It's one year after Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria struck, and survivors continue to struggle to recover. Today, floodwaters continue to rise in the Carolinas 10 days after Hurricane Florence made landfall. Against this backdrop, UCC Disaster Ministries Executive Zach Wolgemuth reflects on the commitment to long-term recovery. "I have faith that God, working through us, can create something new," he writes. "Why? Because I’ve seen it."
It's been a year since Hurricane Maria decimated Puerto Rico. UCC Disaster Ministries has accompanied the survivors from day one, investing nearly $500,000 funding, and another $250,000 in hurricane-damaged Florida and U.S. Virgin Islands. This does not count in-kind contributions, sharing of recovery expertise and work teams volunteering to rebuild homes.
Victor Masdrico is a 17-year-old teenager. He writes, ""I feel very grateful for the support that Caminante has given me. My goal is to finish my studies and become a professional, putting into practice everything I have learned in Caminante. I would like in the future to be able to help vulnerable children so that their rights are guaranteed, just as I was helped."
Lend your voice to help put an end to TB through a letter-writing campaign.
The World Health Organization, like the World Council of Churches – Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (WCC-EAA) are looking to significantly reduce the number of people living with TB, and need our help.
Safe Centers provide girls with an after school support group that is focused on keeping girls in school and eliminating child marriage, female genital mutilation, and teenage pregnancies. They also discuss topics related to health, hygiene, goal setting, and self-love. The Boys and Girls Club function to empower young people to reach their full potential.
There are still 60 UCC Disaster Ministries Matching Grants available to UCC churches and other UCC groups that raise at least $250 in cash and/or in kind to assemble Church World Service Kits and Clean-Up Buckets.
A UCC congregation in Redding, Calif., is planning a community meal on Tuesday, August 7, for friends and neighbors who have lost their homes and possessions to the wildfires burning in the area. While flames came within a mile of Pilgrim Congregational United Church of Christ, the church building, designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, was spared. The church family was not. Click here for the full UCC News story.
UCC Disaster Ministries has been awarded a $100,000 grant by the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) for its work to restore 17 low-income rental units in Port Arthur, Texas, that Hurricane Harvey flooded with two feet of water last August.
Severe spring floods in Kenya displaced more than 311,000 people, killing 132 and injuring 23 others according to Kenya’s National Disaster Management Agency. In addition, more than 6,000 livestock were killed, and flood waters submerged more than 9,500 acres of farmland during planting season. Houses, health centers, schools and roads have been damaged or destroyed.
One Great Hour of Sharing supports the Christian Council of Ghana in their program to fight against sexual and gender-based violence among church women and support to women living with HIV. The goal of our support is to assist with the protection of the rights of the vulnerable in these two categories as well as rights for trafficked children and their mothers.
When I was a child, the DCDC helped me build my confidence. Today, as the project coordinator at DCDC, we are helping our participants develop a love for the peace process and work to achieve it, first here and then worldwide.
These women in Brazil are producing a specialty organic coffee, which is helping them improve their lives.
Small holder farming families will have year-round food security with nutrition sufficiency for women and children in three districts in Bihar and Jharkhand, India.
The AIDS 2018 conference will be held in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, July 23-27, 2018. The faith-based response to HIV and AIDS has become more visible and integrated. The United Church of Christ has been a constant advocate of the faith community working to help reduce and now eliminate new HIV infections, deaths, and discrimination.
Fourteen communities, 626 households, and 3,130 individuals have been supported by the Honduras Nueva Frontera organization, led by Church World Service and Local Partner Comisión de Acción Social Menonita. These are Foods Resources Bank projects that helps ensure people have good and nutritious food to eat. These are your One Great Hour of Sharing dollars at work in the world.
In many parts of the world, clean safe drinking water is a luxury. Without clean water, many people become sick by drinking and using contaminated water. The water shortage can be the result of drought, flood, pollution, or other catastrophes.
Anely Latalladi Ortega thought her home was safe before Hurricane Maria left flood waters that devastated her home and community. Before Maria, "where I lived was not in a flood zone. It had never flooded. I felt fortunate. My worry in those early days was for others who weren’t as lucky", she shared. "I applied for a job with FEMA and started working the week before Thanksgiving. This job has given me a great sense of satisfaction because I can use my skills and experience to contribute in the recovery of my beloved Puerto Rico."
Mr. Wondimu Yunka lives with his family in the village of Lela Honcho, located a few kilometers from the town of Chuko, Ethiopia. Through participation in a sustainable agricultural program, he has learned many techniques that have increased the success of his farm, and with other farmers in his community. The 4 simple techniques are simple and have had proven results.
