2008
Church Still Offering Aid to Flooding, Quake Victims
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“Church Still Offering Aid to Flooding, Quake Victims,” Liahona, Feb. 2008, N5–N7

Church Still Offering Aid to Flooding, Quake Victims

Though the disasters have passed, the shaking has stopped, and the waters have receded, the Church continues to provide humanitarian relief to members and friends of the Church in Indonesia, Peru, and Africa.

Funded through generous donations by Church members and charitable corporations and foundations, the Church is able to respond quickly to areas affected by natural calamities. Providing hygiene kits, food, tarps, blankets, and other necessary provisions, the Church continues to provide a helping hand to the afflicted.

Indonesia

The Church continues to provide humanitarian aid to the victims of the 7.9-magnitude earthquake that violently shook Sumatra on the evening of September 12, 2007. The quake damaged some 30,000 homes and buildings in the Bengkulu area in southern Sumatra.

All missionaries were safe after the quake, and none of the 25 members living in the impacted area were reported injured. The villages that were most devastated were Laise, Argamakmur, and Mukomuko. LDS Charities, under the direction of the Asia Area Presidency, began providing aid soon after the earthquake hit. A group of volunteers sent out to evaluate the situation provided early relief by distributing cooking oil, rice and other food items, kerosene lanterns, and tarps.

LDS Charities staff members who arrived in Bengkuly, Laise, and Argamakmur two days after the earthquake found extensive damage, with many people living outside their damaged homes under tarps strung up to protect them from the sun and rainstorms. Some residents, fearful of ongoing earthquake activity, stayed in similar shelters although their homes were undamaged.

Three days after the earthquake struck, LDS Charities returned to Laise and Argamakmur with enough food to assist some 500 families. The staff delivered food to several other villages along the way.

LDS Charities also provided a truckload of rice and other food to Muhammadiya, a local Muslim organization with 29 million members, and made a large donation to an independent Christian association that provides aid to the area of Bengkulu City.

The local hospital in Argamakmur was damaged, requiring the hospital staff to temporarily evacuate patients to large army tents set up in the parking lot and on the sidewalks. Emergencies were received and surgery performed on a covered sidewalk just outside the damaged hospital building.

Adapted from Church News, October 6, 2007.

Africa

Severe flooding across 17 African countries has displaced hundreds of thousands of people. Heavy September rains hit Uganda, Ethiopia, and Sudan the hardest. More than 250 people died, and hundreds of thousands of homes were destroyed.

The Church was one of the first to respond with relief supplies to Ghana, sending bags of rice, sugar, beans, millet, cooking oil, sleeping mats, towels, and soap that were loaded on a truck in Accra, some 30 hours away.

Agnes Chigabatia Asangalisa, deputy minister of the Upper East Region in Ghana, approached humanitarian missionaries Elder Bruce and Sister Ardis Knudsen for help.

Many of the homes in the villages were made of mud and dissolved in the flooding, displacing nearly 300,000 people. Many are temporarily residing in schools, community centers, churches, or government buildings. Crops were destroyed, and firewood and clean water were unavailable. The roads to many villages were destroyed, leaving many townships accessible only by canoe.

Officials were concerned about outbreaks of waterborne diseases throughout the area.

“The magnitude is unbelievable,” said Benonita Bismarck, head of operations for the Ghana Red Cross. In the Upper East Region alone, some 30,000 acres (12,220 hectares) of farmland have been washed away, according to government figures.

“People’s livelihoods have been totally devastated, and there is imminent famine in the area,” said Nana Akrasi-Sarpong, public relations manager at the Ministry of the Interior.

The deputy regional minister accepted the relief goods from Bishop Clarence Kofi of the Madina Second Ward, Accra Ghana Adenta Stake.

Adapted from Church News, October 6, 2007.

Peru

Five weeks after an 8.0-magnitude earthquake devastated Pisco, Peru, in August 2007, the Church continued to send relief and supplies to the affected areas by teaming up with other organizations.

It is estimated that 70 percent of the city of Pisco was destroyed, and aftershocks continued to shake the area for days. No Church meetinghouses were destroyed, but many received damage. Hundreds of people were killed in the earthquake.

Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles visited the devastated nation less than two weeks after the earthquake and assured Peruvians that the Church would continue to provide aid.

“We will be there,” he said. Leaders and members worldwide were praying for the people in Peru, he said, and humanitarian relief would keep coming even after the initial efforts were exhausted.

In a coordinated effort between the Church, Gossner Foods, DHL International, and ASTAR Air Cargo, 40,000 pounds (18,000 kg) of hygiene kits, blankets, school kits, and ultra-high temperature milk—a milk that has been specially processed and packaged so that no refrigeration is required until it is opened—were delivered to Pisco.

Under the direction of the South America West Area Presidency, four meetinghouses temporarily housed 600 to 700 Church members, relatives, and neighbors. Working with Peru’s Civil Defense Agency, the Church provided 10,000 blankets and other emergency supplies such as tents and basic camping equipment.

Rick Foster, Welfare Services spokesman for the Church, acknowledged the generosity of DHL and ASTAR Air Cargo in providing transport for the shipment and Gossner Foods for providing the milk. Pilar Nores de García, the First Lady of Peru, said milk is one of the most-needed commodities.

Brother Foster said humanitarian aid is part of the Church’s core mission and expressed gratitude that others were willing to partner with the Church in “blessing the lives of those in need.”

In advance of aid, Elder Ralph Walker from LDS Charities assesses the damage done by the earthquake in Indonesia with a local resident.

Courtesy of the Indonesia Jakarta Mission

Bishop Clarence Kofi of the Madina Second Ward, Accra Ghana Adenta Stake, helps deliver relief goods supplied by the Church to areas of Ghana devastated by the worst flooding in 10 years. Nearly 300,000 people were displaced when their mud homes were destroyed in the flooding.

Courtesy Africa West Area