March 10, 2021
By Will Postma
Today we mark a grim anniversary. It’s been one year, a memorable and tragic year, since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, killing 2.6 million people worldwide.
One year later, we know that the impacts of this microscopic yet world-changing virus will linger long after lockdowns have been lifted, and life returns to normal. We pray the day will soon come when vaccines will have been given to everyone, including those most at the margins.
At PWRDF, our vision for a truly just, healthy and peaceful world is even more important today. We hope for greater investments in public health, in preparedness for the next pandemic or other disasters that know no borders. We pray for a fair sharing of the world’s resources, entrusted to us by God.
To that end, in 2020 PWRDF joined For the Love of Creation, an ecumenical initiative that brings together hope and action, that the resources of this earth will be stewarded, to be present for our children and their children to come. The movement couldn’t come sooner. Last year global food insecurity jumped by 30% – that means 235 million people who face hunger, due to conflict, displacement, climate change and COVID-19.
PWRDF’s partners have worked hard to respond to COVID-19 in their communities, while holding onto the development gains made to date. Here are just a few examples:
At the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, where PWRDF is a long-time partner of the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK), pandemic support began last fall. Following an appeal from UNHCR to its partners, NCCK reached out to PWRDF. Funds allowed NCCK to provide PPE and other medical equipment to two government health care facilities in the camps. An ongoing program to empower women milling maize to make chicken feed is also improving their livelihoods.
In Quebec, PWRDF continues to fund the award-winning Tóta tánon Ohkwári Kanien’kéha Puppet Show, produced by KOR Language and Cultural Centre. Two 15-minute episodes were created and aired on YouTube this year, and the puppets joined the local daily COVID-19 Task Force Briefing on the local cable network to encourage the community, all in kanien’kéha (Mohawk) language.
And in Colombia, PWRDF partner ILSA faced many pandemic challenges. Social distancing and travel restrictions made it hard to lead training sessions, a key part of its empowering women project. ILSA overcame these hurdles by using technology to live stream workshops. Money allocated for publishing materials will now be spent on plant nurseries which will further protect the land in the environmentally vulnerable Pisba region.
March is also the last month of PWRDF’s fiscal year. Even with churches no longer meeting in person and with so many uncertainties in these past 12 months, we are grateful as to how Canadians have reached out to support PWRDF’s partners and programs. You have invited us to your Zoom coffee hours and to participate in your online services. You have shared our stories of hope with your congregations. And you have given generously to our COVID-19 responses, including one receiving a 6:1 match from the Government of Canada.
As we now, collectively, put the worst part of the pandemic behind us, let us give thanks for the vaccinations we will soon receive or have already received, and pray for the equitable distribution of vaccines around the world.