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A Year in Review:
Standing Up to the Challenge
  By Guy Smagghe, PWS&D Director
As we prepare to turn the page on 2020, we look back at how Presbyte- rians in Canada have responded with us to a world in need. In the midst of hardship here in Canada and in light of even greater hardship elsewhere in the world, Presbyterians have opened their hearts and have gener- ously contributed to our partners’ ef- forts to alleviate suffering.
COVID-19 Response
When COVID-19 started to spread in the world, PWS&D issued a spe- cial appeal to help partners with the changing needs in their localities. In- stead of carrying out in-person train- ing sessions, funds were reallocated to purchase hygiene kits and personal protective equipment. In some cases, food needed to be provided to the most vulnerable people who lost their livelihoods as a result of lockdowns.
Presbyterians from across Canada generously responded, including a $100,000 gift from St. Andrew’s- Chalmers Presbyterian Church in
Uxbridge, Ontario—thank you. These donations contributed to responses through the ACT Alliance in Bang- ladesh, Somalia, South Sudan and Israel/Palestine.
Lebanon Crisis
Thanks to our membership in Cana- dian Foodgrains Bank, donations re- ceived by PWS&D in response to the explosions in Beirut were matched by the Government of Canada. Thank you for contributing $150,000 in response to the crisis. These gifts enabled a food assistance project through Canadian Foodgrains Bank, in collaboration with the Adventist and Christian Reformed churches. We also responded to other pressing needs through ACT Alliance. These responses, while modest, were life giving and provided hope in a time of despair.
PWS&D’s Legacy Fund: a lifeline in difficult times Donations to PWS&D’s Loaves & Fishes Fund have continued at un- precedented levels in 2020—allow- ing the fund to grow and provide
PWS&D with a predictable source of revenue in difficult times. Every year, one-seventh of the funds available are transferred to cover PWS&D’s expenses.
PWS&D has experienced short- falls in its donations, especially un- designated donations, in 2020. When combined with the end of funding from the Canadian government for PWS&D’s maternal, newborn and child health program, legacy gifts are an increasingly important source of revenue and one more way to make a lasting difference to bring about a more sustainable, compassionate and just world.
Looking Forward
The pandemic has set the stage for worsening hunger in the world. Nearly 700 million people struggle to find sufficient food, and 98% of those are in developing countries. PWS&D continues to be well po- sitioned to respond to food needs through membership in the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. Working with other denominations, and with the support
Two men in Yemen read a poster with information about the prevention of COVID-19.
of the Government of Canada, we are able to offer a powerful Christian re- sponse to hunger.
Not only are we able to reach peo- ple in places where we don’t have di- rect partners, such as Lebanon and Syria, but we are also able to scale up projects where we have direct partners but our own resources are limited. A recent project in Afghani- stan, which is helping 1,100 fami- lies improve their food security, was made possible through the generous support of the Anglican, United and Christian Reformed churches. With
the multiplication of funds from the Canadian government, the project has a budget of $875,000.
While 2020 has been a difficult year in so many ways, and a tragic year for so many who lost dear ones to COVID-19, or lost their livelihoods as a result of crumbling economies and lockdowns, we pray that God’s heal- ing spirit will accompany us to make wise decisions for our common future. We pray that the celebration of Jesus’ birth will bring with it renewed energy to work together at finding sustainable solutions to world poverty.
  Hope in the Midst of Crisis
  By Karen Bokma, PWS&D Communications
On Aug. 4, 2020, an explosion rocked the port of Beirut, killing hun- dreds and causing massive damage to homes, grain silos and health care facilities. The United Nations esti- mates that more than 300,000 peo- ple were displaced.
“Hundreds of thousands became homeless in seconds,” said Sylvia Haddad of ACT Alliance member, Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees (DSPR).
The port explosion exacerbated a number of existing crises in Lebanon, including the COVID-19 pandemic, a worsening economic crisis, political instability and a large Syrian refugee population. These factors together have impoverished over 2.7 million people, according to the UN Devel- opment Programme.
Additionally, the destruction of much of the country’s food store at the port means that access to food is now a daily struggle for many. Most of the food in Lebanon is imported due to the country’s limited produc- tion capacity. Food prices had al-
donations made in response to the Lebanon crisis would be matched, ensuring contributions would go further. Presbyterians generously re- sponded by donating $150,000.
With this support, PWS&D is unit- ing with local partners to meet imme- diate needs and provide longer-term support to the most vulnerable popu- lations. Working with partners at Canadian Foodgrains Bank and ACT Alliance, we are providing vital food and non-food aid.
Local members of ACT Alliance were able to respond without delay. Because of long-standing relation- ships of trust in the community, the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) and the Department of Ser- vice to Palestinian Refugees were well placed to move quickly. Local members took an active role in coor- dinating the various churches in Bei- rut to help them respond effectively to avoid duplication and to share re- sources as best they could.
Samer Laham, of MECC, noted the value of the church’s involvement, “People need moral and spiritual support to absorb the trauma. They will also need help to cope with the
An ACT Alliance volunteer delivers food to an elderly woman in Beirut following the explosion. PHOTO CREDIT: HÅVARD BJELLAND/NORWEGIAN CHURCH AID
Volunteers with the Department of Ser- vice to Palestinian Refugees help clean up after the Beirut blast. PHOTO CREDIT: DSPR-JCC
ready risen drastically prior to the ex- plosion—approximately 160 percent since October 2019. The consequent increase in hunger is a huge concern.
The economic impacts of the ex- plosion extend far beyond the im- mediate vicinity of the Beirut port, affecting the whole country.
On August 8, the Government of Canada announced that all eligible
approaching winter, and with their children’s education needs.”
Through ACT Alliance partners, PWS&D is helping to rehabilitate homes and schools, as well as pro- vide hygiene supplies, livelihood recovery and educational kits for school-age children.
In response to the very real food needs in Lebanon, PWS&D is work- ing with Canadian Foodgrains Banks members—World Renew and ADRA Canada—to ensure thousands of families have the food they need. Funds contributed were matched up to four times with money from the Government of Canada, multiplying
the impact of donations.
Food vouchers will be distributed
over several months, with priority given to the most vulnerable, includ- ing female or child-headed house- holds, Syrian refugees or those who were displaced or injured by the ex- plosion. Vouchers allow families to purchase the food they need while also supporting the local economy.
None of this would be possible without the valuable assistance of Presbyterian congregations and in- dividuals.
To learn more about the response, visit

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