ELCA Lutheran Disaster Responsehttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/Iraq: 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>12/08/2014Unaccompanied and Migrant Children: DC Metro Synod visits companions in El SalvadorMegan Brandsrudhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/281http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/281<div class="ExternalClassC5F32C80B8004698A2964F2C9C4DEF5F"><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>While news of children and families migrating to the U.S. from Central America may have slipped from national headlines, Lutheran Disaster Response is still at work providing education on the situation and assisting our partners and affiliates in caring for these refugees. </p><p>Through more visits to the border and a roundtable conference with our companion churches in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, we as a church are continuing to advocate and provide assistance to those who are running for safety and security. </p><p>Read the following article published in <a href="http&#58;//www.fairfaxtimes.com/article/20141126/OPINION/141129469/1065/the-migrant-children-are-coming&amp;template=fairfaxTimes"><em>Fairfax Times</em> to learn about how the D.C. Metro Synod in the U.S. is accompanying our brothers and sisters in El Salvador. </a></p><p><a href="http&#58;//www.fairfaxtimes.com/article/20141126/OPINION/141129469/1065/the-migrant-children-are-coming&amp;template=fairfaxTimes">&quot;The (migrant) children are coming&quot;</a></p><p>By&#58; Marion McInturff<br></p></div>12/01/2014Nigeria: Emergency assistance for people fleeing as attacks continueMegan Brandsrudhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/280http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/280<div class="ExternalClassFC49D609055044048C741AA034114CB0"><p>​<img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Lutheran%20Disaster%20Response/Browse/LCCN.jpg" alt="LCCN.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;350px;height&#58;369px;" /></p><p>Nigerians are fleeing amidst continued attacks that are believed to be the actions of Boko Haram. On Nov. 10, 2014, there was a massacre of 48 people near the territory of the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria (LCCN). This attack is one example of a trend that continues to show attacks worsening in the northern and eastern part of Nigeria where the LCCN is active. </p><p>While Nigerians continue to flee, receiving communities are dealing with an influx of internally-displaced persons (IDPs). A youth center outside of Yola, the state capital of Adamawa State, has almost 9,500 refugees living in it, which means that Yola is now struggling to feed and provide humanitarian assistance for the growing number of people arriving. </p><p>Working through the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria, Lutheran Disaster Response is assisting internally-displaced persons in the Yola region by providing 200 blankets, 500 mosquito nets, 200 mattresses, clothes and food packages. </p><p>Lutheran Disaster Response will continue to walk with the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria and our brothers and sisters who are seeking safety. Join us as we pray for peace, that the attacks will end and the people of Nigeria will find safety. While doing so, we also remember other countries around the world that are in the midst of conflict. </p><p><em>Gracious and holy God, lead us from death to life, from falsehood to truth. Lead us from despair to hope, from fear to trust. Lead us from hate to love, from war to peace. Let peace fill our hearts, our world, our universe; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.</em></p><p>If you would like to support Lutheran Disaster Response's work in Nigeria, please visit the <a href="https&#58;//community.elca.org/lutherandisasterresponse">Lutheran Disaster Response giving page</a>. <br><em></em></p></div>11/24/2014Illinois: One year after the November tornado outbreakMegan Brandsrudhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/279http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/279<div class="ExternalClass9E28FEAB0EBF474A86DD1A157FC8BBAC"><p>​<img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Lutheran%20Disaster%20Response/Browse/damage%20in%20Washington%20from%20tornadoes.JPG" alt="damage in Washington from tornadoes.JPG" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;350px;height&#58;442px;" /></p><p><em>Pictured&#58; Damage in Washington, Ill., caused by November 2013 tornadoes. Augustino/FEMA</em><br></p><p>One year ago, on Nov. 17, 2013, a storm system that consisted of 73 tornadoes moved through the Midwest. Illinois was severely impacted—the tornado system that hit the state was the fourth deadliest and costliest to occur in Illinois with six deaths and more than $1 billion in damages. </p><p>Immediately after the storm, Lutheran Disaster Response began assessing the situation in collaboration with our affiliate, Lutheran Social Services of Illinois. Since then, thanks to your support, we have been active in case management work in the communities of Washington, Brookport and Gifford to help people who were impacted by the tornadoes navigate their way through the recovery process. </p><p><strong>A House after the Storm</strong></p><p>Ray and Marcina Warfield live in Brookport, Ill., where 44 homes were