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Fresh fears after Zimbabwe violence – 23 Feb 2011
Fear of politically-motivated violence is rising in the run-up to elections expected later this year in Zimbabwe, according to Tearfund.
Since February 2009, Zimbabwe has been ruled by a government of national unity led by President Robert Mugabe, of ZANU PF, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and Professor Arthur Mutambara of the other MDC faction. This has been the first time in three decades that President Mugabe has shared power and since then the country’s tottering economy has relatively stabilised.
But since the start of 2011 concerns have been growing that political stability is being undermined by orchestrated pro-ZANU violence which aims to disrupt the opposition when an election is called.
Tearfund is calling for action to address the violence and for the involvement of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Earlier this month, Tearfund partner, the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance, was told of homes being destroyed in the Harare suburb of Mbare after residents perceived as opposition activists were forced out. Some 150 people, many of them women and children, sought refuge at a church in a nearby township.
A local church leader said, ‘People are gripped by fear and they have lost all confidence in the police. They can’t go to report this to the police when they know that nothing will be done to the perpetrators, so they have come to the church for refuge.’
There have also been running battles in the area between youth supporters of the ZANU PF and the MDC and this has also spilled into the city’s central business district where property has been destroyed and looted.
In the past week, 45 people were arrested in Harare at a discussion meeting organised under the auspices of the International Socialist Organisation, accused of inciting an Egypt-style revolt. Similar incidents have been reported in Zimbabwe’s second biggest city, Bulawayo and in Kadoma, amid growing fears that President Mugabe intends to abandon the constitutional reform process.
Dadirai Chikwengo, Tearfund’s Programme Manager for Zimbabwe, said, ‘The church is concerned about the rate at which political unrest is unfolding in the country and how the violence is fast evolving into political chaos.We call on the government of national unity and SADC to provide a permanent solution to the issue of politically-motivated violence, especially in view of the fact that SADC is facilitating a road map for elections.’
Pakistan Floods - 6 month update – 21 Feb 2011
It’s six months since Pakistan endured the worst flooding in living memory, affecting some 20 million people and damaging or destroying an estimated 1.7 million homes. Since then Tearfund has been helping tens of thousands of people and here we report on our recovery efforts. The flood waters may have long subsided in Pakistan but the basic needs created by last summer’s disaster still linger.
View this short film by our local partner to see how they are responding (Nov 2010).
On just one day last month in southern Sindh, 500 people queued up in the village of Sikander to receive a package from Tearfund containing various food items and warm blankets. Many of those in the orderly queue had clubbed together to travel to the distribution point, illustrating that six months on the needs of flood survivors remain pressing. Tearfund has been responding alongside four partners, SSEWA-Pak, the Diocese of Hyderabad, the Adult Basic Education Society and Partner Aid International.
Tearfund has supplied some 73,000 people with food since last summer. Crockery, mosquito nets, plastic sheeting for shelter, health and hygiene kits have been distributed too. Toilets and educational transitional centres have also been established, while more than 7,000 people have received help to restart their farming livelihoods.
Over the next 18 months, we’ll also be providing long term support to rebuild homes, livelihoods, health care, water and sanitation, as well as awareness-raising activities to reduce the impact of any future disasters.
Plans for the future
Ashraf Mall, Tearfund’s Country Representative for Pakistan, said, ‘We will be working with communities, rebuilding houses that are more resilient to future floods and helping to re-establish small businesses. This is the root of recovery and it is giving hope to many families.’
Working through local partners, Tearfund will be continuing with food-related projects until March as the need remains immense. The Sindh provincial government estimates that about 90,000 children aged 6 to 59 months are malnourished.
Children’s health clubs in Haiti – 11 Jan 2011
Helping children cope with the aftermath of the disaster has been an important part of Tearfund’s work.
More than 70 children’s clubs are educating them about good hygiene, a vital consideration in a post-quake environment where water and sanitation infrastructure is badly damaged and the risk of disease is high, as the recent cholera outbreak has shown.
The clubs are teaching children about healthy everyday practices, such as hand washing, and offer a safe but fun environment for learning. They also go some way to helping youngsters find a sense of normality amid the chaos of the earthquake aftermath, as many schools were not spared the devastating impact of the disaster.
Sylvia Fleurant, 34, says her five-year-old son Anderson has benefited hugely from the children’s club in their area: ‘It’s changed him,’ she says. _‘Before I couldn’t do things with him but now he teaches us what to do. I would like to thank Tearfund and their supporters because I know a lot of places haven’t received any help.
Olive Louise-Jean, who runs the club that Anderson attends, said, ‘Awareness is the best thing about this programme because it has changed this community. It’s helping to reduce the cases of cholera.’
Teacher Jean Francoise says the clubs are helping to revive the lives of children: ‘For so many there has been only sadness and we want to bring joy to their lives while teaching them what they need to know.’
‘When I started working with Tearfund I managed their health programme in Darfur, Sudan. Our children’s health clubs halved the malaria and diarrhoea rates and had a dramatic impact on children’s psychological health.’ says Reuben Coulter, Chief Executive of Tearfund Ireland, ‘Helping children cope with disaster and prepare for the future is vital.’
Haiti: One Year On – 3 Jan 2011
It’s one year since a massive earthquake devastated the Caribbean island of Haiti on 12 January, 2010. Tearfund’s partners and Disaster Management Team continue to work tirelessly to bring hope and rebuild lives.
Thanks to the incredible generosity of supporters across Ireland more than €160,000 was raised. With these funds, Tearfund provided thousands of emergency kits to families with plastic tarpaulin for shelter, plus food, cooking utensils and hygiene kits. And we’ve put in place long-term programmes to help people rebuild their lives – working alongside local churches and partner organisations to rebuild schools and homes, provide small grants for businesses to be re-established, and provide trauma counselling and spiritual support to people at a very low ebb.
