Week of Compassion and Christian Church Homes Provide Support to Houston Community Residents During Recent Flooding

Woodland Christian Towers, with the rest of Houston, was deeply affected by the recent torrential rains. At Christian Church Homes (CCH), the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) manager, and the National Benevolent Association (NBA), the HUD sponsor, our hearts go out to all residents whose lives have been meaningfully disrupted by this storm. CCH continues to work very hard to provide needed supplies and support as we recover.

Staff were quick to respond to the water damage and power outage caused by the storm. All residents were provided with clean bottled water as well as meals in part from funding from Week of Compassion, the relief, refugee, and development mission fund of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Residents on the fourth floor were without electricity for a brief period while a generator was brought in to address the issue. Residents were given $50 gift cards to replace food that had been lost or spoiled. CCH reached out to coordinate assistance efforts with HUD, FEMA and the Red Cross.

Later this year, Woodland Christian Tower is scheduled to undergo a major renovation which will improve all units, elevators and provide an outpatient health clinic which will service the entire community.

Representing National Benevolent Association, President Mark Anderson states "the NBA and CCH are grateful to Week of Compassion for the food and water assistance for the residents at Woodland Christian Towers affected by the flooding in Houston, Texas."

CCH CEO and President Don Stump shares, “In the midst of this very challenging situation, we are grateful for the heroic work of the staff, assorted contractors, the Red Cross and of course our senior residents who are doing their part to weather this storm."

Established in 1961, Christian Church Homes (CCH) is a non-profit organization that has been building and managing affordable housing communities where seniors can live and thrive in the comfort of their own home. 

Thank you for your support and partnership with Week of Compassion.  Your generosity enables us to put our Compassion into Action during the times of flooding and storms.

This Week’s Responses:

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance
Liberia, Refugee Assistance
Tanzania, Refugee Assistance
Texas, Flood Relief
Texas, Property Damage

Development, Long-Term Recovery and Rehabilitation
Haiti, Medical Assistance

Women's Empowerment in the Chaco Region

By Dawn Barnes, Week of Compassion's Transitional Program Associate, who recently traveled with Foods Resource Bank to visit our South American partners in the Chaco Region working with Church World Service. 

The Santa Teresita community is located just off the main road near the small town of Mariscal Estigarriba in Paraguay. It is a small community of the Chaco Region where dust flies up from the tracks of our tires and small houses, brush trees and cacti dot the landscape. On our visit, we heard about the struggles of the community from a group of women gathered. This group of women have faced hard working conditions. There is insufficient access to water and it is a hot and dry environment, so it is difficult to grow their gardens. There is limited income and access to employment here; therefore, the men leave the community and seek employment away from home where there are more opportunities. This leaves the women alone to take care of their families and surrounding community with very little resources.   

It was from these struggles that a small group of women in Santa Teresita banned together and created a thriving bakery and small craft project called Kuna Guarani Katupyry, which translated from Guarani means "empowered women." The women bake various breads, sweet and savory, pizzas and cakes. The breads are baked both in an outdoor oven as well as a small indoor electric oven housed in the community center where the women's project is located. The market for the bread is great - they sell out every day! The group consists of about 10 women of varying ages. Some of the women are also making beautifully crafted handicrafts while others tend to their community garden, growing watermelons, onion, herbs, fruit and more. The women of Santa Teresita are empowered to provide for themselves, their families and for their community now.

The Kuna Guarani Katupyry project was funded with the help of Week of Compassion through CWS's South American Chaco Ecumenical Small Projects Fund (SPF). The objective of the Small Project Fund is to strengthen the capacity of civil society organizations, groups and communities in the South American Chaco to transform the conditions of poverty and inequality and promote human rights.

We also heard the women's stories of hope. It was over two years ago that these bold women came together and formed a women's group to take action. It was with excitement that they talked about expanding their bakery business, obtaining more training in baking and gardening, and we heard their dream to have their own building someday. The ladies talked about how good it is to gather together as women and how they feel empowered. Empowered that they have formed this group on their own, forged a plan together to build this project and that it is not only successful but thriving to grow and expand. The leader of this group, Teresa, spoke about how they want their children to see the model of their organization and how they work together to make a difference so that their children and their grandchildren's lives will be changed.

