Thursday, September 25, 2008

Disaster grants aid the Caribbean, Children’s Disaster Service continues work in Texas.

In a continuing response to the recent hurricanes that hit the Caribbean and the US Gulf coast, the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund has issued several grants to support relief work, and 26 volunteers from the denomination’s Children’s Disaster Services agency are caring for children in shelters in Texas this week.

The Emergency Disaster Fund has given a grant of $5,000 for Brethren work in Haiti, which has been hit by four tropical storms and hurricanes in the last two months. In the recent Hurricane Ike, more than 300 people died in Haiti, many thousands of homes were destroyed, and millions of Haitians are now in dire need of food. Reports from the Church of the Brethren Haiti Advisory Committee indicate that at least 35 Haitian Brethren have lost their homes.

The grant will support a collaborative effort between Brethren Disaster Ministries and the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission Partnerships, and will include travel for an assessment team, a Haiti response coordinator, and the assessment and development of a Brethren response in Haiti. Future grants are anticipated once a plan is developed.

A separate grant of $10,000 supports the work of Church World Service (CWS) in the Caribbean, including a rapid response effort that is already underway, well as the shipping of material aid from the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. The Material Resources program’s most recent shipments in response to Hurricane Gustav and Hurricane Ike have included a truckload of blankets, baby kits, and hygiene kits shipped to Haiti, and a truckload of school kits and hygiene kits shipped to Baton Rouge, La.

Another allocation of $9,000 from the fund has gone to aid displaced people following the armed conflict between Georgia and the Russian Federation, to support the aid efforts of CWS partners the Russian Orthodox Church and Tbilisi Youth House Foundation.

Children’s Disaster Services this week has 26 volunteers in the Houston area, serving children displaced by Hurricane Ike. These teams are to be replaced with new teams of childcare volunteers over the weekend, reported Judy Bezon, director of Children’s Disaster Services. The current teams have worked in four shelters, one of which is a "mega center" where two childcare centers are open. Bezon reported that as other shelters close, and as evacuees learn their homes are uninhabitable, they will go to the mega shelter--which "will be going for quite a while," she said.

"CDS volunteers certainly are generous with their time," Bezon added, in a note expressing admiration for volunteers who spend long demanding hours each day caring for children in stressful circumstances. "I have 13 ready to travel to Houston over the weekend, and more who can go just a bit later. All of this after utilizing 29 volunteers for Hurricane Gustav! Altogether there are 28 more people who are willing to put everything aside to go help children who have been impacted by a storm."

Source: 9/25/2008 Newsline Extra

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