To mark the one-year anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti we have created a short film and prayers to use in church service or community group.
Download resources here Haiti Anniversary Powerpoint
Murielle is still grieving. She lost her husband in the earthquake. Tearfund partner Aclam provided emergency shelter and food to Murielle, and they also gave her a €80 grant so she could set up a small business. She sells cosmetics and other small household items in the front porch of her home. The profit she makes means she can still send her children to school. But she is finding a way through her pain – and that is because Tearfund is there for her. She has a lifeline in the form of Aclam’s church volunteer François – who drops in on her at least twice a week, to chat with her, and encourage her in her faith.
In addition to counselling and business grants and all the other ways in which Tearfund’s five partner organisations are reaching out to families, Tearfund has sent in a relief team of trained and experienced specialists. An Irish team will be visiting Haiti in November 2011 to provide training to local health professionals. If you are a health professional and are interested in joining us then learn more here.
Tearfund are also building 500 new homes across a hillside area that suffered 90% destruction in the earthquake. The new homes have strong foundations, and are built to withstand future disasters such as another earthquake or a hurricane. So this is part of Tearfund’s policy to protect disaster-prone areas by building back better.
Christmas Appeal - Give Hope – 10 Dec 2010
Red ants and snails. When hunger gripped Mol and Tol Tuch and their children in Cambodia, these were the options left available to them. In their village, that we visited last year, one in five children were dying from malnutrition.
‘I was shocked when I saw Mol and Tol’s children eat,’ says Ralph, who recently visited Cambodia. ‘It was as if they hadn’t seen food for a long time and would not see it again. There was something disturbingly “urgent” about the way they chewed and swallowed – as if their lives depended on it.’
A small amount of money can make such a huge difference in a country like Cambodia.
A gift of just €34 can provide a family with two pigs and five chickens, providing food and income for the future.
Mol and Tol have a field. They depend on this for survival. But the rice harvest enables them to grow enough food to feed themselves and their four children for just six months of the year. Then the food runs out.
Tearfund’s partner, the Wholistic Development Organisation (WDO), has begun working in villages across the region to tackle the problem of chronic hunger. Because of their support, things have changed in Mol’s village. ‘They (WDO) came here and helped us. This village was one of the poorest in the area. The work has changed tremendously the way people live.’
Tearfund has enabled its partner, WDO, to loan chickens and pigs to needy families. Mol and Tol are already breeding theirs. They will eventually give back the adult animals, keep the offspring and start a business selling chickens and pigs. Alongside this, WDO has provided crop seedlings – and trained families like Mol and Tol’s to use their land in the dry season, growing watermelons and vegetables.
‘They have helped our family completely’ Mol smiles broadly. ‘This is the outcome,’ he says, pointing to his field full of crops – a contradiction in a country where fields normally lie bare in the dry season. ‘You have helped us to thing of the future. You have given us hope,’ he says.
Could you give just €34 this Christmas? Donate here
Saving for the future
To cope with the uncertainty of the harvest a ‘rice bank’ has also been built. It is a secure shed on stilts used to store rice. In Mol’s village fifty families have already joined the scheme. The church runs the initiative – they were the only ones the villagers trusted to manage it.
‘I took my 20kg of rice to the rice bank’ explains Mol. ‘Then when I was lacking food, the rice bank loaned me 100kg. It really helped us. It is much cheaper than most other ways of getting rice.’
Because of the work of Tearfund’s partner WDO, the Tuch family now always have two meals a day. During the next five years, Tearfund’s partner WDO is on track to reach and mobilise every church in Cambodia to support its community and ensure people have enough to eat.
How your support can transform a community
- €124 can provide 30 families with seeds so they can grow up to eight different crops, which means they don’t just rely on one food group
- €61 can provide agricultural training for eight church volunteers, helping nearly 200 orphaned children to farm their own food
- €34 can provide a family like Mol’s with two pigs and five chickens, providing food and income for the future
World AIDS Day: Church in China – 1 Dec 2010
World AIDS Day: December 1st
More than two million souls live in the Chinese city of Baoshan which lies in the province of Yunnan near to the border with Myanmar (Burma). This proximity inevitably brings a movement of people between the two countries. The nearness of the infamous Golden Triangle also means a flourishing drugs trade.
Because drugs can be bought easily and cheaply, there’s a human cost in terms of addicts and the transmission of HIV. Latest statistics show there are more than 2,000 people living with HIV in Baoshan.
Through the work of Tearfund partner Cedar Fund, the local church is addressing these issues. A network of churches is working with local government health and social services to transform the lives of people affected by HIV.
Cedar Fund is training pastors in HIV prevention and drug awareness, while also helping them to understand that the church has a role to meet the physical needs of people as well as spiritual ones.
Pastor Xu Chenyun took part in our partner’s training. He said, ‘I started to see the role of the church and that we shouldn’t only focus on what’s happening inside the church itself.
‘Instead we should have knowledge of what’s happening in society and meet the needs with the power of our Lord.’
Pastor Xu has shared his learning, and with church colleagues has built a team to work on HIV prevention and raising awareness. Visiting a drug rehab centre inspired him to get involved in setting one up himself and he now divides his time between it and the church. He’s one of a new generation of church leaders being equipped to meet the pressing social needs of the urban poor and to be a tangible sign of hope where all too often there is none.
- Give thanks for the work of the local church in Yunnan as it meets the needs of people living with HIV and drug addicts.
- Pray that more of the city’s 40 churches develop a wider community awareness and become involved in ministering to the physical and spiritual needs of the people around them.
- Pray for those affected by drug usage and that greater awareness leads to fewer lives lost to addiction.