In fact, there was an average of 260 natural disasters per year in developing countries between 2005 and 2016. Many are underreported by news agencies and only the most severe make the front page. We live busy lives, filled with work, school, family and countless other activities. It’s impossible to keep track of everything that’s going on in the world.
Thankfully, we believe in a God who sees everything and cares for those who are living through these times of crisis. “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them,” Jesus exhorts in Matthew 6. “Are you not much more valuable than they?”
As an organization, we have been blessed with a ministry and the opportunity to help those affected by disasters. At times, it means responding to major crises that make the front page –Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, the Nepal earthquake in 2015 and, more recently, the earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia. At other times, we respond to disasters that don’t get as much attention. World Renew is able to respond to these underreported disasters through gifts made to the International Rapid Response Fund.
The International Rapid Response Fund is a source of funding used for those smaller, less well-known disasters. When heavy winds and rain affect communities in Sierra Leone or an earthquake destroys homes in Mexico, World Renew can still respond even if the needs don’t make the front page.
The following are two stories of how World Renew is helping disaster survivors through the International Rapid Response Fund.
In March 2018, heavy winds and rain severely damaged buildings in the village of Heremakono, located in northern Sierra Leone. Christian Extension Services (CES), World Renew’s partner in Sierra Leone, was already working in this community when the storm took place.
Many buildings lost their roofs, including family homes and two local schools. The damage caused by this storm meant it was no longer safe for the 350 local children to attend school. Through the International Rapid Response Fund, World Renew supported a small construction project to repair the roofs of the two schools and ensure that these children could continue their education.
In addition to repairing the school roofs, community members were also encouraged to plant new trees to reduce the potential for future disasters caused by heavy wind.
While this may have not been an enormous crisis, the needs felt by this community were very real. This small response made a significant difference in this community, and in the lives of the children who could safely return to school.
On September 19, 2017, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit the Mexican state of Morelos, severely damaging homes and businesses, leaving many families in need of humanitarian assistance.
Through the International Rapid Response Fund, World Renew supported the work of a local organization, Asociación Mexicana de Transformación Rural y Urbana (AMEXTRA). Through this partnership, 400 people received emergency food and hygiene kits in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake.
Families also received materials to build a temporary shelter. Several months after the earthquake, AMEXTRA held a workshop for youth and adults on processing this traumatic experience. In recent months, the focus of the response has been on longer-term rehabilitation.
AMEXTRA has supported small business owners begin their journey of recovery and has helped to rebuild homes for some of the most vulnerable families, including single mothers with young children, the elderly, and those with disabilities.
When the earthquake hit, Flora’s home collapsed. Thankfully she was not inside the home at the time, but even months after the earthquake her home was still uninhabitable. As an elderly woman with high blood pressure, Flora did not have the money or physical strength to rebuild her home. Thankfully, she made a connection with our local partner and we were able to help her during in these challenging circumstances. Today, Flora is living in a new home because of the support provided by World Renew.
“I thank you who are helping me build my house together with AMEXTRA,” she shared.
With the enormity of needs around the world, it is easy to be overwhelmed.
We are thankful for the ministry that God has given World Renew, and for the hundreds of partners around the world that make this work possible.
Through supporting the International Rapid Response Fund, your gifts are enabling World Renew to respond to the disasters you may not hear about in the media, ensuring that we can continue to be the hands and feet of Christ in a world of great need.
PHOTO TOP: Azra stands in front of what used to be her house in Soulowe village, Sigi, Indonesia’s Central Sulawesi.
The September 28 earthquake destroyed many houses and public buildings in the area. People are now living in makeshift shelters.
PHOTO CREDIT: Medair Partner