This is your Compassion in Action - women's empowerment, food security and so much more. Thank you for helping to empower the women of Santa Teresita!

Week of Compassion at General Assembly

Come and SOAR! at General Assembly, July 18-22, 2015 in Columbus, Ohio. We will be hosting a continental breakfast on Tuesday, July 21 at 7:00 a.m. at the Convention Center in Ballroom 3. In partnership with the Common Board of Global Ministries' launching of the Middle East Initiative at General Assembly, our guest speaker will be Constantine "Dean" Triantafilou, the Executive Director and CEO of International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC). He will be uplifting the relief efforts in the Middle East, specifically with the Syrian crisis and the ways in which you have put your Compassion into Action.  You can sign up online or the breakfast.

Job Opening - Associate Director

Interested in joining the Week of Compassion team? We have a job opening for Associate Director. The job description is posted online and applications are due by July 31, 2015.

This Week's Responses:

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance
Texas, Flood Damage (12)
Colorado, Flood Damage
Haiti, Emergency Assistance
Jordan, Refugee Assistance
Oklahoma, Flood Damage (2)
Virginia, Refugee Assistance

Development, Long-Term Recovery and Rehabilitation
Indiana, Home Build Sponsorship

U.S. Storms and General Assembly 2015

 

U.S. Storms

The storms that have ripped across the U.S. over the last several weeks have been strong and rare and have impacted many of our communities. The Houston, Texas area has been especially hit hard with flooding, but more specifically in San Marcos, Texas where First Christian Church has experienced significant damage. We continue to keep all who have been affected in our prayers and will continue to monitor the storms and the damage and will seek to help implement recovery efforts.

General Assembly

Come and SOAR! at General Assembly, July 18-22, 2015 in Columbus, Ohio. We will be hosting a continental breakfast on Tuesday, July 21 at 7:00 a.m. at the Convention Center in Ballroom 3. In partnership with the Common Board of Global Ministries' launching of the Middle East Initiative at General Assembly, our guest speaker will be Constantine "Dean" Triantafilou, the Executive Director and CEO of International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC). He will be uplifting the relief efforts in the Middle East, specifically with the Syrian crisis and the ways in which you have put your Compassion into Action.  You can sign up online for the breakfast. 

During General Assembly you are invited to come and visit our booth in the exhibit hall and get to know our partners and the many life-changing programs being done around the world. IMA World Health, Society of St. Andrew, Equal Exchange, Agricultural Missions, Foods Resource Bank, Children's Disaster Services, Prosperity Catalyst and Bread for the World will be there to share their work and partnership. Our partner at Equal Exchange will also have fair-trade chocolate and nuts for you to taste and buy that will support sustainable local farmers world-wide.

And on Monday, July 20 our partner, Society of St. Andrew, will be working with Disciples Volunteering to host a food drop at Fourth Avenue Christian Church. 150 volunteers are needed to help package potatoes and other food for local food banks. For more information see the General Assembly Local Mission Opportunities website.

We look forward to seeing you in Columbus! 

This Week’s Responses:

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance
Kentucky, Flood Damage (2)
Missouri, Storm Damage
Colorado, Storm Damage
Oklahoma, Flood Damage
Texas, Storm Damage (4)

Development, Long-Term Recovery and Rehabilitation
Serbia, Women’s Empowerment
Uruguay, Youth Empowerment
Haiti, Long-Term Recovery
Haiti, Women's Empowerment

Tanzania, Medical Development
Iraq, Women’s Empowerment
Palestine, Water Access and Community Development
Indonesia, Food Security
Democratic Republic of Congo, Food Security
Mozambique, Food Security

Your Compassion in Action - U.S. Storms and Nepal Update

Dear friends,

In the last two weeks there have been over 150 tornadoes throughout the United States, a 50% increase from the previous year.  The tornadoes have caused significant damage in many communities from Texas through South Dakota and Iowa, as well as in Colorado and Arkansas.  In addition to tornadoes, severe storms have also hit many of these areas, especially in Oklahoma.  Floods, hail, and heavy snow have impacted communities, and with heavy rain projected to stay, flooding will continue to be a threat in the next few weeks.  

