Photo: Paul Jeffrey/ACT Alliance
The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it; for he has founded it on the seas, and established it on the rivers.
From Rev. Vy Nguyen, Executive Director
All of Creation is hurting. Our climate is inarguably shifting. And people of faith are among those calling for urgent action.
This week, I am among a group of global leaders gathered for the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference. The 2020 gathering was cancelled due to COVID-19, and the two years since the last conference have seen one devastating disaster after another: from wildfires and severe drought to tornadoes, hurricanes, and typhoons, all made more complicated by the pandemic.
Let your work be manifest to your servants, and your glorious power to their children.
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and prosper for us the work of our hands--
O prosper the work of our hands! ~Psalm 90:16-17
In South Sudan, a major protracted humanitarian crisis is unfolding, with nearly 70% of the population in need of urgent assistance. Tens of thousands of people are living in famine-like conditions and malnutrition is at critical levels, while more than 7 million are food insecure.
On Saturday morning, August 14, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the south of Haiti. The earthquake was also felt in other Caribbean islands. This earthquake was stronger than the 2010 quake that devastated the nation's capital of Port-au-Prince, and news outlets are reporting nearly 1300 lives lost so far.
Although it is too early to know the full impact of the destruction, casualties, and loss of livelihoods, initial reports from Week of Compassion partners indicate that the impact has been devastating and that hospitals are overwhelmed. Thousands of homes have been damaged or destroyed. Communication channels have been affected, as well as infrastructure including roads, which will affect immediate response and create challenges in getting help to those in need.
In India, COVID-19 infection rates are rising exponentially and the health system is collapsing under the burden. Hospitals in urban centers are overcrowded and often turn people away. Supplies, including oxygen, are running low, and various strains of the virus more frequently require that patients be treated with oxygen. Families that already struggled to meet basic needs have become even more vulnerable to hunger and other challenges. Grief, anxiety, and depression are common across the population. With partial lockdown in place in many states and full lockdown in others, migrant guest workers are returning to their native villages. In addition to the economic impact of the loss of work, the influx into the villages may contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in rural areas. Week of Compassion is responding, supporting our partners as they work to meet the urgent needs of this new wave and prevent the further spread of disease; while also looking ahead to long-term needs and planning for the future.
On this International Women's Day, Week of Compassion celebrates the strength and resilience of women worldwide. Your gifts to Week of Compassion support development programs that empower women through education and opportunity. When women are empowered to grow crops, go to school, learn a trade, become entrepreneurs, and work together towards their goals, the whole community thrives through their success!
Supporting women’s empowerment is a mission priority for Week of Compassion, especially now. During the pandemic, many of these life-changing programs experienced significant setbacks. Investing in women is of urgent concern and will help communities around the world move forward from the challenges of this season.
From Guatemala to East Africa; from Haiti to Serbia; from Iraq to South America, and so many places in between, the work of empowering women is the work of compassion, and that work empowers whole communities to grow and plan for the future.
If you’d like to honor the women in your life today, consider making a gift to Week of Compassion and designating it to the Women’s Empowerment Fund. Now, more than ever, your investment in the lives and futures of women will have a lasting impact and change lives for generations to come. We are grateful for your continued support in helping women thrive around the world, around the year.
In the coming weeks, many of our churches will receive the Special Offering to support Week of Compassion. I am grateful for your tremendous generosity that provides relief and offers hope to so many.
We just completed assessment of 2020 financial distributions for relief, refugee, and sustainable development programs. This gives us a sense of where the greatest needs arose, and how your gifts helped communities in the midst of a pandemic and other disasters. Because of your generosity, 2020 was our highest program distribution in over a decade. As the world was affected by the pandemic-- and the economic toll impacted our partners-- Week of Compassion stepped up and increased our resource support for disaster relief, refugee, food security and sanitation.
Nobody hungry, nobody thirsty,
shade from the sun, shelter from the wind,
For the Compassionate One guides them,
takes them to the best springs. ~Isaiah 49:10
Food insecurity. Political unrest. Climate change threatening the viability of crops...
Imagine all of these things, happening at once. And then, back to back hurricanes arrive.
In November of 2020 two consecutive hurricanes--Eta and Iota-- impacted the same regions of Central America, with Nicaragua experiencing some of the most severe impact. Flooding destroyed the bean crops, contaminated water wells, destroyed latrines, and left thousands of families homeless. People moved to emergency shelters in schools and churches, but thousands didn´t have time to evacuate or preferred not to leave their homes for security reasons or fear of COVID-19.