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On October 4th Hurricane Matthew entered Haiti from the south-western coast, 230km southeast of the capital Port-au-Prince with violent winds near 220 km/h causing devastating impact, flash floods and mud slides. While all of Haiti’s 10 million people were affected by this storm, some 3-5 million are suffering while the most vulnerable are the 60,000 still living in camps set up for those displaced by the 2010 earthquake. 1,500 churches and schools opened their doors to provide shelter in preparation for the hurricane. Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. Before the earthquake in 2010, 77 per cent of the population were living in poverty.
Currently the death toll is estimated at 900 lives and there are fears of a cholera epidemic.
In the image above there is a cross still standing in the centre and it reminds us of what we do at Tearfund Ireland - bring good news to the poor, material help and spiritual hope in some of the world’s most challenging situations. While this week Haiti is predominately on our minds and the suffering caused by the hurricane, we are reminded that it is one of many challenging situations. The list is long and we are acutely aware of the great need of refugees spilling into countries surrounding Syria and the drought impacting parts of Ethiopia putting millions of people at risk of severe malnutrition and famine
We are receiving regular updates on the situation. In the meantime Tearfund Ireland and our Integral* partners are providing food and essential items on the ground in Haiti. The priority is to identify, together with community leaders, the most vulnerable households affected by this hurricane and to respond appropriately.
We would ask that you please pray for the people of Haiti and their needs right now which are:
Safe access to food and fresh water with flooding and food stocks destroyed.
Assistance with hygiene and sanitation, especially while there is serious risk of a cholera outbreak.
Shelter, with thousands of homes either destroyed or seriously damaged.
Agriculture and livestock. Crops have been destroyed and many cattle have been washed away.
Click here to download a prayer resource for your church, prayer group or Bible study.
If you would like to help Tearfund Ireland respond to challenging situations like Hurricane Matthew in Haiti the Refugee Crisis in the Middle East, and food crisis in Ethiopia, please consider giving a gift to our ongoing work.
*Integral Alliance are a global network of 23 Christian relief and development agencies from around the world, working together in 85 counties with 600 local partners
Ethiopia and surrounding countries face a crisis considered the worst the region has known since the 1980’s. It is estimated that 10.2 million people are in need of food assistance and 2 million children and mothers are suffering from severe malnutrition
Mary Robinson, UN Special Envoy for Climate Change is visiting the region this week:
“Despite the efforts of the Government of Ethiopia and humanitarian partners, the impacts of climate change have weakened people’s ability to cope”
Tearfund Ireland is determined to strengthen Ethiopian communities so they are more resilient in the face of climate change and disasters such as drought. Key to our strategy is self-help groups, through which vulnerable people support each other financially and with mutual encouragement. Irish Aid is supporting Tearfund Ireland’s work in Wolaita and Sidama in the south-west of Ethiopia, areas which are also priority hotspots in this current crisis.
Members of existing groups have been more resilient to drought than some of their neighbours – but the size of the emergency means that even they are vulnerable to losing hard-earned resources.
While the media has been occupied with Brexit, an emergency of this magnitude affecting over 10 million people is forgotten. Let us not forget those who are in danger of losing their livelihoods, health and lives.
Please give what you can to our emergency fund today and help countries like Ethiopia stand firm in the face of disaster.
A gift of €35 will help provide a self help group facilitator in a rural area.
Amira is a pretty normal 16 year-old. She’s got the usual interests: pop music, boys and her mobile phone.
But, along with 30 million other children and young people around the world she’s a refugee. Amira lives in a camp with her family after fleeing the civil war in Syria. This is her story, in her own words.
One night the bombs were coming closer and closer. We were all sitting together downstairs because we couldn’t sleep. As houses were being destroyed one by one in our village, neighbours were running from one house to the next. So some neighbours were gathered in our house too.
A rocket landed on the roof of our house, but no one was injured. We ran in fear to another house. We were so terrified we didn’t even think about taking anything with us. Soon after, our house was totally destroyed. We left with no IDs, nothing.
Our dad took us out of the country through a smuggler. We escaped that night in a rented car. Whenever we passed a checkpoint, we hid under the seats of the car and the driver covered us up.
We crossed the border illegally, through the mountains. We got out near the border and had to walk across the mountain. When we heard a plane, we started running. We were very scared.
THE CAMP: LIFE ON HOLD
When we arrived at the refugee camp, there were already many tents. We bought some materials to make a tent – some wood and plastic sheeting. The men built it. Our tent has two rooms and a kitchen area. There are 13 of us living here.
The neighbours helped us by giving us things like bottled water, mattresses, blankets, cups and plates. We could pick up and leave at any time, as we don’t have anything of value here. My most treasured things are my necklaces. I wear them all at the same time, because they have many memories. One was given to me by a boyfriend, but I don’t want my mother to know about that!
We have so many needs that you can’t count them. At home things were cheap. Everything is expensive here. We even have to pay for water. In winter there was snow halfway up the sides of our tent and we couldn’t even see out of it. At home we had our own bedrooms, but here we all sleep together in the tent on the ground.
We can’t go to school here, and there are no jobs available because too many people are looking for work. We don’t even have any books. So we just help out with cooking and cleaning, or watch TV all day. We are really bored.
To pass the time we do each other’s hair and draw pictures of each other, or listen to popular songs on the TV. We also make our own clothes.
We are afraid because the government doesn’t know we are here. If they find out, we could be sent back to Syria. But the UN protects us.
Some of the people who are not registered go into the mountains and hide whenever the officials come to count people in the camp. Then they come back to the camp afterwards.
We’ve been here for three years now. We miss everything about home. We would love to go back.
