EDF grants assist in Lebanon, DRC (Congo), Missouri, Kentucky, and Washington, D.C.  

Brethren Disaster Ministries (BDM) staff have directed Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) grants to support the following projects.

An allocation of $50,000 will support the food programs, medical aid, and education programs of the Lebanese Society for Education and Social Development (LSESD). A large number of Syrian and Palestinian refugees, hyperinflation/economic crisis, a failed government, an explosion that destroyed part of the primary seaport, and the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war have created severe shortages of food, medical supplies, public services such as electricity, and jobs in Lebanon.

LSESD has requested support for the following programs supporting vulnerable and out-of-work Lebanese, migrant workers, and Syrian refugees:

  • Food vouchers and medical support for vulnerable Lebanese families
  • Education for vulnerable Syrian children in Lebanon
  • Food assistance for migrant workers

An allocation of $10,000 for Eglise des Freres au Congo (Church of the Brethren in the Congo) will provide food distribution to households displaced by violence. Since May 25, 2022, heavy fighting between the well-armed rebel group M23 and the Democratic Republic of Congo army has displaced thousands of families. Currently the worst fighting is in the territories of Rutshuru and Nyiragongo, also north of Goma, forcing families to leave their homes and farms when they should be harvesting food for the coming year.

About 10,000 of these displaced people fled to the greater Goma area, where a 2021 volcanic eruption resulted in a joint BDM/Congolese Church of the Brethren response. The city of Goma and the Goma Church of the Brethren are still struggling to recover from the eruption, and the Goma church is eager to respond to the needs of those fleeing the violence.

According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, more than 5,000 displaced families have sought shelter in the Munigi Internally Displaced Person (IDP) Camp near Goma. With an initial grant of $5,000 the Congolese Brethren were able to provide a small distribution of corn meal, beans, salt, and soap to 192 of the most vulnerable families.

An additional $10,000 will expand the feeding program at the Munigi IDP camp, providing cornmeal, beans, rice, and vegetable oil to 272 households, about 2,176 people, at the camp. BDM staff has also helped connect the Church with the NGO World Relief, which is considering sending a grant to expand the relief program.

Children and adults in a room with posters, crayons, and toys
Children’s Disaster Services volunteers at a Multi Agency Resource Center (MARC) at Friendly Temple Church in central St. Louis, August 2022. Photo by Ruth Karasek

A grant of $10,000 will support the BDM response to the U.S. 2022 summer flooding. During the week of July 25, 2022, a storm system moved across multiple states, causing flash flooding from Missouri to parts of Virginia and West Virginia, resulting in damaged homes and buildings, loss of life, and whole towns left underwater. Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) received a request from the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency, through Gary Gahm, Church of the Brethren Missouri/Arkansas District Disaster Coordinator, to care for children in central St. Louis.

Man reading book to two children.
Reading time with Children’s Disaster Services in Kentucky, August 2022. Photo by Pearl Miller.

The Southern Ohio/Kentucky District has been leading the way in the Church of the Brethren response in Kentucky. District Disaster coordinators Burt and Helen Wolf have been coordinating with the Flat Creek/Mud Lick Church of the Brethren and their local partners to identify needs and deliver supplies. BDM staff have been and will continue to be in close communication with the So. Ohio/Kentucky District, the Kentucky Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (KYVOAD) and other partners working in the area to identify needs and share them.

Girl in box plays with toy.
Box play in Kentucky, August 2022. Photo by Joyce Smart.
Four volunteers in front of paintings clipped to the wall.
Children’s Disaster Services volunteers in Kentucky, August 2022. Photo courtesy of Joyce Smart.

This grant will finance expenses for the CDS local response in St. Louis and possible future deployments as requested in Missouri, Kentucky, or other impacted states. Funds will be used for travel, housing, and other minimal expenses for volunteers traveling from nearby districts or supplies needed to serve in support of the families affected by this disaster.

A grant of $3,000 will support the Children’s Disaster Services’ local response for Central American asylum seekers, in partnership with the Washington City Church of the Brethren. The Washington City congregation is working with an ecumenical mutual aid effort to provide humanitarian care and respite for families who have been granted asylum status and entered the United States at the Texas border. These people are being sent on 30-hour bus rides to Washington, D.C., often without any assistance or provisions. The location of the respite site changes each day of the week and is confidential due to security concerns for the host facilities. In the first week of the community response, the Sunday respite site welcomed two buses of over 50 people, including 15 children, with ages infants and above.

CDS is coordinating to provide volunteers from surrounding districts on Sundays during this locally led response. This onsite presence will offer an opportunity for trained CDS volunteers to engage in person with the children and families, using equipment, supplies, and resources they offer on other CDS responses, supplementing what the local volunteers have already gathered and are using. The partnership will also allow the CDS volunteers to help train local volunteers at the location to build the capacity to support children and families who have been through trauma even after the CDS response is complete.

To financially support the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries, give to the Emergency Disaster Fund at www.brethren.org/edf.