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A Prayer for Ireland - Hurricane Ophelia

A Prayer for Ireland - Hurricane Ophelia – 16 Oct 2017

Thank you to all our supporters for your ongoing prayer and support for the work of Tearfund Ireland and our partners. Today our thoughts turn to our own country. Join us in praying for our nation as we face the impact of Hurricane Ophelia:

Dear Lord,

We lift up the island of Ireland and all those affected by Hurricane Ophelia.

We pray for the elderly, those living alone, the homeless and all who are vulnerable today. We pray for the winds to calm, minimal damage and for the comfort of your presence.

We pray for the emergency services on the ground as they bring help and aid to those in the worst-hit areas. We ask you Lord for wisdom and strength so that churches and communities might be able to respond to this unprecedented weather event in the most effective and compassionate way possible.

We also pray for wisdom and discernment for the government and local leaders as they decide how to respond in the aftermath of Hurricane Ophelia, and start to identify the immediate and longer term needs.

Thank you Lord that it says in your Word in Hebrews 6:19, ‘We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.’

Thank you God that you are good, and we praise and bless your Holy name.

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Yemen Update, Cholera is spreading with alarming speed

Yemen Update, Cholera is spreading with alarming speed – 22 Aug 2017

The numbers of those infected by Yemen’s cholera outbreak have been revised upwards from 300,000 to 500,000 with 5,000 new cases being reported daily*. Children make up 41% of those infected. The death toll since April is estimated at 2,000.

Elsewhere, conflict continues across the Middle East and with the ‘official’ end of the Mosul offensive in Northern Iraq, the number of refugee families needing support is phenomenal. At the same time, East Africa is struggling under one of the worst food crises the world has seen.

With the huge number of people in desperate need in so many places, ongoing support is crucial. If you are not already giving on a monthly basis would you prayerfully consider this option and call us in the office on 01 878 3200 to arrange this.

If you would like to give a gift now to help end the suffering you can do this through our website by clicking here . A gift of €38 could pay for essential hygiene kits for two families, which would be invaluable to them in their day to day lives.

Thank you again for making our work possible, Your support and your kindness is greatly appreciated.

Photo: Yemen, Panos Pictures.

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Yemen, cholera outbreak: Tearfund Ireland to support the provision of life-saving medicines

Yemen, cholera outbreak: Tearfund Ireland to support the provision of life-saving medicines – 2 Aug 2017

Cholera has reignited in Yemen, spreading with unprecedented speed across 18 out of 23 governorates, killing at least 1,700 people, according to the United Nations. The spread of the disease is astonishing. On June 24th, the World Health Organisation stated that Yemen was facing the worst cholera outbreak in the world, with at least 200,000 suspected cases. At time of writing over 100,000 more cases have been reported. As a result Yemen has declared a state of emergency, requesting support from NGOs.

This is a second wave of outbreaks, the first of which emerged in September 2016 and had previously shown signs of slowing. The current rate of spread is alarming with 65% of the total deaths reported in May 2017 alone. Scientists are exploring whether the current strain of cholera is a newer and more virulent one.

The health services are struggling to meet this increasing need. The Ministry of Public Health and Population (MoPHP) in Yemen has requested support from NGO’s for the provision of essential and life-saving medicines to respond to this increasing health need.

Tearfund Ireland supported by The Church of Ireland’s Bishop’s Appeal will provide through partners, essential and life-saving medicines and medical supplies for the treatment of acute watery diarrhoea. This will enable local health centres in areas most affected by the cholera outbreak to treat children and adults. The items are urgently requested by the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MoPHP) in Yemen.

The medicines to be distributed have been cross-referenced with the World Health Organisation (WHO) standard guidelines for Cholera treatment to ensure the correct medicines are distributed.
Tearfund Ireland’s partner is working closely with Yemen’s Ministry of Public Health and Population (MoPHP), who will assist in obtaining relevant permits for the import and custom clearance process in Yemen and who, will identify which health facilities would be the most strategic places to send the supplies and medicines to. The supplies will then be distributed to these health centers. Monitoring visits will be conducted to the health facilities to ensure that the supplies are used appropriately and medicines are provided free of charge.

This project will target women, girls, boys and men in need for treatment for acute watery diarrhoea. The total number of beneficiaries will be approximately 2,700. This figure can be higher and number of beneficiaries will be estimated once the quantities of medical supplies have been identified following feedback from partners.

With the huge number of people in desperate need in so many places, ongoing support is crucial. Please follow this link to support our life-saving work.

We also ask you for your continured prayer support as we try to meet the needs of so many suffereing around the world. Please join with us in asking God to bring healing, restoration, and for all who are suffering to receive the support they need.

‘In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.’ Psalm 18:6

Photo: Medical supplies on route to Yemen. Partners cannot be mentioned for security reasons.

