LWR’s Blog http://blog.lwr.org Sustainable development. Lasting promise. Thu, 18 Sep 2014 10:00:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Coffee with a Conscience; or What is Fair Trade? http://blog.lwr.org/2014/09/coffee-with-a-conscience-or-what-is-fair-trade/ http://blog.lwr.org/2014/09/coffee-with-a-conscience-or-what-is-fair-trade/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 10:00:56 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5368

In the 18th century the Swedish botanist, Carolus Linnaeus, renamed the cocoa tree giving it the Greek name Theobroma Cacao, which literally means ‘food of the Gods’. Throughout its history, whether as a cocoa drinking chocolate or confectionery treat, chocolate has always been much sought after.

But few people think about the lengthy labor-intensive process that raw cocoa beans undergo before they become chocolate. Exploitative work hours, low pay, appalling working conditions — these are the harsh realities many producers in developing countries face as a result of our focus on profit. The human links of the supply chain are hidden from us when we shop.

Cocoa farmers in Ghana

Cocoa farmers in Ghana

But fortunately, many people are waking up to the shocking unfairness of international trade and demanding a better deal for the people who do the ‘dirty work’ for us.

And that is how Fair Trade was born.

Fair Trade is a response to inequities in the global market.
Fair Trade means producers are given a fair share of the financial benefits that result from the commodities they produce.
Fair Trade means producers receive more money to support their families and gain financial security.
Fair Trade means long-term contracts, so that producers are able to invest in improvements to their businesses (better equipment, more land) and their communities (gain access to health facilities, build schools).

BUT

Fair Trade is so much more than just a system of international commerce.

It is a commitment to treating all people as worthy of justice and care.
It is a challenge to consumerism.
It is pledge to promote mutual respect, standing with farmers.
It is a vision of a world where fairness and sustainable development are at the heart of trade.
It is an idea that shows how a successful business can also put people first.

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Can I afford to support Fair Trade?

One obvious problem is that fairly traded goods can cost more. Fair Trade goods will always be a little more expensive than the cheapest non-fairly traded versions of the same product. But even though the price of a Fair Trade chocolate bar is often only negligibly higher than the cost of conventional, there are many people — especially those with low incomes — who cannot afford to pay the difference. But remember that Fair Trade foods like coffee and tea make up only a small part of the average weekly shopping budget and thus won’t noticeably impact your food allowance.

Achieving truly fair trade means seeing the world from an entirely different perspective — through the lens of kindness, justice, and grace. After all, Fair Trade is not about paying 60 cents more for your coffee; it’s about caring for your “neighbors,” even when they’re on the other side of the world.

LWR Coffee and Chocolate

Learn more about Fair Trade Coffee and Chocolate with LWR, and order some for your home or your congregation!

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These summer campers did more than just sing and swim http://blog.lwr.org/2014/09/summer-campers/ http://blog.lwr.org/2014/09/summer-campers/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 10:00:13 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5354

Over the summer Lutheran camps across the country opened their doors to youth for fun, activity and learning about God’s creation.

As a part of many summer camp programs, children and youth get to take part in a service opportunity. This summer, Lutheran World Relief offered small grants to 12 camps to help make LWR Quilts and Kits.

Nawakwa, Biglerville, Pa.

Camp Nawakwa made this great video, showing how they got involved:

Reading this via e-mail? Watch this video on YouTube

»Learn more about Camp Nawakwa

Kirchenwald, Colebrook, Pa.

For more than 30 years Kirchenwald, a Lutheran camping center in Colebrook, Pa., has offered young people the opportunity to connect with one another and God’s creation through weekly camp programs.

This year the camp engaged its approximately 500 campers in making LWR School Kits. “I think it’s a great activity for camp,” says camp director Zach Weiss. “We tried to make it experiential so that the kids were involved in all the steps — from purchasing the items to assembling the final Kits.”

The camp sent notices to campers ahead of time asking them to bring donations of School Kit items. During the camp week, youth brought their items to the mid-week service as their offering and counselors organized groups to assemble Kits. Staff at Kirchenwald used their camp grant to cover the cost of the drawstring book bags in which all other Kit items are enclosed.

Over the course of their summer program, campers at Kirchenwald assembled 138 Kits. Weiss plans to keep campers and their families updated by using the LWR Quilt & Kit Tracker to send updates on where the Kits will go.

“I like the fact that I can send this information to campers after they leave,” says Weiss. “What you do at camp shouldn’t just stay at camp!”

»Learn more about Kirchenwald and the Lutheran Camping Corporation of Central Pennsylvania

Lutherlyn, Butler, Pa.

Quilts have long been a part of the social fabric at Camp Lutherlyn. The year-round outdoor ministry partners with the Woodland Quilters, a geographically diverse, but committed, group that meets once a week, year-round. Most of the quilts the Woodland Quilters make go up for auction to support the camp. This summer, the group spent time with the campers, engaging them in making LWR Mission Quilts.

campers and volunteers gather around an LWR Mission Quilt

Campers at Lutherlyn made Mission Quilts as part of an intergenerational activity with partners from the Woodland Quilters

“This was a great intergenerational activity, for both the campers and the quilters,” says Deb Roberts, the assistant director of Lutherlyn.

Each Tuesday members of Woodland Quilters offered quilting as an afternoon project for campers, who took part in all aspects of the quilt-making process: from cutting and sewing to piecing and tying!

Roberts said the project fit in perfectly with the camp’s summer theme of “Living Together. “To have a project that took the kids outside themselves and gave them a tangible way to see how they connect with others is awesome,” says Roberts.

By the end of the seven-week summer camp session, youth helped make 18 LWR Mission Quilts. Roberts plans to keep campers updated on the Quilts’ destination through their Facebook Page and the LWR Quilt & Kit Tracker.

“This was a great experience for everyone at our camp.”

»Learn more about Camp Lutherlyn

Amazing Grace Lutheran Church, Baltimore, Md.

The kids at the day camp run by Amazing Grace Lutheran Church in Baltimore, Md. have been learning a lot this summer about what it means to be a good neighbor.

Camp director Lance Cooper and staff fill the summer days of 25 children — ages 5 through 11 — with songs, Bible lessons and service projects, including assembling LWR School Kits.

Two girls gather around a pile of LWR School Kits

Kids at Amazing Grace Lutheran Church assembled LWR School Kits for students overseas.

Cooper says he was excited to work with the kids on School Kits because he wanted them to learn the importance of education around the world. “In many parts of the world education is a luxury,” says Cooper. “I wanted the children to understand that and to take this opportunity to help fellow children be able to go to school.”

The children — many of whom live in the surrounding neighborhood — enjoyed assembling the Kits. Six year-old Lanaya made four Kits and says, “I didn’t know some kids don’t get to go to school. I liked making the kits to help them.”

»Learn more about Amazing Grace Lutheran Church

Ox Lake, Amery, WI

On the day that LWR staff visited the approximately 40 campers enjoying their camp week at Ox Lake, they were decorating squares that would be sewn into LWR Quilts.

A young man named Jonathan was drawing the word “strength” on his square and when asked why he chose the word he said, “it gives me hope for other people, when they think about their strength and that they can persevere because they have strength.”

Camp director Megan Benzschawel says that making LWR Quilts fit in perfectly with the camp’s curriculum and programs, both of which include service projects.

campers work on tying together squares for a Mission Quilt

Campers at Ox Lake Bible Camp decorated squares that were sewn into LWR Mission Quilts

The camp also worked to ensure the children knew why they were sewing Quilts and what the Quilts would be used for. When Ellie, a camper, was asked what she hopes the Quilt she’s helping to make will do for the person who receives it, she says, “I hope they feel comforted and that they feel that they’re not alone in the world, that they have a purpose, because everyone else is looking out for them. I think sometimes people feel forgotten about but then once they get something from someone then they feel recognized.”

»Learn more about Ox Lake Bible Camp

Good Earth Village, Spring Valley, Minn.

The children at Good Earth Village are a young bunch — ranging from third to fifth graders — but what they lack in age they made up for in enthusiasm for making LWR School Kits.

a girl holds up a backpack she decorated

Campers at Good Earth Village decorated backpacks that were part of LWR School Kits, sent to students overseas.

After visiting with our staff, kids set out to decorate the drawstring backpacks into which the school supplies would go. Most children chose to share something of themselves in their decorations. One camper, Lauren, colored a rainbow on her square because she likes colorful things. Another camper shared that she’d gone through rough times so she wrote positive words like “friendship” in hopes that it would let another child know they are not alone.

Kristen Twitchell, the director of leadership ministries at Good Earth, shared she was happy to receive a camp grant and that assembling School Kits fit in well with the theme of that camp day, which was “Engage the World.”

Around 200 campers helped assemble 232 School Kits over five weeks. Twitchell and staff report the children enjoyed the activity and the connections they were making with others around the world.

“I told the children that the backpack they held in their hands would be held by a child on the other side of the world. In that way, it was almost as if they were holding hands. It was a great experience for the children.”

»Learn more about Good Earth Village

Thank you to all who participated!