Flood damage at Disciples Crossing Camp in Athens, Texas

Flood damage at Disciples Crossing Camp in Athens, Texas

Week of Compassion has been in contact with local pastors and regional ministers and has responded to many of these communities with prayers and solidarity grants.

We have also been collaborating closely with Disciples Church Extension Fund's Disaster Response Service to assist congregations and regions with their facilities after a disaster. The Disaster Response Service helps congregations assess damage to their facilities after a disaster- which includes helping to assess how and who to call to start the cleanup process, reviews the congregation's insurance policies to ensure they are getting everything they are entitled to, and assembles a building committee that will oversee reconstruction.  We are excited about this partnership with Disaster Response Service ministry and are grateful that we are able to respond to and work with affected congregations on behalf of the church.          

We will continue to monitor the severe weather in the upcoming weeks, but if your community is impacted, please let us know. We stand ready to provide support to you and your community during times of disaster.

Halfway around the world, a second earthquake hit Nepal on Tuesday. This 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck northeast of Kathmandu and was the second strongest earthquake to hit the region since the first struck on April 25. Over 2,000 people were injured in the second quake, and 64 people are dead.  The areas most affected are Dolakhu, Rasuwa, and Sidhupalchowk districts, where the second earthquake caused devastating landslides and caused weakened and damaged buildings to collapse.  Our partner on the ground, ACT Alliance, has accounted for all of their staff, who are safe. They are providing immediate relief to many of the rural areas. 

Nepal after the second earthquake. Photo: ACT Alliance

Nepal after the second earthquake. Photo: ACT Alliance

This second quake has created setbacks in the recovery efforts that will continue for weeks, if not months. Of particular concern however, is monsoon season in Nepal, which is to arrive in June and will create additional challenges in rebuilding efforts.  With monsoons come more threats of landslides, flooding, and the need to move people out of high-risk areas.  Week of Compassion will continue to work with our partners to provide relief in the coming weeks, and we will also be involved in planning the rebuilding of many rural communities.  We seek your prayers for the people of Nepal, as well as our partners on the ground.

As always, we are very grateful for your support and prayers.  Through you, we are able to respond to places at home and around the globe.  Your generosity enables us, together, to put our compassion into action.  

Thank you,

Vy Nguyen
Executive Director  

This Week's Responses:

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance
Virginia, Refugee Assistance
North America, Unaccompanied Children Crisis
Texas, Storm Damage (2)
Iowa, Storm Damage
Colorado, Storm Damage (2)
California, Fire Damage
Oklahoma, Storm Damage (5)

Development, Long-Term Recovery and Rehabilitation
Zimbabwe, Water Access

Nepal Earthquake Update

Week of Compassion has been assisting relief efforts in Nepal through our partners at ACT Alliance since the massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the country on April 25, 2015.  Our partners were already present in Nepal prior to the earthquake and within the first days following the earthquake, ACT Alliance distributed ready-to-eat food, water, as well as blankets and tarpaulins for emergency shelter to over 2,100 displaced families in informal camps within the three districts of the Kathmandu valley.  Week of Compassion has sent significant funds to our partners to continue supporting their recovery and emergency aid efforts and have been praying for the displaced individuals, their families, and the first responders. 

ACT Alliance packing relief parcels to be sent out to communities

ACT Alliance packing relief parcels to be sent out to communities

Within the last week we have heard and seen many incredible stories of people being rescued and pulled from rubble and damaged buildings; yet, there is still much work to be done. As Nepal's efforts shift from search-and-rescue to relief efforts, ACT Alliance and other teams continue working to provide immediate relief, including the distribution of food, water, medication, and emergency shelter, despite the heavy rain and aftershocks that are still hitting the area.  These relief efforts will go on for weeks, and the rebuilding of many of these impacted communities will take years.  Through your generosity and support, Week of Compassion is already planning long-term recovery efforts with partners whom we have collaborated with in other major disasters, such as the 2004 tsunami and the 2010 Haiti earthquake.  Thank you for your support, solidarity, and prayers for the people in Nepal as we work and rebuild with them in the days and years ahead.  

Our Partnership with CWS
     By Carol Fouke-Mpoyo, CWS

As head of U.S. disaster response for Church World Service since 2011, Barry Shade says he has developed a strong appreciation for the contributions of each of the participating communions.

