ELCA Lutheran Disaster Responsehttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/Ukraine: Humanitarian assistance to refugees and IDPs in areas of conflictMegan Brandsrudhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/287http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/287<div class="ExternalClass50439D32049A44B480F471DC3778088D"><p>​</p> <p class="MsoNormal">The armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine has created a humanitarian crisis. Thousands of homes, factories and mines have been destroyed, and the fertile land of the region has been torn apart, which has damaged the farming legacy in Ukraine. <span>&#160;</span>According to a Jan. 9, 2015, report from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 5.2 million people are living in conflict-affected areas, more than 633,500 people are internally displaced, and more than 593,600 people have fled Ukraine for neighboring countries. People are homeless with no social or health infrastructures to help them meet their daily needs. This situation is exacerbated by the current winter weather conditions. </p><p class="MsoNormal">Working with ACT Alliance members Hungarian Interchurch Aid and the Russian Orthodox Church, Lutheran Disaster Response is providing food, water, blankets, diapers and hygiene kits to approximately 20,000 refugees and IDPs who are from conflict-affected areas in Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine, with particular attention given to women and children. Psychosocial assistance will also be provided to the refugees and IDPs receiving materials. </p><p class="MsoNormal">Please join us as we pray for our brothers and sisters who are running from conflict in Ukraine. We will continue to accompany them and work with our partners to provide assistance in the midst of this crisis. If you would like to support Lutheran Disaster Response’s work to provide humanitarian assistance in Ukraine, please visit the <a href="https&#58;//community.elca.org/lutherandisasterresponse">giving page</a>. </p> </div>01/23/2015Unaccompanied and Migrant Children: Continuing to welcome, advocate and provide careMegan Brandsrudhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/286http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/286<div class="ExternalClass224A399FBC804D089480D14B8CD342C1"><p>​<img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Lutheran%20Disaster%20Response/Browse/OurWork_Disaster_UnaccompaniedMigrantChildren.jpg" alt="OurWork_Disaster_UnaccompaniedMigrantChildren.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;350px;height&#58;195px;" /></p> <p class="MsoNormal">More than 70,000 unaccompanied and migrant children from Central America arrived in the U.S. in 2014. Most of these children are from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, countries that are facing a host of harsh situations, including drug trafficking, violence, sex trafficking, poverty and exploitation. The migrant children are fleeing and seeking safety. </p><p class="MsoNormal">Lutheran Disaster Response has been engaging global companion churches, U.S. congregations, partners and affiliates who are in the midst of this situation. One partner we are working with is Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS). LIRS has been providing refugee services to families and unaccompanied children for decades. </p><p class="MsoNormal">Through an initial disbursement of $183,700, Lutheran Disaster Response is working with LIRS to create training materials for foster families, develop welcoming centers for families that are newly-released from detention centers and provide advocacy for refugee families and unaccompanied children. We will also continue working with LIRS to plan and coordinate with other U.S. and Central American partners. </p><p class="MsoNormal">We will continue to engage our churches, partners and affiliates to provide education on this situation and to help ensure the safety of children who are fleeing. As a church that is called to love and welcome, we answer the call when children who are running from harm and hunger arrive in our communities. </p><p class="MsoNormal">If you would like to support Lutheran Disaster Response’s work with unaccompanied and migrant children, please visit the <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Our-Work/Relief-and-Development/Lutheran-Disaster-Response/Our-Impact/Unaccompanied-and-Migrant-Children">response page</a>. </p> </div>01/12/2015South Asia Tsunami: The Vellipalayam Jubilee Village 10 years after the tsunamiMegan Brandsrudhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/285http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/285<div class="ExternalClass38058776E0EE48008E66CD34467C6DE7"><p><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Lutheran%20Disaster%20Response/Browse/Jubilee%20Village.jpg" alt="Jubilee Village.