EDITOR’S NOTE: Many Southern Baptist churches will observe their annual World Hunger Sunday on Oct. 10. For resources to promote the World Hunger Fund, visit www.worldhungerfund.com.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Relief workers are able to give hope to thousands of desperate families in Haiti and Pakistan because Southern Baptists have given generously to their World Hunger Fund, the executive director of a Southern Baptist relief and development organization said Sept. 13.
An estimated 3 million people in Haiti found themselves in desperate need after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Port-au-Prince Jan. 12, and more than 15 million people were left destitute when devastating rain and floods swept through Pakistan in August.
“The magnitude of these disasters staggers the imagination. Families are wrestling with life and death issues on a daily basis,” said Jeff Palmer, who leads Baptist Global Response. “So far we have allocated $2.35 million to these two disasters and, at least in Pakistan, the need far outstrips the resources we have available.
“The only reason we can respond to hunger needs at all in disasters like these is because Southern Baptists give generously to the World Hunger Fund,” Palmer added. “While the giving response to Haiti has been amazing, donations for Pakistan are lagging far behind the need. We are praying God will move in the hearts of His people to give generously to the World Hunger Fund — not only so we can meet the needs in Pakistan, but also so the fund will not be depleted to the point that we can’t respond to new disasters.”
Many Southern Baptist churches will use the resources available at www.worldhungerfund.com to observe their annual World Hunger Sunday on Oct. 10. Other congregations conduct world hunger campaigns at other times of the year.
A total of $4.7 million has been given through BGR and the International Mission Board for Haiti relief, Palmer said. In the early stages of the relief effort, work focused on food and emergency aid, in cooperation with Haitian, Dominican Republic and Southern Baptist partners. The work now is shifting away from hunger toward using relief funds to provide houses and beds.
Relief funds have been used to build about 60 12-by-16-foot cinderblock houses, and plans for call for 250 houses to be completed in 2010 and another 1,000 by the end of 2011, Palmer noted. BGR also plans to provide 2,200 beds and mosquito nets for Haitian orphans.
“As we look to the future, we are shifting more and more toward restoring safe weather-secure and earthquake-resistant housing,” Palmer said. “BGR has designed a simple cinderblock home with better construction specs and a tin roof that will act as a transitional home for Haitians. We are already seeing other groups beginning to leave temporary wooden housing models and move toward our BGR model house. Over the next 18 months to two years, projects in Haiti will revolve around housing construction, education projects and trauma counseling.”
A total of $50,000 has been donated toward the relief effort in Pakistan, but the projected budget needs for that response total $700,000 — before reconstruction needs even are taken into account, Palmer said.
“There are an estimated 8.5 million children in urgent need of humanitarian assistance in Pakistan,” Palmer said. “The number of people affected by the flooding exceeds the combined number of people affected by the 2004 tsunami, the Haiti earthquake and the 2008 earthquake in Pakistan. Time is of the essence in delivering lifesaving supplies.”
To date, projects in the flood zone, which also includes sites in two neighboring countries, have focused on food and water, as well as some temporary shelter and cooking kits, Palmer said. A total of 80,513 people have been helped through 15 projects conducted in partnership with national and international partners.
Receipts for the World Hunger Fund have tailed off over the past decade, according to statistics available at www.worldhungerfund.com. In 2003, more than $8.6 million was given, but by 2008 donations had declined to barely $6.1 million. In 2009, just $5 million was received, while international project expenses alone totaled $8.79 million.
“We are deeply grateful to Southern Baptists who care about people in need and demonstrate that concern by giving generously to the World Hunger Fund,” Palmer said. “They can celebrate the fact that so many people are experiencing the love of God and discovering hope for a new life through the projects funded by the World Hunger Fund.
“They can celebrate the fact that 100 percent of every dollar given is used to help hungry people; nothing is taken out for administrative expenses,” Palmer added. “Practically no other relief and development organization can make that claim.
“The needs and opportunities before us are astonishing, and the economic climate we are in is very challenging,” Palmer added. “Please pray with us that praying God will move in the hearts of his people to give generously to the World Hunger Fund this year so hungry souls can be fed and experience the full and meaningful life God created them to enjoy.”
Mark Kelly is an assistant editor with Baptist Press. For resources to promote the World Hunger Fund, visit www.worldhungerfund.com. Baptist Global Response is located on the Internet at www.gobgr.org.