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Author: UnitingWorld

In a letter to national and international partners, the Bishop of the Diocese of Amritsar, The Most Rev. P. K. Samantaroy has outlined the impacts of the national 21-day lockdown in India and how the Church of North India (CNI) is responding to the COVID-19 crisis.

 

Dear Friends,

As of the morning of 30 March 2020, over 700,000 people worldwide have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak and 34,000 people have died due to the virus. The staggering numbers are rising every minute.

Not only has the pandemic brought illness and death for many, but preventive measures like curfews and lockdowns are posing other humanitarian concerns such as loss of livelihood, hunger and starvation.

“I fear that hunger may kill many like us before Coronavirus,” said a street vendor in Delhi. His fear and desperation are shared by the majority of the country’s poor who have been the most hit due to the current 21-day nationwide lockdown in India. Most people who work as daily wage labourers live hand-to-mouth and are therefore unable to afford buying food and medical supplies in advance. In Punjab, we are already receiving reports of riot-like situations in the villages.

Realising the urgency of the situation, the Diocese of Amritsar has already constituted a COVID-19 Relief Operation to reach out to the poor and needy. We are working closely with the local congregations and our project workers, as well as the district administration, to identify those in dire need. Food material is being mobilised through local grocery stores and distributed at key centres in Amritsar and the surrounding border villages.

The Church cannot see its people die either of Coronavirus or hunger. I urge you to support this relief effort generously through whatever means is available to you.”

Unless we act urgently and support the weaker sections of society, our world will collapse under the siege of this pandemic. Your help in this hour of need can save a family from hunger, starvation and illness.

May God bless you and keep you safe!

The Most Rev. P. K. Samantaroy
Bishop, Diocese of Amritsar, CNI

 

The Church of North India is running a domestic appeal for funds and in-kind donations of food supplies, and has also asked for international assistance. UnitingWorld has diverted India project funds for this quarter to support their emergency response and will continue to do this into the new financial year on an ongoing basis until the crisis is over.

Key activities for the COVID-19 relief effort:

  • Providing food packages to families connected to CNI’s community development projects, especially for daily wage laborers who are now unable to work.
  • Helping to amplify government messaging on COVID-19, including health and handwashing awareness, prevention measures and information on how and when to get tested.
  • Conducting door-to-door visits (while practicing spatial distancing) to families connected to the project, to ensure they have what they need during lock down.

Please pray for our church partners and support the relief effort as you are able.

Click here to donate.

UnitingWorld partners in India are cooking for vulnerable people during the COVID-19 lockdown

 

UnitingWorld is the international aid and partnerships agency of the Uniting Church in Australia, collaborating for a world free from poverty and injustice. Click here to support our work.

UnitingWorld has been monitoring the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and its impact on our partners and their communities.

We want to keep our staff, supporters and partners safe and we want to do our part to protect their friends, families and the broader community we work in.

As we work with vulnerable people in places that will be severely affected by the spread of the Coronavirus, our priority is to our partners and their communities, and we will seek to carry on our vital work with as little disruption as possible.

We have put in place a detailed risk management plan, and we will be updating it regularly. We are also in regular contact with our partners who are creating their own, and helping where we can.

We will have reduced staffing in the office, but we are set up to answer your calls and emails as always. Please bear with us if our response to your traditional mail is slightly slower than usual.

We ask you to join us in prayer for all those affected by the Coronavirus, particularly the vulnerable people and communities we work alongside. We don’t know what the full impact of COVID-19 will be on our partners and their communities, but we are preparing ourselves to stand with them, and respond as we can. Most of them do not have access to the same health care systems, insurance or savings that we may enjoy.

Now more than ever, we need to help and pray for one another. We will keep you updated as we know more.

Let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all (Galatians 6:9-10)

Rev Dr Mery Kolimon, Moderator of our partner in West Timor (GMIT), has written a prayer below in English and Indonesian. NOTE: We published the prayer unedited out of respect for our partners. Please consider cultural differences and the difficulties of translation in your reading. 

Header image: Our partners in Papua New Guinea run community education on handwashing and water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) to prevent the spread of deadly water-borne diseases. Read more here.


