Brethren Disaster Ministries has directed grants from the Church of the Brethren Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) to help Eglise des Freres au Congo (the Church of the Brethren in the Democratic Republic of Congo, or DRC) respond to the eruption of a volcano near the city of Goma and to respond to the families displaced by violence who have fled to the city of Uvira. Grants for COVID-19 relief work also are being given to the Church of the Brethren in Venezuela and to Bittersweet Ministries in Mexico.
Democratic Republic of Congo
A grant of $5,000 is being given to Eglise des Freres au Congo to respond to the eruption of the volcano Mount Nyiragongo near the city of Goma. The eruption on May 22 has been followed by a series of earthquakes. As of May 25, the United Nations reported that at least 31 people died and at least 40 adults and 175 children were missing. Property damage has been reported in 17 surrounding villages, in Goma’s suburbs, and across the border in Rwanda around the city of Gisenyi. A coordinated response is being developed with Eglise des Freres au Congo through the leadership of Goma pastor Faraja Dieudonné and other local church leaders. The Rwandan Brethren have also been contacted to coordinate a multi-country response. Additional grants are anticipated.
A grant of $15,000 is being given for Eglise des Freres au Congo to support families displaced by violence. The DRC has a long history of war, armed conflict, and many different militia groups acting as warlords for some regions. Church leaders shared reports of Burundian rebel groups burning some 15 villages, with repeated attacks causing families to flee. The violence took many lives. Displaced families lost their homes, livestock, belongings, and food. The Uvira Church is providing aid and shelter to some of these displaced families. A program is planned to support 350 family units (about 2,800 men, women, and children) with food and clothing. Each family will receive corn, beans, vegetable oil, soap, and cloth for making clothing wraps. Each aid package will cost about $43, including all transportation costs and day laborers to help with the distribution.
In Venezuela, a grant of $7,500 continues support for the feeding program of the Church of the Brethren (ASIGLEH) for at-risk people affected by COVID-19 and the humanitarian crisis it has caused in the country. ASIGLEH reports that COVID-19 levels are “five times” higher than in September 2020 and a new variant of COVID-19 is spreading quickly. The Venezuelan churches are near a crisis due to COVID-19 infections spreading in the congregations, with the Maracay Church having the highest infection rate. Several church leaders have had bad cases of COVID-19 and some have died. Last Sunday, May 23, a missionary leader who has been one of a few female leaders among the Venezuelan Brethren died of COVID-19 complications. This grant will continue support of the church’s Good Samaritan program, with particular focus on church leadership and members of their churches who are affected.
In Mexico, a grant of $5,000 supports a feeding program of Bittersweet Ministries. There has been a sharp decline of cases of COVID-19 in Mexico over the last few months and the country is reducing some pandemic restrictions. However, the economic impact of the pandemic, especially on the lowest income families, continues to be devastating. Bittersweet Ministries, through Gilbert Romero’s leadership, is working with three Tijuana churches and two ministry points to provide COVID-19 relief to some of these at-risk families. The ministry is providing food and housing each day for around 350 migrants coming through Tijuana.
To financially support these grants, go to https://churchofthebrethren.givingfuel.com/bdm.
Find more Church of the Brethren news:
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- Children’s Disaster Services responds to Hurricane Ida, Afghan evacuation
- EDF grants support earthquake relief in Haiti
- Office of Peacebuilding and Policy signs letter supporting Afghan refugees, urging humanitarian action by Biden administration
- Remembering Dale Brown, professor emeritus at Bethany Seminary and a leading theologian in the Church of the Brethren