April 13, 2022
By Janice Biehn
PWRDF is allocating $360,000 to support humanitarian relief efforts in four parts of the world where needs are high, where looming conflict threatens to further displace people and where crisis is preventing families from staying healthy.
In the first month of the war in Ukraine, donors gave $360,000 to PWRDF. These funds are supporting Ukrainians seeking safety in Hungary and Moldova, as well as those needing medical attention in and around the city of Kyiv.
“We are taking the same amount from our PWRDF reserves to allocate $90,000 each to four humanitarian responses, each of them complex, each of them seeking justice, health and peace for communities so affected,” says Executive Director Will Postma. “We are doing so at a time when we are concerned for the people of Ukraine, the loss of peace and so many lives, but also recognize the many other humanitarian crises around the world that need financial support.”
The funds will support the following crises:
- Rohingya in Myanmar (Burma). More than 100,000 Rohingya are living in Rakhine state, confined to displacement camps which have been called open-air prisons. There are severe limitations on movement, education and healthcare. PWRDF will support the ongoing work of Lutheran World Federation, bringing food, healthcare and dignity to people now marginalized by the regime.
- People of Iraq. The protracted humanitarian crisis in Iraq remains one of the most volatile in the world. Internally displaced people, refugees, returnees and their host communities are the most vulnerable. Under the ACT Appeal, LWF Iraq is improving water, sanitation and hygiene services, promoting income generating activities and working with local community groups to address sexual and gender based violence.
- People of Ethiopia, with a particular focus on the residents of Tigray. While enduring conflict for two years, as well as COVID restrictions, people of Tigray have been denied foreign aid. Programming will support safe water, sanitation and hygiene for those most vulnerable, especially those who have been displaced as they have sought safety. This support will build on past work of Lutheran World Federation, through the ACT Alliance.
- People of Syria. As the war and displacement continues, PWRDF is renewing its support for the Middle East Council of Churches through the ACT Alliance appeal for Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. MECC will use the PWRDF funds to train Syrian women in Jordan to run small businesses, or to become homecare workers or nurse assistants.
The impact and cost of the war in Ukraine will be felt for years and the needs will be great. “So too are the needs of others in the world affected by a combination of conflict, climate change and COVID,” says Postma. “We are seeing in many countries how supply chain interruptions have increased prices of wheat, vegetable oil and fertilizers, which in turn has led to greater food insecurity. PWRDF is also monitoring needs in Afghanistan and Yemen and we are considering how to further leverage resources through our membership in the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.”
At St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Charlottetown, PEI, a legacy of war has led to an extraordinary gift of $25,000 from a Memorial Peace Fund named in honour of parishioner Gordon De Blois. A soldier in the Second World War. De Blois was killed in Italy in 1943 when he stepped on a landmine, but told his troops to stay in place and not come to his rescue. A few days before he died, he wrote these words to his parents:
“All I pray for is that we who are here shall not be forgotten when this war is over. I pray that our sacrifice will not have been in vain. And that in another few years the world will not be drowned in blood again. I pray that the people of all the nations of the world will be big and wise enough to work for everlasting peace, happiness and prosperity without allowing their prejudices, personal greed or selfish ambitions to stand in the path of such an aim.”
At St. Matthew’s Anglican Church in Windsor, Ont., the parish traditionally gathers for Lenten soup lunches in support of PWRDF. In keeping with pandemic restrictions, the soup lunch tradition lives on but in modified form. On the menu this year was African Peanut Soup, “in recognition of the needs for relief and development in that corner of the globe,” writes the Rev. Andreas Thiel. “The three women spoke about the three-fold joy of making soup, sharing soup, and supporting PWRDF through donations.”
How you can help
Continue to pray for peace in all parts of the world. You can also support PWRDF’s emergency response and humanitarian relief work by making a donation at pwrdf.org/give-today and choose Emergency Response. You may also donate by phone at 416-822-9083 or leave a voicemail toll-free at 1-866-308-7973 and we will return your call, or mail your cheque to PWRDF, 80 Hayden, 3rd floor, Toronto, Ontario, M4Y 3G2.