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Still building hope in Haiti five years on

Still building hope in Haiti five years on – 12 Jan 2015

In January 2010 a catastrophic 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck near Port au Prince in Haiti, it devastated an already poverty stricken country. Prior to the earthquake 70% of the population lived on less than $2 per day. An estimated 250,000 people were killed in the earthquake and 3.5 million people were affected.

Before the earthquake Haiti was the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and it remains so. Trapped in poverty, many poor Haitians find it challenging to feed and educate their children, and they feel forced to give them away as domestic servants. These servants become known as ‘restaveks’ a slur word for ‘worthless’. Tearfund is providing education opportunities as part of a programme that brings dignity, respect and self-worth to people living on the edge.

Through its Connected Church programme Tearfund is supporting Open Arms Newbridge an Irish church to support a partner church Salem Baptist Church in Haiti. This church has set up a free school, in Port au Prince. This school has been established to offer free primary education within a safe environment that provides psychosocial support to its pupils, particularly those who are ‘restaveks’ or from extremely marginalised backgrounds.

Last year members of Open Arms in Newbridge, John and Dina Baciu went to visit this school and here they met some remarkable people who with the help of the church and the school are rebuilding their lives. image

From Left to right: Adlin Junues, Adlin is a widow, she sends her children to the afternoon school at Salem Baptist. She has 3 children herself and has adopted a fourth child. Esperanda Leande, is a widow with four children. LeMoine Jean Batiste is a widow with one child and has adopted two other children. She lives in an unfinished part of the church building and cleans the church. Eva Casseus has two children, one she adopted and one she had herself. She gave birth to her child two days before the earthquake in 2010 and needed to jump from the first floor of the hospital to save herself and her child. Clements Mondesir is an active member of the church, she is a widow with one child.

Half of the people affected by the earthquake were under 18 years of age and these women are amazing examples of people who have taken in children who have been left orphaned, as well as caring for their own children and attempting to rebuild their lives.

Last year 97 girls and 44 boys received primary education at Salem Baptist Church’s Bellevue School. 75% of registered children attend classes regularly and an additional two teachers have joined the teaching staff to focus on educational development. Children receive a free hot meal every day before class and are provided with practical help in areas such as materials for school, healthcare and food. Outreach is conducted with parents to encourage them to support their children in gaining an education.

Please continue to pray for the people of Haiti and for the people involved in Salem Baptist Church and the Bellevue School.



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Defending 1.2 million Children from Monsters that are real.

Minister Frances Fitzgerald today received over 700 postcards from supporters of Tearfund’s No Child Taken campaign. The campaign highlighted Tearfund’s work in protecting some of the 1.2 million children that are trafficked annually around the world. Tearfund conduct trafficking awareness programmes for extremely poor children, vulnerable to being trafficked, as part of their projects in Cambodia (along the Thai border) and also in Malawi and Haiti. Tearfund partners estimate that about a third of children who are trafficked into Thailand end up in the sex industry. It costs €11 to protect a child from being trafficked, but over €8,000 to rescue and rehabilitate a child who has been trafficked.

Here in Ireland in 2013, 44 victims of trafficking were identified, 16 of these were children. Tearfund is an alliance partner of the Turn off the Red Light Campaign and believes that the best way to fight sex trafficking in Ireland and globally, is to fight the demand that fuels it. Supporters of Tearfund’s No Child Taken campaign completed postcards urging Minister Frances Fitzgerald to urgently introduce legislation that will criminalise the buyers of sex in Ireland, legislation that was recently passed by Stormont in Northern Ireland. Unless similar legislation is introduced here, there is a danger that Ireland will be seen as a low-risk and high profit location for traffickers.

Along with Tearfund supporters, staff and the general public who visited Fingal County Council, South Dublin County Council and Dublin City Council showed their support for Tearfund’s No Child Taken campaign by signing postcards in council offices during October and November marking EU Anti Trafficking Day.

For further information contact Niamh Daly at niamh.daly@tearfund.ie 01 878 3200 and 087 245 1169

Tearfund is a Christian relief and development agency working through a global network of churches to help eradicate poverty and is a member of DOCHAS. Sharan Kelly, Tearfund CEO, is the current Chair of DOCHAS.

How we can stop the spread of Ebola

How we can stop the spread of Ebola – 20 Nov 2014

The Ebola virus has claimed close to 5,000 lives and has devastated the lives of over half a million people in West Africa. It is showing no signs of letting up. Health services in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea are under huge pressure.

Even before the outbreak of Ebola Sierra Leone had one of the worst life expectancies in the world (57 years) and in 2010 had just 136 doctors for its 5.7 million population. Liberia has even less doctors and a similarly low life expectancy, as does Guinea.

These are some of the poorest countries in West Africa and they are now struggling with a deadly outbreak that is leaving countless children orphaned, crippling national economies and setting back any development gains by years.

As the death toll rises and the infection rates spiral, stopping the spread of the virus is paramount. Healthy sanitation practices and a basic community health care system can prevent infectious diseases like Ebola from spreading. Tearfund’s work with local church partners who are rooted in communities plays a vital role in building the resilience of communities and in protecting the most vulnerable from exposure to these diseases.

