Lutheran Disaster Response

Our response to disasters in the U.S. and around the world; look for sections of this blog related to specific disaster locations. Comments are welcomed and moderated.

New Resources: Horn of Africa One-Year Later

Posted on September 21, 2012 by Matthew Ley

During the summer of last year major drought spread throughout the Horn of Africa, affecting countries like Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia. From the onset the ELCA has been helping in the response, providing cups of water and food to arriving refugees, working with communities to stave off illness and helping local populations leverage their knowledge to better prepare themselves for further disasters. This work has been made possible thanks to generous gifts from people like you.

As a way of marking this occassion and to help share about the good work we as this church are engaged in we share with you the following two Horn of Africa: One Year Later resources:

Gifts to ELCA Disaster Response allow the church to respond locally and globally in times of need. Donate Now

Horn of Africa: LWF Update on Kenya and Djibouti

Posted on August 13, 2012 by Matthew Ley

The Lutheran World Federation Kenya/Djibouti program update from July 2012 gives a good update of what has been going on in the last year since the drought in the Horn of Africa started leading to famine and migrating people, especially in Somalia. Give it a read to get a good update on the situation.

Here is what stuck out to me:

  • The introducation gives a good reminder that each refugee is an individual who prior to disaster had a life and livelihood that would be considered normal in their context. The move to refugee was not an easy or expected one. It drove home for me that in each disaster their is both the objective circumstances of what happened as well as the very real and unique subjective story of each individual affected.
  • The background on what is going on in Kenya at large was a reminder that disasters do not happen in vaccuums. Life, both the positive and the negative, continues on and this continuation affects the response to the disaster. Also, it was a reminder that disasters don’t awknowledge the boundaries between peoples and countries that we create. So in our response there will always be a great need for communication, trust and accountability between varied partners.
  • The overview of Dadaab highlighted the importance of safety in the disaster response and how much effort can at times go into creating a place of peace and security in the midst of chaos. This work has been done in a very creative and effective way in Dadaab through their Community Peace and Secuirty Teams (sometimes labeled Community Peace Protection Teams or CPPT). These teams are made up of refugees living within the camps and are the first line of response to community violence and disputes. This buffering allows for issues to be handled mostly by people speaking the same language, coming from the same cultural background and current life experience. Seeing the need for basic security and peace before humanitarian aid can be properly delivered the ELCA, through its Disaster Response program strong supports this valuable work.

Overall the update gives a good overview of the situation and highlighting how the response of gracious donors the globe over has made a difference and why the need is still their for that response to continue.

Read the entire update: LWF Kenya/Djibouti Program Update.

Gifts to ELCA International Disaster Response allow the church to respond globally in times of need. Donate now.

World Refugee Day 2012

Posted on June 20, 2012 by meganbradfield

Poems of Hope from Kakuma, Rukiya Ibrahim, 19.

When The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) was founded in 1947, its first service program provided assistance to refugees in Europe. Today the LWF continues to work with and for refugees and displaced persons, providing service and care for 1.2 million of the world’s refugees and displaced persons in Africa and Asia. In these camps, people from many nations live side by side seeking refuge from conflict and natural disaster.

The theme of the United Nations World Refugee Day 2012 is “one refugee without hope is one too many.”

A young Ethiopian woman, Rukiya Ibrahim, who lives in the LWF-managed Kakuma refugee camp, in northwestern Kenya, puts it powerfully: “when we do have hope that tomorrow will come and that tomorrow will come with a new change within itself, a new place to build you up, then that gives you hope to carry on.”

The ELCA, a member of the LWF, works as part of this 145 Lutheran member church communion which represents a total of 70 million members. This means that 70 Lutherans together take care of one refugee in this world.  As a member of the the LWF, the ELCA is dedicated to our vocation to uphold the rights of the poor and oppressed and promote dignity through our continuing work with refugees through ELCA Disaster Response and ELCA World Hunger. Every person we serve has a history of struggle yet has hopes and dreams for the future.

On World Refugee Day, we are reminded of the suffering of too many people who are living as refugees and internally displaced persons in our world. But we are also reminded of the difference we can make by offering a basis of hope for the future through the efforts we participate in as a member of the Lutheran World Federation. 