We want to offer a huge thanks to all the camps and campers who made LWR Quilts and Kits for their overseas neighbors. Here are some of the other camps who participated:

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This man experienced all-consuming hunger. Here’s how we’re ensuring he doesn’t have to again. http://blog.lwr.org/2014/09/hunger-and-water-in-kenya/ http://blog.lwr.org/2014/09/hunger-and-water-in-kenya/#comments Fri, 05 Sep 2014 10:00:47 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5341

“Hunger is like this: if you’re hungry, you can’t sleep at night. If you have hunger, you can’t plan ahead for your life. You can’t think about anything except the hunger that you have. Hunger. It creates conflict in the family, and can tear it apart. We used to be so hungry.”

Just three years ago, Sevu and his family were barely surviving as subsistence farmers in Kenya. This area was severely affected by the drought that swept across the Horn of Africa in 2009.

You have made a major difference in Sevu’s life.

You have helped. Here’s how:


Reading this via e-mail? Click here to watch the video on YouTube

LWR’s Watershed Approach to Enhanced Resilience

How does the project work that helped Sevu and others in his community? The following video explains a little more in-depth just how Lutheran World Relief provides lasting solutions in Kenya.


Reading this via e-mail? Click here to watch the video on YouTube

THANK YOU

Thank you to everyone who donated to the East Africa Drought over the past few years. We raised over $1 million to help families like Sevu’s. You make a difference!

Want to learn more about LWR’s work in Kenya? »Read more at LWR In Depth

Want to learn more about how LWR provide water for agriculture? »Read more at LWR In Depth

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A Better BOGO http://blog.lwr.org/2014/08/a-better-bogo/ http://blog.lwr.org/2014/08/a-better-bogo/#comments Wed, 27 Aug 2014 20:07:58 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5331

If you are like me, you’ve spent the better part of the month of August preparing kids to go back to school. There’s no shortage of things to do. There are school supplies to buy, new schedules to learn, lunches to pack, carpools to work out and — for my two daughters at least — new uniforms to procure. In searching for the best deals, I’ve come to know (and become wildly ecstatic at the sight of) a new acronym: BOGO.

Of course, this acronym means “buy one, get one” and usually stores offer these deals during busy shopping seasons like the back-to-school season. Some are buy one, get one free. More often, I find, the deals are buy one, get one half off.

Today I’d like to challenge you to consider a new meaning for BOGO: Buy One, Give One.

In Need of School Kits

Lutheran World Relief is currently in need of School Kits to send to children living in poverty around the world. These Kits contain simple items – pencils, erasers, notebooks, a backpack – that can make a huge difference in a child’s ability to go to school.

Children who received school kits line up to show them off outside a primary school in the Philippines.

Children who received school kits line up to show them off outside a primary school in the Philippines. LWR is currently in need of additional School Kits to send around the world.

After Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines, LWR sent School Kits as part of our emergency response. In post-disaster situations, School Kits can be especially helpful because parents are devoting every available resource to providing basic needs and recovery. Providing School Kits is a way we can help children continue to go to school and help ease some of their families’ financial burdens.

Rochimlyn looks at her School Kit

Rochimlyn, Grade 5, looks through her School Kit from LWR.

Buy One, Give One

I know many of you have done the bulk of your back-to-school shopping, but while things are still on sale, encourage your congregation to hold a School Kit collection and assembly. Then, while you’re out picking up those last few items, buy one and give one to a child in need.

Thank you for your support, prayers and caring for people in need around the world.

School Kit

Learn more about LWR School Kits

To learn more about what goes into LWR School Kits and how to set up an assembly, check our website. And click here to read about all the places School Kits go. If you have any questions, give us a call! We’re happy to help.

»Learn more

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5 things you may not know about cocoa http://blog.lwr.org/2014/08/5-things-you-may-not-know-about-cocoa/ http://blog.lwr.org/2014/08/5-things-you-may-not-know-about-cocoa/#comments Tue, 19 Aug 2014 10:00:18 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5321

Chocolate. It’s almost a food group unto itself. Whether you are personally a fan or not, you probably know someone who absolutely loves a rich, delicious piece of chocolate from time to time.

That love of chocolate helps spur the global demand for cocoa — a $110 billion per year industry.

Think you know all there is to know about this lucrative crop? Read on! You may learn something new. Then share your thoughts in the comments.

1. Cocoa and chocolate are two very different things.

In fact cocoa starts out looking like this.

broken open cacao pod

A farmer breaks open a cacao (cocoa) pod. Each pod contains 30 to 50 large seeds (beans), surrounded by a white pulp. The seeds are dried and roasted to produce chocolate.

That’s not a cocoa bean but a cocoa pod. It grows at the base of the cocoa tree. In a good year, a cocoa tree can produce 20 -30 pods, each of which contains between 20-50 almond sized cocoa beans.

From there cocoa beans go through many steps before they even arrive to a chocolate maker. Beans must be fermented and dried, tested for quality and then, finally, processed into chocolate. In fact, here’s a cool infographic about the steps a cocoa bean goes through to become chocolate.

This infographic shows how cocoa gets produced, from smallholder farmers to consumers.

This infographic shows how cocoa gets produced, from smallholder farmers to consumers. Image by CocoaBarometer.org

LWR works in Africa, Latin America and Asia to help smallholder farmers grow and sell quality cocoa to improve their incomes and lives.

2. Most of the world’s cocoa is produced in Africa.

While Europe and the U.S. are top chocolate-making regions, most of the world’s cocoa is grown in Africa. And within Africa, more than half — about 59 percent — is grown in West Africa, especially in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana.

3. It takes five years after planting cocoa seedlings for trees to grow cocoa beans.

In many ways, growing cocoa is an investment — for farmers and for organizations like LWR who work with cocoa producers.

Cocoa can also be a tricky crop to produce. It takes a mixture of the right climate, proper plant placement and shading and good agricultural practices to grow thriving cocoa trees.

For these reasons, Mario Isabel Taicigue wasn’t so sure about growing cocoa on his farm in Nicaragua. But as a part of the local LWR cocoa project, he decided to give it a try. Now he’s growing cocoa and may even plant more. He’s also learned to grow other crops for income, so the wait time on cocoa harvesting is more manageable.

Cocoa farmer Mario Isabel Taicigue on his farm near Rio San Juan. He first started growing cocoa in 2007. "It has been a big help for our income," he says.

Cocoa farmer Mario Isabel Taicigue on his farm near Rio San Juan. He first started growing cocoa in 2007. “It has been a big help for our income,” he says.

Through all his efforts Mario is growing so much more than cocoa on his farm. He’s planting a legacy to pass down to his children and grandchildren.

4. Many of the world’s cocoa producers have never tasted chocolate themselves.

When cocoa leaves the hands of the average cocoa farmer, it does so as a cocoa bean with several steps to becoming what we know and love as chocolate.

Women in Peru sort cocoa beans. Photo by Olaf Hammelburg, for LWR

Watch a video of cocoa farmers in the Ivory Coast tasting chocolate for the first time. Photo by Olaf Hammelburg, for LWR

The steps — from cocoa bean to chocolate bar — make up the cocoa value chain. LWR works with cocoa cooperatives to participate in more parts of the cocoa value chain such as drying and fermenting beans, grinding them and, in places like Nicaragua, the families of some cocoa farmers have even come together to make chocolate.

The more steps of the cocoa value chain farmers are involved in, the more valuable their cocoa becomes. By helping farmers and cooperatives tap into the cocoa value chain, we can help farmers earn better incomes to support their families.

5. Despite cocoa being a lucrative – and growing – industry, many cocoa producers live in poverty.

Traditionally, most chocolate is produced by smallholder farmers and then sold at markets to middle-men, who go on to sell the cocoa large-scale buyers. Unfortunately this means most cocoa farmers see only a fraction of the total income earned from cocoa beans and the resulting products.

That’s one reason LWR promotes Fair Trade Chocolate as a better alternative to support smallholder cocoa farmers. Through the Fair Trade system, farmers work in cooperatives and are paid a fair price for their cocoa. They also receive what are called “social premiums” — additional money cooperatives use to make vital improvements to their communities, like maintaining schools, providing healthcare and installing wells.

 

Learn more about Fair Trade and Lutheran World Relief

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Three ways LWR is helping unaccompanied minors http://blog.lwr.org/2014/08/three-ways-lwr-is-helping-unaccompanied-minors/ http://blog.lwr.org/2014/08/three-ways-lwr-is-helping-unaccompanied-minors/#comments Fri, 08 Aug 2014 14:20:27 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5300

More than 50,000 children have arrived at the U.S./Mexico border alone so far this year. Nearly 40,000 women and children have arrived as families.[source] All have endured an incredibly dangerous journey to escape violence and despair in Central America. Current efforts to expedite their deportation place their safety and well-being in jeopardy.

While this issue is playing out along the U.S. border, this issue also underlines the long-term challenge facing so many in Central America and elsewhere who struggle to cope with economic marginalization, changing weather patterns, grinding poverty and the violence endemic in these states.

As LWR President Daniel Speckhard recently pointed out,  poverty created the environment for these situations to escalate. While the children at the border have very immediate needs, it’s also important to address the root causes of this problem.

Here are three ways LWR is committed to helping in Central America:

1. Providing for children and families

LWR is working with national governments, organizations and church bodies in El Salvador and Honduras, such as Lutheran World Federation and the Lutheran Church of El Salvador. Together we’ll work to provide shelter, material needs, protection and psychosocial support for children and families returned to these countries from the U.S and Mexico.

2. Working with pastors to support returning children

After their long and arduous journeys, children who are returned will need extra support to be able to cope. As a part of our work with the Lutheran Church in El Salvador, we’ll provide training for pastors on best practices to support unaccompanied minors who are returned. The training will also help pastors work to prevent children from migrating alone in the future.

