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News : International

Update:South Sudan

Update:South Sudan – 21 Jul 2014

Tearfund reports an increase of more than 300 percent in the number of malnourished children and mothers needing food from its six feeding centres in remote communities in Jonglei, one of the country’s worst affected states, compared to this time last year.(1)

People have fled from their villages and have not been able to plant their crops as usual due to the fighting. The harvests in August and November will not provide the usual yields.

The UN estimates that 4 million people are desperately short of food in South Sudan, out of a population of 10.8 million, a figure which could increase to over 7 million by August. An extra one billion dollars is needed to save lives, prevent famine, and stop a generation of children being wiped out by hunger, according to the UN.(2)

Tearfund’s Country Director states “Famine looms in parts of the country, as the conflict rages on and at a time when rains render some areas virtually inaccessible as roads become rivers of mud. The World Food Programme has estimated that more than 50,000 children will die this year due to hunger (3) unless there is an immediate and widespread response.”

Many of the people arriving for the first time at Tearfund’s feeding centres have fled the fighting in Bor and Malakal, flashpoints in the six-month long conflict. Last week, a mother and her five young children arrived at Tearfund’s feeding centre in Motot, having walked more than 100km (60 miles) to escape fierce fighting in Malakal.

Despite last month’s agreement (10th June) to bring South Sudan’s war to an end and to form a unity government within 60 days, fighting continues between the Government and rebel forces. The conflict has brought an estimated 20,000 new people to Uror County, Jonglei state, placing unprecedented strain on local families’ dwindling food reserves.

Please give what you can and join the Irish Church response to the crisis in Sudan.


1) New patient admissions for April 2013 were 216, compared to 710 in April 2014, an increase in over 300%, at feeding centres in Motot, Pieri, Pulchol and Pathai, all in Uror county.
2) UN 2014 South Sudan Crisis Response Plan, 14 June 2014
3) UN 2014 South Sudan Crisis Response Plan, 14 June 2014

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South Sudan Crisis Appeal

South Sudan Crisis Appeal – 27 Jun 2014

Fighting erupted in South Sudan at the end of 2013, between forces loyal to President Salva Kirr, who belongs to the Dinka ethnic group and former Deputy President Riek Machar who belongs to the Lou Nuer. So far the conflict has led to 1.5 million people fleeing their homes, of which 386,000 have left the country for neighbouring nations. Although a ceasefire was signed last month, insecurity has disrupted livelihoods and many face hunger.

Tearfund is responding in South Sudan and is providing emergency latrines and sanitation facilities as well as fixing boreholes and giving hygiene and sanitation awareness training. Tearfund are also running six feeding centres – addressing the urgent needs of malnourished mothers, pregnant women and children under five.

Tearfund is also working with local churches responding to the crisis such as Don Bosco church near the capital Juba. The church is accommodating 100 homeless families on its land who have fled their homes in fear of escalating ethnic violence.

We need your help Our emergency fund is exhausted and without your financial support we will not be able to provide an Irish church response to the imminent crisis in South Sudan.

€18.00 provides essential items to help a family survive in the early days of a crisis

Please give what you can and join the Irish Church response to the crisis in Sudan.

Help us save lives today.

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Tearfund welcomes visitors from Malawi

Tearfund welcomes visitors from Malawi – 26 Jun 2014

Mphatso is the Director of LISAP (Livingstonia Synod AIDS Project) and Aaron works as a Project Officer for Tearfund Malawi. Both Mphatso and Aaron work tirelessly to combat the spread of HIV and AIDS in Malawi. Malawi is a country stricken by HIV, 11% of the population are HIV positive, which is roughly 1.1 million people. This is one of the highest in the world. 1.1 million is a huge number and it is difficult to grasp but as Mphatso explained; to her, “it is real people, suffering, struggling, wanting to live”. Mphatso and Aaron work side by side with people living with HIV, young people, children, poor people, whoever is in need of support.

The main thrust of Mphatso and Aaron’s work is the IMPACT project; this programme aims to reduce the transmission of HIV from HIV positive mothers to their unborn babies. Mphatso says that “we have to start with the children in order to have a nation free from HIV and that is Mphatso’s ultimate aim, for her country to be free from a disease that has already taken so many.

The IMPACT project has been brought about by communities and churches in Malawi and is supported by communities and churches here in Ireland. It is using innovative ways to support people living with HIV as well as preventing further transmission. Read more on this project

LISAP also support vulnerable youths through a vocational skills training school. In Malawi especially in the rural areas, half of the young people have no education. As a result of poverty they cannot afford school fees, Mphatso explained that as young people have no education and no employment they tend to marry early, they then have children. This Mphatso explains, adds to the cycle of poverty as these children will also have no money to go to school and when they are older will find themselves in the same situation and poverty trap as their parents. Many of them will also be left orphaned by AIDS long before that. Many young people are also lured into prostitution in order to earn money to support their families.