Still, it’s not hard to get him talking about the particular gifts that Week of Compassion brings to the ecumenical whole.  After all, Shade also is an active member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

“Week of Compassion and CWS share a deep commitment to serving the most vulnerable, wherever they live and whatever their background,” Shade said.

Barry Shade listens to the story of Superstorm Sandy survivor "Destiny," in Far Rockaway, N.Y. (October 2013)

Barry Shade listens to the story of Superstorm Sandy survivor "Destiny," in Far Rockaway, N.Y. (October 2013)

Deeply involved in U.S. and international disaster response, Week of Compassion provides solidarity grants and produces hundreds of volunteers every year to help rebuild communities ravaged by disaster, he said. 

In addition, it supports ecumenical disaster response work by helping to fund CWS emergency response staff, to pay for shipment of CWS Kits to disaster-affected communities, and to support CWS long-term recovery trainings with funds for speakers’ travel expenses.

Just last year, Week of Compassion and CWS collaborated to produce “Help and Hope: Disaster Preparedness and Response Tools for Congregations." The book, published by the Disciples’ Chalice Press, is a practical guide to preparing congregations to help themselves and their communities when disaster strikes. “Week of Compassion is one of CWS’s most faithful contributors,” Shade affirmed. 

For his part, Shade – a member of Saint Andrew Christian Church in Olathe, Kansas - has participated in several Disciples mission trips to New Orleans to help rebuild homes damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

He retired from a 30-year U.S. Air Force career in 2002 and worked for the Federal Emergency Management Agency before joining the CWS staff.  May 15, 2015 he will retire from CWS.

This Week’s Responses:

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance
Central African Republic, Humanitarian Assistance
Burundi, Emergency Evacuation
Vanuatu, Cyclone Relief
Nepal, Earthquake Assistance

Development, Long-Term Recovery and Rehabilitation
Colorado, Flood Recovery

Earthquake in Nepal

Dear friends,

Our hearts and prayers have been with the people of Nepal after a 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck west of Nepal’s capital of Kathmandu this past Saturday.  The earthquake was also felt and caused significant damage in the neighboring countries of India, Tibet, Bangladesh and China. 

This is the most powerful earthquake to hit the region in over 80 years. 

Tents in Nepal. Photo Credit: ACT Alliance

Tents in Nepal. Photo Credit: ACT Alliance

The quake has caused tremendous damage in the vulnerable Kathmandu Valley. Homes were flattened, ancient temples destroyed, and the death toll, which has risen to 4,000 people at the time of writing, and continues to rise.  The immediate need is search and rescue teams, which are being deployed by Nepal's government, as well as by other countries from around the world.  Food, water, blankets, clothes, medical supplies, and temporary shelter are also needed.

 

Week of Compassion is providing emergency aid through our partnership with ACT Alliance.

Nepalese authorities are struggling to assess the full scale of the damage across the remote Himalayan nation as communications systems have been damaged in many areas. "We are totally cut off from most parts of our country," Nepal Disaster Management Authority official Ram Narayan Pandey told Reuters.  Reports are stating that thousands of people have rushed into the streets of the capital in an effort to remain safe, with many too afraid to return indoors as the city continues to be rocked by aftershocks.

One report on the ground from our partner and first responder ACT Alliance shares that, “It has been raining on and off. There are many makeshift shelters in the streets, as people had to abandon their homes quickly. Community kitchens have been set up, and there is generally a spirit of kindness and mutual support in the city...and a shortage of supplies, in particular drinking water and shelter materials. There is no electricity or running water throughout the city. We spent an uneasy night outside - together with the rest of Kathmandu.”

Your support through Week of Compassion allowed us to be on the ground in these communities within hours of the earthquake to help with relief efforts. We are working with other relief teams and providing support to the many affected and displaced individuals as they seek assistance and hope. We will continue these efforts in the upcoming weeks and months, working alongside the people in Nepal and accompanying them as they recover and rebuild. 

If you would like to put your Compassion into Action and donate to the earthquake relief efforts in Nepal, please go to our website here  and select “Earthquake” in the designation.  100% of your contribution will go toward helping the relief efforts in Nepal.

Week of Compassion continues to seek your prayers and support as we work with our trusted partner organizations to provide both immediate relief and long-term support to people of Nepal in the next few weeks and months.
 