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;350px;height&#58;233px;" /></p><p><em>Pictured&#58; A home in the Vellipalayam Jubilee Village. Photo courtesy of Franklin Ishida/ELCA.</em><br></p> <p class="MsoNormal">It has been ten years since an earthquake struck off the coast of Indonesia on Dec. 26, 2004, and caused a tsunami with waves reaching to 100 feet. The tsunami affected 14 countries and killed more than 230,000 people, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. </p><p class="MsoNormal">The ELCA responded immediately by sending a <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/News-and-Events/4777">15-person delegation</a> to affected areas to express solidarity and meet with partners, and ELCA congregations and individuals responded generously by giving more than $11.4 million for tsunami relief and recovery projects. This support allowed Lutheran Disaster Response to not only take action immediately after the storm but to also accompany our brothers and sisters who were impacted over this past decade as they have journeyed on the long road of recovery. </p><p class="MsoNormal">One location where Lutheran Disaster Response and the greater ELCA have been active is in the Tamil Nadu state in India.</p><p class="MsoNormal">“<span>The ELCA's response and engagement with the South Asia Tsunami began almost as it occurred,” says Chandran Martin, formerly the executive secretary for the United Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India (UELCI) and currently the ELCA Global Mission regional representative for South Asia. “At the time [of the tsunami], the UELCI, a partner of the ELCA, was responding to the aftermath at the relief stage. Empowered by the solidarity with the ELCA, the UELCI was able to deal with several challenges in planning and operations.”</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>One such challenge that the UELCI and Lutheran Disaster Response took on was including people who had received little to no assistance, the Dalits, who were then known as “the untouchables” in India’s caste system. In the Tranquebar area, where Lutheran missionaries first arrived in India more than 300 years ago, a Dalit community that was impacted was restored and developed into the Vellipalayam Jubilee Village, where 114 permanent homes were built. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>In addition to the new homes in the Vellipalayam Jubilee Village, a sense of identity and self-sustenance was emphasized. Development processes for health and education were put into place, which have promoted health awareness and improved health conditions in the area. Micro-financing and self-help groups were created, which resulted in several job markets, including sewing and metal-working. <span>&#160;</span></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>These steps helped pave the way for a movement toward greater economic justice in the area, according to Martin. “Through the micro-credit process, seven self-help groups have been formed by women in the area. They are seeking a better livelihood through this process, and the communities are gradually taking control of the processes around them.”</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>While the rebuilding and construction of the Vellipalayam Jubilee Village has ended, the ELCA continues to walk with our brothers and sisters in India who were impacted by the tsunami as they continue to work on capacity building and sustainability. “The communities in Vellipalayam have truly experienced this solidarity, partnership and accompaniment over the past decade,” Martin says.</span></p> </div>01/05/2015India: Cyclone Hudhud relief and long-term recoveryMegan Brandsrudhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/284http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/284<div class="ExternalClassF54B45F9B35046D28A11F6F582D933B5"><p><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Lutheran%20Disaster%20Response/Browse/cyclone%20hudhud.jpg" alt="cyclone hudhud.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;350px;height&#58;263px;" /></p><p><em>Pictured&#58; Damage from Cyclone Hudhud, a storm with 109 mph winds that hit eastern India in October.</em> <em>Photo credit&#58; Lutheran World Service India Trust</em><br></p><p><br></p> <p class="MsoNormal">From Oct. 7 – 14, 2014, Cyclone Hudhud caused extensive damage to India and claimed lives. With 109 mph winds, the cyclone affected 320 villages in India. More than 41,530 homes and 40,000 electric poles were damaged, while more than 1,800 cattle were reported dead and about 205,000 hectares of crop land were destroyed.