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75 Years of Humanitarian Assistance
  Seeds distributed in Nicaragua following the devastation of Hurricane Mitch in 1998 helped farmers get a fresh start.
the Canadian government. Since then, a number of growing pro- jects across the country have been producing crops and sell- ing them to contribute the pro- ceeds to PWS&D’s account at the Foodgrains Bank.
We have been able to lead large projects with the suppor t of other denominations at Canadian Foodgrains Bank in a common mission to end world hunger. In the closing words of the Gospel of John, the resurrected Jesus said, “Feed my sheep,” and this is what we’ve been doing—from the North Korean famine to our current response to the war on Ukraine, our ecumenical collaboration at the Foodgrains Bank has been key.
In 1998, Hurricane Mitch dev- astated Central America. Subsist- ence farmers in Guatemala, Hon- duras and Nicaragua lost their crops to the massive floods. With Canadian Foodgrains Bank, we were able to provide food, seeds and tools to remote communities on the Atlantic coast of Guatema- la, helping farmers to get a fresh start, but also providing a bridge until new crops could be harvest- ed. Similar action was taken in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, and in response to droughts in Afghanistan, floods in Pakistan and Malawi, and during conflict in Syria, Yemen, South Sudan, and now in Ukraine.
Each situation is unique. Natu- ral disasters, such as floods and droughts, make farming very dif- ficult. Earthquakes can shatter people’s livelihoods and shelter, creating displacement and great need. Conflicts, on the other hand, tend to force people away from their homes and from the land that feeds them.
As we are witnessing in Ukraine, the breadbasket for much of the world, millions of people have had to leave their homes behind to find safety wherever possible. Many millions have been forced to cross borders into neighbour- ing countries in order to save their own lives. Most refugees become dependent on others’ generos- ity or on humanitarian aid. In PWS&D’s Ukraine response, we are collaborating closely with the
Adventists and Hungarian Inter- church Aid—and funds are be- ing distributed as rapidly as we receive them.
At this time in our history, we had not imagined that we would be once again responding to a war in Europe—the same place where our outreach began in the aftermath of World War II.
In commemoration of the church’s 75th anniversary of providing humanitarian and de- velopment assistance in the world, PWS&D is offering a book titled Practical Compas- sion. In it, you will find striking photographs of many of its en- deavours to come to the aid of others through the decades. I encourage you to order a copy from our website /Practical-Compassion.
By Guy Smagghe, PWS&D Director
Europe is where it all began. In 1947, The Presbyterian Church in Canada felt compelled to raise funds from congregations across the country in response to the desperate need in Europe in the aftermath of World War II. This was the first step toward the of- ficial establishment of an agency that eventually became known as Presbyterian World Service & De- velopment, the arm of the church dedicated to providing humanitar- ian assistance where needed and to working toward sustainable solutions to tackle poverty in the world.
Food assistance has been an important part of this story. Af- ter the reconstruction effort in Europe, the PCC responded to the Korean war and the Hungar- ian refugee crisis in the 1950s.
Another notable event was the war in Biafra in Nigeria, where Presbyterians played a key role in providing relief. Between 1967 and 1970, Canairelief was re- sponsible for 670 flights that de- livered 11,000 tons of food and medical assistance to blockaded populations facing famine, saving a million lives. Clandestine flights operated at night to avoid being shot down. For more on this ecu- menical initiative, and on the role the PCC played in it, please seek out the recently released movie “Operation Lights Out: The Story of Canairelief” on which the Rev. Dr. Richard Fee has worked for the past four years.
In the early 1990s, PWS&D joined Canadian Foodgrains Bank. This became a turning point in in- creasing our capacity to provide food assistance in the world with access to matching funds from
Urgently needed supplies are being sent to those displaced by the war in Ukraine by ACT Alliance member, Hungarian Interchurch Aid. PHOTO CREDIT: DANIEL FEKETE/HIA
Andremene stands amidst her garden, which she has grown with assistance from a PWS&D-supported agroforestry group. PHOTO CREDIT: KONBIT PEYIZAN PHOTO/MICHELET ELISEMAR
   Not Just A “Band-Aid”
 By Emma Clarke, PWS&D
“Patience and perseverance.” With these words, Andremene Clairjeune, a farmer in Haiti, de- scribes how she has made it through the difficult years since
her husband passed away. Andremene’s husband was known by the other farmers in their village as active and hard- working. His death was an in- credible loss for both his family and the community. Faced with expensive funeral bills and the daily costs of providing for their children, Andremene sold their house, moving the family into a
small straw hut in their garden. This sale of the family dwelling is an example of a negative cop- ing strategy: a short-term solution someone is forced to take when they don’t have enough food to go around or lack the financial re-
sources to meet their other needs. Under such circumstances, they might consume fewer or smaller meals, borrow money, sell tools, animals or household goods, or even place family members for sale as child brides, as is done in Afghanistan. Sadly, this strat- egy is being applied more of- ten as farmers struggle against the effects of climate change in Haiti, and with families who can no longer work in Afghanistan, among other places around the world. Negative coping strategies make it much more difficult to re- bound in the future.
Determined to help her fam- ily recover, Andremene joined the agroforestry group her hus- band had previously been a part of, which receives support from PWS&D through Canadian Foodgrains Bank. She eventu- ally took over his former role as
president. There, along with other farmers, she learned better farm- ing techniques, pooled her sav- ings with them for greater impact, and importantly, began to feel less vulnerable.
Now, she has support to grow a diverse garden, which pro- duces a variety of food, includ- ing corn, squash and pigeon peas, as well as fruits such as guava, orange and mango. With this produce and the income it generates, Andremene and her family have enough to eat, and her children are working toward their own sustainable futures, since she can now afford school fees. Combined with the money Andremene receives from the weaving business she has on the side, she is saving her profits to build a house that will be big enough to keep her loved ones safe from the elements.
In 1962, the Committee on Inter-Church Aid, Refugee and World Service (a predecessor to PWS&D) reflected that, “It is fool- ish to earmark funds for ‘band- aid’ relief when the amount of time spent on development could have a tremendous impact.” As the church has responded to serve the world’s neediest people for
the past 75 years, patience and perseverance have been an im- portant part of everything we do. By focusing on long-term solu- tions, and not quick fixes through handouts, PWS&D’s sustainable approach to development seeks to support those struggling, like Andremene, both now and for the future.

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