As a meditation for the day, I want to leave us with a poem written by Rukiya:

Came as stranger
with lost hope
no home
and became your members

We found friends and family
a safe ground to stand
strength and a helping hand
a new life and a chapter to carry on

You made us see far
unlocked our potentials
with strength and hope
we stood firm

You took time and listened
came down and reached us
brought us to light
and exposed our hidden talents

We have dreams and visions
hopes and missions
to fulfil our live ambitions
and reach every hill top

Now we are up and strong
built on strong base
stand with every race
and move on same pace

Thank you for your continued commitment to serve and provide hope to those most in need.  ~ Megan Bradfield, Director for International Disaster Response, ELCA.

 Gifts to ELCA International Disaster Response allow the church to respond globally in times of need. Donate now.

Advocacy: Drought Affected East and West Africa

Posted on April 5, 2012 by Matthew Ley

The following message is from the ELCA e-Advocacy list. This lists is sent out by the Advocacy office of the ELCA to inform people of the what political issues are going on and how people can get involved. This particular message is about the situation of drought in East Africa and now West Africa, how actions within the US Congress can impact the situation and how you can get involved.

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Before we turn our hearts and minds to Jesus’ path to the cross and joyous resurrection this holy weekend, we can first follow Christ’s teachings by urging Congress to act on behalf of the millions in Africa living in dire insecurity and uncertainty.

Conflict, draught, and resulting food shortages have left tens of millions of people – from Sahel to Sudan to Somalia – in crisis, facing starvation and malnutrition and forced to leave their homes and relocate in refugee camps. These men, women, and children will face even greater hardship if we do not act to protect U.S. funding for the life-saving programs upon which they depend for food, clean water and secure shelter.

In the Horn of Africa

13 million people are currently living in food crisis, still suffering from the effects of last year’s drought which forced millions to leave their homes to take refuge in camps.

Meanwhile, the plight of famine has spread west, putting 15.5 million people in West Africa’s Sahel region at risk, including eight million who need emergency assistance. Over ten million already face food insecurity and an additional one million children are at risk of severe malnutrition. Chad, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger are all experiencing dangerously high malnutrition levels while in Mali alone, conflict and food shortages have displaced 100,000 people. The crisis is only expected to worsen in the coming months.

Between the crises to their east and west, Sudan and South Sudan suffer while combating their own humanitarian crises. An estimated 200,000 people have been displaced or severely affected by violence in South Kordofan, an area vulnerable to Sudan’s Armed Forces’ aerial bombing, ground attacks, sexual violence, denial of humanitarian assistance, and other tactics which some have dubbed ‘weapons of mass starvation.’ An estimated 28,000 Sudanese have been forced to relocate to South Sudan’s Yida refugee camp.

Through its membership in The Lutheran World Federation, the ELCA is participating in relief efforts with Lutheran churches and partners in these emergency crises.

Yet in the midst of these dire and enduring crises, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the House Budget Committee’s fiscal year 2013 Budget Resolution last week, which cuts the International Affairs Budget by 11 percent. The cuts include the eliminating Feed the Future and cutting the U.S. Agency for International Development’s International Disaster Assistance by 40 to 60 percent. Meanwhile, the President’s fiscal year 2013 budget request proposes cuts to essential poverty-focused programs that provide refugees and displaced people with access to food, shelter, and water, including a 13.3% cut ($250
million) to the Migration and Refugee Assistance.

CLICK HERE to tell your senators and representative to maintain funding for the International Affairs Accounts that provide essential food, water, shelter, and support to the millions of refugees around the world who have been forced to make incomprehensible sacrifices.

Want to do more? Call your senators and representatives, who are at home in your district during recess, and tell them to protect the International Affairs account from the deep, disproportionate cuts made in the House of Representatives’ FY13 Budget Resolution.


Kenya: Feeding School Children, Pastoralists Become Farmers & More

Posted on March 12, 2012 by Matthew Ley

The following is a great update from the ACT Alliance of ongoing responses in Kenya to the drought which has been affecting the area since early last summer. Read how a feeding program has improved the lives of students and is in the transition to a sustainable community gardening project. Also, see how a traditional pastoralist is learning to become a farmer and read of education is the hope for the future.