</p><p class="MsoNormal">Working with Lutheran World Service India Trust (LWSIT), Lutheran Disaster Response has provided $80,000 to assist in the continued relief and long-term livelihood recovery for 1,000 families in Wisakhapatnum and Srikakulam districts of Andhra Pradesh as they address their immediate needs and begin the process of rebuilding.</p><p class="MsoNormal">Relief assistance will be in the forms of food, non-food items, such as tarpaulin sheets for damaged homes, and water and hygiene materials. Long-term recovery will focus on agricultural livelihood restoration and will include rice seed distribution to share croppers so that they will be able to resume planting once the current season is over. We will also assist 300 women supplement their food supply by providing vegetable seeds to them so they are able to grow food at home and meet nutritional needs for their children.</p><p class="MsoNormal">Lutheran Disaster Response will also work with LWSIT to assist 100 families whose homes were hit hardest by providing materials for them to rebuild. </p><p class="MsoNormal">“Cyclones are an unfortunate regular occurrence, especially in eastern India. Between the furies of some of these cyclones, the affect they have on large swaths of populations and their livelihoods, and the impact on people living in poverty, disasters are an ongoing companion to millions of people in India,” says Franklin Ishida, ELCA Global Mission area program director for Asia and Pacific. <span>&#160;</span>“In recent years, the Indian government has done much to mitigate the effect of such disasters. But the destructive forces of a cyclone like Hudhud are at times unimaginable. The ELCA is blessed to have a companion in India, Lutheran World Service India Trust, who is able to work with those affected by Hudhud and through whom critical relief needs are met.”</p><p class="MsoNormal">Lutheran Disaster Response is committed to working with our trusted partner, LWSIT to walk with our brothers and sisters who were impacted by Hudhud. We pray for their recovery and for their continued safety in living in an area prone to natural disasters. If you would like to support Lutheran Disaster Response’s work in India, please visit the <a href="https&#58;//community.elca.org/lutherandisasterresponse">Lutheran Disaster Response giving page</a>. </p> </div>12/22/2014Iraq: Advent stories of peace and loveMegan Brandsrudhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/283http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/283<div class="ExternalClass568F0DF3FF38490995288C8FFD09ED44"><p>​<strong>Advent&#58; Peace</strong></p><p><img alt="Gorgya Paols receives a LWF food voucher that provides her a carton of food that will last a month.png" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Lutheran%20Disaster%20Response/Browse/Gorgya%20Paols%20receives%20a%20LWF%20food%20voucher%20that%20provides%20her%20a%20carton%20of%20food%20that%20will%20last%20a%20month.png" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;350px;height&#58;229px;" /></p><p><em>Gorgya Paols receives a food voucher that provides her a carton of food that will last for one month.</em><br><strong></strong></p><p>Gorgya Paols, 63, has only one wish in this season of wishes – peace in her home country, Iraq. Having already fled Baghdad in 2005 after being persecuted for being Christian, Gorgya is tired of running. </p><p>&quot;I love my country so much,&quot; she says. &quot;I don't want to leave. It makes me sad and I hope the people who have left might one day be able to come back to live together peacefully, happily. Every day, someone is leaving and I must say goodbye.&quot;</p><p>Gorgya is currently living in a small home with her husband and her son's family of five. </p><p><strong>Advent&#58; Love</strong></p><p><img alt="Five year old Vian Shara stands in the crowd at an LWF distribution of food in Northern Iraq with her father Saeed Shara.png" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Lutheran%20Disaster%20Response/Browse/Five%20year%20old%20Vian%20Shara%20stands%20in%20the%20crowd%20at%20an%20LWF%20distribution%20of%20food%20in%20Northern%20Iraq%20with%20her%20father%20Saeed%20Shara.png" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;350px;height&#58;231px;" /></p><p><em>Five-year-old Vian Shara stands in the crowd at a distribution of food in Northern Iraq with her father, Saeed Shara</em>. <br><strong></strong></p><p>Saeed Shara and his wife and their three children were forced to flee their home due to the recent conflict in Iraq. They didn't have much time and they weren't able to carry much, so the only belongings they took with them were whatever they could grab. Once they arrived in an area of safety, Shara's family was welcomed by strangers who opened their unoccupied home to let them and three other families occupy it. &#160;</p><p>In addition to the stress of leaving their home, Shara and his family are concerned about the disruption in their children's education and the health of one of their daughters, Vian, who suffers from kidney failure. &#160;</p><p>&#160; <br></p><p>Lutheran Disaster Response is working with the Lutheran World Federation to provide food assistance to both Gorgya Paols' and Saeed Shara's families while they face this time of uncertainty in their country and their homes. We are committed to walking with our brothers and sisters in Iraq, and we pray for their safety and well-being.