3. Long-term solutions to poverty

LWR’s work in Central America to advance rural development provides lasting solutions that address the economic causes that push people to migrate to the United States.

For example, in Honduras, LWR helps farmers diversify agricultural production, improve on-farm processing and storage, and strengthen local food markets. This helps strengthen their livelihoods, earn enough money to support their families and help them remain in their homes.

In El Salvador, LWR is working to address development challenges for poor and at-risk families. Among other activities, our local partner helps those families leverage credit. We are also engaging youth social risk assessment programs and working with two youth associations to increase their civic engagement.

#452666038 / gettyimages.com

You can help

Lutheran World Relief works alongside partners and communities in El Salvador and Honduras, addressing the root causes of poverty with long-term, sustainable development projects.

In addition to that work, LWR has dedicated approximately $100,000 (50k per country) to help ensure that the needs of unaccompanied children returning to these countries are met.

You can help support this work with a gift to LWR’s Central America Unaccompanied Children fund. Your gifts will not only help carry out the activities outlined above, but will help us respond to any emerging needs that may arise.

You can also help by keeping all the children traveling to the borders in your prayers, along with their families and all the people who work to ensure their protection.

Thank you!

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The crisis in Gaza: how LWR is responding http://blog.lwr.org/2014/08/the-crisis-in-gaza-how-lwr-is-responding/ http://blog.lwr.org/2014/08/the-crisis-in-gaza-how-lwr-is-responding/#comments Thu, 07 Aug 2014 16:55:21 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5289

There have been many times over the past six years that I have given thanks that I get to be part of the work of Lutheran World Relief.

Most recently, I felt that way because of what is going on in Gaza. Like me, you’ve probably seen it play out on the news. Rising tensions between Israelis and Palestinians led to an outbreak of violence in the Gaza Strip and surrounding Israeli neighborhoods. Beginning July 17th, the Israeli Defense Forces launched a ground offensive in Gaza to proactively defend Israel from missiles being launched from Gaza.

With horror, I listened (and watched and read on the internet) as the death toll continued to rise. As of this writing, 1,845 Palestinians (including at least 1,354 civilians, of whom 415 are children and 214 are women). In addition, 67 Israelis have been killed (64 soldiers, two civilians and one foreign national). There are 187,000 people who remain displaced and in United Nations RWA shelters and 65,000 people have had their homes destroyed or damaged beyond repair. [source]

But what strikes the deepest chord with me about this crisis, is the toll it’s taking on children in the area. UN-OCHA reports that there are 373,000 children in need of psycho-social support and hearing the daily news reports it’s not hard to imagine why.

As a mother, this makes me especially thankful for the work of Lutheran World Relief and for people like you who support its mission. With your help, we are responding in two important ways.

A truck is unloaded during a distribution of Quilts and Kits in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan.

A truck is unloaded during a distribution of Quilts and Kits in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan.

We are sending Quilts and Kits

We are sending LWR Quilts and Kits to the area. In fact, we just received word from our warehouses that a shipment of Mission Quilts is headed that way. Quilts are especially helpful to displaced families. They provide warmth, can be used for bedding and are also a tangible symbol that people around the world care.

You can help by donating (or continuing to donate) LWR Quilts and Kits. By keeping our warehouses stocked, you allow us to respond to emerging situations while fulfilling existing requests of partners around the world. If you’d like to check the progress of the Gaza Quilt shipment, you can check out our Quilt & Kit Tracking Map.

A fallen sign in Gaza for the  "Near East Council of Churches Committee for Refugee Work"

A fallen sign in Gaza for the “Near East Council of Churches Committee for Refugee Work.” Photo courtesy of NECC/DSPR

We are partnering with local organizations

We are supporting the response on the ground, carried out by our partners in the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of churches and organizations working together to respond to needs around the world.

One of our partners, The Department of Service to the Palestine Refugees of the Near East Council of Churches (NECC/DSPR), runs three clinics in the area. One sustained damage recently, but the other two are currently up and running. DSPR has also been distributing food and water in the area. Another partner, International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), has also been distributing food and is making plans to provide shelter for people who have been displaced.

How you can help

You can make sure we continue to be able to support responses like this with a gift to LWR. Your cash donations will support the response of our partners in the ACT Alliance.

As I write this, Gaza is entering a second day of ceasefire as Palestinian and Israeli representatives prepare to go to Egypt for talks. Please join us in praying for the people of Gaza, for those participating in the talks and for a sustainable end to the violence in the region.

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Five ways Lutherans are fighting Ebola in West Africa http://blog.lwr.org/2014/08/5-ways-lutherans-are-fighting-ebola-in-west-africa/ http://blog.lwr.org/2014/08/5-ways-lutherans-are-fighting-ebola-in-west-africa/#comments Wed, 06 Aug 2014 17:02:27 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5278

As of August 1, 2014, there have been 1,603 reported cases of the Ebola virus in West Africa and 887 people have died. [source]

This outbreak has gained international news coverage as it has spread. Many people are asking what can be done to help prevent this deadly disease from spreading any further, and what we can do to help those affected.

In Martin Luther’s time, people across Europe were also suffering from an outbreak of their own: a second pandemic of the Black Plague. Large portions of the population died. And many Christians asked themselves how — and if — they should respond. To answer that question, in 1517 Luther wrote a letter titled “Whether one may flee from a deadly plague,” demonstrating the importance of caring for our neighbors.

We must and owe it to our neighbor to accord him the same treatment in other troubles and perils also. If his house is on fire, love compels me to run and help him extinguish the flames. If there are enough other people around to put the fire out, I may either go home or remain to help. If he falls into the water or into a pit I dare not turn away but must hurry to help him as best I can. If there are others to do it, I am released. If I see that he is hungry or thirsty, I cannot ignore him but must offer food and drink, not considering whether I would risk impoverishing myself for doing so. (LW 43:119-38)

Although grace (justification by grace through faith) is central to Lutheran theology, loving one’s neighbor is the natural and necessary response to grace. Lutherans around the world continue to live this response.

Here are five ways that Lutherans are responding to the Ebola outbreak:

1. Lutherans are Treating Ebola Patients

Timely treatment is essential to containing the spread of Ebola and helping people who have already been infected. Two Lutheran hospitals in Liberia — Curran and Phebe — are treating patients who have contracted Ebola.

Lutherans around the world support this treatment through partnerships in the Lutheran World Federation and the ACT Alliance.

Medical Equipment drying in the sun in West Africa

Medical Equipment drying in the sun in West Africa. Credit: ©EC/ECHO/Jean-Louis Mosser, on Flickr.com, CC-BY-ND

2. Lutherans in the U.S. are Sending Protection Equipment

Health care workers are at great risk of contracting Ebola from the patients who come into their care. To help ensure their safety — and prevent further spread of Ebola — protection equipment is essential.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is partnering with the Lutheran Church in Liberia and Global Health Ministries to send five pallets of Personal Protection Equipment to Curran and Phebe hospitals.

3. Lutherans are Training Healthcare Professionals

With Ebola, time is of the essence. Seeking treatment immediately after experiencing the early symptoms greatly increases a person’s chances of recovery.

Lutheran World Relief is partnering with IMA World Health and the Christian Health Association of Liberia (CHAL) to conduct a training on the prevention of Ebola for healthcare workers in Liberia.

Through this training, health care providers were trained as trainers — to ensure that health workers have accurate information to share with their communities about the nature of Ebola, its symptoms and the importance of timely treatment. So far, 25 care providers have been trained. In turn, they will go on to train other staff in their respective health centers.

Health workers in West Africa carrying a full tarp

Photo credit: ©EC/ECHO/Jean-Louis Mosser, on Flickr.com, CC-BY-ND

4. Lutherans are Raising Awareness in Communities

It is also essential for there to be consistent messages about Ebola circulating within communities.

As a part of LWR’s partnership with IMA and CHAL, we are also training community health volunteers. These are members of the community who will also get the word out about Ebola.

By supporting LWR, Lutherans are helping to reach out with information by other means as well, such as posters and flyers with information about Ebola, its symptoms and the importance of treatment.

5. Lutherans are working with religious and community leaders

One thing that is hampering Ebola prevention and treatment efforts is that there is a lot of information about the outbreak and some of it is conflicting.

Lutheran World Relief, in partnership with IMA and CHAL, is also working with local religious and community leaders, training them to reach out into communities to give vital information so people can stay safe. LWR believes working with local partners and leaders is important because they know their own communities and can help get the word out to help families protect themselves and seek out treatment.

UPDATE – August 8, 2014: Lutheran World Relief thanks The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod for helping to expand our efforts to reach more people through training to help combat the spread of Ebola. 

Lutheran World Relief works with local partners to provide lasting solutions to poverty.

Our staff and partners in the countries where we work know the local languages, traditions and customs necessary to provide appropriate solutions. And they have access to the knowledge and expertise of their colleagues in other countries around the world.

»Read more about LWR’s work around the world

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Cocoa farmers taste chocolate for the very first time (video) http://blog.lwr.org/2014/07/cocoa-farmers-taste-chocolate-for-the-very-first-time-video/ http://blog.lwr.org/2014/07/cocoa-farmers-taste-chocolate-for-the-very-first-time-video/#comments Thu, 31 Jul 2014 21:24:58 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5272

The first time I visited Nicaragua — one of the major coffee-producing countries in Central America and a focus of Ground Up: The LWR Coffee and Cocoa Initiative — I was perplexed that the only coffee we had to drink was prepackaged instant coffee. Nowhere in sight were the beautifully bistre roasted beans of the Sister’s Blend coffee I had grown accustomed to.

