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Haiti 2 years on

Haiti 2 years on – 9 Jan 2012

Catherine Carey, a nurse in Dublin, went to Haiti for 12 days with Tearfund’s first-ever medical team in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti. Here, she writes of the steps being taken by Tearfund to help people recover from the devastation of the 2010 earthquake.

In the hustle and bustle of morning rush hour in Port-au-Prince, children stream out of slums – immaculate in their school uniforms. Women in smart skirts and blouses walk by, carrying baskets of produce on their heads. Surfaceless roads, still featuring piles of earthquake-damage rubble at the side of them, are jammed with four-wheel drives, cars and motorbikes.

Amid the chaos, it’s difficult to get to our destination – a church building where we’ll hold our baby clinic. Tomorrow, we’ll take to the roads again, and by the end of the week, we’ll have completed an exhausting circuit of open spaces, church buildings and temporary camps, where people still live in tents, almost two years since the 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit the Caribbean country.

At each temporary camp, we’ll begin with the community volunteer making a megaphone announcement to alert people to the fact that the clinic is about to begin. We’ll then offer free antenatal and postnatal advice to mothers, and weigh babies and provide vaccinations to the infants. In the open areas, we’ll hang the weighing scales from the branches of trees!

The daily grind

Life in Haiti is far from easy. It was the poorest country in the western hemisphere, before the earthquake struck. In one of the tented camps, where hundreds of people live under tarpaulin, the Haitians proudly show off their primary school that they’re running in abandoned buses that act as classrooms. There are few books; the teachers are volunteers. But, despite all this, children are learning to read and write.

For those fortunate enough to have a job, work usually starts at 7am and runs to 7pm, six days a week. And the typical wage packet for these long hours is just $5 per day – $30 for the whole week.

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Building micro-businesses

As a member of the 11-strong medical team from Tearfund, I spent the time attached to Kings Hospital, supported by Tearfund partner World Relief. World Relief have used post-earthquake funding from Tearfund to support a number of people with start-up business loans. Among those to benefit are community volunteers Kathleen and Antoinette, who I had the privilege of meeting one day. Kathleen has used her $200 grant to produce peanut butter from peanuts and this helps her support her children and younger siblings. Meanwhile, Antoinette sells charcoal for fuel. Kathleen and Antoinette lost so much in the earthquake, yet they getting on with their lives and volunteering to work in their community by helping at the clinics and providing health education classes.

Isolated but not alone

On one of the last days before I came home, I left my usual nursing routine in Port-au-Prince and made the three-hour, 25km journey along a windy highway to the highland village of Leogane, where the epicentre of the earthquake was. From there, I made a 45-minutes journey in a jeep, followed by a hike through a riverbed and up a dirt track, to reach a stream that is being diverted by Tearfund to provide clean water for the village.

I met some local people who were provided with new homes, and I saw a transitional school that has been built by Tearfund. Because of the village’s isolated position, Tearfund has been the only organisation to work there. All the building supplies have been carried by hand, up the mountain, by the local people.

Together

Priscilla is a mother whose home was destroyed in the earthquake. With immense pride, she showed me round the two-room shelter that had been built for her family by Tearfund. One of the most moving moments of my trip was when I held hands with Priscilla and we prayed together – two mothers from different countries sharing in God’s love.

What’s Lent all about? – 2 Jan 2012

‘I’d almost forgotten about Lent but recently I’ve rediscovered what it really means.’ writes Cliona Murphy of Tearfund.

Giving up chocolate, Trocaire boxes and pancakes were all part of my childhood. I grew up in a Catholic family but drifted away from my faith in my teens. Later I discovered my faith in a fresh way and began attending a different church. But the church didn’t emphasise Lent and as a result I forgot about it.

However in recent times, I have started to appreciate afresh that the season of Lent is important to our faith. As Christians we walk in the victorious life that Christ has won for us, yet we also experience times of defeat and hopelessness. Like the apostle Paul who was beaten and imprisoned for his faith, or Daniel in the lion’s den. But that’s part of the journey too. It is only through these situations that our faith is tested and we appreciate afresh the victory and hope that comes from Jesus.

The seasons in the Christian calendar like Lent, Christmas or Easter were established by the early Christians to remember Biblical events. For example most Christian denominations recognise the significant of Easter and the fact that we can celebrate the risen Christ. But Lent, offers us an opportunity to remember the season Jesus spent in the wilderness before He entered his ministry.

Many people that Tearfund works with around the world are in those hopeless and defeated places, situations where uncertainty abounds. This Lent we are asking supporters to stand along those that are suffering through-out the developing world, and to make the sacrificial step of praying. I believe prayer is a sacrificial action, as we lay aside our own needs and intercede on behalf of those that need desperately our prayers.

Join Christians across Ireland praying and download prayer resources here

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Typhoon disaster strikes Philippines

Typhoon disaster strikes Philippines – 19 Dec 2011

17 December 2011

More than 400 people have been killed after a typhoon struck the southern Philippines.