Mphatso explained that churches and communities want to help their young people; they want to break this cycle of poverty. As a result LISAP’s vocational skills training school has been replicated in different churches across Malawi so more young people can be offered a way out, a hope for a brighter future, a future free from HIV and the viscous cycle of poverty.

Mphatso and Aaron were just wonderful people to be around, so inspiring and full of energy. Even when we drove them to Limerick and back again in a day and they did not get to their beds until the early hours of the morning, they did not stop giving and sharing their hope and faith to all those around them.

Mphatso and Aaron are an amazing example of people who have dedicated their lives to transforming the lives of others. Mphatso herself has adopted several children who lost their parents to AIDS and she reminds us that we give because Christ gave first and implores all of us;

‘Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.’ Galations 6:9

Building without walls

Building without walls – 7 May 2014

Pastor Ate Ching’s church was at the centre of relief efforts in Eastern Samar when Typhoon Haiyan tore through her community – one of the poorest in the Philippines. Supported by Tearfund, her congregation took charge of distributing food, tarpaulins, sheets, pans and mosquito nets and volunteers were trained to provide activities and support for children.

The last few months have taken their toll on Pastor Ate Ching (pictured above). She worked hard and wanted to be strong for her church. ‘I could not cry, that would only make people more anxious.’ She’s been ill recently and realises she too is processing trauma.

But she is determined to continue her ministry as before. As with her old church, the new building will not have walls. She wants passers-by to be able to see what’s going on, hear the worship and engage. She wants God to be seen and heard – not just in the community, but on a Sunday too.

CEO’s blog from Cambodia

CEO’s blog from Cambodia – 27 Feb 2014

Day 1

‘My first day and first time in Cambodia is one I cannot ever forget. Leaving Phnom Penh behind, I headed out to three rural villages to meet some of the communities we support who are being transformed day by day. On each face of these beautiful friendly people, who live with so little and have so many challenges, one sees great hope. It resonates from deep within and brings light to their eyes. These are people who have embraced the Umoja programme run by Tearfund. A programme that supports them to pull together as a community to lift themselves out of poverty. To them this is a new approach to eradicating poverty. Tearfund does not give hand-outs, we provide support and training that allows them to use their own resources, skills and abilities to lift themselves out of poverty. This is a collective response, real unity in actin that is resulting in true transformation that will last.

I cannot wait for day two of this amazing trip!’

Day 2

M'lup Russey Cambodia‘I met twin girls aged seven today. Both were extremely shy, but manged to smile and enjoy some fresh mango with me as i visited them living with their emergency foster parents. The two girls’ mother has health problems and she felt they would get the right care and education at an orphanage. The children’s development, education and care is certainly not guaranteed by the orphanage, and in fact, the experience of a child in an orphanage can put them at much greater risk. Mum wants her children back and once her health improves they will be returned to her. In the meantime, their foster parents will care for them and when the time comes, the social workers will assist in reintegrating them back into life with their mother.

Please pray for the work of M’lup Russey as they bring life and hope back into the lives of highly vulnerable children and young people living in orphanages in Cambodia.’

Day 3

My third day in Cambodia was a day full of meetings with the management staff of the projects we support. I also had the opportunity to meet with country representatives of our partner organisations. While my first couple of days brought me out to the villages to meet with local people, today I had the chance to discuss the projects and explore the strategies and plans with our partners. We discussed the progress being made, some of the challenges as well as what is working well. We also discussed strengthening organisation capacity and developing the capacity of the church to reach out more to the community. At the end of the day I feel a strong sense of a united approach to our work in Cambodia. I feel encouraged and blessed by how the Lord uses His church and His people, the Body of Christ to bring His love and hope into the lives of the very poor.

Day 4

Pronje Rambo, Cambodiarice
Its time to pack up and head off to Poipet in the north of Cambodia to visit with another project, the Cambodia Hope Organisation (CHO). It takes most of the day to get there and when we do, we drop our bags to the hotel and meet with two of the CHO team, the manager of their community development programme and their business development manager. They have prepared a presentation for us and we watch a video. This gives us an overall sense of the extent of the issues of the most poor and the work of CHO in the border villages between Cambodia and Thailand. I am looking forward to learning more and going out into the field to see the work first hand and we agree to meet bright and early the next day.