I quickly learned that the high quality coffee beans grown by the farmers I met were too valuable to keep in their own community. And although there was a concerted effort underway to encourage and enable local Nicaraguans to consume their own coffee, most of them relied on highly processed instant coffee for their own mornings.

I was reminded of this fact when I ran across the following video. This time, instead of coffee, it’s chocolate. An Ivory Coast-based news crew, Metropolis TV, brought chocolate bars to the farmers who make their living growing cocoa beans. These farmers admit they don’t really know what happens to the beans. They have never tasted chocolate before.

Reading this via email? Click here to watch the video on YouTube

While this may be an extreme example, it is certainly true that many of the products we take for granted in the United States are luxuries to the people who grow and produce them.

This isn’t just about chocolate; it’s about food security

This isn’t just about whether or not farmers can afford to purchase high-quality chocolate or coffee. It’s about the access and availability of safe, nutritious food in general (a term we call food security).

Lutheran World Relief works with farmers across Africa, Latin America and Asia to improve their incomes, and therefore their food security.

So next time you bite into a bar of delicious, Fair Trade chocolate, think about where that chocolate comes from. Give thanks for the hands that grew it. And enjoy.

Ground Up: The LWR Coffee and Cocoa Initiative
The global coffee and cocoa markets are worth more than $175 billion per year combined. But small-scale producers capture just a fraction of that value. With expertise developed over decades, LWR brings a unique perspective and skill set to improve producers’ lives, from the ground up.

Read more about Ground Up: The LWR coffee and cocoa initiative.

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How smartphones are improving farming in Uganda http://blog.lwr.org/2014/07/how-smartphones-are-improving-farming-in-uganda/ http://blog.lwr.org/2014/07/how-smartphones-are-improving-farming-in-uganda/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 17:58:41 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5256

Guest post by David Fuerst, LWR’s Senior Director for Philanthropic Engagement

“This phone has changed my life!”

That’s what Bernard Magombe told me when I recently sat down with him on a visit to an LWR coffee project in Bumweru, Uganda.

To be honest, I had mixed reactions to his proclamation. I think of my smartphone as both a blessing and a barrier. It’s a blessing in the convenience and entertainment it provides. It’s a barrier because of how all-consuming these powerful devices can be.

Needless to say, I was intrigued by Bernard’s insistence that his phone changed his life.

Bernard is a young man, just 26 years old. When he graduated from school he was given a small acreage of land in the lush, rolling foothills of Mt. Elgon. This small plot of land came with some wily coffee trees that produced very little coffee. And when they did, the quality was very poor. In fact, many of Bernard’s neighbors cut down their coffee trees to use as firewood.

He and his family — his wife and their three-year-old son and five-month-old daughter — rely on the income from their farm for income. Clearly coffee wasn’t meeting their needs.

But that all began to change, Bernard insisted, because of a smartphone.

The difference a phone can make

When Bernard’s community joined the Gumutindo Coffee Cooperative, he was selected to serve as a Community Knowledge Worker (CKW) — a member of the community equipped with a smartphone to share information with fellow farmers, like weather forecasts, market pricing, composting and crop disease identification and treatment.

Anyone with a farming background knows how important information can be. Even with the right information, you must make decisions in an environment where the outcome is uncertain. My own memories of growing up on a Nebraska farm are peppered with my father’s quest to obtain the best information, consult with his fellow farmers and make a decision that we hoped would yield a bumper crop.

Up until recently, Bernard and his fellow farmers lacked even the most basic information they could use to make good decisions for their farmers. With Bernard’s new role as a CKW, and equipped with his smartphone, farmers have access to many types of information — and the possibilities for more are endless.

SONY DSC

Now each morning Bernard gets up, tends to his own farm and at about 10 a.m. he “hits the road” by foot. His goal is to visit at least 4-5 farmers each day. When he visits, he finds out what questions or problems they are having and uses his smartphone to get information and answers.

“I want to be a modern farmer and a leader”

Where Bernard used to struggle to even produce coffee on his farm, he’s now growing better crops using the information he gets from training and his smartphone. His fellow farmers are also seeing improvements. This new-found information is also inspiring farmers in Bumweru to look to the future.

“I want to be a modern farmer and a leader in my community” says Bernard.

Seeing the smile on Bernard’s face, hearing the pride in his voice as he told me about how he can now support his family, I must say I was convinced. A smartphone really had changed his life!

And you can help change even more lives with your support of Lutheran World Relief. Your gifts make a lasting difference in the lives of people coping with poverty around the world. Thank you for your support!

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I don’t like coffee, but I do like this… http://blog.lwr.org/2014/07/i-dont-like-coffee-but-i-do-like-this/ http://blog.lwr.org/2014/07/i-dont-like-coffee-but-i-do-like-this/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 20:23:28 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5248

I have a secret – I’m not a coffee drinker.

Despite months of working on LWR’s coffee programming in Asia—including Temu Kupi, an international coffee forum LWR hosted with Green Mountain Coffee and Fair Trade USA—I got away without drinking any coffee.  It’s not that I don’t support the farmers who participate in our programs or the partnerships LWR is building with everyone from producers to international coffee corporations – it’s just…I don’t like the taste!

While my secret is out on coffee, I also want to share another secret – I love chocolate.

This is not as much of a secret as anyone who knows me knows that there is not a type of chocolate that I don’t like.  So, several months ago when LWR launched Ground Up: The Lutheran World Relief Coffee and Cocoa Initiative, I was very excited to get more involved in our programming around cocoa.

While LWR has a number of cocoa projects around the world, particularly in Latin America, the organization is in the process of expanding our cocoa work in Asia.

Helping Farmers in the Philippines

Currently, working with communities in the Philippines that are vulnerable to the impacts of typhoons, flooding and landslides, LWR is partnering with the Cacao Industry Development Association of Mindanao to increase the income of 930 farmers—reaching approximately 4,650 people—whose livelihoods were affected by 2012’s Typhoon Bopha.

In the past, these farmers were primarily dependent on traditional methods of coconut and banana farming, but all of this changed when Typhoon Bopha hit.

Now, with support from LWR, farmers are adopting diversified cacao-based farming systems, learning new on-farm skills in cacao-based farming and adopting improved post-harvest handling and management techniques to receive higher prices for their crops.

Sharing our expertise and learning from others

In addition to programming, LWR is building its reputation as a leader in both coffee and cocoa programming internationally. In May, LWR’s country directors for the Philippines and Indonesia attended an international cocoa conference in Indonesia where regional players in cocoa gathered to discuss how to empower smallholder producers for a sustainable cocoa industry. Femia Baldeo from LWR Philippines and Paul Drossou from LWR Indonesia represented LWR at the event and shared information with those working in cocoa throughout the region about LWR’s expanding work in cocoa in the region.

Nande Grace stands in front of cocoa drying facility

Nande Grace is a cocoa farmer in Laja, Indonesia. Here, she shows off the cocoa drying facility that LWR helped her community build.

Following the conference, I wanted to share some reflections from Femia on the future of cocoa production for farmers that LWR is supporting in the Philippines and around the world:

“To create a better life for cocoa farmers, there’s a need to invest in the capacity building of these farmers – not only in cocoa production but also in empowering the farmers to be a part of a sustainable cocoa industry for their country as a whole.

Just as in other regions where LWR works, cocoa production has a great income potential for farmers living in poverty in the Philippines and throughout Asia. With the increasing demand for cocoa worldwide, production from LWR-supported cocoa farmers in the Philippines can help meet this need.”

While coffee may not be my beverage of choice, I am excited to share with you the work that LWR is doing with both cocoa and coffee farmers around the world.  Using expertise developed over decades, LWR brings a unique perspective and skill set the international cocoa and coffee conversation as we support sustainable coffee and cocoa production that also meets farmers’ needs. Through our work, LWR is addressing market barriers, limited access to credit, lack of technical skills and other difficulties small-scale farmers face.

With your help, we are currently reaching more than 42,000 farmers directly through our coffee and cocoa programming and, in the coming months and years, we hope to reach thousands more.

Now that I’ve shared my secret coffee and cocoa secrets, what are yours?

Ground Up: The LWR Coffee and Cocoa Initiative
The global coffee and cocoa markets are worth more than $175 billion per year combined. But smallholder producers capture just a fraction of that value. With expertise developed over decades, LWR brings a unique perspective and skill set to improve producers’ lives, from the ground up.

Read more about Ground Up: The LWR coffee and cocoa initiative.

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Is it okay for people who have experienced a disaster to be “happy”? http://blog.lwr.org/2014/06/is-it-okay-for-people-who-have-experienced-a-disaster-to-be-happy/ http://blog.lwr.org/2014/06/is-it-okay-for-people-who-have-experienced-a-disaster-to-be-happy/#comments Fri, 13 Jun 2014 17:46:32 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5235

Lutheran pastor and writer Travis Scholl recently wrote a column for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch asking, “Is it okay for a Christian to be ‘happy’?” In it, he reflects on Pharrell William’s “irresistibly infectious song, ‘Happy’.”

