Everyone can picture a hundred different types of disasters and what disaster relief means. They’re often featured in news reports. Many of us have also been victims of one type of disaster or another, big or small. World Concern works in many places around the globe that are especially prone to disasters. Poverty and vulnerability go hand in hand.
If there is a flood in the US, we generally have insurance and a bit of savings. If there is a fire, there are firemen. When our children are ill, we take them to the doctor. To prevent the worst of illnesses, we have vaccinations available. In our large and blessed country, if there is a drought in one part of the country help can come from another part across a vast network of paved roads, or reservoirs can be drawn on through another network of pipes and canals. When we lose our jobs, there are usually unemployment benefits. Above all, there is stability, security and peace in our land.
Imagine how much more frightening the world would be without any of this. In such places, World Concern is often enough the only help at hand.
Although we can picture so many different types of disasters – floods, hurricanes, droughts, wars, earthquakes – we often think only of hand-outs as a response. But there is so much more that can be done.
In our responses to disaster, World Concern tries to help people not only recover their goods, but also their homes, livelihoods and hope for the future. We strive to help whole communities prevent crises from becoming overwhelming disasters, to reduce their vulnerability and increase their ability to cope. Above all, we work to help people to find the face of God during some of the worst moments of their lives.
I’m writing this first blog posting on a plane, leaving the cold, damp, dark days of late autumn in Seattle, heading to the glaring, baking semi-desert of eastern Chad in central Africa. Join me over the next few weeks as I work alongside our team in Chad, serving families who have literally lost everything in the Darfur conflict.