ACT Alliance members transform lives in Kenya
By George Arende

Emukutan primary school pupil receiving food from ACK feeding program.

Welcome to Emukutan primary school, which besides molding and educating future leaders also provides the one and only meal to 160 children living in a drought affected area of Kajiado County.

Started in 2006 as a community school, it is located close to the main road, making it accessible and the best alternative for many people. Previously they were forced to walk several kilometers in order to attend public schools supported by the government of Kenya.

The dry-spell and lack of rains in 2009, which led to severe drought and loss of animals, has affected the school’s attendance. This trend changed in Sept 2011 following food distribution of maize, beans, cooking oil and ujimix by ACT Alliance member, Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) – Kajiado Diocese.

Kenya: ELCA Supports Disaster Risk Reduction in Turkana

Posted on January 7, 2012 by Matthew Ley

In mid-December the ELCA, through its International Disaster Response program, approved a disbursement of $102,337 to support a Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Community-Managed Disaster Risk Reduction (CMDRR) project in the Turkana district of Kenya. Now you might be wondering what CMDRR is or you might be wondering why it needs to be instituted in Turkana. And you might even be asking where Turkana is. Well I’m glad you asked. This post will answers these three questions. If you have any others, please share them in the comments.

Ethiopia: LWF Update on Dollo Ado Refugee Camp

Posted on December 20, 2011 by Matthew Ley

The situation at the Dollo Ado refugee camp in southern Ethiopia has started to stabilize with the number of new arrivals dropping from 200-300/day in early November to 200-300/week in mid-December. Though the area continues to be plagued by heavy rains and flooding. This has led to difficulty in the delivery of aid like food and water as well as the processing of refugees in the transit center. A welcomed new camp, Bur Amino, has opened and the first few hundred residents have begun to arrive. With a population max of 80,000 this new camp is expected to help alleviate the overcrowding in the other camps and at the transit center.

To learn more, check out the LWF Update.

Gifts to ELCA International Disaster Response allow the church to respond globally in times of need. Donate now.

Horn of Africa: New Bulletin Insert (11/2011)

Posted on November 17, 2011 by Matthew Ley

A new bulletin insert has been created to give a quick update on the situation in the Horn of Africa. You can download it here (pdf).

For more information check out the ELCA Disaster webpage Horn of Africa Drought.

Gifts to ELCA International Disaster Response allow the church to respond globally in times of need. Donate now.

Horn of Africa: ACT Update on Rain and Hunger

Posted on November 16, 2011 by Matthew Ley

The ACT Alliance (Action by Churches Together), of which the ELCA is a member, in a recent update shares how the drought is continuing to affect people within the Horn of Africa. With 13 million people still feeling the affects of the drought, water, food and disease still rank as the top areas of need. The update also discusses the possibility that some of areas of the region may actually be seeing complete changes in climate, with pastures turning into deserts.

Check out the full update, as well as the many other reports and updates from ACT, for more information.

Gifts to ELCA International Disaster Response allow the church to respond globally in times of need. Donate now.

Horn of Africa: Rainfall & Disease Affecting Dadaab

Posted on November 15, 2011 by Matthew Ley

Just read a statement from UNHCR (UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees) regarding the conditions at Dadaab camp in eastern Kenya. It stated that the camp has received heavy rains that have led to flooding and an increase in the cases of waterborne disease, like cholera. Some of this disease is thought to be caused by camp residents opting for contaminated flood waters when water trucks have been slowed in delivery by the rains.

The statement also addresses the issue of camp security, which arose after two aid workers were kidnapped three weeks ago. The initial response in the camp was to limit aid activities within the camp until the situation could be addressed. It was hoped that these activites would return to normal levels soon, but with a news report of a car bombing in the camp earlier today (story), this may not happen soon.

This caught my attention because the The Lutheran World Federation, of which the ELCA is a member, manages the camp and their main areas of work are water distribution and camp security. As they struggle with these current developments I wanted to lift up the good work that they do on behalf of this church and to ask that they, and all those in Dadaab, be lifted up in prayer. May God grant them strength and His ever-abundant grace and peace.