In solidarity,

Rev. Vy T. Nguyen

This Week’s Responses:

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance
Thailand, Refugee Relief
Texas, Storm Damage (2)

Webinar on the Gran Chaco Region and Week of Compassion Job Opening

Land Rights and Food Security in the Gran Chaco Region

Dawn Barnes, Transitional Program Associate, recently traveled to the Gran Chaco in Paraguay and Bolivia with our partners at Church World Service (CWS) and Foods Resource Bank. Week of Compassion has long supported the Chaco Region by providing access to clean water, women’s empowerment initiatives, food security and land rights accompaniment. Please join us on May 12, 2015 at 7 PM EDT for a webinar to learn how your Compassion has been put into Action. Register now! 

The Gran Chaco Region is an immense area in the heart of South America covering almost 1 million square miles. Although this region stretches across northern Argentina, southwest Paraguay and southeast Bolivia, it is located far from the capitals. 

The Chaco is the biggest forest reserve on the continent after the Amazon and the largest dry forest in the world. A major eco-system, it is also a region with great cultural diversity, home to 25 different indigenous ethnic groups including communities who for centuries lived as semi-nomadic hunter gatherers before losing most of their land. 

Now in its tenth year the Chaco Program supports efforts by the indigenous peoples to reclaim their ancestral lands and assists them to improve food security and nutrition.

Register for the Gran Chaco Webinar on Tuesday, May 12 at 7:00p.m. EDT. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Presenters-

Fionuala Cregan - South American Chaco Program Officer, CWS

Dawn Barnes - Transitional Program Associate, Week of Compassion

Alex Morse - Growing Project and Latin American Program Coordinator, FRB

Job Opening for Administrative Assistant with Week of Compassion

Week of Compassion is searching for an administrative assistant. The position includes donor relations, administration and event planning. This is a part-time, hourly position that closes on May 12, 2015. Please find more information about the position here and resumes can be submitted to the Executive Director, Vy Nguyen, at: vy@weekofcompassion.org.

This Week’s Responses:

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance
Tennessee, Storm Damage
Kentucky, Flood Relief
Uganda, Refugee Support

 

 

Monitoring U.S. Storms and Life in the Chaco

U.S. Storms

Over the last few weeks the U.S. Southeast and Midwest have experienced severe weather including storms, tornadoes and flooding. Week of Compassion will continue to monitor weather conditions and hold those affected in our prayers as we head into the tornado season. If you or your community have been impacted by the storms, please be in contact with our office.
 

San Lazaro is Alive!

Week of Compassion’s partner, Church World Service (CWS) Latin America and Caribbean Office, supports local Paraguayan partner Mingarã in the Chaco Region of Paraguay. Mingarã works with indigenous communities of the Chaco through assistance in accessing and securing ancestral land rights, promoting sustainable agriculture to provide food security and nutrition and facilitating access to safe water.

By Mabel Barreto, Director of Mingarã.

San Lazaro's Originial Location

San Lazaro's Originial Location

In March of this year I had the opportunity to spend time with the community of San Lazaro during a visit with Week of Compassion, CWS and Foods Resource Bank.  Just days before Holy Week the visit brought to mind the Raising of Lazarus  -  miracles of Jesus which fill us with hope and life – as the inhabitants of the San Lazaro community, after decades of struggle, finally managed to move to a piece of land which is rightfully theirs.

Situated just metres from an estate belonging to the daughter of the current President of Paraguay, Horacio Cartes, and an intervention of the Catholic Church prevented this estate annexing San Lazaro’s land.  And now they have begun to relocate and build the life they have dreamed of, far from the semi-urban village Mision Santa Teresita with its dry un-arable land and increasingly over-crowded conditions, a place they had never really felt at home.

Founded in 1965 by Holy Family of Bordeaux Missionaries, Mision Santa Teresita is located 3 km from the town of Mariscal Estigarribia and is a multi-ethnic neighbourhood with three indigenous ethnic groups- Guaraní, Ñnandéva and Nivacle – living side by side. Each group has their own distinct identity and different language.  San Lázaro are of the Guarani Ñandeva ethnic group also known as Tapieté.  While culturally their origins are in the Chaco, the language they speak - Ñandéva - is similar to that of Guarani people located in Eastern Paraguay – and their plan has always been to return to a rural way of life on land that is theirs and with the freedom to develop their own community.   Finally that dream has come true.

