Photo: Paul Jeffrey/ACT Alliance
Many have said that Week of Compassion is there after the cameras leave, and that is true. Committed to long-term recovery, Week of Compassion walks alongside communities through every stage of disaster recovery. Weeks, months, even years after a major disaster has faded from the headlines, we are still working with our partners to rebuild communities. But sometimes, through your support and the presence of local congregations, we are there before the cameras arrive-- or even when there are no cameras at all. Here are a few events from last month that you may not have heard about on the news, but where our Disciples presence has been felt and is making a difference.
“Everything we usually do has been turned upside down,” says Lisa Crouch, Associate Director of Children’s Disaster Services, a Week of Compassion partner through Brethren Disaster Ministries. Children have unique needs following disasters, and CDS typically provides trauma-informed childcare in evacuation shelters and disaster resource centers during and after disasters. But as the pandemic has changed the face of disaster response, CDS has adapted their work for the COVID-19 context.
Community relationships are important, even in the best of times. In hard times, those connections become essential. And congregations with pre-existing community ties are uniquely placed to meet critical needs when the going gets tough.
As wildfires continue to spread across much of the west, Week of Compassion is learning more about the widespread impacts and needs. In Oregon, an historic number of fires have burned more than 1 million acres of land, and parts of the state currently have the worst air quality in the world. Hundreds of thousands of people are under evacuation orders-- including more than 100 Disciples households.
In the midst of this ongoing emergency, churches are working to serve their neighbors. Local partnerships are critical, and existing ministries provide opportunities for response in a crisis situation. Congregations in Oregon are working with other leaders and relief organizations to identify specific needs in their area. In partnership with the Region, Week of Compassion is supporting congregations as they serve their wider communities. This response through local churches allows our impact to reach even farther, as Disciples work to meet the critical needs of their neighbors.
Multiple wildfires continue to burn across California, including three major fires surrounding the Bay Area. The SCU Fire, affecting the East Bay Area, has burned over 360k acres and is only 15% contained. The CZU Fire, affecting South Bay and Santa Cruz areas, has burned over 78k acres and is only 17% contained. Meanwhile, the LNU Fire, in Sonoma and Napa Counties, is over 350k acres, with 27% containment. Across the three incidents, more than 1500 structures have been damaged or destroyed.
In Australia, high temperatures and drought conditions are contributing to one of the worst fire seasons in living memory. Since September, these fires have burned across 28 million acres, killing at least 28 people and an estimated 480 million animals. Meanwhile, thousands of people have been displaced as the fire danger inches closer to their homes. The heartbreaking news footage offers just a glimpse of the widespread destruction, and Disciples are wondering how to help.
region / focus :