 

FORGIVE US, MOTHER EARTH

A prayer by Mery Kolimon, 16 Mar 2020

 

Beloved Mother Earth,

All other creatures,

Fellow germs and viruses,

Forgive us for belittling you,

Exploiting, attacking, and hurting you, even

Wanting to destroy you.

With COVID-19 since the beginning of this year

We learn

The Creator has made all things good.

All creatures are our brothers and sisters

Living by the Grace of The Creator of life

Blessed by the Earth that gives food each day.

Yet we have hurt Mother Earth.

We have destroyed our brothers and sisters.

With a desire for more and more wealth, more and more prosperity

We have damaged the earth without mercy.

We dump our waste everywhere

The oceans, mountains, fields, and forests

Broken by our actions.

Even the bowels of the earth have been dredged without mercy

For gold, coal, manganese, marble, and other minerals.

Forgive our pride and greed.

Forgive our arrogance and evil ways.

May this plague be an opportunity for us to learn

That our human economy is not everything.

The economy must move with ecology.

Ecology and economy must be balanced for the sake of the oikoumene,

So the Earth can be a home worthy of inhabitance by all creatures.

May we learn with our minds, all of creation is not our enemy

We must organize our lives more wisely

To distance life from extinction

So that we of this generation

May experience the intention of The Creator of Life that is truly good.

Forgive us, Mother Earth,

Forgive us, fellow members of creation.

Please accept us back in the dance of divine life

Where we hug each other as brothers and sisters

Sharing energy with each other for life that is mutual and whole.

 

MOHON AMPUN, IBU BUMI

Mery Kolimon, 16 Mar 2020

 

Ibu bumi terkasih

Segala ciptaan yang lain,

Kuman-kuman dan virus sesama ciptaan

Maafkan kami yang telah merendahkanmu

Mengeksploitasi, menyerang, melukai, bahkan ingin menghancurkanmu.

Di wabah COVID-19 di awal tahun ini

Kami belajar

Sang Pencipta membuat semua sungguh sangat baik

Semua makhluk adalah saudara

Hidup dari Anugerah Sang Pencipta kehidupan

Dinafkahi oleh Bumi yg memberi makan setiap hari.

Namun kami telah menyakiti Ibu Pertiwi

Kami menghancurkan saudara-saudara kami.

Hasrat utk makin kaya dan makin makmur

Membuat kami merusak bumi tanpa ampun

Sampah kami buang sembarangan

Laut, gunung, padang, hutan rusak karena perilaku kami.

Bahkan perut bumi kami kuras tanpa ampun

Utk emas, batu bara, dan mineral lainnya.

Ampuni kesombongan dan keserakahan kami.

Ampuni kepongahan dan kejahatan kami.

Biarlah ini wabah ini jadi kesempatan kami belajar

Ekonomi manusia bukan segalanya

Ekonomi harus berjalan dengan Ekologi

Ekologi dan Ekonomi harus seimbang dalam Ekumene

Agar Bumi jadi rumah yg layak didiami semua makhluk.

Kiranya dengan budi kami belajar sesama ciptaan bukan musuh

Kami mesti menata hidup lebih bijak

Agar jauh kehidupan dari kemusnahan

Agar maksud Pencipta itu kehidupan yang sungguh sangat baik itu

Dapat kami alami juga di generasi ini.

Ampuni kami Ibu Bumi

Ampuni kami sesama ciptaan yang lain.

Berkenan terimalah kami kembali dalam tarian kehidupan Ilahi

Yang saling merangkul sbg saudara

Saling berbagi energi utk kehidupan bersama yg utuh.

 

UnitingWorld is the international aid and partnerships agency of the Uniting Church in Australia, collaborating for a world free from poverty and injustice. Click here to support our work.

Grow your networks and experience.

Serve church and community with your unique skills.

UnitingWorld is the agency of the Uniting Church in Australia (UCA) driving international church partnerships to address poverty, injustice and violence. It is funded by faithful supporters in the UCA and accredited to distribute aid funds from the Australian Government.

