Written by Carol Fouke-Mpoyo
Even as search and rescue efforts - and aftershocks - continue following last week's devastating earthquakes in Japan and Ecuador, UCC Disaster Ministries has begun its response with grants for relief efforts in Japan and Ecuador.
"I fully expect that we will be engaged for the long term, especially in Ecuador where there has been significant damage throughout the country," said UCC Disaster Ministries Executive Zach Wolgemuth.
UCC Disaster Ministries is sending a total of $12,500 for immediate life-saving assistance to survivors of last week's two powerful and deadly earthquakes in Kumamoto prefecture on the southern Japanese island of Kyushu. The quakes killed at least 42 people and displaced tens of thousands.
In addition to more than 200 aftershocks, the earthquake also triggered other earthquakes on different fault lines in Japan's Ooita prefecture. Experts predict that the seismic activity could move further east, which would result in more widespread destruction.
$10,000 of the initial grant to Japan is being sent care of Church World Service for emergency supplies and volunteer and operations management in Japan. The planned response implemented by CWS and partners will fill gaps in the current response for at least 1,000 families (4,000 individuals).
Commented Wolgemuth, "We work hard to try to fill gaps where other organizations may struggle and as specific needs arise we are responding immediately."
The remaining $2,500 is going as a solidarity grant to the United Church of Christ Japan, which is a joint UCC-Disciples Global Ministries partner.
A massive 7.8 earthquake struck Ecuador April 16, killing at least 570 people. Tens of thousands of people are displaced and many remain trapped or missing, and there has been significant damage in both countries.
UCC Disaster Ministries has approved a $2,500 solidarity grant to support the earthquake response work of FEDICE ("Faith Says"), a Global Ministries bilateral partner in Ecuador. An additional $15,000 donated through the ACT Alliance will assist 6,000 families in two provinces with Food Security, WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene), Community Based Psychosocial Support and Non Food Items.
"Thankfully, several Global Ministries partners in Ecuador and Japan have reached out and reported themselves safe," Wolgemuth said. "Even as they offer themselves in service to their devastated communities, the UCC stands ready to support recovery efforts once search and rescue is completed and damage assessments can take place."
Meanwhile, UCC Disaster Ministries requests people to:
- Pray for the people of Japan and Ecuador.
- Spread the word that UCC Disaster Ministries will be engaging in the recovery efforts.
- Give to the UCC's International Emergency Relief Fund. "Remember that recovery in both Ecuador and Japan will be a marathon not a sprint," Wolgemuth said.
Wolgemuth noted that UCC Disaster Ministries contributed more than one million dollars for partners' response to the triple disaster – the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear reactor meltdown – that struck Japan five years ago. Read more.
He also noted UCC Disaster Ministries' support for FEDICE in Ecuador last fall as it helped the community of Romerillos cope with the health and economic impact of volcanic ash ("UCC Responds as Volcanic Ash Falls").
Pictured above: Japan home destroyed by the mid-April 2016 earthquakes. Photo credit: Peace Boat Disaster Relief Volunteer Center