The coronavirus has a firm grip on the world. As a communion of solidarity between our members in Africa, Asia and Germany, UEM would like to improve the living conditions of the local people and help relieve some of their worries.
With money from the "United against Covid-19" fund – equipped with a budget of more than 1 Million Euros – UEM supports the measures of its member churches against the spread of the virus and promotes projects that ensure the basic supply of people.
In countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa and Tanzania, UEM has adapted its work to the new situation. Up to the beginning of June 2020, activities were funded primarily in four areas (see graphic above).
Actually there should only be one word on this page: CORONA! For a few months now, pretty much everything in this world has been about dealing with the pandemic. Who would have suspected at the beginning of the year that we would one day be travelling with breathing masks, be it for shopping or when using public transport. Who would have suspected that a virus would almost completely paralyse public life. And in all the terrible effects that we have been experiencing in our surroundings for weeks, I say: We are doing well!
Despite all the restrictions and the almost universal fear that it could affect me or someone in my family or circle of friends. I am increasingly troubled by the fact that I can only hear the excitement about it with pain, that children cannot go to school, restaurant visits have only been possible for a short time and only to a limited extent and that the popular holiday destinations cannot be visited, concerts cannot be attended and theatres have to remain closed. "Complaining at a high level" is what a politician once called it on another occasion. Because while we have a social system that protects us from the situation of literally having nothing left, millions of people in the UEM communion have just that: NOTHING MORE. While we complained that toilet paper was no longer available and that flour, noodles or other products were rare, UEM received desperate calls for help from those whose entire livelihood was destroyed because of the restrictions imposed by COVID-19.
Here in Germany, I can trust that if I fall ill, a solid health system will catch me and that I will have a good chance of escaping largely unscathed despite belonging to a risk group. Our sisters and brothers in Asia and Africa, on the other hand, tell us that the number of deaths has increased, but at the same time it is not possible to report this openly. For the powerlessness in the face of the situation has led to the fact that in many places the reference to COVID-19 should not be made. To claim that the problem would not even exist in the country is, however, also common among the politicians of the superpowers of the West and the East.
In the UEM communion we experience a great solidarity with each other. At the time when the virus hit Europe, masks were sent which had been sewn in Tanzania. Indonesian churches have provided for the people in Hong Kong and China, now we have a great wave of solidarity from Germany towards Asia and Africa. In everything, prayer accompanies us with and for each other. New forms of community through modern technology are being tested and successfully used. However, one concern accompanies me in this great solidarity. Increasingly I hear that we "must help". That is quite true, but not to hide the fact that this attitude stems from a feeling of superiority in some people. Our help is necessary and possible because we at UEM as an international communion of churches need each other, not because one side is better than the other. The fact that injustice is usually systemic has been demonstrated most recently in Germany, when the Corona crisis dramatically brought to light the living conditions of workers in agriculture and the meat industry.
I hope and pray that we will learn together here and be prepared for change.
Rev. Volker Martin Dally (General Secretary of UEM)
250,000 euros from donations and promises of donations by employees of the Churches of Westphalia and the Rhineland will go to partner churches in Asia and Africa. The money is used to support colleagues who no longer have a regular income as a result of the Corona pandemic.
The "Care and Share" campaign of the Evangelical Church of Westphalia and the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland has led to a high level of willingness to donate among their staff. The United Evangelical Mission (UEM) can therefore now provide emergency aid totalling 250,000 euros. "This exceeds our hopes by far," says the Westphalian member of the church board Rev. Dr. Ulrich Möller. "With their energetic solidarity, our colleagues are showing In the Corona pandemic, the solidarity within our communion of churches is proving its worth across all borders and distances. We are very grateful for this."
Because of the curfew, many people in Africa and Asia can no longer cultivate their fields. This leads to supply bottlenecks for basic foodstuffs and to a shortage economy with enormous price increases.
32 member churches of the UEM communion in Africa and Asia receive immediate financial support, which is urgently needed. Many salaries can no longer be paid in the partner churches because sources of income such as collections, membership fees and school fees have dried up.
Thanks to this emergency aid, for example, around 386 needy church employees of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Rwanda can now be supplied with rice, beans, sugar, oil, maize flour and hygiene products, including active and retired pastors, widows and widowers and administrative staff. And the staff of the Evangelical Church of Mentawai in Indonesia, who have not been able to receive a salary since May, are also grateful that their food supply is secured at short notice.
The employees in the affected churches are exposed to a double burden: they worry about the people they work for and are themselves in need with their families. "In fact, member churches are keen to pay the salaries of their staff themselves, just as we are. But because social security in the event of illness and unemployment is not as good as it is here, people are in need time and again, and especially now," says Rev. Barbara Rudolph, a board member of the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland.
All donors can watch a Corona benefit concert of the South African Libertas Choir from Stellenbosch on the internet: As a thank you and a sign of solidarity during the crisis, they will receive the online access code for this concert, which is otherwise subject to a fee.
We are providing a relief fund of 1 million euros to support our members in Africa, Asia and Germany in their fight against the COVID-19 virus.
"To finance this enormous amount, we are releasing reserves that we can use for such disasters. Millions of people in Africa and Asia are currently without basic daily supplies because they are out of work due to the curfews," said Volker Martin Dally, Secretary General of UEM.
We rely on the solidarity of our community and therefore call on churches, church districts, congregations and partnerships to contribute financially to the emergency aid basket in order to put together an effective aid package to contain the virus. Donations from companies and individuals are also welcome.
The appropriations will be used for the following actions:
Through our network, information about the current situation in the local communities is disseminated promptly. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, prayer requests have been exchanged daily via the social media.
Corona Task Force: corona[at]vemission.org
IBAN: DE45 3506 0190 0009 0909 08