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Niamh, our Marketing and Communications Manager reflects on her time in Jordan

Niamh, our Marketing and Communications Manager reflects on her time in Jordan – 7 Jun 2017

I first want to say thank you – you are such a valuable part of Tearfund Ireland and all we do to bring the light of Christ to places where suffering is deeply felt. Our work matters to you and that’s why I am writing to tell you about my recent trip to Jordan in the Middle East. While some stories are deeply tragic, I know it will encourage you to hear what God is doing through Tearfund Ireland and how you can support our work. Jordan currently hosts a staggering 1½ million Syrian refugees – for a population of nine million that’s a huge kindness. Yet the suffering each refugee has endured can never be quantified. Almost all are mourning a family member or close friend, added to the loss of their home and country.

On my visit, I met an extremely courageous woman named Jaydah. She explained how, one morning, shortly after kissing her 12-year-old son goodbye, she heard an explosion and ran out to the street. First she found the body of her husband, followed by the bodies of her brother and the son she had just kissed. She wept as she described how their bodies were strewn on the pavement. Her 17-year-old son was also caught up in the explosion and his leg was badly injured. She tried to get him help, but he lost his leg. He sat next to her, staring at the ground, as she told their story. He didn’t go outside their apartment for over a year after they moved to Jordan. The trauma and grief overwhelmed him.

Ordinary Syrians like them are hurting the most in this conflict. Recently, Jaydah participated in a series of counselling sessions, which enabled her to open up for the first time about her experiences. The sessions are run by a local Tearfund partner, so local Jordanian volunteers are the trained facilitators. It is especially helpful for women like Jaydah to be cared for in this way by Jordanians as it helps them feel welcomed in Jordan.

During my visit, I also went to see a cash distribution to Syrian refugee women soon to give birth. Cash grants enable them to have their babies in one of Jordan’s hospitals and travel to and from hospital. It costs roughly €19 to ensure a mum in labour can cover the taxi fare of getting to hospital.

Now in its seventh year, the Syrian crisis has been going on longer than anyone could have imagined.

Tearfund Ireland is also responding to the crisis in South Sudan where famine was declared in February. Across East Africa it is estimated that 16 million people are in urgent need of food and safe water.
These crises are complex and require long term commitment.

If you are already giving regularly, would you consider increasing your monthly gift? Or if you would like to start giving regularly, please follow this link to find how you can become a regular giver. Or if you would like to make a once off donation please click here.

Please also keep this crisis in your prayers. Let’s ask our Heavenly Father to comfort and provide for the 65.3 million people around the world who are refugees. Thank you so much for your support.

Yours in Christ,

Niamh Daly
Marketing and Communications Manager
Tearfund Ireland

Photo: Niamh Daly, Tearfund Ireland. Jaydah talks to RTE journalist Della Kilroy about losing her husband, brother and young son in an explosion in Syria.

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Today - A Prayer for the World

Today - A Prayer for the World – 2 Jun 2017

Almighty God,

Thank you that we live in a country where we can speak to those in power without fear.

Thank you that no matter what happens you can work all things for your good and glory.

Protect our hearts, friends, families, communities and churches across the world as we experience disappointment with decisions made by others.

Protect our country as we undergo changes in our political leadership.
Protect our leaders and Government as they lead us.

Give our leaders wisdom and vision to govern well, overcoming poverty and injustice.
Give us the energy to play our part in society.
Give us vision of how we can continue to bring your Kingdom here.


To join 24/7’s global prayer movement this weekend follow this link.

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Protecting families from being torn apart.

Protecting families from being torn apart. – 11 May 2017

Family First: Markus Köker, International Programmes Manager asks ‘How best to tackle the orphan challenge?’

The Bible often talks of God’s compassion for ‘the fatherless’ and his desire to set the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6). Good families are places where children are protected, nurtured and provided for. In loving families, children learn important life skills and feel a sense of belonging. Growing up and living without a family greatly increases our vulnerability.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states: ‘The child, for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality, should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding.’

Who is an orphan?

Unicef defines an orphan as a child who has lost one or both parents through death. According to Unicef, there are an estimated 140 million such orphans worldwide. But these statistics underestimate the problem and do not include ‘social orphans’. These are children and young adults who have lost any meaningful connection to their family. Social orphans include vulnerable children who may be living on the street, growing up in an orphanage or experiencing separation from their families due to trafficking, conflict or other issues.

In fact, millions of children known as orphans still have one surviving parent, grandparent or other family member. According to Save the Children, at least 80 per cent of children living in orphanages still have at least one parent alive.

Residential care and poverty

Residential care institutions (including orphanages and children’s homes) have often been seen as the answer to the orphan challenge, and many have been set up with the best of intentions. However, some orphanages are run as businesses, where the children are seen as a way of bringing in income. This has sometimes led to children being trafficked into institutions.

