Suffering: NAC SEA Relief makes it hurt a little less

The charity NAC SEA Relief provides help where it can. Thanks to the pastoral network of the New Apostolic Church in the Philippines, the charity can intervene quickly and sometimes also in unusual ways. The charity just published its annual report for 2021.

Typhoon Rai (its local name is Odette) claimed many lives in December 2021 and left thousands of people homeless and created a severe food shortage practically overnight. Once again, NAC SEA Relief responded and went where help was needed. “Our thank-you goes out to all of you who immediately reacted. It is just amazing how much can be done with just a small amount,” District Apostle Urs Hebeisen, the president of NAC SEA Relief, writes in the foreword to the Annual Report 2021.

Help on two wheels

The disaster relief which NAC SEA Relief provided when the super typhoon struck the country in December 2021, leaving a trail of destruction, will only really be reflected in the 2022 annual report (to be published in 2023). In the current annual report, reports on outreach on a smaller scale and which brought smiles to people’s faces thanks.

Benji Quako from our congregation Cebu City organised a team and set out with four motorbikes laden with food supplies to help the affected people. And because the typhoon made landfall just shortly before Christmas and overshadowed the festivities, the relief agency distributed Christmas gifts and survival kits in churches that had survived the storm.

Covid and no end in sight

Covid was the main concern throughout the year 2021 and kept the charity busy. It tried to alleviate the social impact of the pandemic, which affected the marginalised and vulnerable the most. With food donations, NAC SEA Relief mainly reached out to families of day labourers who had no work because of Covid. NAC SEA Relief also took over a stock of 700 kg of oat flour, preventing it from going to waste. The shipment could not reach the consumer due to marketing and logistical problems caused by the pandemic. Together with another charity, STEPS Mission, the nutritious flour was distributed to the most vulnerable families.

Helping longer

Nothing against emergency aid and food packs to meet people’s immediate basic needs, but the food is quickly used up and long before people recover from the disaster. Thus NAC SEA Relief tried to also help over the long term in the year under review by supplying building materials to help people rebuild or repair damaged homes that had been destroyed by previous typhoons and earthquakes. They also took precautionary measures. Their thinking was: why wait until disaster strikes? NAC SEA Relief provided construction materials for a family whose house was being threatened by a likely landslide. They were able to build a new house with sturdy material on safer ground. Neighbours and friends helped and everyone worked together to build the house. This is the true spirit of bayanihan, the famous Filipino custom of community collaboration.

Project: education

Education is especially important to NAC SEA Relief. It spends a great deal to support students with smaller and larger contributions—depending on how much they need for their education. This project is now also funded by the UNFRIED Stiftung, a foundation financed by the estate of a deceased couple in Germany, who wanted to support needy children and youth get an education and gain a secure future for themselves. On 22 October 2021 Hans Erich Schwarz, the foundation’s trustee, and Urs Hebeisen signed the agreement.

Covid forced school closures in the Philippines and children had to learn remotely from home, which was particularly hard for vulnerable families. Although the teachers organised many things so that the students only needed a smartphone, some could not even afford that. NAC SEA Relief was happy to fund the much-needed device for these students.

Leave nothing unused

In the Philippines there are church buildings that are hardly or no longer used because the congregational structure has changed over time. “An empty room is a waste, but it can be put to good use for the local community,” NAC SEA Relief writes in its 2021 annual report. Therefore, representatives of NAC SEA Relief and MOVE, an organisation that focuses on educating the underprivileged, signed a contract for the church building in Famy, which can now be used by the organisation for medical outreach, meetings, and as an evacuation centre. It will benefit the local populace.

The donors

In 2021, NAC SEA Relief was again delighted to receive private donations, which made rapid assistance in disasters and crises possible. The retired Bishop Dong III Yang from Korea donated a consignment of protective masks because some families simply could not afford the much-needed personal protective gear. There was great joy among the beneficiaries.

NAC SEA Relief received a large part of its income from the three institutional supporters in Europe—NAK Humanitas, NAK-karitativ, and humanaktiv—which work closely with the Philippine charity.

However, Urs Hebeisen not only says thank you for the monetary support, but also for everything else that is done to alleviate suffering: “It is not just the monetary support which counts. The outreach by volunteers and endless hours of work for the cause make it all possible.”

Thanks to all the supporters, it is possible to cast a hopeful look into the coming year. Work will continue so that people can cope with the aftermath of Typhoon Odette and other natural disasters and calamities.

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Katrin Löwen
Philippines, Aid agencies