Submitted by Week of Compassion
There are many phases of disaster response – from the immediate needs of water, food, and shelter, to long-term needs like livelihood programs and psycho-social support – and everything in between. While you often hear stories about the initial responses, and see updates on the progress of rebuilding through Week of Compassion, you don’t often see the behind-the-scenes process of communication involving our global network of partners.
In the initial phases of any response, there are critical, intentional conversations between Week of Compassion, ecumenical partners, and people on the ground, in order to assess the most efficient and most empowering ways to move forward, and to determine what kind of help is most needed.
One recent example of such a response is the Coronavirus outbreak in China and its ongoing impact. As the news reflected a quickly escalating spread of the virus in late January, Week of Compassion reached out to local partners to find out what they were hearing in real time and to learn of immediate plans they might have to respond. We let them know that our wider Disciples community was with them in prayer, and that Week of Compassion was prepared to support their local efforts.
Then Week of Compassion Executive Director Rev. Vy Nguyen received a response from our Global Ministries partner in China. They said that what was most needed at that moment was emergency medical supplies. We coordinated with other ecumenical partners and health organizations, providing funds to help in this effort and get the needed supplies delivered in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible. In cooperation with others, Week of Compassion helped provide much needed items like medical masks, goggles and gowns that would help first responders prevent the further spread of disease.
Even as this initial response was unfolding quickly, Rev. Nguyen remained in contact with partners, discussing the need for eventual long-term response, one that will require cooperation with local and national governments as well. That conversation is ongoing.
All of these active partners remain in contact about the potential for a wider spread of this disease to other countries in Asia, and around the globe. They are making plans for the chain of communication that will need to be in place in order to coordinate with different offices in the area, should that need arise.
In responding to needs like this – whether from natural disasters that happen overnight, or major health crises that emerge almost as quickly – the key is communication, cooperation, and most importantly, the ability to build on existing relationships. This is why Week of Compassion is committed to long-term relationships with a wide network of partners. Your gifts, especially during Special Offering in the month of February, help us stay committed and strengthen the relationships with partners. With your help, we are ready to respond together to the most urgent needs when a need arises quickly, and we also have infrastructure in place to enact the comprehensive, ongoing work of meeting needs around the world, around the year.