ELCA Disaster Response in Cuba, Haiti

Posted on September 12, 2008 by ELCA World Hunger

Below, find an informative ELCA News Posting about ELCA International Disaster Response in Cuba and Haiti. Learn more and give to the response effort at www.elca.org/disaster

ELCA NEWS SERVICE
September 12, 2008
08-153-MRC

Lutherans Work to Meet the Needs of People in Cuba, Haiti
CHICAGO (ELCA) — Some of the greatest needs in Cuba and Haiti are securing food and clean water for survivors of the 2008 hurricane season, according to Megan Bradfield. In an effort to respond to the needs of people in the two Caribbean islands, members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) provided funds Sept. 11 to help secure life-sustaining resources. Through ELCA International Disaster Response, Lutherans provided an initial $25,000 to support immediate relief effortsin Haiti, said Bradfield, associate director for international development and disaster response, ELCA Global Mission. The funds were sent to the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), which continues to conduct damage assessment and organize hurricane recovery efforts there.

Tropical storm Fay, Hurricane Gustav, Tropical Storm Hanna and Hurricane Ike struck Haiti this season. Action by Churches Together (ACT) reported that the storms killed 328 people and devastated the land. According to an ELCA Disaster Response alert, families in Haiti were already struggling with the “silent disaster of hunger and extreme poverty” prior to being struck by the storms, which further drove people away from life-sustaining resources.

“Receiving food from external resources is not a luxury; it is a necessity to save lives, particularly in Haiti,” said Bradfield. Because Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, the impact of disasters on its most vulnerable citizens is disproportionate. Often citizens lack access to the basics of life, let alone what is needed to rebuild, she said. “Extreme poverty and disasters create a vicious cycle of impoverishment for the economically poor. The lack of financial resources to purchase means for cooking, for example, causes people to cut down trees to use as charcoal,” said Bradfield. When multiple storms strike, the deforestation enables mudslides to occur, making communities further vulnerable. This is the circumstance in Haiti, she said.

Storms Fay, Gustav and Ike also struck Cuba. Gustav damaged an estimated 100,000 homes in the western part of the island. Through ELCA International Disaster Response, Lutherans gave an initial $10,000 to support the humanitarianefforts of Church World Service (CWS) in Cuba. CWS will usethe funds to purchase material aid — blankets, medicine, hygiene and baby kits — for survivors of the storms. The ELCA participates in the work of CWS and is a member of the LWF — a global communion of Christian churches in the Lutheran tradition. ACT is a global alliance of churches and related agencies working to save lives and support communities in emergency situations worldwide. It is based with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the LWF, both in Geneva. The ELCA is a member of the WCC. Coordinated by ELCA Global Mission, International Disaster Response channels its funds through international church organizations and relief agencies. Funds provide for food, medicine, drinking water, emergency shelter and other materials for survivors of disasters.

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