People returning to the village of Gisenyi in Congo.
The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) is helping in two world trouble spots with donations to both war-torn Afghanistan’s relief effort and to the people of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has been devastated by volcanic eruptions.
Church partners estimate that up to half a million people were affected by the eruptions of Mount Nyiragongo in Congo. In mid-January an initial donation of $10,000 was sent to Action by Churches Together (ACT) for emergency assistance in Goma.
PWRDF has also given $25,000 to the ACT Appeal for Afghanistan for basic rehabilitation projects near Kabul, the capital.
Destruction, decay and disrepair define whole sections of Kabul, which has a population of about two million. Another 500,000 people have been drawn to the city because of the recent war and an unrelenting drought.
Four local partners are doing nutritional surveys and feeding programs for malnourished children and nursing mothers in Kabul and two other centres.
In Goma, hundreds of thousands of residents fled volcano eruptions that endangered their homes and then returned to the city and surrounding villages less than a week later.
They returned, despite warnings that the area was still unsafe, rather than remain in refugee camps in Rwanda. By late January, an estimated 17,000-20,000 people were still seeking shelter in Rwanda.
Donations are always slow to come in to PWRDF’s emergency fund because of the way information is shared, said Bern Jagunos, fund emergency associate. PWRDF posts the information on its Web site (www.pwrdf.org) and sends it to monthly diocesan publications and to diocesan offices as well as to its own diocesan representatives.
Then a parish may decide to raise money for a particular effort and send the money to PWRDF.
The Anglican Church in Rwanda and the Lutheran World Federation are distributing food and non-food items at two sites established by Rwandan authorities, Ruhengeri and Gisenyi. In Afghanistan, another group supported by ACT is supplying up to 2,000 quilts to Kabul hospitals short of bedding. Winter temperatures in the Kabul area are often below freezing.
ACT members have stockpiled tents, blankets and water containers to use when refugees and displaced people return home in large numbers, as they are expected to do this spring. In other ACT projects: workers, paid with food, remove waste from poor neighbourhoods that has accumulated during five years of civic neglect, and repair roads.