Brethren Disaster Ministries has directed grants from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) to respond to multiple crises in Haiti, support continued Brethren Disaster Ministries work following 2022’s summer flooding in the central United States, aid for displaced Ukrainians with disabilities, provide school kits for displaced children in the Democratic Republic of Congo, provide flood relief in Rwanda, and support a summer program for migrant children in Washington, D.C.
Find out more about Brethren Disaster Ministries at www.brethren.org/bdm.
Find out more about the Emergency Disaster Fund at www.brethren.org/bdm/edf.
Financial support for these grants is received at https://churchofthebrethren.givingfuel.com/bdm.
A grant of $60,200 responds to multiple crises in Haiti, and will provide emergency food distributions at all the congregations and preaching points of l’Eglise des Freres d’Haiti (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti).
Please pray… For these disaster grants and the work that they fund. Please pray for all those who are receiving aid and help, and pray with gratitude for the generous donors of this relief.
The island nation, which already had the lowest per capita income in the western hemisphere, is experiencing additional multiple crises including extreme political instability, economic crises including very high inflation, gang violence and gender-based violence, kidnappings, natural disasters including hurricanes and earthquakes, and a cholera outbreak. These have merged into a spiraling humanitarian tragedy that has put the country “on the verge of an abyss,” said United Nations human rights chief Volker Türk.
The church’s typical interventions for disaster situations have not been possible or safe for many months because of the gang violence and likelihood of having food supplies stolen at gunpoint. A grant made late in 2022 helped provide food and cooking oil to 805 of the most at-risk families in the communities around the Haitian church’s 30 congregations and preaching points, with church leaders monitoring the funds transfers and food distributions and reporting safe and successful distributions at all 30 locations.
In August, the Haitian church leaders requested this additional grant to provide a food distribution to 1,000 families in the same areas.
Brethren Disaster Ministries
An allocation of $37,400 continues funding for the Brethren Disaster Ministries response to summer flooding last year. During the week of July 25, 2022, a single storm system moved across multiple states causing flash flooding from Missouri and Kentucky to parts of Virginia and West Virginia. The flooding resulted in damaged homes and buildings, loss of life, and whole towns left underwater, especially in the greater St. Louis area and a large area of southeastern Kentucky.
The Brethren Disaster Ministries response has included:
— A Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) team that cared for children in a MARC (Multi Agency Resource Center) in central St. Louis. The invitation to deploy from the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency was initiated by Missouri and Arkansas district disaster Coordinator Gary Gahm. During that CDS deployment, four volunteers served 34 children.
— A CDS deployment in Kentucky. A team of four from CDS put in 312 hours at a shelter in Jackson, Ky., serving 40 children.
— A two-week, short-term response by the Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding program in Breathitt County this April, completing work for six qualified families identified by the Eastern Kentucky Disaster Response Ministry of the Kentucky Conference of the United Methodist Church.
With the amount of work that is still needed in Breathitt County, Brethren Disaster Ministries is currently supporting an additional 10-week response this fall, through mid-November. This grant will cover operational expenses for volunteer support including housing, food, leadership, and transportation.
A grant of $25,000 supports the response of L’Arche International to displaced Ukrainians with disabilities in Ukraine and Poland. The grant is supported by strong giving for the Ukraine response of Brethren Disaster Ministries. As of June 30, more than $327,000 has been donated to the EDF, earmarked or noted for Ukraine.
The ongoing focus of the Brethren Disaster Ministries response to the war in Ukraine is to identify and support those who remain underserved. Among them are those displaced with disabilities, reported to be about 2.7 million people. L’Arche serves people with intellectual disabilities in 38 countries including Ukraine, where many of their clients are displaced, and Poland, where the largest group of Ukrainian refugees are currently housed.
An initial grant of $25,000 to L’Arche in May 2022 supported the distribution of medicine, basic hygiene supplies, transportation, appropriate technology, and adaptive equipment. L’Arche communities in Poland and Ukraine requested continued funding for medicines and other disability supports, capital needs in housing and adaptable renovations, and staff recruiting and retention. The appeal also outlined the need for staff to run the program and funding to provide hazardous pay supplements for staff.
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
A grant of $20,000 has been given for the Goma congregation of Eglise des Freres au Congo (the Church of the Brethren in the DRC) to purchase, assemble, and distribute school kits to 500 vulnerable children. The kits include clothing, shoes, and school supplies that are necessary for the children to attend school.
Violence and war has for many years affected the DRC and the province of North Kivu in particular, resulting in millions of displaced people and families in the Goma area. Four previous grants provided $93,500 for emergency distributions of food and supplies to displaced families over the last year. With the protracted violence and additional appeals for assistance, Brethren Disaster Ministries asked the DRC church to develop a longer-range vision. The plan provided by the leadership outlines a vision that recognizes the importance and value of all people, including displaced families, and sets healthcare assistance, humanitarian assistance, water and housing, economic security, and environmental protection as priorities.
While serving in camps for displaced people, Dieudonné Faraja Chrispin, who has coordinated the response of the Goma congregation, learned that the displaced children have not been able to attend school due to a lack of supplies and appropriate clothing. “Children in camps for internally displaced persons, in situations of great material insecurity, are in a state of extreme distress,” he reported. The church’s response team developed a plan to help 500 children from the most vulnerable families as well as some orphaned children of church members receive school kits.
A grant of $18,500 supports longterm flood relief by Rwanda Church of the Brethren. Torrential rain caused flooding and landslides in northeast Rwanda on May 2, killing more than 131 people and damaging and destroying homes, businesses, infrastructure, crops, and food stores. Church leader Etienne Nsanzimana said that the churches were “overwhelmed by this terrible flood” and its impact on their communities. The flooding also destroyed stored food and crops of the Batwa people connected with the Rwandan church.
The church received an initial $5,000 grant to respond to the needs of displaced people by providing household items, food, and supplies. After that distribution, the church identified many other families in need and requested additional support. A joint plan was developed with Brethren Disaster Ministries to assist with long-term recovery for some 200 of the most vulnerable families by providing home repairs and agricultural support and replacing lost livestock.
A grant of $4,515 has gone to Washington City Church of the Brethren’s summer educational program for migrant children who have been bussed to the nation’s capital. Since 2022, the state governments of Texas and Arizona have been bussing asylum seekers to Washington and large cities in other states, without plans for their care or coordination on arrival. The families arrive with great humanitarian needs, few resources and limited or no services available to them.
Washington City Church and other community organizations have created a network of mutual aid groups and faith-based partners to support these individuals and families. In May, a new need arose for children’s programing. The church developed a four-week summer program for 20 to 25 migrant children, in partnership with the Migrant Solidarity Mutual Aid Network and St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. This grant helped pay for program materials, snacks and drinks for the children, the extra cleaning services, utilities use, and extra insurance for the church building.
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