</p><p><em>Gracious God,</em></p><p><em>As we celebrate the birth of your son, we bring to you the refugees from Iraq. Give them today their daily bread. Shelter them from the cold, from aggression, violence and mistrust. Keep a candle of hope burning in their hearts, and grant them peace – peace in their country, but also peace of mind. Be with all the people who assist them, the host communities and the aid workers. Grant them strength, open eyes and open hearts, to be able to respond to spoken and unspoken needs. Let them keep the faith, even if the situation may seem overwhelming. Be with all the people who have lost their homes because of violence. Teach us to be compassionate and welcoming, to the glory of your name. Let us be a voice for those who are not heard and advocate for justice on their behalf. Grant us understanding and peace. Amen.</em></p><p><br></p><p>Photos and prayer are courtesy of the Lutheran World Federation.<br><em></em></p></div>12/15/2014Central America: Drought causes concerns for food security and livelihoodsMegan Brandsrudhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/282http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/282<div class="ExternalClassDD1D144308F748D4A3C6B6BA0C273527"><p>​<img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Lutheran%20Disaster%20Response/Browse/Bernardo%20Anastasio%20Hernandez%20from%20Nicaragua.jpg" alt="Bernardo Anastasio Hernandez from Nicaragua.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;350px;height&#58;233px;" /></p><p>(Pictured&#58; Bernardo Anastasio Hernández, a cattle farmer, stands on the dry river bed of the Río Grande at San Francisco Libre in Nicaragua. Drought is affecting large areas of <span class="highlight">Central</span> <span class="highlight">America,</span> where hundreds of cattle are dying, wells are drying up and the harvests have failed. Credit&#58; ACT Alliance/Sean Hawkey)<br></p><p>Cattle have died and crops have been completely diminished in a drought across Central America that is recorded as the region's worst dry period in the last 30 years. The drought has impacted more than 2.5 million people across the region. Three countries that are feeling deep impacts of this drought include El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua, where crops are either completely depleted or prices for grains have increased so significantly that many families cannot afford to purchase them. The drought is causing concerns for food security and livelihoods.</p><p>Lutheran Disaster Response, working with Lutheran World Federation, is assisting in early recovery and livelihood restoration through the installation of family gardens, farm plots, micro-irrigation systems and training workshops.</p><p><strong>Family gardens&#58;</strong> Family garden plots will be installed to assist 450 families in El Salvador, 100 families in Honduras and 200 families in Nicaragua. The garden plots will be used in areas where yield is ensured so families have access to food without having to worry about high costs.</p><p><strong>Farm plots&#58;</strong> In Honduras and Nicaragua, farm plots will be implemented in areas for corn and bean production. Short-cycle (native) varieties will be used to ensure yield during the short rainy season without having to worry about long-term water shortage difficulties.</p><p><strong>Micro-irrigation systems&#58;</strong> Water supply systems will be established to support family gardens and farm plots in Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua. A total of 120 micro-irrigation systems will be installed in priority areas.</p><p><strong>Training workshops&#58;</strong> In order to establish the projects listed above, training workshops will be provided to ensure the success of the family gardens, farm plots and water management systems.</p><p>We will continue to walk with and pray for our brothers and sisters in Central America as they work through the difficulties caused by the drought. If you would like to support Lutheran Disaster Response's work in Central America, please visit the <a href="https&#58;//community.elca.org/lutherandisasterresponse">Lutheran Disaster Response giving page</a>. </p></div>12/08/2014