destroyed and 127 homes were damaged. At the time the tornado tore through their community, the Warfields were out of town visiting family. They were happy to have been safe from the storm, but when they returned, they saw that their mobile home had been destroyed in the tornado's path. </p><p>The Warfields applied for assistance with FEMA and initially planned to purchase another used mobile home. However, they changed their minds after meeting with a case manager through the long-term recovery group, which is supported in part by Lutheran Disaster Response. The Warfields' case manager suggested applying their resources toward a new home instead, which would provide them more security. Being in their 70s and having always lived in a mobile home, the Warfields were a little apprehensive, but they put their trust in the long-term recovery group. </p><p>Work crews and volunteers immediately began building the Warfields a new house on the property where their mobile home was. Every night, the Warfields would help out by cleaning the work site and throwing out trash. During the day, they spent time getting to know the crews working on their house and expressing their gratitude. In August, the Warfields' new home was dedicated and they moved in. </p><p>&quot;Never in our dreams did we think we would live in a real home,&quot; Marcina Warfield said.</p><p><img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Lutheran%20Disaster%20Response/Browse/Warfields%20from%20Brookport%20in%20front%20of%20their%20new%20home.jpg" alt="Warfields from Brookport in front of their new home.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;350px;height&#58;263px;" /><br></p><p><em>Pictured&#58; Ray and Marcina Warfield stand in front of their new home in Brookport, Ill.</em><br></p><p>Thanks to your generosity, Lutheran Disaster Response has been active in Illinois to work with families, like the Warfields, who experienced loss from the tornadoes. We continue to work with the communities and provide case management to help those who were impacted adjust to their &quot;new normal.&quot; Thank you for your prayers and support for Lutheran Disaster Response and the communities of Washington, Brookport and Gifford. Please join us in giving thanks for the rebuilding that has happened and praying for continued recovery!</p></div>11/17/2014Ebola Outbreak: Food assistance in LiberiaMegan Brandsrud http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/278http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCALutheranDisasterResponse/278<div class="ExternalClassAC2D8604B87944CD987FF8F866286415"><p>​<img src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20Lutheran%20Disaster%20Response/Browse/ebola-west-africa%20(LWF).jpg" alt="ebola-west-africa (LWF).jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;350px;height&#58;233px;" /></p><p>(<em>Photo courtesy of Lutheran World Federation)</em><br></p><p>The Ebola outbreak in West Africa continues to expand. There have now been more than 13,560 cases of infected persons and more than 4,950 deaths. While the disease itself continues to ravage communities and elicit fear and stigma, there are consequential impacts of the disease that are also severe, such as food shortage. </p><p class="MsoNormal">The closing of borders and sea ports and the decline in trade has left the region in a tough financial and food situation. Many farmers have abandoned their land out of fear, which has led to a decrease in food production and an increase in prices for the food that is available.</p><p class="MsoNormal">A report from the United Nations says that while the countries impacted with Ebola try to contain the virus, they are also facing a new hurdle with an approximate one million people in the region who are in need of food assistance. <span>&#160;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal">In mid-September, Lutheran Disaster Response provided food assistance to our companion churches in Liberia and Sierra Leone. We are now again providing food assistance to our brothers and sisters in Liberia through our companion church, the Lutheran Church in Liberia. Approximately one thousand households in six targeted areas of Liberia will receive a month’s supply of oil, rice and fish. </p><p class="MsoNormal">Liberia continues to be the country that is struggling with the most cases of Ebola, and communities remain quarantined and families have been isolated. Bishop Seyenkulo of the Lutheran Church in Liberia says that lack of food continues to be a main concern all over the country due to the fact that quarantines and isolations prevent people from being able to harvest or maintain a sustainable livelihood.</p><p class="MsoNormal">While the Ebola crisis continues to impact families in West Africa both directly and indirectly, Lutheran Disaster Response will continue to walk with our brothers and sisters. <span>&#160;</span>We pray for healing and comfort for those who are fighting this disease themselves. We pray for strength and protection for medical workers. God of life and love everlasting, hear our cries for mercy, comfort and help.</p><p class="MsoNormal">Please join us in praying for an end to this disease. If you would like to support Lutheran Disaster Response’s work in the fight against Ebola, please visit the <a href="https&#58;//community.elca.org/ebolaoutbreakresponse">Ebola Outbreak giving page</a>.</p> </div>11/13/2014