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Responding to Disasters

Responding to Disasters

Published: October 20, 2011

Providing Resources to Those Most Vulnerable

Earthquakes and tornados, famine and floods are just some of natural disasters that afflict humankind. Recovery from such events can be long, harrowing, and costly. Shifting the funds allocated to wars, defense, and armaments to recovery from natural disasters could ensure a return to normal life for survivors. Here are recent examples of AFSC’s response to natural disasters.

Somali Refugees in Kenya

Following months of extreme drought and years of armed conflict, tens of thousands of Somalis have left their country and made the long trek to the Kenyan border. There they join refugees in the Dadaab camps which are extremely overcrowded already. While the world community has committed funds to ameliorate the plight of the Somali refugees, receiving the monies can be a long process. Meanwhile, urgent needs continue day by day.

AFSC is responding by providing cash grants to these vulnerable groups:

  • Young parents (mostly mothers) with many dependents, no spouse and no means of support;
  • The elderly who are ill or who have responsibility for grandchildren;
  • Orphans who are caring for siblings or elderly relatives or sometimes both; and,
  • The disabled or mentally impaired who require special attention to meet their basic needs.

An additional aspect of AFSC’s program is trauma-healing for Somali refugees who have witnessed murders and other horrors, and have suffered deprivation caused by famine. Restoring the refugees to health—both physical and mental—is the main goal of AFSC’s program. Its success will strengthen community cohesion and allow neighbor to interact with neighbor on an equal footing, thus reducing tensions that can arise in refugee situations. This work is an extension of AFSC’s commitment to building peace in the Horn of Africa, as well as its commitment of decades to the Somali people.

Exciting Project Under Way in Haiti

Following last year’s devastating earthquake, AFSC responded with immediate aid, followed by year-long pilot projects viable skills. AFSC views the large youth population of Haiti as a huge resource that can be harnessed for progress and positive social change in their country. Learn more about our work in Haiti.

Famine Hits North Korea

When North Korea experienced famine in the mid-1990s, AFSC responded with both immediate aid and a program to address chronic food shortages. Since that trained young people to produce solar lamps and supported security teams in encampments with appropriate equipment. This fall, AFSC launched a new pilot initiative in a school that goes from kindergarten to 8th grade. The St. Charles Boromeo school administration asked AFSC to help them transform their educational community. The school will continue with its core curriculum, but with the help of AFSC, students also will learn about conflict resolution and how to handle violence in their own lives. They’ll be taught leadership skills and encouraged to use their abilities to bring transformative change in their homes, in the school, and in their community.

Because attending school is intermittent for many students, eighth graders often are 17 or 18. For them, the AFSC project will introduce job training to teach then, four cooperative farms, serving 3,400 families, have worked with AFSC to adopt sustainable farming methods and improve yields.

Now, in the wake of an unusually cold winter, early spring drought, and summer typhoons, North Korea is facing its worst food shortage in 15 years and government rations have been steadily reduced, with the main cereal harvest still months away. If the fall harvest fails, widespread famine could affect as many as six million people. At their request, AFSC is providing food to our partner farms to sustain them until the next harvest.