Moms in Nicaragua are learning the importance of nutrition in the lives of their babies. According to the Nicaragua Río Coco program, the first 1,000 days of babies’ lives are the most critical for the healthy development of their bodies and minds. Understanding the nutritional importance of breastfeeding, when and how to start a baby on solid food, and what to do if a child is malnourished are key factors in improving the health of the mother, child and the entire family.
A UCC Disaster Ministries solidarity grant is helping international students at the Kanana Fou Theological Seminary in American Samoa replace essential school supplies and basic furnishings they lost to wind and water damage from powerful Cyclone Gita in February.
In partnership with the Iglesia Evangelica Unida de Puerto Rico, UCC Disaster Ministries is helping people on that hurricane-battered island to build back better and for the long term through development of a Social Action and Emergency Action ministry and deployment of volunteer work teams, being recruited now for deployment beginning June 1.
Ever since severe floods in 2016 washed away their small bridge across the creek in front of their home, an older West Virginia couple used an extension ladder to get out to the grocery store and doctor’s office. Today, the couple can cross the creek safely on a simple, sturdy new bridge – the 50th completed in West Virginia in just over two years in an innovative project of the United Church of Christ and other members of W. Va. Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.
In India like in most places, people infected with HIV suffer from stigmatization and isolation. Successfully building a micro business system there had potential to transform lives. In partnership with the Positive Women Network and ECLOF, two workshops were conducted in India on entrepreneurship and business management for HIV-affected women. One of the best outcomes of the meeting was the 55 participants found a place in their community that provides support to them and their families.
Yaribel Davila had to evacuate her apartment in Port Arthur, Texas, last August when flood waters caused by Hurricane Harvey came in up to her knees. UCC Disaster Ministries is partnering with the Southeast Texas Community Development Corporation (SET CDC) to restore her apartment and 16 others that suffered similar damage. The UCC’s Amanda Sheldon interviewed Ms. Davila.
In the six months since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, UCC Disaster Ministries has been providing critical supplies and helping Puerto Ricans develop a long-term strategic plan for recovery. Soon, volunteer work teams will be deployed.
In a rural community in Cambodia, the only water available had been from a shallow, hand-dug well. Each day during the rainy season, a grandmother named Som Bee would walk to the well to collect the water for her family. Today they are healthier because you helped provide access to clean water.
Gather your disaster recovery volunteer mission group to give a week of service in Puerto Rico. Sign up now to receive an email notification when registration opens in April. Beginning June 2018, groups serve in Puerto Rico for one-week periods.
UCC Disaster Ministries is celebrating the fulfillment of its promise of $200,000 for construction of new, permanent, earthquake-resistant homes in Nepal. The UCC’s last installment of $50,000 was sent recently. Thanks to careful stewardship, the funds will complete more than 50 homes for some of the most vulnerable survivors of the two powerful earthquakes in 2015 that left nearly 9,000 people dead and hundreds of thousands of homes destroyed or damaged.
As a small community more than 1,000 miles from the contiguous United States, with at least 40 percent of the population at or below the poverty line, the U.S. Virgin Islands are facing significant recovery challenges following last year’s Hurricanes Irma and Maria. A $212,000 grant from the Fund for the Virgin Islands (FFVI) through the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands will support faster, better long-term recovery.
“ACT members are rooted in the communities that they serve. They see first-hand how women have been victims of many layers of marginalization based on their race, age, religion, sexual orientation, health, socioeconomic status etc.,” says Emilie Weiderud, Co-chair of the ACT Alliance Gender Equality and Justice Community of Practice.
Volunteers at UCC Disaster Ministries' new work site in Port Arthur, Texas, are helping restore Hurricane Harvey-devastated homes for 17 low- to moderate-income renters. As they help bring individuals and families to sustainability, their hearts are being touched by the community's enormous challenges, rich history and deep Christian faith.
When Hurricane Harvey flooded 17 of 19 affordable housing units managed by the Southeast Texas Community Development Corporation (SETCDC) in Port Arthur, Texas, tenants fled and stopped paying rent. Three displaced tenants were in really bad situations and urgently needed to get back home. SETCDC managed to rehabilitate those properties, depleting its reserve. But until UCC Disaster Ministries offered support, they didn’t know where they would get the resources to rehab the remaining 14 units.
Children are receiving assistance from a local Association to help combat poverty, and limited access to educational opportunities in Laos
When you are an immigrant and disaster strikes, where do you turn for help? In Northern California, after the wildfires of last October, hundreds of Spanish speaking and other especially vulnerable survivors have been turning to First Congregational Church UCC of Sonoma (FCCS), a leading safe "go to" place, with support from UCC Disaster Ministries.