Our skills-based Board has oversight over governance and strategy, and has membership drawn from a range of professional fields within and outside the UCA.

We’re looking for passionate members of the UCA to join the team with experience and skills in legal, governance, the development sector, strategy and/or marketing.

Contact Dr Andrew Glenn, Chairperson of the UnitingWorld Board to express your interest.

andrewroderickglenn@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

Download this notice as a PDF

 

 

We received the below correspondence from our partners in Zimbabwe today about the situation in the country and to thank everyone for joining them in prayer on World Prayer Day. The letter is by Junior Vutoyi, who last month became National Director of the Methodist Development and Relief Agency (MeDRA).  She is the first woman to hold the position.

The letter was read out in the office today during a morning tea for World Prayer Day and International Women’s Day.

 


 

For such as time as this… (Esther 4: 13-14)

It is during this time that the communities that we work with look up to MeDRA for any form of assistance as we work to deliver social justice support to the marginalised. This is a very difficult time for Zimbabwe as we are going through a very difficult season. Only God will see us through!

For women and children, the situation in Zimbabwe at the moment is a very difficult one with the inflation level having reached unprecedented levels. The political and economic situation is deteriorating daily, and this is causing a lot of anxiety within the general populace. With the price of bread at $25 and $190 for 10kg of mealie meal (maize) – life is not easy for the women and children. This is increasing the burden on the women and affecting the future of children. School fees are unaffordable and putting food on the table for the family is a nightmare. The health sector has collapsed, and maternal health has been greatly compromised. Teachers are one of the lowly paid professions and they are putting very little effort on their job. Hope for a long-awaited improvement in the living standards is slowly fading.

The poor women and children both in the rural and urban areas are a sad story. With some communities suffering from a double tragedy from Cyclone Idai, the drought and floods, the situation is bad.

An ideal and aspirational world would be a place when all children can afford to go to school, have access to basic meals, clean safe water and the women have access to maternal health. People should live a dignified life.

As MeDRA, we have a role to play in all this. To give hope to the hopeless. To restore dignity. To fundraise for projects to ensure a “society that enjoys abundant love and God given dignity” through access to safe clean water, gender justice, increased household income, food secure households, shelter and everything and anything else that ensures that people live a dignified life. We have a role in the society “at such as time as this” Esther 4: 13-14 – the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe’s theme for this year. We really wish we could do more as a church organisation. To help all in need.

We are grateful that you are with us in your thoughts and prayers. With your support, we look forward that one day we will “rise, take up our mats and walk”.

Be blessed today and forever more.

Junior Vutoyi, National Director
Methodist Development and Relief Agency (MeDRA)
World Day of Prayer 6 March, 2020

 

Artwork for World Day of Prayer by Nonny Mathe, a Zimbabwean artist. Read more about it here.

 

UnitingWorld is the international aid and partnerships agency of the Uniting Church in Australia, collaborating for a world free from poverty and injustice. Click here to support our work.

The World Day of Prayer this year is held on Friday 6 March.

The day is an ecumenical initiative that was started in the 19th century by Christian women in the United States and Canada to bring together women of different races, cultures and traditions for a annual day of prayer for international mission.

It is now a worldwide movement of ‘Informed Prayer and Prayerful Action‘ that promotes closer fellowship, understanding and action for international causes throughout the year.

The movement is initiated and carried out by women in more than 170 countries and regions but the World Day of Prayer is an invitation to everyone.

This year the host nation is Zimbabwe, a country facing huge challenges:

Between 2018 and 2019, the number of people in extreme poverty rose from 29% to 34% an extra million people living on less than $1.90 a day in just the space of a year.

An El Nino-influenced drought and Cyclone Idai reduced agricultural production over several seasons, worsening the situation across many rural areas. The economic contraction has caused a sharp rise in prices of food and basic commodities and one tenth of rural households currently indicated they are going without food for a whole day.

The unemployment rate has been estimated at 90%.