The community of San Lazaro in the moving process

The community of San Lazaro in the moving process

And yet this new piece of land is virgin forest.  There are no services at all whatsoever - no housing, electricity, phone signals, not to mention insufficient access to water. The families have re-located with their few small belongings – clothes, kitchen utensils, pet dogs – and are living in a provisional camp site on constant alert to the presence of jaguars in the surrounding forest.

It is women who are at the forefront of the re-location – not because there is gender equality in San Lazaro but simply because the men are away working as migrant labourers on agricultural estates thousands of miles away.

The community’s new land is located just 22 kilometres from their semi-urban village but the road is unpaved and there is no public transport there. They have relocated hiring private transport – bringing with them a 5,000 litre tank of water, some smaller 50 litre water containers and basic foods stuffs (pasta, oil, salt, tea and beans).

San Lazaro's New Location

San Lazaro's New Location

This experience teaches us that, for those with few material resources, it is not easy to plan ways of improving quality of life and achieving freedom.  San Lazaro dreams of a better life and today is improvising, hoping this dream will come true. They have been obliged to improvise as they have not received any government support.  In fact it is the government’s indifference and the threat to the small piece of land they acquired which has forced them to take this decision to re-locate by their own means.

That day in March we witnessed a group of people rising up, taking life into their own hands, deciding to live by their own rules.  We do not yet know the strength of their resilience, their ability to convert this campsite into a dignified home.  While they now have arable land, the children do not have a place to go to school and the water brought by the community will last only a few weeks. Viva San Lazaro!

Because of your support to Week of Compassion we can ensure the work and ministry of the Chaco Region in South America will continue to live and thrive.

 

First Quarter Responses 2015

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As we proclaim “Christ is Risen” this Easter season, Week of Compassion continues to share the light of hope, compassion, and peace with the world.  Through your generosity and support, we accompany and work with communities that call us to create peace in this world.  In the last few months we have offered hope to many individuals and communities who have been affected by natural and human-made disasters.  From helping families and children fleeing the conflict in Syria who have been internally displaced in refugee camps, to providing food and water to our sisters and brothers in the Vanuatu Islands whose communities were destroyed by category 5 Cyclone Pam, to providing solidarity grants to our Disciples communities in North America who suffered from severe winter storms, we have been responding to and working with many of these communities on your behalf.  

Below is a list of all the places we have responded since January 2015. Your contributions and partnership help us to live out Christ's call to serve the most vulnerable people in the world.   We are so grateful for your support and for putting your Compassion in Action. 

Thank you. 

DISASTER RELIEF AND EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE

Africa
Angola, Flood Relief
Central African Republic, Internally Displaced People (IDP) Assistance
Chad, Refugee Relief
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ebola Relief
Democratic Republic of Congo, Storm Damage
Kenya, Refugee Relief
Madagascar, Flood Relief
Malawi, Flood Relief
Mozambique, Flood Relief
Nigeria, Humanitarian Crisis

East Asia and the Pacific
China, Earthquake Relief
North Korea, Food Security
Vanuatu, Cyclone Relief

Middle East and Europe
Gaza and West Bank, Humanitarian Crisis
Jordan, Refugee Assistance
Syria, Humanitarian Relief
Syria, Refugee Relief
Ukraine, Refugee Assistance

North America
Arkansas, Fire Relief
California, Hunger Relief
Kentucky, Flood Relief (2)
Missouri, Fire Relief
Pennsylvania, Winter Storm Relief
Tennessee, Winter Storm Relief
Texas, Unaccompanied Children
Virginia, Refugee Assistance (3)
West Virginia, Train Derailment
Wisconsin, Fire Relief

DEVELOPMENT AND LONG-TERM RECOVERY AND REHABILITATION

Africa
Democratic Republic of Congo, Food Security
Democratic Republic of Congo, Community Development

Latin America and the Caribbean
Chaco Region, Water Access 
El Salvador, Food Security
Honduras, Food Security

Middle East and Europe
Bosnia, Interfaith Dialogue

North America
Arkansas, Long-Term Tornado Recovery
North America, Ecumenical Poverty Initiative
North America, Ecumenical Student Development
Washington, Mission Support

Southern Asia
Vietnam, Water Access

Cyclone Pam

Just a few days ago, Cyclone Pam, a category 5 storm (200-250mph wind) and one of the most powerful storms since Haiyan in 2013, made landfall in the Pacific Island Nation of Vanuatu, completely destroying or causing significant damage to homes, buildings, and hospitals. 

