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News : Emergencies
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.
SYRIA UPDATE: LONG-AWAITED PEACE TALKS ON 22 JANUARY – 15 Jan 2014
Aged just 12, Mirah* already knows more about the horrors of war than many of us will in a lifetime.
Growing up in the city of Homs in western Syria, she attended school and played with her two brothers.
However, as the conflict escalated Mirah’s childhood changed beyond recognition. Her brothers were forced to flee the country after being arrested and tortured. Soon after this, her family home was bombed during a night of attacks on the city.
Mirah was separated from her parents and helped across the mountains into Lebanon by some of the other survivors. She was sure she had lost her mother and father forever.
Amazingly, sometime later Mirah was reunited with her parents in a camp in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. Tearfund partner Heart for Lebanon is now providing them with monthly food and hygiene packages, along with supportive follow-up visits.
Mirah’s family is very grateful for this support, which is helping them survive the harsh winter. But it isn’t a long-term solution.
With the conflict in Syria still raging, families like Mirah’s are hoping that the upcoming Geneva II peace talks will signal the start of a positive change.
- Give thanks that the peace talks are still on track for 22 January. Pray that all parties will attend and ask God to help those present to find a workable solution to the conflict.
- Pray for those in Syria affected by the worsening fighting as parties try to gain ground ahead of the talks.
- Pray for refugees and displaced people like Mirah as they face the additional hardships of a cold winter.
More church and individual prayer resources for Syria Peace Talks.
*Name has been changed to protect identity.
Photo above: Lebanon camp, photographer: Eleanor Bentall / Tearfund
Girly Malitante is a primary school teacher in Marabut. ‘My school is damaged from the typhoon, but we need shelter for the children to have classes. The chairs and books, pencils and pens and blackboards are all damaged.’
Giving children the routine of going to school helps recreate a sense of normality for them. While adults begin the work of rebuilding their homes and their lives, Tearfund partners are working to create safe spaces for children.
There’s a lot to do, as Girly points out. ‘We received some food and clothing from the Department of Education, and the government has said they will repair our school, but not until January. There are computers floating in the floods, and we have to boil water to drink. But we have a lot of firewood!’ she says, pointing to the rubble.
As the shock of Typhoon Haiyan wears off, and evidence of trauma is settling in, our partners are training community volunteers from local churches in Northern Samar on trauma recovery for children.
Layo Mateo, a fisherman in Basey is concerned for the wellbeing of his children. ‘Sometimes my children still get scared. Now, even the level one typhoon warnings scare us.’
It might take time to rebuild schools. Nevertheless our partners are creating places for children where they can play, make things, and express their emotions with on-site care providers. Through our work in Samar, we’re making sure that children suffering acute trauma can be treated by Filipino psychologists to receive the level of care that they need.
Tearfund partners are working for long-term recovery in the Philippines.
It rains every day in Dulag, but there’s little shelter for the 9,000 families who live there. Just 30km south of Tacloban, almost all of the homes in the area were destroyed as they stood directly in the path of Typhoon Haiyan.
Shelter is the top priority in Dulag. Families whose homes have been destroyed urgently need protection from the elements.
Almost overlooked by the tremendous need in Tacloban, there was little support for those in nearby Dulag.
But Tearfund partners have quickly identified the need to bring help to the region. The team are already on the ground giving out 5,000 shelter kits to families in the area.
Guido Krauss is a shelter advisor. ‘We’ve talked to a lot of families, local authorities, and engineers, and everybody agrees that the main needs at the moment are food and shelter.’
As well as shelter kits, the team are giving people equipment to help them clear away debris from their ruined homes. In the long-term, our partners will train families to rebuild their homes in a way that makes them more resilient to disasters like cyclones.
Working with local officials is helping the team to target their response, Guido explains: ‘We don’t need a separate relief system. The destruction is so huge that it will be very difficult for the government and the Filipino people to recover from this solely on their own capacity. The best way we can help is to be supportive and to collaborate with communities.’
Tearfund partners are working for long-term recovery in the Philippines.
Human impact stories from the Tearfund project through local church partner inside Syria – 20 Nov 2013
Maha is a young woman who was displaced from Homs with her four children. They are now all living in a small rented apartment in another area of Syria. Her husband went missing more than a year ago, but Maha has not heard any details about him since. In Syria’s failing economy, Maha has found no work to meet her and her children’s basic needs.
Thankfully, Tearfund’s local partner has been active in the region since the start of the year, and has been providing emergency food assistance to Maha. The support has been crucial in this time of uncertainty for Maha and her children.
Ola Rahaal’s story
Four-year old Ola Rahaal was forced out of her village, together with her family and the rest of the community, by a group of Islamist militants several months ago. The family moved to the area of Syria where Tearfund’s local partner has been providing food assistance. Having left all their belongings behind and seeking refuge, they needed support for all their needs, including food and shelter.
However, the family soon received a further shock when Ola was diagnosed with a brain tumour. The entire community joined with Ola and her family in their sadness. A lack of medical support in the area due to the destruction of public hospitals forced the family to travel for medical care. Ola went through several operations, one of which left her blind.
Tearfund’s local partner has been helping Ola’s family throughout the process by providing food, and is seeking to meet medical needs where possible. Though a small contribution in itself, the food assistance has helped the family to cope and meet their basic nutritional needs.
THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE LOST TO TYPHOON HAIYAN – 11 Nov 2013
Tearfund partners, including local churches, have helped people to evacuate their homes and villages in time to avoid the worst of the typhoon, which is one of the biggest in recorded history. But despite the best efforts of emergency services and humanitarian agencies, many thousands of lives have been lost and homes have been washed away.
It has been difficult to confirm all the details because of power cuts and difficulties in reaching our colleagues but we know that landslides, flooding and high winds have wiped out homes, businesses and farms.
Our partners are in the evacuation centres, giving care to survivors who need food, water, shelter and help to find their loved ones.
Rescue operations and food distributions have started to reach people but there are still areas of the islands where people have not yet been traced.
Pastors, church workers and volunteers are travelling by motorbike to some of the more remote areas over the next few days to find survivors and offer help. Despite difficult conditions, they will travel long distances for three days at a time to reach villages where they expect to find high death counts and many grieving people.
Tearfund calls for prayer for the survivors, who will need assistance for many months to come.
As well as the urgent and practical things like helping people have a roof over their heads, we know that there will be a lot of grief as people come to terms with bereavement. We must pray for the thousands of people who are grieving and ask God how he wants each of us to respond to their needs.
Please also pray for the churches who are sending teams out, many of whom will travel long distances by motorbike, that their teams would stay safe and well on their travels and that they would be able to bring hope to the people they meet.
Corrie de Boer from Mission Ministries in the Philippines visited our Tearfund office in October. Tearfund Ireland’s International Programme’s Manager, Markus Koker gave her a copy of the Tearfund resource booklet – Disaster and the Local Church. Corrie found it very useful, as the Philippines face about 6 typhoons every year.
If you can, please donate to help us support those in emergency.