Natural disasters, war and economic downturn impact MCC funding

Report
from Mennonite Central Committee
Published on 23 Nov 2001
AKRON, Pa. - Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) recently cut back on several international programs because of a funding shortfall, and more reductions may follow if current giving trends continue.
The combination of major disasters, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and war in Afghanistan have put stress on MCC funding. The current economic downturn has also resulted in a shortfall of donations in United States.

MCC in Canada is not reporting a decrease in donations so far this fiscal year, which began Sept. 1. However, given the current uncertainty in the Canadian economy, there are concerns that giving in Canada will follow the U.S. trend.

"MCC is not in a crisis situation, but every bit we have to cut is a missed opportunity by the church to strengthen communities and people around the world," said Ron Mathies, MCC executive director.

The year 2001 has seen earthquakes in India and El Salvador, hurricanes and drought in Central America, flooding in Mozambique, the massacres of Sept. 11, and drought, war and a refugee crisis in Afghanistan. Buried in the back pages of newspapers, the AIDS crisis in Africa is reported to claim nearly 6,000 lives a day across the continent.

"MCC is doing its best to respond to as many of these disasters as possible, but even in the best of times the severity of these situations taxes our ability to respond," Mathies said.

In response to the Afghanistan war and refugee crisis, MCC is contributing more than $4.49 million Cdn./$2.83 million U.S. toward food aid and relief supplies. Much of the food aid comes through the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. The call for blankets has nearly depleted MCC's stock of comforters.

Earlier in the year MCC contributed more than $1.4 million Cdn./$1 million U.S. in relief and reconstruction aid following earthquakes in India and El Salvador. In El Salvador thousands of MCC relief kits, canned meat and comforters were distributed by local church partners.

Flooding in Mozambique left hundreds of thousands of people homeless. With local church partners MCC distributed food and tool kits allowing people to rebuild their homes. The MCC contribution totaled more than $540,000 Cdn./$340,000 U.S.

When Hurricane Iris struck southern Belize on Oct. 8, 13,000 people were left homeless. The storm severely damaged the banana crop. MCC is funding a $46,000 Cdn./$30,000 U.S. reconstruction project proposed by the Belize Evangelical Mennonite Churches.

Central America was already suffering from a severe drought at the time of Hurricane Iris, leaving some 140,000 subsistence farmers without a harvest. In Honduras, where the situation was most severe, MCC through the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, provided food aid totaling $180,000 Cdn./$117,000 U.S. In Nicaragua, MCC-funded food packets valued at $58,460 Cdn./$38,000 U.S. are being distributed.

In response to the AIDS crisis in Africa, MCC and its church partners in Africa are beginning a multi-million dollar response to provide counseling, medical supplies and care for orphans.

In a recent letter to contributors Mathies said that the autumn of 2001 "will be remembered as a time when our sense of risk and vulnerability was raised to an uncomfortable level."

"More than ever families at risk around the world are in need of the assistance the church provides through MCC," Mathies said. "We hope that those who are able to will give a little more this year to make up for those who are unable to give at all."

=A9 2001 Mennonite Central Committee

MCC, 21 South 12th Street, PO Box 500 Akron, PA 17501 tel: +1 (717) 859-1151 or toll free (888) 563-4676
MCC Canada, 134 Plaza Drive, Winnipeg, MB, R3T 5K9 tel: +1 (204) 261-6381 or toll free (888) 622-6337