Hours of continuous rain unleashed flooding which has left tens of thousands of people homeless on the island of Mindanao, with the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan particularly badly affected.
Hundreds of people are missing following the storm, which struck on Friday night, with many of those unaccounted for being swept into the sea. A military spokesman said some villages had been entirely destroyed by the fast rising flood waters.

Tearfund has responded to many similar emergencies over the years, and we know that these next few days, when people are searching for loved ones and trying to retrieve valuable items, are extremely distressing for everyone in the community affected by floods.

Let’s pray for people who are grieving the loss of family and friends and for those who are living with the terrifying uncertainty of wondering whether their family members are still alive.

Pray for those who have lost their homes and their livelihoods because of the floods; that they will find the help they need to rebuild their lives.
We know that it’s going to be a long time before people in these communities feel that they have rebuilt their lives. Pray that they have the equipment and the help they need to ‘build back better’, to make sure that any future floods have less devastating impact.

There are many islands and countries around the world who are more prone to natural disasters than previously, because climates are changing. Pray that world leaders will reach an agreement to provide money to help vulnerable countries to prevent, prepare and respond to changing climates and natural disasters.

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Stories Of Your Living Gifts At Work.

Stories Of Your Living Gifts At Work. – 29 Nov 2011

For example, the gift of two pigs and five chickens has a dramatic impact on the life of a family in Cambodia.
Bred for food and income they are both an immediate and longer term solution to breaking the poverty cycle and protecting vulnerable rural families whose crops are subject to seasonal and climatic changes.

To buy your Living gifts go to;
Living Gifts

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Increasing desperation in East Africa

Increasing desperation in East Africa – 6 Oct 2011

‘This is the worst crisis we’ve ever experienced. We’ve gone from a reasonably successful life to utter devastation.’

The words of Salina Mamoru convey something of the detrimental impact of the drought affecting more than 13 million people in East Africa but her appearance and living conditions also speak volumes. The 37-year-old is staying in the Katilu displacement camp in Turkana, northern Kenya, a dry, sandy and dusty place that has no home comforts.

Yet people like Salina come here in hope they will find food and water, two things in incredibly short supply in northern Kenya, as well as Somalia and southern Ethiopia after months without rain.

For Salina and her neighbours, accommodation at the camp consists of huts made of mud and sticks, with a few residents having sheets of plastic to bolster their flimsy rooves.

Salina has six children to look after and all her money has gone on buying food and medicines to keep them alive. Her husband can’t find work in this parched landscape and there’s no help forthcoming from the government or anyone else.

Salina, who is thin and tired, prays for three things, that her sick children will get better, her husband will find work and there’ll be rain soon.

28-day walk

It’s a prayer echoed by mother-of-four Maka who walked 28 days through the bush between Somalia and Kenya. It was a sapping and heartbreaking journey, with Maka seeing people die along the way due to lack of food and water.

‘People would say “I can’t walk anymore” then sit down under a tree and die,’ she recalls. ‘We don’t have enough food and water. I don’t know what to do with my sick child.’

Tearfund partner, Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC), is responding in northern Kenya, providing water and repairing broken boreholes to get supplies back on line. Fellow partner, Christian Community Services of Mount Kenya East (CCSMKE), is also helping by getting water to needy families through organising a shuttle of tankers to the area.

Across East Africa, seven Tearfund partners are tackling hunger caused mainly by drought and high food prices in the hardest-hit regions of Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia. Life-saving services are being provided to 100,000 refugees and displaced people through distributing food and water and providing cash-for-work, shelter materials and essential non-food items.

Tearfund is also involved in long term work to increase the resilience of communities by improving farming methods and the way people manage water.

However the forecasts are for the crisis to worsen over the coming months, with humanitarian help being needed well into 2012.

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Aid teams help Himalayan quake survivors

Aid teams help Himalayan quake survivors – 28 Sep 2011

Survivors of an earthquake which has rocked the Himalayan region are being helped by Tearfund partners.

The 6.9 magnitude quake struck on 18 September, affecting parts of India, Nepal and Tibet, killing at least 130 people. The epicentre was in the Indian state of Sikkim, where despite rescue efforts being hampered by heavy rainfall and landslides blocking roads, Tearfund partner teams were on the scene within 48 hours.

Thousands of people have been left injured and at least 15,000 people are homeless due to the collapse of buildings. Getting food, warm clothes, blankets and shelter to survivors is now the priority, particularly as many villages in Sikkim are rural, remote and difficult to get to.

Long treks

Tearfund has released emergency funds and four partners in India, Discipleship Centre, EFICOR, Emmanuel Hospital Association and NEICORD, are launching a coordinated aid effort to help the worst affected families.

A Tearfund spokesman in India said, ‘As roads are opening and media reports are coming through, we are seeing that damage to property and the number of casualties is quite high. The immediate need is to provide temporary shelter. Also there is an acute need for food supplies.’

In the district of Mangan, partner relief teams have trekked more than 20 miles across hilly terrain to reach communities that are inaccessible by road.

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