At least eight people have been confirmed dead and thousands are displaced.  Many rural communities that were impacted by the storm are inaccessible; and many roads have been blocked by fallen trees and/or power lines, making it even more difficult for aid workers to reach many places.  Communication infrastructures with the 83 islands in the archipelago are down and the death toll will continue to climb as more information emerges and communications are repaired.  The United Nations has stated that Pam could be one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the Pacific. 

Vanuatu's remote location in the Pacific also adds to the challenges humanitarian groups will face.  Roughly 260,000 people live in Vanuatu, many in homes built of weaker materials, including straw and corrugated steel that stood little chance against Pam's raging winds.

The main objective now is to get first responder into Vanuatu and begin the humanitarian operation.  The highest priority currently is the lack of clean water and sanitation for the many people who are displaced. Week of Compassion's partner, ACT Alliance, is assessing the full damage and coordinating with local and international partners as well as the government of Vanuatu for a response.  The early recovery work will be to provide lifesaving services of medical aid, food, water and shelter. 

While initial emergency relief activities are essential for saving lives, rebuilding basic infrastructure and restoration of farmlands and livelihoods are essential for the long term.  Week of Compassion will continue to work with our partners to provide immediate and long-term recovery support in the upcoming days and months.  Week of Compassion stands in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the Pacific, and we seek your prayers for the people of Vanuatu who are impacted by this storm. 

This Week's Responses:

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance
Jordan, Refugee Support

Syria: A Continuing Response to Conflict and Displacement

The conflict and high level of violence in Syria today continues to affect many people and the surrounding countries.  Aerial bombings by government forces, attacks by armed opposition, and extremist terrorists groups for the last four years have led to many deaths, injuries and displacement; and 2014 was the deadliest year of the conflict with at least 76,000 Syrians killed. 

Two women walk in the Za’atari refugee camp located near Mafraq, Jordan. The camp opened in July 2012 to assist some of the more than 200,000 Syrians who have crossed into Jordan to escape an escalating civil war inside their own country. Photo Credit: ACT Alliance/Paul Jeffrey

Two women walk in the Za’atari refugee camp located near Mafraq, Jordan. The camp opened in July 2012 to assist some of the more than 200,000 Syrians who have crossed into Jordan to escape an escalating civil war inside their own country. Photo Credit: ACT Alliance/Paul Jeffrey

Currently, it’s estimated that 12.2 million people in Syria Arab Republic remain in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, half of which are children and many of them are trapped in hard to reach areas.  Over 3 million Syrian refugees have fled to neighboring countries and around 6.5 million people have been internally displaced by the conflict.

Humanitarian needs remain enormous and challenging.  Only a little more than 400,000 refugees are accommodated in refugee camps; and outside of camps, it is estimated that 38% live in sub-standard shelter.  Making the humanitarian response even more difficult is the cold weather during these winter months.

Week of Compassion has been working with our partners, Global Ministries Middle East and Europe Office and ACT Alliance, to provide emergency relief in Syria and the surrounding countries of Lebanon and Jordan.  Humanitarian aid is being provided to affected populations with emergency food, clean water, hygiene, medicine, clothes and blankets for the winter cold weather.  Thanks to your generous gifts to Week of Compassion we will continue to work with our partners in the upcoming weeks and months to provide immediate relief and assistance to these vulnerable communities.

This Week’s Responses:

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance

Malawi, Flood Relief
Virginia, Refugee Relief
Kenya, Refugee Relief
Missouri, Fire Relief
North Korea, Food Security

Development and Long-Term Recovery and Rehabilitation
Washington, Mission Support

Compassion in Action

How do you say ‘thank you’ for sunshine or health…for clear days or gentle rains…for happiness, joy or love?  You say it by making the world a better place in which to live.”

