Since the tsunami hit South East Asia and Africa late last year, a flood of humanitarian aid has been attempting to bring restoration into the region. Christian organizations have been particularly active in the efforts of providing, besides material help, the hope that only Christ offers.
Some rushed to the scene immediately after the first news of the disaster, like Wendell Cutting, Gary Becks, and Andrea Stone, Becks’ daughter, from Rescue Task Force (RTF), who returned to San Diego on Jan. 12 after a trip to Sri Lanka and Southern Thailand, particularly to Khao Lak, in the Phang Nga province near Phuket, one of the hardest hit by the tsunami.
This is not the first humanitarian trip for Becks and Cutting. Rescue Task Force is a San Diego-based global emergency volunteer organization that provides volunteer medical and humanitarian aid to remote, isolated regions of the globe, and Becks and Cutting have been traveling together since its beginnings in 1988. Still, Becks finds no comparisons with the devastation he has seen during his last trip. “It’s overwhelming,” he said.
“Our on-site construction team in Southern Thailand is working too hard,” Becks explained in his report. “Our team leader just spent a night in a local hospital getting I.V. therapy for dehydration.”
Among other aid, the team in Thailand has purchased tents locally and delivered them to a community of 500 people who were totally destitute.
In Sri Lanka, Becks, Cutting and Stone were able to meet with the prime minister, who expressed a need that most people were too bashful to ask for — underwear. The team then purchased and delivered three truckloads of undergarments and clothes to the villagers, besides eating utensils, plastic kitchenware, plates, mosquito nets, and toys. Some funds were also placed with the prime minister’s own foundation for orphans, to assist with foster care and eventual adoption.
In connection with World Emergency Relief, RTF is presently shipping two 40-foot containers of personal hygiene supplies to Thailand and Sri Lanka. Becks and Stone are planning to return to Sri Lanka and Thailand in March, after all the goods have been delivered. Cutting, who has been on chemotherapy for terminal cancer of the liver and gallbladder, is staying behind this time.
Another group working actively in San Diego to bring relief to the tsunami hit area is Eternity Minded Ministries (EMM), who had been working in India for some time before the disaster and has been planning a large evangelistic crusade in the city of Guntur.
After the tsunami, the focus of the organization has enlarged to include not only the evangelistic ministry, but also the reconstruction of the area.
Immediately after the news of the disaster, EMM contacted some of the pastors in Guntur that have been working with them on the project, particularly Deva Sahajiam, a long-standing friend.
“The pastors have asked that any aid we are able to provide go to the victims of the tsunami in villages about 30 kilometers from Guntur,” said Carl Dawson, EMM’s director.
One particular need that has not been met by any other organization until now, according to Deva, is the reconstruction of the local churches.
“Each of those churches can be rebuilt for about $2,200 to $2,500, including the parsonage,” Dawson explained.
“Most of those who attend these churches are fishermen,” he continued. “They have lost their homes and their nets and boats. Deva tells me these people live in huts that are somewhat portable so they can follow the fish along the coast. The cost to replace the home and the nets and so forth is about $250 for each family.
Giving to these churches provides an opportunity to help “those of the household of faith.”
Dawson will visit Guntur and the surrounding area on Feb. 5, together with EMM’s founder Daniel Owens, and a team from several churches. They will return after two weeks.
Project Compassion, another San Diego ministry that has been providing for the last 13 years free medical care and assistance in building clinics, planting churches, and supporting orphanages, and has responded to several emergency requests, is presently bringing relief in Ongole, India. The team of 62 volunteers, mostly medically trained, has left in shifts on Jan 21-22, and is returning at the end of the month. The project’s founders, Jack and Cindy Bradbury, are with the team.
“They have taken with them all the necessary equipment and medications, and are working hard every day, seeing an average of 3,000 patients daily,” said Kimberly Bradbury, Jack and Cindy’s daughter.
Jack and Cindy are planning to return for a second trip in a month or two, with a clearer view of the need and how to meet it.
To help these local rganizations, contact:
Rescue Task Force
Phone: (619) 424-7415
Web site: www.rescuetaskforce.org
Eternity Minded Ministries
Phone: (760) 480-8752
Web site: www.eternityminded.org
Phone: (858) 485-9694
Web site: www.projectcompassion.org