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Sector Emergencies Nepal Earthquake Umn 2

Restoration After Disaster: Emergencies and Long-term Change

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Restore us, O God; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved. Psalm 80:3

This aching cry for restoration is echoed multiple times throughout Psalm 80. Restore us, God’s people cry, give us life once again. It is the cry of a nation longing for its identity, security and vitality to be restored. Following the story of the nation of Israel throughout scripture, we see God responding to this cry in different ways at different times – through provision, victory, new leaders, new land – but ultimately in Jesus, with the full restoration of all things yet to come. It’s clear that restoration isn’t a quick fix.

Tearfund Australia, working with our partners around the world, seeks to be a conduit of restoration, and we recognise that this requires a long-term approach. This is particularly true for our emergency response work. When disaster strikes, needs are urgent and the cry for restoration is acute – yet there is as much need for a deliberate and drawn-out approach as there is for immediate action. Take for example, the earthquake in Nepal and cyclone Pam in Vanuatu. Both of these emergencies occurred in 2015, and Tearfund Australia responded quickly through our local partners. Yet the final projects and evaluations are only just wrapping up now – three years later.

A swift response is not always possible, but Tearfund is committed to working in ‘hard places’, and is pressing forward for lasting restoration for the people affected.

A good example is the recent earthquake and tsunami affecting the island of Sulawesi, in Indonesia.

Tearfund Australia’s supporters raised over $100,000 in the weeks following the catastrophe in September 2018. While many local and international NGOs rushed to provide aid and relief, efforts were slowed by a high level of government control over the situation. Tearfund Australia’s response is ready to be implemented as soon as the appropriate permissions are granted. In coordination with Tearfund Netherlands, the program will support a local network of churches and small organisations who are seeking to meet the diverse needs of 9,000 people affected by the disaster. The variety of resources, connections and skills brought together by this network allows for a broad response, aiming to:

  • Meet basic needs of people displaced by the disaster, through supplies of food and non-food items, transport assistance and shelter;
  • Provide opportunities for income generation and livelihood recovery;
  • Construct temporary shelters, sanitation facilities and health clinics;
  • Create safe spaces for children to play, learn and re-engage in routine;
  • Address the mental health needs of people dealing with trauma from the disaster;
  • Operate mobile clinics and coordinate with larger health care centres;
  • And support the health and nutrition of mothers and babies.

While each of these activities meets an immediate need, they also create a foundation for long-term restoration: rebuilding a home provides shelter now, but also reduces the risk of a family becoming trapped in debt in an effort to meet basic needs. Health care and nutritional support ensures that affected people have the physical capacity to continue their recovery process.

Working with established local partners means a restorative approach is taken, even in emergency relief programs.

Humanitarian Response Fund

When disaster strikes, Tearfund's partners are ready to respond swiftly to those in need.

Help enable our partners to respond in the immediate aftermath of emergencies and to help with long-term restoration.

Melody Murton is Tearfund Australia’s Fundraising Content Creator.