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Reasons to hope this Easter

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“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.”—Luke 24:5

He is risen, indeed!

Resurrection is the ultimate sign of hope. Christ’s rebirth plants hope in people of faith, and we regularly see this hope blossom in the lives of the people that MCC supports around the world.

MCC responds to famine in South Sudan

At a point in time where Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and northeast Nigeria are affected by what the United Nations calls the worst global food crisis since the Second World War, it may be difficult to see signs of hope.

The United Nations has declared a famine in Unity State, the northern region of South Sudan. It’s the first famine declared by the UN since 2011. Famine is a term the UN rarely uses, reserved for the most dire situations that meet specific criteria for rates of malnutrition, food shortages and death.

MCC is providing a two-month supply of food materials in Unity State. Two hundred and forty-five households will receive sorghum (grain), beans, cooking oil and salt. The distribution will be carried out by MCC’s partner, Sudanese Development Relief Agency.

In addition, we are supporting South Sudanese refugees living in refugee camps in the Gambella region of Ethiopia. A shipment of MCC canned meat recently left our warehouse in Canada, and will help supplement the diet of people in the camps – mostly children, pregnant women and nursing mothers.

Conflict-affected families are receiving humanitarian assistance in Ukraine

The Nesterchuk daughters receive MCC relief through MCC partner Care and Mercy Regional Charity Fund (CMZ) in Zhytomyr, Ukraine. (MCC photo/Colin Vandenberg)

For much of the world, the conflict in eastern Ukraine seems to be forgotten, but the Nesterchuk family continues to live through it. Though Ukraine might not be making headlines, MCC has partnered with local organizations there to help deliver humanitarian assistance for the internally displaced people and others who are vulnerable since the conflict began in early 2014.

MCC is sending relief kits, canned meat and comforters to those who need it most. MCC has also provided US $1.7 million, including $1 million from the Canadian government in emergency funds. This assistance helps subsidize the costs of heat and rent, and funds psychological support, trauma healing and locally purchased food and other items.

Latrines are reducing rates of cholera in Haiti

The shortest route to get medical assistance for people from Wopisa-Gabriyèl requires descending this waterfall. By building latrines, community leaders and MCC expect the number of cholera cases to be reduced. (MCC photo/Ted Oswald)

Last year, Hurricane Matthew hit the rural community of Wopisa-Gabriyèl hard. Beyond the damage to animals and crops, there was also an increased risk of cholera caused by the intense rains washing cholera-infected human waste into the streams and rivers that are used for bathing and drinking.

The community has long known of a relatively low-cost solution to protect its water source and its health: the installation of latrines. For subsistence farmers though, the materials to build latrines are too expensive.

MCC is partnering with the community in addressing their needs and will provide materials to construct 450 latrines that will meet the needs of 90 per cent of the residents. MCC will also be working with other remote communities at high risk for cholera by building a total of 630 latrines serving more than 5,000 people.

Students are attending school in Cambodia thanks to a hot breakfast program

Meth Peaktra (foreground) and Nyum Sophim (back), second grade students at Proom Primary School, are the first ones to breakfast today. (MCC photo/Vince Stange)

Attendance is up at Proom and Angkearhdei primary schools after a new hot breakfast program was implemented.

Each morning, children like Meth Peaktra and Nyum Sophim, who attend Proom Primary School, start the day with a bowl of piping hot rice porridge which includes pork and vegetables. In this highly vulnerable Cambodian village, 90 per cent of residents practice small-scale, low-yield rice farming. Many families are poor and have trouble meeting all their nutritional needs. Now the children in the programs are healthier, have more incentive to go to school and can focus on their studies.

Farmers in Burkina Faso have better crop yields

Hélène Kassongo (l), Etienne Tiendrébeogo (r), farmers in Yé, Burkina Faso have been trained by MCC agriculture partner Office of Development of Evangelical Churches to use conservation agriculture techniques (MCC Photo/James Souder)

Step into the fields of Etienne Tiendrébeogo in Yé, Burkina Faso, and you’ll see large half-moon shapes dug into the soil.

Tiendrébeogo learned about these half-moons and other new agricultural techniques through the work of MCC partner Office of Development of Evangelical Churches (Office de Développement des Églises Evangélique or ODE) and they have changed his life.

Half-moons help capture rainwater during storms. These conservation agriculture techniques help control erosion, improve soil fertility, and increase water retention in the soil. Tiendrébeogo now saves food in case of emergency and grows enough to feed his whole family.

Syrian refugees access trauma counselling in MCC-supported schools

A summer park outing organized by MCC partner House of Light and Hope (Beit el Nour in Arabic) in Lebanon. (Photo courtesy of House of Light and Hope)

In Beirut, Lebanon, refugee children from Syria often struggle at school. In addition to overcoming past trauma, they find it difficult to succeed academically and fit in socially. MCC’s partner House of Light and Hope provides informal educational support and other services for refugee girls and Lebanese peers growing up in vulnerable life situations. In partnership with House of Light and Hope, MCC funds after-school academic support, home visits, trauma healing camps, and more for girls ages 8–18.

MCC sees hope inspired by people and partners like these, who live the power of the resurrection in their daily lives.

[Rachel Bergen is a staff writer for MCC Canada       

View this story on MCC’s site here: https://mcccanada.ca/stories/reasons-hope-easter

Updated Apr. 15, 2017: Facts about MCC’s famine relief work in Africa corrected.

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