Disaster strikes.  Then what?  Pray, donate money, help people.  Do what you can as you follow the story in the media.  Haiti.  Chile.  Malawi.  Name the disaster of the month as we approach hurricane season and are called to respond at a moment’s notice when our brothers and sisters are in need, usually around the world but sometimes in our own backyards.

Photo by Paul Jeffrey, ACT International

When devastation engulfed Haiti on January 12, organizations around the world clamored to touch down on Haitian soil let alone begin instituting any kind of aid that would respect the hurting local infrastructure and Haitian people.  But the ELCA was already there, already in Haiti working with and through Lutherans to build better communities and improve lives.

ELCA World Hunger has been on the ground in Haiti for many years, providing millions of dollars and supporting many programs through local work of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF). It’s because of this work on the ground and relationships with the LWF and partner organizations like Action by Churches Together (ACT) that the ELCA is able to take your gifts and translate them quickly into food, water, clothing and shelter for people who need it now more than ever.

Gifts to ELCA World Hunger and ELCA Disaster Response are providing water. A water purification system with pipes, filters and pumps transported from freezing-cold Norway to scorching-hot Haiti is providing 10,000 homeless Haitians with clean drinking water. The ACT Alliance brought in desperately needed special water and sanitation facilities. The “water factory” is based in the Belair neighborhood of Port-au-Prince and provided the first clean water many people had access to after the earthquake.

Long before the spotlights cast themselves on the poorest country in the Western hemisphere and long after they will have faded, the ELCA has worked, is working, and will continue to work on the ground in Haiti for justice and stability.

The ELCA is present in many countries throughout the world, working through companion churches and with international partner organizations to provide the daily relief and development work that can, in a moment’s notice, support a readied infrastructure of support when disaster strikes already poverty-filled areas.

–Aaron Cooper is writer-editor for ELCA World Hunger