Restoring hope among Eta, Iota survivors
A 20-pound bag of bean seeds, a few personal necessities, and a smile.
Central American survivors of Hurricanes Eta and Iota cited these as helping to restore their hope after they lost everything to the storms’ wind, flooding and mudslides last November.
United Church of Christ Global H.O.P.E. partnered with Global Ministries to help funding both emergency goods and trauma recovery in hard-hit Nicaragua and Honduras.
The two powerful Category 4 hurricanes hit Central America just 13 days apart. The back-to-back hurricanes left physical destruction upon destruction and many deeply traumatized people.
Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, was the bullseye for both. The storms’ impact was felt more broadly by hundreds of thousands of families in a region already vulnerable due to other crises, including migration and COVID-19.
UCC Wider Church Ministries’ Global H.O.P.E. includes Disaster Ministries, Refugee and Migration Ministries, Volunteer Ministries and Sustainable Development. Global Ministries is the common witness of the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
In Nicaragua, Global H.O.P.E.’s initial contribution of $7,500 went toward an ecumenical response, developed by Global Ministries´partners in the country, that served 3,102 families in 43 communities with food, clothing, footwear, mattresses and bedspreads, personal hygiene kits, buckets with water filters, kitchenware and medicines.
Also distributed were 20 pounds of bean seeds to each of 350 families in 10 communities. Finally, Global H.O.P.E. and Global Ministries support enabled three two-day workshops on “Overcoming Emotional and Psychological Trauma,” reaching 150 participants in Puerto Cabezas.
“We lost all the chickens, pigs, fruit trees, our clothes,” said workshop participant Audilia F. “The force of the Hurricane … also damaged our minds and emotions. We no longer laughed because there was no reason to laugh. Our faces were saddened, we became very serious, and we lived in terror.
“(Then) you smiled back at us and brought joy to our hearts. We returned the desire to live again. I am happy because I received seeds, food, and kitchen utensils. I thank those who sent us this help, and may God give you more to continue helping more people who were affected by the Hurricane.”
In Honduras, Global H.O.P.E.’s initial contribution of $5,000 to Global Ministries´partners in the country helped 500 families in the country’s central-south with food, hygiene supplies and personal protective equipment against COVID-19. These families had lost everything, including their crops, to Hurricanes Eta and Iota.
In the country’s south, an additional 300 families were reached with food rations and with hygiene and cleaning kits.
Hurricanes survivor Santos A.S. of Choluteca, Honduras, said that despite the pandemic’s blow to the economy in 2020, “farmers believed they would recover with the crops.” But Hurricanes Eta and Iota destroyed the harvest “by flood and heavy rainwater and pests, causing the ruin of crops of beans, corn and sorghum.
“All this caused producers to be unable to get the grain already harvested, let alone recover investment for planting,” he said. UCC Global H.O.P.E., Global Ministries and its ecumenical partners helped low-income families in a time of despair “by providing bags containing essential food, biosecurity (PPE), and hygiene items.
“I have to thank you wholeheartedly for thinking about us,” he concluded.
The Reverend Angel Luis Rivera-Agosto, Global Ministries´ Area Executive for Latin America and the Caribbean, said, “Our counterparts in Nicaragua and Honduras have taught us how to resist and stand up in the midst of adverse circumstances. Quite simply, in the words of Peter in I Peter 1:3, they have experienced ‘a new birth into a living hope.’ They are planting again, rebuilding their homes, and meeting their most pressing needs.”
In early 2021, UCC Global H.O.P.E. contributed $5,000 more for Hurricane Eta and Iota recovery, being shared among Global Ministries´ partners in Nicaragua and Honduras for shelter, non-food items, food security, WASH, protection and psycho-social wellness.