I sometimes end up being around folks who have a severe mistrust of “happiness.” …At the heart of their mistrust is a certain iconoclastic pragmatism about what constitutes happiness and where happiness can lead. Happiness is fleeting. Happiness deceives. Happiness can come from bad sources. Usually they then juxtapose “happiness” with “joy,” asserting that joy is more certain, more real, more durable.

Scholl goes on to affirm the difference between joy and happiness, but makes the point that “if your joy has more anger in it than happiness, it isn’t joy you’re feeling.”

And this is true even in the midst of sadness and suffering. There is something so irrepressible about true joy that its undercurrents lift up even the worst predicaments of our existence. This is why the Apostle Paul could write, in one of his greatest strings of thought, “Not only that, but we rejoicein our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame…” (Romans 5:3-5a). There is a certain underlying, but nonetheless confident, jubilation in Paul’s voice. I suspect he wrote it with at least a smile on his face.

This column made me think of a YouTube video that made the rounds a few months ago. Visual artist Quentin Musset traveled around areas of the Philippines that had been hit by Typhoon Haiyan. This is what he captured:

Reading this via e-mail, or a mobile device? Watch the video on YouTube»

This video of Filipinos who experienced Typhoon Haiyan dancing to Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” received mixed reviews.

Some people loved it:

YouTube comments that read "What do you do when you have just survived a disaster? You celebrate amongst the ruins!" "That needs to get more views! Thanks for sharing!" and "Despite all of our hardships, we still find a reason to smile, sing, and dance. One of the coolest things about our people."

But others had a more critical reaction:

While the intention of the video is good, I fear that showcasing "happy" survivors creates this false and complacent feeling that everything is okay or heading towards it. It's not, the government still has much to do and answer for. This "happy" Filipino mentality is what the corrupt politicians take advantage of all the time, with every tragedy we "seem" to bounce back and they never get heat for long.

All People are Human Beings of Dignity and Worth

At Lutheran World Relief, we have always attempted to demonstrate the full dignity of the people with whom we work. We have long avoided using “poverty porn” to raise funds, and believe that “All people are made in the image of God (Imago Dei, Genesis 1:26, James 3:9) and are human beings of dignity and worth.” (LWR’s “Calling” Value.)

I think that dignity means showing the full breadth of human experience, from joy and happiness to sorrow and grief. I happen to enjoy the video above. To me it demonstrates the strength of the human spirit.

It’s something I witnessed firsthand when I visited the Philippines, and is one way people around the world deal with hardship.

That dignity and work is why we introduced you to Leonida, and the work she and others are doing to help their own community.

Reading this via e-mail, or a mobile device? Watch the video on YouTube»

What do you think?

We want to know what you think. Is it okay for people who have experienced a disaster to be “happy”?

Does portraying them as “happy” in photos or videos enhance, or detract from, their dignity as human beings?

How do we do at portraying the full dignity and worth of people? How could we do better?

Please leave your comments below!

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Why the ELCA and LWR Are Proud to Work Together in the Philippines http://blog.lwr.org/2014/06/why-the-elca-and-lwr-are-proud-to-work-together-in-the-philippines/ http://blog.lwr.org/2014/06/why-the-elca-and-lwr-are-proud-to-work-together-in-the-philippines/#comments Tue, 10 Jun 2014 11:00:26 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5228

Guest post by the Rev. Rafael Malpica-Padilla, executive director of Global Mission for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

At the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), we are grateful for our long, historical relationship with Lutheran World Relief and for our mutual commitment to companionship in mission. The strength of this relationship, and the effectiveness of LWR’s initial relief work in the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, have led the ELCA to provide LWR with a second grant of $1 million to support the next phase of work: rehabilitation and assistance to re-establish the livelihoods of those who lost so much.

The ELCA’s first gift of $1 million last November enabled LWR to immediately go to affected areas to participate with a network of disaster-response agencies, including the National Council of Churches in the Philippines and other ecumenical partners engaged in relief and development work.

Bulletin Insert for Congregations

Download a Bulletin Insert to use in your congregation. Click on the image above, or right-click and choose “Save Link As…”

Lutheran Disaster Response and ELCA Global Mission-Diakonia have a long history of uniting the gifts and resources of the ELCA’s faithful members, congregations and synods with the on-the-ground experience in disaster relief and development work of partners like LWR. Through this partnership, the church is present in the community, there for its neighbors when disaster strikes, and still there to help people rebuild their lives long after others have gone.

Touching people’s lives for the flourishing of human community is the moral imperative that shapes the ELCA’s global relief and development work. We are deeply committed to creating significant impact in the lives of people and communities. Through LWR, the ELCA is extending its reach to provide sufficient and sustainable livelihoods for all.

Thank you, ELCA members, congregations and synods for your generosity. Thank you, LWR, for being there to extend our hands to the people of the Philippines.

The Rev. Rafael Malpica-Padilla, D.D.
Executive Director, Global Mission
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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How Leaf Rust is Affecting Coffee Farmers in Central America http://blog.lwr.org/2014/05/leaf-rust-2/ http://blog.lwr.org/2014/05/leaf-rust-2/#comments Thu, 22 May 2014 16:27:39 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5221

If you’ve been paying attention to the news the last couple of days, you might have seen something about coffee rust, or roya, a coffee plant disease that’s devastating coffee crops in Central America.

While organizations like LWR have been aware of – and working to combat – roya for a long while, it’s been generating some buzz lately because USAID this week announced a research partnership with Texas A&M University focused on combating the disease. Mainstream media like CBS News, the Associated Press, the New York Times and NPR’s Marketplace have picked up the story.

What is roya?

Roya affects the leaves of coffee plants, eventually causing them fall off, which ultimately kills the tree. Because a lot of the specialty coffees that Americans love come from Central America, the story of roya is of economic interest here. Put simply, it’s a classic supply-and-demand issue: because of roya infection, the supply of quality coffee becomes more limited. But our desire for fancy lattes isn’t affected at all – so when demand outpaces supply, prices go up. And you could soon be paying a little more for your cup of joe.

But that’s not the full story. And kudos to those news outlets for telling the other side of the story as well: the story of the farmers.

Roya affects farmers and their families

I was in Nicaragua last month, visiting with coffee farmers who’ve been working with LWR. They told me about roya’s crippling effect on their family income.

Juan Francisco Aguilar told me that last year, his family harvested 655 pounds of coffee from their farm, which is their primary source of income for the year. This year’s harvest – thanks to a roya infection that wiped out three quarters of their plants – was just 129 ½ pounds.

Idalia Orellana holding a leaf that shows leaf rust

Idalia Orellana is a coffee farmer in Honduras. Her crops have been affected by roya, or leaf rust, which has affected her ability to pay for her son’s school fees.

“We were expecting better income, but we got just 25% of what we made last year,” he said.

Erik Morales has seen a lot of roya in his work with SOPPEXCCA, a Nicaraguan coffee cooperative and longtime LWR partner.

“The tree dies and the farmer has to eliminate the plant and start over. When they start over, it takes three years to produce again and this is difficult for the family,” he says. “That is a hardship, how to manage during that time when they are rebuilding the farm.”

SOPPEXCCA staff estimate that over the last two years, they have processed about 35-40% less coffee annually than in previous years, due to roya.

There are things farmers can do to protect their plants – applying fungicides, planting roya-resistant varieties of coffee – and LWR is helping farmers take these steps through our work with SOPPEXCCA and other coffee partners in Latin America. But in addition, we’re also doing things like helping coffee farmers diversify their crops, so they are no longer solely dependent on coffee as a source of income. It’s a holistic approach, one that addresses farmers’ needs both today and for the future.

I’m happy that roya is finally getting the attention it deserves. I hope that farmers like Juan Francisco and his family won’t ever have another year as bad as this one.

Read more about LWR’s work with Coffee

LWR has a long history of working with small-scale coffee farmers. We work to maximize the profitability of their business through increased quantity and improved quality of coffee harvests.

Continue Reading»

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How Far Out is “the Future”? Different Perspectives from Burkina Faso http://blog.lwr.org/2014/05/how-far-out-is-the-future-different-perspectives-from-burkina-faso/ http://blog.lwr.org/2014/05/how-far-out-is-the-future-different-perspectives-from-burkina-faso/#comments Tue, 20 May 2014 14:54:01 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5208

When you read the word “future,” what comes to mind? 10 years? 20 years? 50 years?

While visiting with women in Burkina Faso last week, I gained a new perspective about how different people view that word.

I met with women in the village of Piaga, a village of approximately 1,239 people in a country with a life expectancy teetering at 53 years old and an average annual household income of $510.

Habbanaye: The Goats That Keep on Giving

Noali Timbende, a small-statured woman with a loud, booming voice, told us about how — with the support of LWR — the women in her village have recently come together as a group to improve their situation through a system called habbanaye: a system that involves raising, selling and passing along goats to increase a family’s income.

When the project began, Piaga women identified the village’s 50 poorest women, and then of those 50, the 12 most vulnerable. The poorest of the poor.

“We have just started and we’ll grow,” Noali proclaimed. “But we started with the women who were most in need of the support, most impoverished.”

With the support of LWR, the women’s group provided two female goats and one male to each of those 12 women. They also received training on how to care for and breed the goats. Once these livestock produce offspring, each woman will bring one female and one male back to the group to be distributed to the next woman on the list. They have just started, but they plan to distribute goats to all members of the women’s group. It’ll take time.