€45 could provide a hygiene kit to help keep one family safe.

Please help stop the spread of Ebola and other preventable diseases through our ongoing work in communities.

Click here to donate to this work.

Please pray and give what you can today.

Typhoon Haiyan-One Year On

Typhoon Haiyan-One Year On – 10 Nov 2014

Typhoon Haiyan was 300 miles wide when it struck the Philippines on November 8th 2013. It was one of the most intense tropical storms to make landfall anywhere in the world. It brought torrential rain, sustained winds of over 195mph and a storm surge up to 30 metres high that devastated coastal areas. It is estimated that 13 million people are affected by Typhoon Haiyan and the confirmed death toll was 6,340 with a further 28,626 injured and 1,061 still missing.

It is hard to believe it has been nearly a year since this typhoon ravaged through the Philippines and our partners on the ground have now moved their programmes from emergency relief to rehabilitation. In the emergency relief phase emergency supply kits were provided for families and debris removal through cash for work initiatives were set up. Our partners focused on sanitation and health promotion as well as providing child friendly spaces where children could have a safe place to play as well as receive psychological support.

Tearfund partners are now focusing on building foundations for future recovery, by supporting livelihoods and helping people prepare for future disasters through training initiatives and storm-proofing of new buildings. They also continue to provide spiritual and emotional support.

The work we’re doing in the Philippines encourages community engagement, and our relationship with the local church has made a huge difference to the recovery effort.

However the people of the Philippines still need our prayers. We would ask for prayer for the people of the Philippines who have lost so much; that they will find comfort and hope in God.

And for those who have been responding to the Typhoon and the devastation. That they will be sustained and hopeful for the future.

Click here if you would like to donate to Tearfund’s current Emergency responses in Iraq, Syria and South Sudan.

South Sudan: famine through the barrel of a gun.

South Sudan: famine through the barrel of a gun. – 28 Oct 2014

The agencies fear that efforts this year to prevent the crisis from deteriorating will falter as rival sides are regrouping ready to resume violence once the rainy seasons ends this month. The number of people facing dangerous levels of hunger is expected to increase by 1 million between January and March next year.

In the report , “From Crisis to Catastrophe”, the aid agencies called for neighbouring governments and the wider international community to redouble diplomatic efforts to put real pressure on the parties to the conflict to end the fighting, including an arms embargo. They said so far the international community’s ‘softly-softly’ approach to the peace talks has failed to secure a meaningful cease-fire.

They also added that there needs to be an increase in both the quantity and quality of the aid effort.

Tariq Reibl head of Oxfam programme in South Sudan said: “If famine comes to South Sudan it will come through the barrel of a gun. This is a man-made crisis not one caused by the vagaries of the weather and though humanitarian aid is vital it cannot fix a political problem. The international community is much better at saving lives than it is at helping solve the political problems that put lives in peril. Nine months of the softly-softly approach to peace negotiations has failed. If the international community really wants to avert a famine then it has to make bold diplomatic efforts to bring both sides to end the fighting.”

The aid agencies said that a mixture of significant aid, a lull in the fighting due to the wet season and the ability of the South Sudanese to cope with hardship, has managed to stave off a famine for the moment. However they warned that now that the wet season is over, an upsurge in fighting is likely, setting back any gains made in the last few months and potentially pushing areas into famine by March 2015.

Since the current round of conflict began in South Sudan in December 2013, the country has been pushed to the brink of disaster. However the international aid effort has saved thousands of lives, much of it generously funded by the US, the UK and the EU who have given 60 per cent of the total funding. The UN Mission in South Sudan has opened its compounds to around 100,000 civilians, saving them from ethnic violence, and peace negotiations led by South Sudan’s neighbours have come close to brokering a deal.

Looking back over 2014, Aimee Ansari head of CARE in South Sudan said:

“South Sudan only just missed falling into famine this year. Partly this was due to the aid effort but much of it is due to the strength, resilience and generosity of the South Sudanese people themselves.

“But they are now at the end of their tether. You can only sell all your livestock once. Eating seeds meant for planning keeps the gnawing hunger away for the moment, but it is mortgaging the future to meet the desperate needs of the present. The people of South Sudan did what they could to survive this year – but that means they will be vulnerable next year. They need to see an end to the fighting so normal life can resume.”

Many of the 1.4 million people displaced from their homes are facing an uncertain future. The fighting has disrupted markets and pushed up food prices. Fishermen have been barred from rivers, cattle herders have had their cattle stolen, or been forced to sell them off cheaply. The expected upsurge in fighting once the rains have ended in October will tip many over the edge.

The aid agencies called for donor governments to fully support the UN’s appeals for humanitarian work in South Sudan and the refugee crisis in neighbouring countries. They also said that the quality of aid needs to be improved. It needs to be delivered where people are rather than where it is easier to reach. And it needs to build on the way people cope with the crisis and to enable them to face any future crisis better prepared.

The aid agencies also called on all the government of South Sudan, the opposition and other armed groups to immediately stop fighting and work towards a long-term, sustainable peace deal. All their forces need to stop attacks against civilians, end the use of child soldiers and allow humanitarian workers safe access to people needing their help.

Be part of the Christian response to the crisis in South Sudan, please donate here

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