We hear from home mostly via Whatsapp and sometimes TV. Only a few old people are still living in our village. There are a few rooms still standing in the destroyed houses, and they live in those.
We have to pay for water to be brought in by truck, but it’s very dirty. But now we have a water filter in our tent. We now have a latrine that was installed by an NGO. We receive food distributions, so we have enough food. We make large amounts of simple meals that we can share out easily for all the children, like rice, beans and peas. There are shops, hairdressers and tailors here.
It helps to know that we are not alone, as there are many others here in the same situation as us.
We’ve been here for three years now. We miss everything about home. We would love to go back.
Tearfund is providing food, stoves and hygiene goods for young people like Amira. Tearfund are also providing counselling for parents to learn ways of coping with the trauma they have experienced and how to help their children feel safe and secure.
Please pray for Amira, her family and the 50 million other people like her who find themselves as refugees, fleeing their homes and homelands in search of safety and a better future.
Tearfund’s self-help group programme in Ethiopia has grown dramatically since the first group was set up in 2002. Today there are estimated to be more than 12,000 such groups, impacting the lives of more than 1 million people.
Not so very long ago, Buzunesh Gebru could not imagine her world would ever change. Life revolved around raising her children and doing the household chores. Her husband’s salary was not enough to sustain the family and Buzunesh felt trapped. ‘We didn’t save, we spent unwisely and were trapped in abject poverty,’_she says. _‘I never thought I could be capable of doing anything.’ But then Buzunesh, who lives in Hawassa in southern Ethiopia, was invited to join a local self-help group called Alama Yalew (‘We have vision’).
From that point on, her outlook changed dramatically. After saving with the group for a while, she was able to take out a loan and buy cattle to breed, with support and advice from her fellow group members and the group’s facilitator. ‘I found people who respect my ideas and value my feelings,’ says Buzunesh. ‘I realised the hidden potential deep inside of me. I started to feel like someone important. ‘[Now] we are sending our children to school; we feed them three meals a day; we buy them clothes twice a year. This is all because I work and I know how to manage my own resources.’
Strength in numbers
Buzunesh’s success story has been replicated thousands of times since the first self-help group supported by Tearfund was set up in Nazareth, 55 miles east of Addis Ababa, in 2002. In fact, there are thought now to be about 12,000 such groups, impacting the lives of more than 1 million people. Buzunesh’s own group, Alama Yalew, was set up in 2009. Though most of its 18 members are female, two members are men. Together, they represent 98 household members, including 62 children. Group members started by saving 3p each a week but that amount has now risen to 7p a week.
Gradually, they’ve been able to start making low-interest loans to group members, ranging from £3 to £23. These loans have enabled members to start businesses, send their children to school, cover medical expenses, and buy livestock and fertiliser for farming. The facilitator helps build their capacity by providing training in savings and credit management. There’s also advice available on issues such as family planning. Alama Yalew group members say they now plan to buy a grinding mill, open a grain store, sell flour and spices, and open an adult education centre.
Late in 2014, Irish Aid announced €212,000 in funding to Tearfund Ireland for the self-help group programme in Wolaita and Sidama, Ethiopia, over a two-year period . This is fantastic news – but the need is still huge. With your help, we can help the self-help group movement to grow even further and touch more lives. More groups means more people working together to help feed their families, send their children to school and bring real and lasting change to their communities.
It’s been described as the worst crisis most people have never heard of. Bitter conflict has left thousands dead and driven nearly half a million people from their homes in the Central African Republic (CAR), the majority to poorly equipped camps.
More than half of the country’s 4.6 million population are in urgent need of food, water, sanitation and healthcare.
Tearfund Ireland supported by Irish Aid and working with 12 local churches and through our implementing church partners is seeking to improve food security by providing seeds for fast growing crops, distributing tools and providing training on farming techniques and soil conservation. Church based volunteers will also help facilitate practical cooking demonstrations and teaching nutritionally diverse recipes.
This programme will run until the end of June and cover the staple crop planting season which starts in April. Please pray for the people for the Central African Republic that this season’s planting will be a successful one and many will experience improved access to food and greater food security.
Civil unrest in South Sudan over the last 15 months has led to 1.5 million people fleeing their homes and family upon family going without food, having been unable to plant crops.
In January this year, Tearfund with support from Irish Aid, started a programme in Northern Bahr el Ghazal as an emergency food response to critical malnutrition. 370 households will benefit from the intervention which identifies households that are vulnerable to food insecurity and malnutrition. Households which have a child who has been registered as suffering from chronic malnutrition will receive additional food sources to ensure that the family has adequate food available to feed all members of the household, as well as the child suffering from malnutrition. This is to ensure that specific food supplements for the severely malnourished child are not shared with the other siblings.
Tearfund’s local partner is The Episcopal Church of South Sudan, who will also receive training during the programme on how to engage the community to address their needs using their own resources to contribute to long term sustainability.
Please pray for the fragile signs of peace in South Sudan. An agreement has been signed between the President and the rebel commander, in which warring parties agree to cement a peace agreement by 5 March. The hope is that this will bring 15 months of conflict to an end. According to current plans, the President will remain in post and a Vice President will be elected from the rebel side. Several previous peace deals and ceasefires in South Sudan have been broken. Cry out to God in prayer that this deal will hold, and that the people of South Sudan will very soon be able to live in peace and safety.
Pray for conflicting parties, diplomats and peacemakers as they work towards a power-sharing agreement. Pray for openness, commitment and cooperation.
Above picture: Apada transition camp on the outskirts of Aweil town. Southern Sudan. Santino Macham along with his extended family move from the shelter where they have been sleeping to another temporary home. They put all of their belongings onto a horse and cart.