Day 5

The morning is spent visiting families that CHO works with in rural areas along the border between Cambodia and Thailand. The families we visit are extremely poor. One family in particular had travelled to Poipet in search of a better life. A family in desperate poverty, that had, through the kindness of another family, built a makeshift home on the roadside. With the support of our partner CHO, this family was lifting itself out of poverty. On a small stretch of borrowed dry land, they have started to grow vegetables. They now have a much healthier diet. Previous to this they had experienced very poor health due to poor nutrition. Also, they have begun to sell some of their produce which was giving them a household income. With the support of CHO, this family has also begun to save. A considerable step forward, they now could save the equivalent of $1.25. This has been a very humbling day. To witness first hand the extreme poor living conditions of this family and at the same time the great progress they are making. They, rightly so, have a great sense of pride in having improved their situation.
PanPiep and PAn Rea, Cambodia
Please pray for the many families like this one, who live with many challenges in providing for themselves and their children, that they would continue to receive support from CHO and in particular, continue to be blessed as they seek to lift themselves out of poverty. They have such hope despite such adversity and many challenges. May God bless them.

After a long hot day, I am humbled, blessed and encouraged. Also, my respect has grown for the people of Cambodia, and for our partners who have such a challenge to reach so many in need. With the Lord’s help, they will continue to press on.

Day 6

The days starts early once again as I set off from Poipet back to Phnom Penh. With bags packed again the journey commences on a road that has more potholes then I have ever witnessed before. The driver swings the car from one side of the road to another to avoid the craters and oncoming traffic. We encounter vans packed with people, vegetables, furniture and people driving motorbikes packed high with produce.
Cambodia street
A brief stop-over at Siem Reap and I get an introduction to some of the history and culture of the people of Cambodia with a visit the temple ruins at Angkor Wat. Arriving late evening in Phnom Penh, I set about packing my bag for the trip back to Ireland while reflecting on the past few days. It seems like a lifetime since I arrived. I prepare to go home having learned so much about the lives of the people we work with and our project partners. There is great need here but also really good progress is being made.

Final Day in Cambodia

Before leaving Cambodia, I visited the Toul Sleng Museum. I had prepared myself for this visit as this museum was once a prison where out of 20,000 prisoners, only seven people survived at the cruel hands of the Pol Pot regime. It was a harrowing experience. That another human being could do what was done to another is too difficult to get my head around but it does put in context what the people of Cambodia went through in the not so distant past.

My final thoughts on leaving are that the people of Cambodia warrant our support. Life should no longer be about survival, but flourishing. As the Lord said, ‘I have that you might have life, and have it to the full’ John 10:10

Providing Lifeline for Syrian Refugees

Providing Lifeline for Syrian Refugees – 7 Jan 2014

Eight months ago, Ziyad (43) was working as a nurse in the Syrian city of Dara’a which is on the frontline of his country’s civil war.

Each day he saw injured civilians and fighters being brought to the hospital where he worked and each day he faced the challenge of treating people when there weren’t enough medical supplies to go round.

As the security position in Dara’a deteriorated and threats started to be made against him, Ziyad took his family and fled across the nearby border to Jordan.

Unlike many, they have a proper roof over their heads as they’re living in a two-room apartment but life in general, and paying the rent in particular, is a constant struggle.

A Tearfund partner is supplying Ziyad and his family with the only aid they have received – mattresses, blankets and food.

Thanks to generous support for Tearfund’s Syria appeal, Ziyad’s family has received three distributions of household items and the aid is proving invaluable when there is no other help on offer.

When asked how he deals with his family’s troubles caused by the conflict, Ziyad simply replied: ‘I have to stay strong for my family.’

But he is praying too, praying that peace will return to Syria and he is hoping that the Geneva peace talks between the two warring sides that are scheduled for January will be successful.

Tearfund is working with partners in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan bringing life-sustaining aid in the form of:

  • food
  • hygiene kits
  • blankets
  • mattresses
  • warm clothing
  • stoves
  • help to pay for accommodation
  • psycho-social support for traumatised children

The UN estimates three-quarters of Syria’s population of 22 million people will require humanitarian aid in 2014.

Syria’s civil war has claimed more than 100,000 lives, displaced 6.5 million people within the country and led to 2.2 million becoming refugees in neighbouring countries such as Lebanon and Turkey, half of them being children.

Please give to our Syria appeal.

Featured Photo: Eleanor Bentall/Tearfund, Zaatari camp, Jordan, home to approximately 124,000 Syrian refugees. Yara (4 months) with her sister and grandmother. Name changed for security reasons.

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