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Tragically, natural disasters occur around the world every year—earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, mudslides, etc., leaving millions of refugees and displaced people. Families impacted by these disasters and unrest face uncertain futures as they struggle to feed themselves and to rebuild shattered lives.
Heifer International communities are no different. By the very nature of our work, we often partner with vulnerable communities in disaster-prone areas. The island nation of Haiti, for example, struck by a massive earthquake in January 2010 and in August 2012 by Tropical Storm Isaac.
As part of our program work, we help our at-risk communities prepare for the potential impact of disasters. Yet disasters still occur that overwhelm a community’s ability to respond. To aid in those situations, Heifer International created its Disaster Rehabilitation Fund—a pool of money that can be accessed by country offices affected by disasters that exceed their ability to cope.
The fund provides resources for an appropriate initial response to the disaster, but more important, to begin planning for the longer-term recovery that reflects Heifer’s model.
Heifer International is by no means a traditional first responder. We specialize in Values-Based Community Development rather than relief, so in these situations, our work will only complement, not duplicate, the work of government and other immediate aid NGOs in an initial response. Our role, when needed, is limited to short-term provisional support—food, water and transportation—with an emphasis on helping existing Heifer project participants. We will direct all efforts toward long-term rehabilitation.
That’s where the disaster rehabilitation fund provides its greatest support—helping get communities back onto their feet and ready to rebuild for the long term with a focus on innovative livestock and agricultural systems. These are critical path needs for communities that have next to nothing—little land, little food, little opportunity.
Heifer International provides that hand-up, along with the tools and training families can use to grow their own food, and more, to sell for income to pay for necessities like medical care, school fees for their children and safe and secure homes. So having a fund to help people with their own recovery is critical.
Please give, and give generously, as disaster strikes in an instant, but food and income needs are forever.