In South Asia, disasters strike regularly, and fiercely. That's why Nazarene development and relief workers in these countries are specially trained to respond quickly and effectively in disaster situations.
The first response after a disaster covers relief items such as food, shelter, clothes and utensils. After cyclone Sidr struck in Bangladesh (2007), NCM provided 5,000 families with food, clothes, utensils, and medicine; 6,000 refugee families in Pakistan also received food aid, as well as the victims of several flood and famine disasters in Bangladesh. After the Pakistan earthquake (2005), NCM distributed 1,000 winterized tents as well as blankets.
In short-term rehabilitation, NCM often conducts "Food for Work" programs, especially after floods and cyclones in Bangladesh, where beneficiaries receive food in return for labour, e.g. road construction or tree plantation. Seed programs help victims to replant fields or home gardens, such as after the Pakistan earthquake and regular famine disasters in Bangladesh.
If shelters were destroyed, NCM may help with construction of houses and schools: in Pakistan, earthquake victims received 500 houses, a high school for 800 children, and a vocational training centre for young people and adults.
In many disasters, schools and child development centres are the major component of longterm rehabilitation efforts. Three schools are currently run for refugee children in Pakistan; earthquake, cyclone and flood rehabilitation included the establishment of several CDCs to develop the children long-term and give them a chance for the future.
If you would like to read more about NCM South Asia's response to disasters over the past few years, take a look at this leaflet (PDF; size: 1.4MB; status 2009). You can also print the leaflet and share it with your church or friends.
One example of how the Church of the Nazarene responds to disasters is the response to the 2004 tsunami tragedy in the Indian Ocean. The tsunami, which struck on 26 December 2004, devastated the coastal areas of Sri Lanka. Nearly 300,000 people died in South and Southeast Asia, and hundreds of thousands lost everything.
The Church of the Nazarene responded in Sri Lanka by providing some short-term relief in the form of crisis care kits and medical relief teams. Due to the enormous number of relief agencies crowding into the affected areas and distributing relief items, NCM mostly concentrated on trauma care and counselling, which is an on-going ministry since many survivors will need psychological support for years to come.
NCM's major response in Sri Lanka has concentrated on rehabilitation and sustainable development in three towns in the Eastern districts of Ampara and Batticaloa. Two schools were rebuilt and 115 new houses were built, with another 50 under construction. NCM Lanka started several child development centres, community-based health care projects and a good number of self-help groups including home gardens. As people will still need trauma care for years to come, NCM is continuing to train personnel in trauma counselling and provide support services to victims.
Click here to read a story of an assessment visit in tsunami-affected eastern Sri Lanka.