Beyond the headlines – Helping when disaster strikes

Disaster relief and rebuilding programmes were the primary focus of the NAC SEA Relief Fund in the year 2016. The charity responds to calls of distress from people in need, and not just because of sensational headlines.

About sixty per cent of the aid organisation’s expenditure goes to disaster relief. This is what the charity’s latest report shows. A smaller percentage went to immediate emergency relief and a larger percentage to rebuilding efforts.

District Apostle Urs Hebeisen, who is the president of the aid organisation, writes that typhoons, fires, and other calamities batter the Philippines regularly. “NAC SEA Relief does not reach out just because there are sensational headlines, but answers the calls of the distressed.”

Church building serves as an emergency shelter

When fire struck in Magugpo North in Tagum City, destroying the homes of fifteen families, the charity sent immediate help by providing blankets, groceries, and cash assistance to all the affected families. When fire broke out in San Luiz Ruiz, the local New Apostolic congregation not only provided the victims with relief goods and cash, but also opened the church to the community as an evacuation centre.

A relief operation was started in Mindanao, the second largest island in the Philippines, following an extended dry spell there. A state of emergency had been declared after the El Niño weather phenomenon had caused massive water shortages in the region, causing severe damage to crops. Most of the families in the region depend on farming as their source of living. NAC SEA Relief reached out to more than 370 families and distributed food to ease the greatest distress. Nearly ninety families received seedlings so that they could begin to plant crops again when the conditions were better.

When your world is turned upside down

“There are catastrophes which make headlines worldwide. Many people take note and show their empathy. Yet there are natural disasters which strike and hardly anybody takes note,” the report says.

This often has to do with the number of reported casualties. Because the people in the Philippines are better able to prepare themselves now, the number of deaths have been reduced. However, the effects and the hardship remain, and this must not be underestimated, especially for the marginalised families, who often lose everything in such natural disasters.

More than 200 families received support from NAC SEA Relief in 2016, following such natural disasters. For example, after Typhoon Melor (its local name was Nona) hit the region Oriental Mindoro, and after Typhoon Haima (which was called Lawin in the Philippines) battered Northern Luzon. In addition to emergency relief in the form of food, the affected families also received material to rebuild their homes.

Help from a family of charities

Education and help for self-help is also high on the agenda of the South-East Asian charity. The annual report 2016 mentions the completion of a school with six classrooms in the mountains on the island of Negros, which had been destroyed by a typhoon back in 2013. But there is also a scholarship programme that supports more than two dozen students. One student graduated in 2016.

Becoming self-sufficient is another objective that the charity is pursuing with measures such as providing fishing boats for families in the region of Surigao, supporting crab farming on Mindanao, and providing capital to start with the production and marketing of canvas bags in General Santos.

About 43 per cent of the charity’s expenditure come from private donors. The larger half, however, does come from partner organisations in Switzerland: NAK Diakonia and particularly NAK Humanitas. Their support varies depending on the project in progress. In 2015, for example, NAK karitativ as well as the Missionswerk of the New Apostolic Church Southern Germany—now humaNAKtiv—were among the sponsors. In closing, the annual report states: “NAC SEA Relief joins a family of charities connected with the New Apostolic Church, supporting countries around the world.”

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