All of this has caused additional issues for the most vulnerable in Zimbabwe:

Human trafficking: Zimbabwe is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labour and sexual exploitation.
Child protection vulnerabilities including child marriage, where 32% of girls in Zimbabwe are married before the age of 18.
Gender-based violence (including sexual exploitation and abuse) – 35% of women aged 15-49 years have experienced intimate partner physical and/or sexual violence at least once in their lifetime
Disability discrimination: people with a disability have lower education and employment opportunities, are often unable to access health services, and are at greater risk of sexual exploitation and abuse

Despite these challenges, the Zimbabwean people are generous and resilient. They remain optimistic and are working to improve their nation. Our partners the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe (MCZ) and its relief and development agency, the Methodist Development and Relief Agency (MeDRA) play a vital role in serving their communities and advocating for the people in national politics.

The World Day of Prayer is a call to pray for an end to the challenges facing Zimbabwe, but also to recognise and celebrate those who are working for peace, reconciliation and social transformation.

Please join us in praying for Zimbabwe and taking time to consider how we can seek closer fellowship and take action to support our neighbours there.  

Read more about our partnership with the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe.

Find World Day of Prayer resources here

UnitingWorld is the international aid and partnerships agency of the Uniting Church in Australia, collaborating for a world free from poverty and injustice. Click here to support our work.

The Uniting Church in Australia (UCA) has made a submission to the new International Development Policy currently under review by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

The review was announced in December 2019 and invited members of the public and international development community to give input into the new policy.

UnitingWorld helped develop the UCA submission, and recommended that the International Development Policy:

      • targets the alleviation of poverty and inequality as a primary objective, understanding that this will best serve Australia’s national interests
      • prioritises development that is demonstrably owned and driven by the communities it seeks to impact
      • recognises the unique roles of churches and faith communities in delivering social change and seeks to target them as development partners
      • acknowledges climate change as the most significant cross-cutting issue that impacts security, stability, prosperity and resilience in Australia and beyond.

Read the full UCA submission here

UnitingWorld, as a member agency, also contributed to the submissions of the following coalitions: the Australian Council For International Development (ACFID), Micah Australia and the Church Agencies Network. (Click  links to read the submissions).

Submissions close Friday 14 February 2020.

UnitingWorld is the international aid and partnerships agency of the Uniting Church in Australia, collaborating for a world free from poverty and injustice.

Peace. Compassion. Security. They’re the building blocks of a world we all long to see, but how do we make it happen? In a world where extremism, intolerance and fear threaten to turn us inward, how do we build peace and beat poverty?

Lent Event 2020 takes us to the Indonesian province of Ambon, where our church partners are working with Christians and Muslims to overcome decades of suspicion and resentment after religious conflict in 1999 took 5,000 lives and left 70,000 people homeless.

Meet the people, watch video stories together, engage in Bible studies, raise funds for projects that show the future of God’s people alive and at work in the world.

We’re really excited to share the inspiring stories of our church partners during Lent again in 2020 and we hope you’ll join us on the journey.

Preview video series for Lent Event 2020 here

Sign up now: www.lentevent.com

Each year we release new Christmas card designs that support the work of our overseas partners fighting poverty and building hope in their communities.

Run out of time to send physical cards? You can also email them!

Sending our Christmas cards to your friends, family and loved ones is a great way to support people striving to be free from poverty and also inspire others about the work of our overseas partners.

E-card instructions (e-cards $3 each and must be added to the cart one at a time)

  1. Choose a design from the dropdown menu
  2. Choose a recipient and add a personal message
  3. Add to cart
  4. Add an optional donation
  5. Repeat! (each e-card must be added to the cart one at a time)
  6. When you’re done – head to the checkout for payment

 

Send Christmas greetings

Great Advent designs

Fight poverty

Click here to send online

We are thrilled to report that through our programs, our partners reached 202,305 men, women and children last year with tangible benefits. Educating women and girls, lifting families out of poverty through small business, access to nutrition, healthcare and education, preventing trafficking all are part of the real impact of our work. Thank you for the critical part you played.

The Annual Report is a great way to see the impact of our shared partnership in mission and your role in making it happen. It features a ‘year at a glance,’ updates from our Board Chair and National Director; stories of impact across each of the thematic areas of our programs; news and financials, and much more!

Click here to download and read