Photo: Paul Jeffrey/ACT Alliance
In our weekly updates, we share stories of our presence and impact around the world: from disaster response, to refugee and immigration ministry, to ongoing sustainable development projects in impoverished areas. Catch up on updates you missed, or find stories you want to read and share again! Or, subscribe to receive weekly email updates.
It’s that time of year again: in church, you hear words of hope and peace, comfort and joy. But outside of the sanctuary, life feels anything BUT peaceful. The traffic, the crowds, and the very long to-do list make for added stress in a time that is supposed to be about family and celebration.
One of the things that can make the season feel hectic is the expectation of gift-giving. Many are feeling the final push to do last minute shopping, getting every item crossed off the list.
In the dark winter months, Advent is a season of hope. As people of faith, we seek light and life in that darkness, trusting that God is giving shape to new life even when we can’t yet see it. We are also called to actively embody that hope. As the Church, we offer hope to others who are living through dark times. The work that you support through Week of Compassion reflects the hope, peace, joy and love of this season in tangible ways. Here are just a few of the places that hope travels through some of our recent responses.
Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.
Over two years ago, the Rohingya people of Myanmar experienced one of the largest forced displacements of our time. Earlier this month, Week of Compassion Executive Director Rev. Vy Nguyen traveled to Bangladesh and Myanmar. His travels included a visit to the refugee camp in the Cox’s Bazaar district. With nearly 1 million displaced residents, it is the largest, most densely populated refugee camp in the world.
From the camp, the border to Myanmar is only about 100 yards away; and yet, many who live there cannot return home.
In the United States and Canada, we have the privilege of taking toilets for granted. They are everywhere--just a part of our daily lives. Many homes even have more than one, and they can be found in most public places. Even on a long stretch of highway, one can almost always be found when needed. But in other parts of the world, toilets save lives. Sanitation is among the first, most urgent concerns following a major disaster, and also in the ongoing development work that we support around the world. That’s why today, November 19, is recognized as World Toilet Day in the humanitarian development and disaster response communities.
Typhoon Hagibis made landfall in Japan on October 12, leaving widespread flooding and landslides in its wake in many parts of Central Japan. In just two days the typhoon brought 30-40% of the annual rainfall to the area, and the highest warning level (category 5) was issued in 13 prefectures. More than 7 million people were told to evacuate. The initial death toll was reported at 72 people, and more than 45,000 households were left without power. As Week of Compassion partners continue to assess the situation, 181 rivers in 16 prefectures have breached, and water inundation continues to force the evacuation of millions of people.
Following a disaster, aid workers face tremendous challenges in trying to reach affected areas with immediate supplies like food, water, and medical care. When a community that is still recovering from one disaster experiences another, the prospect of reaching those in need becomes even more daunting.
Water just wouldn’t stop falling. Our house was on the verge of collapse, so my wife I picked up the kids and left for high ground. It was awful to see our lifelong efforts, our home, wash away like that. But we are lucky, at least our whole family is safe.” – João* 34, father of four (*name changed for anonymity)
These are the words of a survivor. After Cyclone Idai wrought havoc on Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, not everyone was as lucky as João. The intense tropical storm left more than 1,000 dead, thousands still missing, and hundreds of thousands displaced.