Over the last few days, severe weather has ripped through the United States, a massive tsunami and violent volcanic eruption have struck Indonesia, and reports of a cholera outbreak in Haiti have filled media reports from that region.
Through our ecumenical and denominational partnerships, Week of Compassion has been there. We are monitoring these situations and are ready, once evaluations have been made, to help provide valuable resources to help our brothers and sisters across the globe as they begin the path to recovery.
Tsunami and Volcano Strike Indonesia
Indonesia is currently dealing with two disasters: a powerful earthquake that triggered a tsunami that killed at least 272 people, with the death toll rising, and a volcanic eruption that has prompted displacement of hundreds.
The 7.7-magnitude earthquake and 10-foot-high tsunami struck on October 25th, stemming from a fault on the west coast of Sumatra. Besides the confirmed dead, as many as 500 were reported missing, the Associated Press reported.
According to our partners at Church World Service, at least six villages were inundated by the waves and 645 families have been displaced.
Meanwhile, Mount Merapi, Indonesia's most volatile volcano, erupted on the 26th. At least one person was killed in the panic of those fleeing the affected area; 28 people are reported to have died as a result of the volcanic eruption.
More than 11,000 people live on the 9,377-foot-high mountain, 310 miles southeast of the Indonesian capital of Jakarta.
Volcano experts say there is the possibility of a second major eruption, prompting a maximum alert level. Indonesian officials began evacuating persons from the slopes of Mt. Merapi yesterday as another eruption appeared imminent.
Our Church World Service partners are currently providing baby care kits and assessing tsunami-related needs in partnership with the Mentawai Christian Protestant Church. CWS staff are also monitoring Mount Merapi for further developments.
Preventing Cholera in Haiti
Efforts supported by Week of Compassion are helping to prevent the spread of the cholera outbreak that began in Haiti late last week.
Through our partnerships with Church World Service and ACT Alliance, preventive measures are being taken in project areas in order to keep the infection from spreading around the country and particularly to the capital, Port-au-Prince, and other metropolitan areas.
Among the actions taken are assessments of clean-water needs at CWS-supported agricultural cooperatives, preparations to provide CWS hygiene kits in areas where CWS and other members of the ACT Alliance are working, and, should local markets run out of chlorine and other needed items, preparations are being made for partners in the neighboring Dominican Republic to purchase items and transport them into Haiti.
CWS is supporting efforts by ACT Alliance to provide clean water, including in Port-au-Prince, as part of its overall support for ongoing recovery and rehabilitation programs in Haiti.
Louis Dorvilier of the Lutheran World Federation, one of our ecumenical partners within the ACT Alliance, said that the "consequences of the epidemic reaching Port-au-Prince would be devastating."
In addition to the active response given in the communities, ACT Alliance members in Haiti have met with partners and their staff to raise awareness of the cholera outbreak, and stocked rehydration salts, antibiotics, water and hygiene items. Other items, such as water purification tablets, have been ordered already and will be distributed in camps and schools in the coming days and weeks as precaution measures. All efforts are being carried out in close cooperation and coordination with Haiti governmental agencies working in the areas of health and water/sanitation, and with UN agencies.
Storms in the Midwest and South
Week of Compassion is currently in touch with several regional ministers after storms ripped through the Midwest and southern United States early this week. First Christian Church in Cullman, Alabama, sustained major damage after severe weather struck the area, and we are currently partnering with that church to help with their recovery.
Reaching Out with Gratitude
We are so grateful for your partnership, especially when disasters such as these strike. The needs are great, and we need your help to support relief efforts. If you would like to reach out to help those who are vulnerable due to weather, the outbreak of disease, or other disasters, please consider partnering with us by donating to our Compassion Response Fund (labeled “Where Most Needed”).
Thank you for your partnership in our ministry of Courageous Compassion. No gift is too small! By helping us reach out at such a time, you are making a huge difference in the lives of people across the country and across the world.
Thanks to Church World Service writers for their contributions to this update.