As we went around the village, women shyly but eagerly showed us their goats, glowing about how quickly the goats got pregnant, or showing off the newborn kids.

However, when I asked about their hopes and dreams for the future, they couldn’t think beyond a year or two, when they might have a larger herd of goats, with an increased income from the sale of the goats.

After thanking the women, we loaded into the cars and bounced down the bumpy road to visit another project in a city called Fada N’Gourma.

When LWR is No Longer Needed

This second project is one we’ve talked about before, where LWR supported a women-led dairy. Because the women of the dairy were doing so well, LWR and the women of Fada N’Gourma decided that they could operate on their own, without our support.

Two women holding packets of yogurt

Women from Fada N’Gourma show off the yogurt that is produced at their dairy. Their dairy was started with the help of LWR, but has become self-sufficient.

As we sat in the courtyard of the dairy, one of the women working there, Penuma Maiga, told us about how far the women had come and how much difference this dairy had made in their lives.

Prior to the project, the women working at the dairy kept all of their records in a book and had no backup generator to keep the milk and yogurt chilled when the power would go out. But with the support of LWR, they have received computer training, so all of their records are now computerized. They have a generator, which kicks on automatically when the power goes out, so there is no risk to the quality of their product.

Expressions of Gratitude

Penuma Maiga has a message to supporters like you.

“We want to thank you. You’ve helped us. You’ve helped our husbands. The women in this dairy are able to afford school fees for their children. The whole family’s needs are taken care of, all because of the support of LWR.”

Penuma Maiga and another woman show off the computer in their dairy's office.

Penuma Maiga (left) stands in front of the office computer at Fada N’Gourma. She feels very grateful for the support of LWR and people like you.

As I sat there under the tree, inhaling the fresh, honest smell of a dairy, I was struck by the sense of future that the women of the dairy had. The future was no longer a matter of months or, at most, a year. The future meant many, many years into the future. It was limitless. And it was evident in the confidence and strength that radiated from these women.

My greatest hope for the women of Piaga, the women just starting out raising goats, is that they soon have a similar sense of future as the women of the dairy have. That as their goats multiply and reap benefits, their dreams for the future do.

Goat from LWR Gifts

Help Pass On the Gift of a Goat

In parts of the world where food supply is precarious, a hearty goat can survive, giving milk that nourishes and sells. $100 is all it takes.

Buy a goat for a family like this»

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Notes from Nicaragua: Experiencing the Hospitality of Farmers http://blog.lwr.org/2014/05/notes-from-nicaragua-experiencing-the-hospitality-of-farmers/ http://blog.lwr.org/2014/05/notes-from-nicaragua-experiencing-the-hospitality-of-farmers/#comments Thu, 15 May 2014 15:23:43 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5201

Driving through the mountains of Nicaragua and looking out over the valleys, I don’t feel all that far away from the pine-filled mountains and valleys of western North Carolina that I once called home. In Nicaragua, unfortunately, deforestation is affecting the beautiful pine trees and harming small-scale farmers. Fortunately, many of those small-scale farmers are helping to reverse the deforestation by planting organic shade-grown coffee, revitalizing God’s good creation in this region.

Along with ten students from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., I’ve traveled from the town of El Castillo along the Río San Juan, to the higher elevations of Jinotega, and then down to San Ramon to meet LWR’s partners and see their work. Every step along the way we are greeted with a depth of hospitality that also reminds me of home.

The Hospitality of Food and Information

In order to reach the cocoa farm of Ruben Dario, we were greeted with a rope swing across the river. After all had safely landed, we traversed through cocoa and banana trees with more fruit than any of us could eat as. Ruben showed us how he has learned to diversify his crops so that he can produce higher quality cocoa. As a member of a farmer’s cooperative, COOPROCAFUC (LWR’s partner), Ruben has strengthened the income for his family and created a more sustainable farm to leave behind for his son, a point he made to our group often and with pride.

“At Ruben’s farm we knew that he wanted to answer any question we had for him,” said Concordia student Torie Jones, explaining how welcoming Ruben was. “He told us, ‘If you have any questions I will work to find an answer for you.’ ”

The Hospitality of Latrines

When we reached to home of Maria Catalina we had been traveling on bumpy roads for a while. Many in our group needed to use the little girl’s and boy’s room. This might not be the initial thing you want to ask the first time you arrive at someone’s house. But showing off their latrine was a source of pride for Maria’s family. Constructed during an LWR project their latrine provides safe sanitation and is connected to a biodigestion container that converts the waste into energy for the home.

“The welcome we received at Maria’s was physical,” said Tori Hansen. “From the bathroom, to the oatmeal drink she provided us all, to the bananas.”

The Hospitality of Students

Anyone’s first day at a new school can feel intimidating. So the loud “¡Bienvenidos!” was a welcome sound as our group arrived at La Corona School. These students participated in a Safe School project funded by LWR, where they learned to recognize environmental dangers like flooding rivers and earthquakes, and how to react safely. High school students who make up the school’s new first aid brigade put on a demonstration with the Concordia students as their test subjects. Not only did we feel welcome at La Corona, but we felt safe as well.
a Concordia College student takes part in a demonstration of Safe Schools
Hanna Loeffler-Kemp reflected that “the students’ desire to have us be part of their presentation gave us a more hands-on way of understanding the safe schools project. Their professionalism and pride was awesome to see!”

As our time in Nicaragua begins to wrap up we still have a few more communities to visit. I know this outpouring of hospitality will continue to meet us wherever we are. But I am most excited about the fact that these Concordia College students will bring this hospitality back to the United States, to their families, friends and campus. They will bring back stories, pictures and a vision for lasting solutions to poverty and sustainable development. This vision includes cocoa and coffee farmers. This vision includes school children. This vision includes communities with improved access to water. This vision all of the ways God is calling them. This vision includes you. I invite you enjoy their hospitality and hear the vision they have to share.

Learn more about LWR’s Work in Nicaragua

Read about the various farmers and projects you can support. Read about our approach to providing lasting solutions and sustainable development.

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Celebrating World Malaria Day & LWR’s Work in Mali http://blog.lwr.org/2014/04/celebrating-world-malaria-day/ http://blog.lwr.org/2014/04/celebrating-world-malaria-day/#comments Tue, 22 Apr 2014 16:44:57 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5190

This Friday, April 25, is World Malaria Day, a day to bring special attention to this preventable, treatable disease.

As part of the commemoration of World Malaria Day, we’re excited to announce that Tim McCully, LWR’s vice president of international programs, will be speaking at a special event at Johns Hopkins University. He joins Rear Admiral Tim Ziemer of the President’s Malaria Initiative, William Moss of the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute, and others to talk about how faith-based organizations, government agencies, and the private sector have all come together in the global fight against malaria.

Increasing awareness of malaria

One great example of this partnership is LWR’s malaria work in Mali, West Africa. Through a partnership with USAID, LWR has reached over 680,000 people in Mali with messages that build awareness about malaria prevention and treatment.

Because of these messages, we have found that:

  • 99% of children under five are now sleeping under long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets (up from 27-31% in 2006).
  • 99% of pregnant women are now sleeping under nets (up from 31-40% in 2006).

These two statistics in particular are incredibly important, as pregnant women and young children are the most susceptible to malaria.

woman talking to health care worker in clinic

Thanks to her community’s health solidarity fund, Faty Konta was able to access life-saving health care. These funds help local communities pool and manage their savings in order to subsidize care for malaria treatment. (Photo by Ollivier Girard, for LWR)

And not only is awareness about bed nets higher, but we’ve been able to provide care to over 1,700 people affected by malaria through an innovative partnership.

Innovative funding for health care

We partner with local community-based organizations to establish special funds (“Community Health Solidarity Funds”) that are funded by the community members themselves. These funds can then be used to pay benefits for their own malaria care.

Before our project began, less than 11% of young children who had a fever received malaria treatment. Now, 91% do.

Not putting our lamp under a bushel

We’re proud of this work. We’re proud to be making a difference.

And we’re proud that on Friday we’ll have the chance to publicly show off the lamp that we too often hide under a bushel!

Do you live in the Baltimore area, or know someone who does?

Come to the World Malaria Day event! Register online now»

Learn more about the Lutheran Malaria Initiative

Want to learn more, or get involved in the global fight against malaria? Go to our website»

$10 can provide one family with a treated bed net and education on its use.

$50 can cover the cost of malaria prevention messages on local radio stations in Africa.

$100 can help train a health care worker to diagnose and treat malaria.

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Good Friday is a Good Time for Lament http://blog.lwr.org/2014/04/good-friday-is-a-good-time-for-lament/ http://blog.lwr.org/2014/04/good-friday-is-a-good-time-for-lament/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 11:00:13 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5181

O Lord, God of my salvation, when, at night, I cry out in your presence, let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry. -Psalm 88: 1-2

There are times in life when all one can do is to cry out. Those times when the broken reality of our world comes crashing in. When life seems too thin, too close to breaking. Praise is a distant memory of some lost time.

In times like these, we lament. And lament can be healthy, honest, cathartic. It is part of faith and our Lenten tradition. Even Jesus cried out from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Knowing that the Bible leaves room for despair is comforting. Faith is not dependent on happy feelings, nor positive events. Faith is not dependent on praise. That’s part of the comfort of Psalm 88, once referred to as “the darkest, saddest of all the Psalms.” It is the only Psalm of lament that does not end in praise, concluding “darkness is my closest friend” (NIV).