In developing countries, all too often poverty is the reason that children end up in orphanages. Parents or family members may believe that an orphanage will give their children food, shelter and education, which they would otherwise struggle to provide. These so-called ‘pull factors’ increase the number of children placed into residential care unnecessarily. For example, although the number of vulnerable children in Cambodia has decreased, the number of orphanages increased by 75 per cent between 2005 and 2010. But no orphanage can provide the care and nurture of a loving, supportive family.

Understanding the negative effects

Research has clearly shown that long-term institutional care is not in the best interests of children. It can negatively impact their lives in many different ways:

  • Serious delays in psychological and social development: Children lack the individual care and attention they need. They are less likely to develop the intellectual, physical, social and emotional skills appropriate for their age. They have less chance to learn the life skills they will need to live independently in the future.
  • Attachment problems: Children grow up with frequent changes in staff, volunteers and visitors. This means they do not develop the strong, lasting relationships they need.
  • Dependency mindset: In institutions, someone else is always responsible for meeting children’s basic needs and making decisions on their behalf. Children are not usually given opportunities to take responsibility for themselves based on a relationship of trust. This makes it harder for them to live independently as adults.
  • Trafficking and abuse: Many institutions do not have child protection policies and may not carry out background checks for visitors and staff. This puts children at risk of trafficking and physical and sexual abuse.
  • Separation from society: Children in residential care usually grow up separated from their family and community. They often struggle to rejoin the community when they leave.
  • Young people are very vulnerable when they leave residential care, and many institutions do not have strategies for supporting them through this process. A long-term study from Russia showed that one in five orphans leaving an institution turned to crime, one in seven fell into prostitution and one in ten committed suicide (Judith Harwin, Children of the Russian State 1917–1995).

A better way

The good news is that around the world people are beginning to realise there are better ways of caring for orphans and vulnerable children. There is a range of options:

  • Family strengthening: We can strengthen and support families, so that they do not place children in orphanages to begin with. This can include providing parenting classes, day care and income-generating activities. It is important to help parents realise that family is for life and that they can usually provide a better upbringing for their child than an orphanage can.
  • Reuniting children with their birth families: If it is possible and safe, the best option is to reunite children who are in residential care with their families. This involves trying to address the problems that led to their separation from the family, wherever possible.
  • Kinship care: If reuniting children with their birth families is not possible, kinship care is an option. Many orphans will have other family members who would be willing to care for them – aunts, uncles, grandparents, an older sibling or another member of the extended family. It is often possible to trace relatives and support them to care for the child.
  • Foster care: Foster care is when a family cares for a child who is not biologically related to them. Fostering can be a temporary measure while efforts are made to reunite children with their family. It can also be a longer-term option. In some countries it can be a way of providing a permanent family for a child.
  • Adoption: When it is not possible to reunite children with their family or relatives, adoption may be an option. This is when parents agree legally and permanently to care for a child who is not biologically their own. Adoption is easiest for the child when it happens within the child’s own country. International adoption is usually a more disruptive option, so the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child considers local adoption or foster care to be preferable.

There is sometimes a place for residential care (for example, this may be needed for a child in crisis while other options are being investigated). But in most cases this should be seen as a last resort and not as a long-term solution. If residential care is necessary for a time, it should be as ‘family-like’ as possible, in small group homes within the community rather than in large orphanages.

Those in charge of a child’s care should work through this range of alternative care options to see what is best for the child.

National policies are changing

A growing number of countries are now putting these ideas about alternative care into practice and making them their official policy. For example, in 2012 Cambodia announced a new policy aimed at keeping children out of institutions and preferring family-based care. As well as being better for children, these principles make good financial sense. In Uganda, for example, a study showed it costs up to 14 times more to run an orphanage than to care for children within the community (Unicef).

What can we do?

The church can play a powerful role in changing the way we care for orphans and vulnerable children. The World Without Orphans movement has united Christians, churches and organisations around the world to work together towards family-based care. Beginning in the Ukraine, it has initiated national movements in more than 26 countries. As a result of its work, the number of children being fostered or adopted locally has increased.

There is a number of things individuals, churches and organisations can do to improve orphan care. Individuals can consider becoming foster or adoptive parents, and encourage others to do the same. Churches can develop programmes to strengthen families and support orphans within their churches and communities. Directors of residential care centres can explore ways of transitioning to provide family and community strengthening services. We can all advocate to our governments for policies that prioritise family-based care. By uniting with others who have the same vision, we can work towards a world where every child has the chance to grow up within a loving family.

By: Markus Köker, International Programmes Manager, Tearfund Ireland

Tearfund Ireland is developing its niche area of expertise in Family First Alternative Care interventions and is currently supporting alternative care projects and family reunification in Cambodia and Zimbabwe.

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