Rebeca and Nestor are promoting peace in their communities thanks to rooftop rainwater harvesting. Conflicts over land and water rights between indigenous people and “criollo” settlers have been a reality for nearly 100 years in the Argentine and Bolivian Chaco. Today, the settlers are as poor as their indigenous neighbors, and the existence of both groups is threatened by frequent six-month droughts. As Nestor puts it, “When it comes to water, there is no difference between us.”
Two years ago this month, Sepa and his wife Josivini had cause to wonder whether they and their neighbors would live or die as Cyclone Winston roared across their Fiji Islands community of Navakawau, on Taveuni Island, blowing away 96 of the village’s 111 homes, including theirs. Thanks to UCC Disaster Ministries, they had shelter in the community hall while they rebuilt their home - and now, reliable drinking water and a new health center.
Six members of St. Paul's UCC in St. Louis, Mo., spent a week in a Harvey-battered neighborhood of Houston late last year replacing a homeowner's flood-soaked drywall and retrofitting the bathroom to make it handicapped accessible. Pastor Mike Roth shares some of the group's thought-provoking learnings.
United Church of Christ Disaster Ministries continues to be at the helm of outreach to the thousands of Puerto Ricans who have sought shelter in Pennsylvania since Hurricane Maria wreaked death and destruction across their island in late September 2017. Work that began at a Disaster Assistance Services Center in Philadelphia is now rolling out to seven other Pennsylvania cities through a series of resource fairs.
In 2015, Luisa joined a 5-year agricultural project through the Council of Protestant Churches of Nicaragua (CEPAD). With farmers like Luisa, CEPAD is working to improve lives through planting seeds that will bear abundant fruit for today, tomorrow, and years to come. With God’s help, these seeds will bear far more than we imagine.
Ecumenical Accompaniment Program participants live in the West Bank for three months and provide support to vulnerable communities, monitor and report human rights abuses and connect with Palestinians and Israelis working together for a just peace. In the United States, EAPPI is supported by churches in partnership with Church World Service (CWS) and welcomes engagement from a wide range of churches, agencies and individuals
Christians are called to be present and to be healers where there are breaks and cracks in the world. Where more than welcoming people fleeing violence and assisting people who have lost everything to disaster? "Those are among the rawest breaks in our world," says Amanda Sheldon, the UCC's new National Disaster and Refugee Ministries Program Associate (since January 16).
With a wealth of arts and culture, the Institute for Interfaith Dialogue in Indonesia has begun impacting the peace movement, and is hoping to see results that will restore the memory of the people to tranquility and peace as a nation. They are committed to the idea that art and culture is a manifesto of the peaceful situation that every generation has aspired to achieve, making it the duty of all its citizens to keep for the future of the nation.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced its decision to terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Salvadorans in the United States. This decision follows the recent TPS terminations for Sudan, Nicaragua, and Haiti, and is yet another attack on immigrant communities. TPS is a program designed to protect people from being returned to harm - precisely the conditions El Salvador faces today, including gang conscription, sexual violence, and human trafficking. As a nation, we promised to protect nearly 200,000 Salvadoran neighbors by allowing them to remain in the United States.
Join us in urging the administration to restore El Salvador's TPS designation, and calling on Congress to pass a permanent legislative solution for all TPS holders. Click here for our Interfaith Toolkit: 5 Ways to Take Action in the New Year.
Two participants from a remote mountain community tell what your support has meant to them:
Working together as a community, they are reducing poverty, improving nutrition and food security, improving homes with energy-efficient stoves, latrines and water-storage facilities, and replacing dirt floors with cement. The overall project is part of Foods Resources Bank's Honduras-Nueva Frontera program, supported by your gifts to the One Great Hour of Sharing offering.
Romana and Juliana received the simple gift of a piglet that has changed the fortunes of these two mothers. And they, in turn, are “paying it forward,” enabling 10 neighboring families to make life-changing improvements to their circumstances as well.
Hurricanes Irma and Maria wiped out water treatment systems in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, leaving people without clean drinking water. According to the Department of Defense, 55% of Puerto Rico was left without clean drinking water. Your help is needed. One $20 filter ensures 1 million gallons of fresh water!
The saying, “Peace in the Middle East” has been around for years. And today, through the Forum for Development, Culture and Dialogue (FDCD), men, women and youth are participating in Peacebuilding and conflict resolution activities around Lebanon, making peace possible.
UCC Disaster Ministries has just contributed $10,000 toward a proactive program to prevent cholera and malnutrition in Haiti in the wake of Hurricane Irma, and to treat any instances that occur. The implementing partner is IMA World Health, which has had a significant presence in Haiti since 1998, including relationships with government and communities.