The good news in the midst of lament is that the cross is not the end. God has not abandoned us. Nothing “in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord,” writes Paul. “I am with you always, to the end of the age,” is Jesus’ Easter promise.

When disasters like Typhoon Haiyan strike, throwing communities into despair, we live out God’s lasting promise on behalf of victims. Though darkness may be their closest friend, God’s love empowers us to love. We stand with them, holding them in faith. We are strong, until they can find their strength. We work, we pray, we praise, so that the darkness does not have the final word. We love, because God first loved us. Thanks be to God!

LWR Special Reports

This devotional was originally published in the March 2014 issue of LWR Special Reports. View additional articles, videos, and other bonus content at lwr.org/specialreports

 

Read More»

 

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Ambassador Daniel V. Speckhard Named President and CEO http://blog.lwr.org/2014/04/ambassador-daniel-v-speckhard-named-president-and-ceo/ http://blog.lwr.org/2014/04/ambassador-daniel-v-speckhard-named-president-and-ceo/#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 14:10:21 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5174

We are pleased to announce that Ambassador Daniel V. Speckhard, of McLean, Va., will be the next president and CEO of Lutheran World Relief, effective July 1.

Currently a senior advisor at Palantir Technologies and a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, Speckhard has served in various high-level diplomatic roles in both Republican and Democratic administrations. Most recently, he was U.S. ambassador to Greece from 2007 to 2010.

He has also served as deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, director of the Iraq Reconstruction Management Office, deputy assistant secretary general for political affairs at NATO, and the U.S. ambassador to Belarus. Earlier in his career he was an expert on foreign assistance programs and the challenges facing countries in transition. He speaks Russian and French and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Atlantic Council.

“It is a privilege to welcome Daniel Speckhard as LWR’s president and CEO,” said Gloria Edwards, LWR’s board chair. “He is a strong leader who has a deep passion for this work and a compelling vision for the future. The board looks forward to working with him to continue to grow the organization, connect with U.S. Lutherans, and reach even more people in need.”

Read the entire press release»

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What Did Luther Say About Loving Our Neighbor? http://blog.lwr.org/2014/04/what-did-luther-say-about-loving-our-neighbor/ http://blog.lwr.org/2014/04/what-did-luther-say-about-loving-our-neighbor/#comments Wed, 09 Apr 2014 10:00:17 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5168

“It is not forbidden but rather commanded that by the sweat of our brow we should seek our daily food, clothing, and all we need and avoid destruction whenever we can, as long as we do so without detracting from our love and duty toward our neighbor.” -Martin Luther

In Martin Luther’s time, society’s affliction, both monetary and bodily, abounded. Exploitation of the poor was rampant, as was the spread of great plagues which killed thousands throughout Europe. Responding to a letter from the Reverend Doctor Johann Hess, asking “whether one may flee from a deadly plague,” Luther answered with typical flair.

“Examples in Holy Scripture,” Luther wrote, “abundantly prove that to flee from death is not wrong in itself.” Indeed, Christ came that we “may have life, and have it abundantly.” However, “If I see that [my neighbor] is hungry or thirsty, I cannot ignore him but must offer food and drink, not considering whether I would risk impoverishing myself by doing so.”

It is an old song. We love because Christ first loved us. We give because Christ has first given to us. We are blessed, in order that we might be a blessing. Whether or not we have the resources that we had six months or a year ago, we still have both the opportunity and the responsibility to save our neighbor from the same deadly plague in which we find ourselves.

Such is the great generosity of God’s love, that no person is created greater than the other. And in this commonality, we are called to open ourselves to our neighbor — even in a time when we are tempted to close our doors and our wallets. For it is in that opening that we remember and encounter the one who opened himself for us, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Adapted from a devotion originally published in the April 2009 issue of To Others, Through Others (TOTO): LWR’s Newsletter.

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It’s Hard to Answer the Question “How was Your Trip?” http://blog.lwr.org/2014/04/how-was-your-trip/ http://blog.lwr.org/2014/04/how-was-your-trip/#comments Thu, 03 Apr 2014 20:21:52 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5160

I returned from the Philippines almost two weeks ago. Just about every day I’ve heard some variation on the same question from friends, colleagues, family members, and people at church: how was your trip?

I’m not quite sure how to answer.

Sometimes I think people expect me to say “it was great!” (Perhaps that’s my own expectation of their expectation.) But that answer really seems to get caught in my throat, because it’s much more complicated.

The Philippines is a beautiful place. It has warm sunshine, beautiful beaches, stunning mountains and an amazing variety of plants and fruits and veggies. Everyone — from LWR staff to restaurant employees to partners to people involved in LWR’s projects— was warm, friendly and welcoming. So all those things really were great!

But alongside the beauty of the landscape and the friendliness of the people, there’s the incredible damage caused by Typhoon Haiyan. Countless homes and businesses were destroyed. Many are still in need of significant repair. There are people who lost their livelihoods. For many, the cost of replacing boats and other supplies is overwhelming. There are people living in temporary shelters, tents, or in temporarily repaired homes. There are families grieving lost loved ones.

Those things are definitely not great.

To make a complex range of emotions even more complex, during my visit I met people whose stories both inspired and concerned me.

I met Valentina and Alan Arguillano. They live on the island of Leyte, in a community on the northwestern side of the island province. They lost the roof off their home during the storm, and Valentina’s parents’ home was also damaged. When her parents repaired their home, they were able to salvage and restore pieces from their original roof – enough to fully and permanently repair Valentina and Alan’s roof.

Alan is a fisherman, and he lost his boat in the storm. He is still working to save enough money to get a new boat, but it might take a long time. LWR’s cash-for-work program helped them make money in the meantime. Alan and Valentina spent 10 days helping to clean up debris in their community, and in return were paid for their work. Two things accomplished: a cleaner neighborhood and a family working toward restoring their livelihood.

But then I met Rosalie and her family. On the day we visited, it seemed their home was located in an idyllic situation, overlooking the gorgeous blue-green water. Once built on a small concrete foundation, their home all but washed away in the typhoon. The crumbled foundation nearby was a stark reminder of how vulnerable this family is to the unpredictable sea.

Rosalie & Family

Rosalie and her family stand in front of their home. Before the storm, her husband earned 200-300 pesos per catch. Now, his boat is damaged and so he’s not able to fish as frequently.

The family now sleeps and cooks under several tarps draped over scraps and pieces of what they were able to salvage and make into a makeshift dwelling. It is far from ideal. Rosalie’s husband is a fisherman, and his boat was badly damaged. The family struggled to make ends meet before their home was washed away, but now without any savings to put toward a new boat they are afraid, wondering what the future will bring, and how they will be able to adequately provide for their five growing children.

I saw the incredible resilience of the communities impacted by Typhoon Haiyan. Communities made up of strong, determined, creative people working hard to rebuild their homes and their lives, and helping their neighbors do the same.

I saw LWR staff and partners work to jump-start, support and provide resources to those communities. Work that is really your work—made possible by your generosity.

Families are rebuilding, restoring or repairing their homes with shelter repair kits. Schools providing clean drinking water to their students, helping them stay healthy and continue their studies. Families who may not see power restored for months on their remote islands are receiving solar-powered lanterns to help them when the light of the day fades.

More communities are benefiting from cash-for-work programs.

the muddy boots of a worker

A worker helps clean up an irrigation ditch as part of a cash-for-work program.

Families are receiving basic supplies through Quilts, Personal Care Kits, Baby Care Kits and School Kits.

So how was my trip?

It was a paradox. Good tempered with bad. Bad tempered with good. As the apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:1, “therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart.”

I am thankful for the opportunity to meet God in the face of our resilient neighbors all the way on the other side of the world. I am thankful for the joy of knowing you and meeting Christ through your generosity. It is making a difference in this world.

And I am thankful for God’s mercy, giving strength to the weary, opening hearts to give abundantly. The people of the Philippines are recovering, but they have a long way to go. I’m humbled and grateful to know that we — you, me, all of LWR — will be walking with them.

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Why We Continue the Complicated, Messy, Slow Work in Gender http://blog.lwr.org/2014/03/why-we-continue-the-complicated-messy-slow-work-in-gender/ http://blog.lwr.org/2014/03/why-we-continue-the-complicated-messy-slow-work-in-gender/#comments Fri, 14 Mar 2014 13:47:56 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5151

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to speak about LWR in front of an audience of other non-governmental organization (NGO) workers at the United Nations. It was part of an event at the fifty-eighth session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

I was invited to talk about LWR’s Learning for Gender Integration (LGI) initiative. At LWR, we are working to address gender inequality around the world by integrating gender considerations into our program design, ensuring that men and women have equal opportunities to benefit from LWR’s work. This is exemplified in three LWR “model projects” in Uganda, Nicaragua and India. (Read some examples»).

seven women working in a field

Women in the Jamui District of Bihar, India, cultivating vegetables on their farms.

For LWR, this work is about intentionality, consistency, quality and sustainability. We ask ourselves: We can do it today, but can we do it thoroughly? Can we do it well? And can we stay the course, even long after gender has stopped being today’s hot topic or a donor’s favorite keyword? I think we can, and that’s why I welcomed the opportunity to talk about our program. We have a dedicated group of staff who recognize the importance of integrating gender into our work and who are passionate about moving this work forward.

