By Kim Plummer Krull
Earthquake survivors in Haiti and Tennessee families with flood damage are among the many people who will be assisted by a number of disaster grants awarded in August by LCMS World Relief and Human Care (WR-HC).
Several of the grants went to congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Haiti (ELCH) to help with continuing recovery since the Jan. 12 earthquake. The grants, all made possible by generous WR-HC donors, include those for:
- a community store operated by the ELCH congregation in Les Cayes. The $75,000 grant provides an opportunity for Haitians to buy dry goods and groceries at reduced prices.
- a chicken farm operated by the ELCH congregation in Cap-Haitien. The $50,000 grant provides an opportunity for Haitians to buy chickens and eggs at reduced prices.
Rev. Glenn F. Merritt, director of Disaster Response with WR-HC, says that both the community store and chicken farm will help stimulate local economies and enable Haitian Lutherans to serve their struggling communities.
“Members of the churches working at both the store and the farm reach out to people, inviting them to worship and Bible study,” Merritt said. The projects “meet material, as well as spiritual, needs.”
Also intended to help stimulate the Haitian economy is a grant for a pilot micro-credit assistance program for Haitian women. The $5,000 grant provides small business loans to women, primarily fruit and vegetable street vendors who lost their livelihoods in the earthquake. The grant provides funds to plant new crops.
The project targets women, Merritt said, because “so many women in Haiti are single parents and the sole provider for their family.”
Earthquake recovery also continues in Chile, where a $119,000 grant from WR-HC to the Confessional Lutheran Church of Chile will address both physical and spiritual needs. The funds for the LCMS partner church provide for a manager to oversee a variety of mercy projects implemented since the Feb. 27 quake and subsequent tsunami killed more than 500 people and caused widespread damage. The grant focuses on assistance in three cities — Talca, Constitucion and Cauquenes.
Disaster grants also were awarded to:
- El Buen Pastor Lutheran Church, McAllen, Texas, to help with recovery from Hurricane Alex. The $11,250 grant assists families in Monterrey, Mexico, and helps repair the parish hall roof damaged by the June 29 storm.
- three Tennessee congregations affected by May floods. Cross of Life Lutheran Church, Antioch, and Redeemer Lutheran Church, Nashville, received $2,000 and $1,000 grants, respectively, to assist families with flood damage. Redeeming Grace Lutheran Church, Munford, was awarded a $4,000 grant to help replace destroyed equipment and furnishings.
As he announced this latest round of disaster grants, Merritt was making plans to return to Haiti in late August in conjunction with a new earthquake recovery project. Through “Building Homes and Hope in Haiti,” WR-HC is partnering with the ELCH and the Lutheran Church of Haiti to provide permanent housing for survivors who remain homeless seven months after the disaster.
Plans are in the works to acquire property and build “Lutheran villages” in Port-au-Prince, Jacmel and Leogane. In addition to homes, the goal is for each site to include a chapel, orphanage, clinic and school.
Thanks to generous donors, Merritt says, WR-HC is able to fund the start-up for this ambitious effort. He stressed that continued financial support is needed to make the villages a reality.
More than 1 million people “are living under bed sheets, in makeshift shelters, and tents that are now worn out, plus another 2 million people are in broken-down homes cobbled together from rubble,” Merritt said. “But thanks to the generosity of LCMS members, we are helping many Haitians move closer to getting off the streets and back into homes.”
To learn more about “Building Homes and Hope in Haiti,” visit www.lcms.org/bhhh or call WR-HC at 800-248-1930, ext. 1380.
To help ensure that the LCMS can continue to assist people affected by these and future disasters, please make a gift for WR-HC’s general disaster fund by visiting http://givenowlcms.org, calling 888-930-4438, or mailing donations earmarked for “General Disaster Fund” to LCMS World Relief and Human Care, P.O. Box 66861, St. Louis, MO 63166-6861.
Kim Plummer Krull is a freelance writer and a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Des Peres, Mo.
Posted Aug. 18, 2010