                                                Thomas A. Willhite

Thank you for partnership and the many ways you put your Compassion into Action! Your generous hearts and offerings to Week of Compassion take us, as Disciples from our doorsteps to the ends of the earth. Because of your support, we can respond in the midst of struggle and privation.  Thank you for your open-handedness which grows encouragement and resilience to make our world a better place and making new futures possible.

And thanks be to God for the news from Révérend Ilumbe Ndjongo Bernard in Mbandaka, Democratic Republic of Congo, where the power of the Week of Compassion ministry was celebrated and generosity outpoured.

Dear Week of Compassion, 

The day was celebrated with compassion at the Temple of Mbandaka III, Saturday, February 28, 2015. In front of 203 people who attended the worship, Reverend Jeannine Bodjimbe thoroughly developed the Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians 8: 13-17 urging Christians to put compassion into action. Pastors, men and women prayed to God one after the other using specific topics, such as: the confession of sins, the unity of the Christian Church, emergencies and disasters, the partnership between Mbandaka and Indiana, among Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and 10-CDCC, the United Evangelical Mission in Germany, the political and social life in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the suffering around the world.

642.500 FC (600 US Dollars) is the compassionate offering collected during this worship, which is paid to the fund of 10-CDCC to be transferred to the office Week of Compassion via Global Ministries.

God bless you.
Révérend Ilumbe Ndjongo Bernard

This Week’s Responses:

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance
Chad, Refugee Relief
Syria, Refugee Relief
Pennsylvania, Winter Storm Damage

Winter Storms and Our Partnership with CWS

Winter Storms - Week of Compassion has been monitoring the severe winter storms on the East Coast as well as Southeast and Midwest. We have responded to several congregations and individuals and will continue to do so as needs arise. We will continue to monitor these storms and ask that we join together in prayer for all of those affected.

Chaco region of Bolivia and Argentina
By Chris Herlinger, CWS

The first thing you have to know about the Chaco region of Bolivia and Argentina? History matters. In this, the largest dry forest in the world (and, after the Amazon, the second largest forest reserve in South America), indigenous groups have lost their land, were marginalized, and have struggled with the exigencies of neglect, poverty, poor health care and spotty education.

The good news is that CWS, a partner of Week of Compassion, is working with human rights groups, church-supported partners and indigenous organizations in making a difference in the lives of people in the Chaco.

This has happened in at least two ways.

CWS supports efforts of indigenous groups to reclaim their land through legal cases and court challenges - slow work that in recent years has finally begun paying off, with families and communities winning the right to secure legal title to their ancestral territories.

Another way? Support for development programs that are improving food security - the availability and access to food - through efforts like community vegetable gardens. The gardens improve not only a community's diet but also recover the values of "ancestral knowledge," of growing different varieties of crops.

Dependence on one crop - corn, mainly - is not good for health or for the land, and a return to a traditional plant-based diet that includes a variety of vegetables - not just corn - is paying off dividends. One farm couple in Bolivia, Justina Romero and Adolfo Torres, said the support from CWS and partners to grow vegetables not only for themselves but for sale, have given them much-needed support and sense of well-being.

"Thanks to you, we have this," said Torres.

Justina Romero and her husband, Adolfo Torres, pose together in their garden in the Guarani indigenous village of Kapiguasuti, Bolivia. They and their neighbors started the gardens with assistance from Church World Service, supplementing their corn-based diet with nutritious vegetables and fruits. Photo by Paul Jeffrey, CWS. 

Justina Romero and her husband, Adolfo Torres, pose together in their garden in the Guarani indigenous village of Kapiguasuti, Bolivia. They and their neighbors started the gardens with assistance from Church World Service, supplementing their corn-based diet with nutritious vegetables and fruits. Photo by Paul Jeffrey, CWS. 

Neighbor Juancito Pinto, agreed, saying that with less need to purchase food, the community is becoming far more self-reliant.  Before the gardens, he said, "people were hungrier." Now hunger is rare, and the bounty of life is something to treasure.

Through your generosity, Week of Compassion works closely with CWS and many partners around the world to improve lives and help create new futures. Thank you.

This Week's Responses:

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance
Madagascar, Cyclone and Flood Relief
Kentucky, Flood Relief
Tennessee, Winter Storm Relief

Development and Long-Term Recovery and Rehabilitation
Arkansas, Long-Term Tornado Recovery