As I prepared for my talk, I realized it had been 19 years since Hillary Clinton spoke at the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action. There, the UN adopted gender mainstreaming as a means to make a dramatic change in how we approach women’s rights and gender equity. I remember watching her speech, and as I read the text again I was a bit dismayed and yet still inspired by her words:

“Let this conference be our — and the world’s — call to action. Let us heed that call so we can create a world in which every woman is treated with respect and dignity, every boy and girl is loved and cared for equally, and every family has the hope of a strong and stable future. That is the work before you. That is the work before all of us who have a vision of the world we want to see — for our children and our grandchildren.”

Gender is part of a larger system — projects, local partners, staff, field offices, headquarters, donors, proposals, budgets, and competing priorities. Within that system, gender integration is a complicated, messy, slow, ever-threatened and seemingly illusive undertaking.

Even though we still have a long way to go, we know it’s an important undertaking. It’s meaningful. And we believe in it. We have learned to applaud our small successes because there aren’t always demonstrable results right away. Sometimes it is hard to measure and prove why sitting through trainings, and working on toolkits, and reviewing reports and coaching staff actually makes a difference.  But it’s possible, and the testimonials of the men and women farmers we work with are enough to keep us going, continually pushing.

Read more about how Lutheran World Relief is integrating gender into its programs to address inequality around the world.

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Empowering Communities in India to Overcome Poverty — One Woman at a Time http://blog.lwr.org/2014/03/empowering-communities-in-india-to-overcome-poverty-one-woman-at-a-time/ http://blog.lwr.org/2014/03/empowering-communities-in-india-to-overcome-poverty-one-woman-at-a-time/#comments Fri, 07 Mar 2014 14:27:17 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5148

Originally posted at the Huffington Post…

This International Women’s Day, I want to recognize the women of rural India who are fighting to pull their communities out of poverty — one woman at a time.

Women have the power to pull communities out of poverty.

During the past year, I have met countless women who are defying the odds to provide for their families and are slowly but surely changing their destiny and giving their children a brighter future.

There is no better example of the power of women as change agents than those living in India’s Bihar State.

Last year, I visited several self-help groups formed with the support of Lutheran World Relief (LWR) in Bihar. Bihar may not look that large on a map, but the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) reports that it is India’s third-most populous state and only 11 countries in the world have a larger population. Nearly 90 percent of people in Bihar live in rural areas, where UNDP reports, the poverty rate is nearly 56 percent.

More than three-fourths of the people in Bihar earn a living through agriculture, which has many challenges of its own. Women working in agriculture often lack the resources, land and inputs to be economically and food secure throughout the year. Many men are forced to migrate to find work so they can send money back to their families for survival. When family emergencies occur or households just cannot make ends meet, people often turn to money lenders who charge exorbitant interest rates, trapping many families in a cycle of poverty.

However, the situation in Bihar is changing. By forming self-help groups, women are not only getting access to much-needed capital, but they are also gaining confidence in themselves and instilling it in their communities.

Last year, I met Palvarti — a farmer who is learning farming techniques through one of LWR’s agricultural projects in India. Instead of just growing rice, she has learned to grow vegetables, diversifying her family’s diet and income and giving her higher value crops to sell at local markets. Continue reading Empowering Communities in India to Overcome Poverty»

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Think a relief operation isn’t a good time to train aid workers on quality and accountability? Think again. http://blog.lwr.org/2014/02/quality-and-accountability-training-in-philippines/ http://blog.lwr.org/2014/02/quality-and-accountability-training-in-philippines/#comments Fri, 21 Feb 2014 17:18:44 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5141

Originally posted at The Sphere Project. Used with permission.

It’s hot. You’re standing in the sweltering sun and have been waiting in line for more than an hour for a relief packet, and you’re not even sure what it contains. No one knows when staff from the aid agency managing the distribution are arriving. Patience is wearing thin. Tempers are beginning to flare. The feeling of helplessness in the aftermath of a disaster deepens…

This is a scenario that no humanitarian worker wants to imagine. But, one month after Typhoon Haiyan hit, I came across this situation during an assessment trip on the Philippines’ Bantayan Island.

A small island located off the northwest coast of Cebu, Bantayan Island was hit hard by Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in early November. Due to its location and the logistical challenges of transporting aid, it took time for people living on the island to receive relief goods following the storm.

Even one month after the typhoon, the situation in some villages remained dire. People did not have materials to repair or rebuild their houses. They worried about what would happen when they ran out of food from the most recent distribution. And many of their livelihoods had been destroyed by the winds that swept across the island.

After seeing the situation on Bantayan Island, I had to ask myself – As humanitarian aid workers, what can we do to ensure that those affected by a disaster like Typhoon Haiyan do not suffer more in the aftermath, particularly through our own efforts to reach those in need?

Over the past few months, education of aid workers in quality and accountability has become a crucial component of the humanitarian response in the Philippines. And it is not only improving the quality of current relief and recovery efforts but also building local capacity to better respond to future disasters that may affect the Philippines and the region.

Taking time to improve quality and accountability

In December and January, with support from fellow ACT Alliance member Church World Service Pakistan/Afghanistan, Lutheran World Relief (LWR) held 12 quality and accountability trainings for local and international aid workers in cities throughout typhoon-affected areas. The trainings reached nearly 200 people from 85 different agencies and organisations. Each session was tailored to those attending, depending on gaps in knowledge identified at training locations.

At every session, humanitarian aid workers arrived eager and ready to learn. While wanting to do all that they could to immediately help people affected by the storm, training participants also recognized the importance of taking time to ensure accountability to affected populations as they planned and executed their response projects.

In several key locations throughout affected areas, LWR has held sessions on use of Sphere minimum standards following a disaster, with an emphasis on contextualizing Sphere guidelines to the Philippines.

humanitarian aid worker reads the Sphere manual on Quality and Accountability

Staff of various organizations have been attending trainings on Quality & Accountability standards. This training was put on by LWR and the ACT Alliance.

Through these training sessions, international and local humanitarian actors have had the opportunity to sit down and work together to identify ways to apply Sphere standards to the Typhoon Haiyan response. Sessions like these not only improve the humanitarian community’s response to Haiyan but also better prepare humanitarian aid workers to respond to disasters that may strike in the future .

Familiarity with the Sphere principles and standards and understanding how to implement them can help humanitarian actors prevent distribution scenarios like the one I came across on Bantayan Island. In the rush to respond to needs, we must not forget that people have a right to life with dignity, to humanitarian assistance and to protection and security during a response.

Sphere also promotes affected communities’ active participation in response planning rather than leaving them as helpless bystanders. Keeping these commitments in mind, we can design response projects that leave people with a sense of hope that they will recover rather than a feeling of despair or frustration at our actions.

Additionally, understanding and utilizing the Sphere Handbook creates a common language across humanitarian agencies that improves our coordination and cohesion. When humanitarian actors share information, we better understand the situation, learn from each others’ experiences and more quickly adapt to the specific context in which we are working.

In addition to training on Sphere standards, LWR has held sessions on the Humanitarian Accountability Partnership (HAP) Standard with a focus on information sharing, establishing complaint response mechanisms, orientation on duty of care and team management as well as safety and security. LWR plans to hold five additional trainings for aid workers during February.

“People deserve this”

Education on quality and accountability is changing the way that both international and local agencies are responding to Typhoon Haiyan and reminding us of what is most important in an emergency response – the people affected.

Despite logistical constraints, bureaucracy and other challenges that can surface during humanitarian responses, aid workers in the Philippines are committed to improving relief and recovery efforts for those affected by disaster.

Putting affected populations at the center of a humanitarian response and helping them to maintain their dignity is our responsibility. As one training participant told me, the quality and accountability training sessions are “a beautiful reminder to humanitarian workers on what we are doing… People deserve this. The response is all about them.”

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Will You Help Us Improve Our Communication? http://blog.lwr.org/2014/01/familysurvey/ http://blog.lwr.org/2014/01/familysurvey/#comments Wed, 22 Jan 2014 19:11:42 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5133

Growing up, my brother and I were always cognizant of one very important rule in communicating with our mother. I’d even go so far as to say it was a survival strategy.

Never, ever, ever argue with each other before mom has had her coffee!

As a child I didn’t understand that, but as an adult I admit that a good deal of my ability to face the world in the morning has to do with the contents of my coffee cup (Ugandan Blend, from the LWR Coffee Project, in case you are curious!)

I bet if you think about it, there are things you just know about your family that helps you communicate with them better.

Well, here at LWR we consider you a part of our global family. You are more than supporters to us. Your prayers, gifts, time and talents have kept LWR going strong for more than six decades.

And we want to get to know you better and improve our relationship with you! That’s why we’re conducting our first ever LWR Family Survey. This survey will help us learn more about you and how to communicate the impact of your support on people living in poverty around the world.

Will you take five minutes to take the survey?

As a token of our thanks, you’ll have the opportunity at the end of the survey to register to win a Fair Trade gift basket or an LWR Gift! Both these items make great gifts and help a person in need rise out of poverty.

Thank you for being a part of the LWR family. From sharing about LWR on Facebook and Twitter, to making donations, to promoting and buying Fair Trade to assembling and donating Quilts and Kits, you help us reach out to the world’s poorest communities to promote justice, dignity and peace.

Take the survey and help us communicate your impact better.

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