A NEWS RELEASE
From Global Hunger and Development Appeal (GHDA)
Winnipeg, February 1, 2005 (ELCIC)--The first GHDA news item about the recent tsunami disaster was released on December 28, 2004. In the weeks since, ELCIC members have responded with extraordinary generosity. "We are a church for others," said GHDA Coordinator Rev. Paul Johnson. "In very concrete ways the people of this church have given flesh to those words, sharing freely of God’s generosity to them."
On January 26, 2005, one month after the Asian catastrophe, Canadian Lutheran World Relief (CLWR) announced that it had received $815,000 thus far, not including federal government matching funds. Much of this total was received through GHDA or directly from ELCIC members and congregations. "This is by far the largest response CLWR has had to any appeal," said Tim Graff, CLWR director of communications. "We thank all the people and groups who gave so generously."
"There will always be disasters," said Parker Mitchell and George Roter of Engineers Without Borders-Canada in The Globe and Mail on January 11, 2005. A perfect example of this is the "Guyana Flooding" appeal issued by GHDA last week, also one month after the Asian tsunami and not in conjunction with CLWR. Recent floods in Guyana have impacted more than a quarter of the population of that country. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Guyana is a partner church of the ELCIC, and a companion synod with the Eastern Synod - ELCIC.
The article by Mitchell and Roter was entitled "Africa’s Weekly Silent Tsunami" and pointed out that the impact of natural disasters is always compounded by poverty. The authors noted that in Africa this week, and next week, and the week after that, 130,000 human beings will die of preventable causes [This figure represents the population of St. Catharines, Ontario, every single week.] 44,000 people will die of AIDS, 19,000 of malaria, 8000 of tuberculosis. Next week in Africa unsafe water will kill 14,000 people, most of them children. In the next seven days in Africa about 15,000 mothers and babies will die from childbirth-related causes, and another 9500 children will die from illnesses like measles and tetanus. The list goes on; over the next year seven million people will be dead, about four million of them children, of preventable causes.
The New York Times January 27, 2005: "Jan Egeland, the United Nations’ emergency relief coordinator, said that while the international community had provided unprecedented assistance to countries ravaged by the Asian tsunamis, it continued to ignore chronic crises of equally catastrophic consequences in Africa." At Davos, Switzerland, President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria recently said, "We [in Africa] are getting aid when we have flood, disaster. We are not getting the critical mass of funds to make development possible."
Mitchell and Roter pointed out that "the world community recently set up the Global Fund to Fight Tuberculosis, AIDS and Malaria (diseases that, combined, kill more than five million people a year). This year the fund had less than $1-billion to disperse." They ask, "If the world can pledge $4-billion in two weeks to help the tsunami survivors, can we not set our sights higher and make poverty history?"
GHDA exists to help make poverty history. GHDA responds to disasters, and will continue to do that with the support of the people of the ELCIC. GHDA also needs regular, undesignated contributions from its donors. Together with many partners, CLWR and KAIROS (Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives) chief among them, the work of GHDA is ongoing. It is the primary means by which the ELCIC gathers funds for development, advocacy, and justice and peace-building work.
By both regular and second-mile support of GHDA, members help the ELCIC to achieve its vision of being a church for others, a church working in Christ’s name for justice and peace, working with Christ to bring in the reign of God.