For millions of people, 2017 was like living through a nightmare. Bombed out homes in war-ravaged Syria; east African communities crippled by malnutrition; homes left in ruin after an earthquake in Mexico; parents weeping over their lost sons and daughters in Myanmar and Bangladesh.
Bombed out homes in war-ravaged Syria; east African communities crippled by malnutrition; homes left in ruin after an earthquake in Mexico; parents weeping over their lost sons and daughters in Myanmar and Bangladesh.
South Sudanese families line up at the border to Uganda waiting to cross, after fleeing violence and war.
Over 1,000,000 South Sudanese refugees have now fled to Uganda. Photo Credit: Helen Manson
Reflecting on those twelve months paints a bleak picture, and many crises in the world show no signs of stopping in 2018. The war in Syria is ongoing, ethnic conflict continues to displace thousands in South Sudan, Bangladesh and Nigeria, and drought still threatens communities across East and Southern Africa.
In spite of the tremendous–and at times overwhelming–suffering, you persisted in prayer and generous giving. Thousands of individuals, families, churches, and businesses across North America supported the work of World Renew in responding to disasters in 22 countries.
Your generosity has made a difference in the lives of thousands living through conflict and natural disasters. Here are just examples that demonstrate this:
Your support in Nigeria
Halima Inmateh and her family lost everything because of Boko Haram. Violence from this militant group forced them from their home in search of safety elsewhere in Nigeria. Despite finding a new home, her husband had to travel a great distance for work, and her children often had to beg on the streets. In the midst of this uncertain time, she received cash assistance from World Renew’s partner, ZOA Nigeria. Halima used this to start her own business making pancakes. She then saved the money from her pancake business to buy a cart to collect water, which she rents out to others in her community.
This support started to make a difference in this family’s life. Most importantly though, it equipped Halima to make a difference herself. With hard work and an entrepreneurial spirit, she turned the direction of her family’s life around. Her husband no longer travels far to work, her children don’t need to beg, and they have enough food to eat. This all happened because people across North America (you!) believed that there was hope for Halima and others like her living through unimaginable situations.
Your support in Syria
You also believed that despite nearly seven years of war in Syria, a difference could still be made. In 2014, Akram and his family fled their hometown when ISIS took control. Akram lost everything–an expression that is becoming far too familiar. In their new community he could not find work because he suffers from motor impairment. Day after day his family’s situation deteriorated. Circumstances continued to mount against them as poverty and hunger loomed threateningly. In an act of desperation, Akram resorted to going from door to door begging neighbors for food for his children.
One day, Akram came to the doorstep of a Christian family who attended a local church. This church is one of many throughout Syria and Lebanon that World Renew is equipping with food to distribute to those in need. As this family heard Akram’s story, they more moved by compassion to help. They immediately contacted their local pastor, who met Akram right away and asked about what he needed most. Most importantly, Akram said, his children needed food. With support from the local church, Akram’s story began to turn around. He can now feed his children with the food he is receiving, and he no longer needs to beg from his neighbors.
Yes, 2017 was a difficult and at times overwhelming year. It seemed like every month there was a reason to refer to a new crisis as “unprecedented”. Yet like Paul says in Galatians – you did not grow weary of doing good! This next year will likely be no easier. Halima, Akram and many others are still living in situations that show no signs of improving. But we invite you to journey with us in this new year, and as you do so we will remain steadfast with you in our support for those in need.
PHOTO TOP: A refugee camp in Uganda for South Sudanese refugees | Photo credit: Helen Manson