction in Iowa last August.
An additional allocation of $50,867 finances the completion of the tornado rebuilding work that Brethren Disaster Ministries and partners including the Church of the Brethren’s Southern Ohio and Kentucky District have been carrying out in Dayton, Ohio. The project is rebuilding and repairing homes affected by the tornado outbreak on Memorial Day weekend 2019.
The Southern Ohio/Kentucky District of the Church of the Brethren responded quickly in the days following the tornadoes to begin clean-up and debris removal. This district level response was instrumental in the establishment of a community-led longterm recovery committee. When the Miami Long-Term Recovery Operations Group was established and had sufficient case management and funding for building materials, Brethren Disaster Ministries began work to support home repairs and rebuilding.
The start of the project as well as how it has been carried out was modified to adapt to the COVID-19 realities, and for a time it was suspended in early 2021. The project site reopened in April. Volunteers are scheduled to work there through September, when the site is planned to close.
An additional allocation of $40,000 supports the Church World Service (CWS) rehabilitation program in Honduras for families affected by Hurricanes Eta and Iota. CWS has longterm partners in Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala that provided emergency relief programs and were supported by an initial EDF grant of $10,000. CWS has updated its response plan to include the rehabilitation of livelihoods and housing in Honduras. The goal of the program is to support 70 highly at-risk families in rebuilding their homes and livelihoods.
A grant of $30,000 for the Proyecto Aldea Global (PAG) response to the hurricanes was approved concurrently. All programing will be coordinated by and between CWS and PAG, a long-time partner of Brethren Disaster Ministries. In the past 10 years, support has been given through the shipping of canned meat and EDF grants for PAG’s relief work following various storms. After Hurricane Eta, PAG quickly organized a relief program that included providing 8,500 family food bags for a week of provision, used clothing, mattresses, health kits, blankets, shoes, and family hygiene kits. These items reached 50 communities before Hurricane Iota struck. The relief work has continued after Hurricane Iota, reaching more communities and providing medical aid in more remote regions.
Democratic Republic of Congo
An additional allocation of $25,000 supports the continued response to the volcanic eruption of Mount Nyiragongo being carried out by the Goma congregation of Eglise des Freres au Congo (the Church of the Brethren in the DRC). An initial emergency grant of $5,000 supported the response through the leadership of Goma pastor Faraja Dieudonné and other church leaders in providing food relief to at-risk families. The church hopes to expand the emergency food distribution to an additional 500 households (about 4,000 people) and provide some basic home repair materials, selecting the most vulnerable people with property loss including orphans, widows, and the elderly. Brethren Disaster Ministries staff will work with the church leaders to monitor the response and consider additional grants as the relief program continues.
An allocation of $15,000 supports the COVID-19 response of IMA World Health in India, providing medical equipment and training to four hospitals. The First District Church of the Brethren in India and Brethren who are part of the Church of North India reported that the outbreak was devastating to the church communities, and has been very bad in Gujarat State, where most Brethren are located. A number of church leaders and elders have died from COVID-19. The churches were unable to receive the grant directly without special approval required by the country’s Foreign Exchange Management Act. The IMA World Health response is supporting the work of the Christian Medical Association of India, which is registered with the government and can receive international funds.
An additional allocation of $2,334.39 supports the response to the 2020 derecho in Iowa, being carried out by the Church of the Brethren’s Northern Plains District. The derecho, a series of swiftly moving and powerful straight-line storms, caused widespread damage on Aug. 10 last year. Members of the district began helping with clean-up just days after the event, with a larger effort organized by the district’s disaster coordinator over Labor Day weekend. This June, Brethren Disaster Ministries and the district leadership collaborated to provide rebuilding volunteers from church districts in the Midwest for a short-term response, with 61 volunteers (including repeat volunteers) contributing 458 hours to the rebuilding and repairing the homes of 7 families in 4 cities in Iowa. This grant helped pay for expenses not covered by a grant awarded by the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) and Lowes Home Improvement.
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