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

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.

Horn of Africa Drought: Luley’s Story

Posted on July 8, 2011 by Matthew Ley

Luley standing between her tukul and tent that now serves as her home. Credit: Faith Kagwiria

Reduced rains have led to drought throughout the Horn of Africa leading a severe water shortage and higher food prices as crops and animals pass away and are eaten for survival. Many have had to leave their homes in search of food and water. Below is the story of Luley Hassan Aden as shared by Faith Kagwiria, who works at the refugee camp in Dadaab.


Luley Hassan Aden is a young woman of 19 years, living on the outskirts of section L10, Hagadera Refugee Camp in Dadaab, North Eastern Kenya. This is where many newly arrived people from Somalia, like herself, are settling. This afternoon she is resting and cooking in a space between her Tukul (a small Somali type of “lounge”) and her “house”, which is a tent she received from the LWF three days ago.

Luley married when she had just turned 17 and is now the mother of two children. After living peacefully with her husband in Sakow division, Bu’alle district in the middle Juba region of Somalia, she decided to start the longest journey of her life, fleeing from the insecurity that had become unbearable.

“I needed to look for peace for my children and myself, not caring to know where I was going,” he says poignantly. Her husband was forced to flee from their home due to fears of being killed by the militia, after he refused to enlist himself as a fighter. “I don’t know if my husband is alive or dead, and when my children ask when their dad is coming, I always lie to them that he went for a long journey and has delayed there because of lack of money,” she narrates as her watery-eyes stare with desperation.

At home in Somalia they kept cattle and she started her journey to Kenya bringing the family livestock with her. But all the cattle died before she found her way to the refugee camp. On their way from Sokow, between Dhooble and Loboi, they encountered bandits who robbed all the people in her ‘convoy’ and left them with no valuables.

Luleys says that she is slowly beginning to accept her situation, and is trying to adapt to her new status in Hagadera camp, as a refugee assisted by relatives and agencies. Her greatest challenge is how to bring up her two children in the camps, without her husband.

When she arrived in Hagadera, relatives in the camp first hosted her in a small dilapidated Tukul. She stayed in this structure for four days weathering the biting cold of the night that did not have mercy for her children. “I had never stayed in a Tukul as my house, and my children developed a cold. Life was so miserable and I felt I had lost it all” says Luley.

She was visited by the block leader who took her details and gave her the ration card number for food distribution. The same afternoon she was visited by a team of staff in the camp. “We found her in an unbearable state and based on the criteria we use, she was given priority. We have done follow-up visit and provided her with a tent to sleep in” explains Keinan, a LWF social worker based in Hagadera.

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