Solidarity is especially called for in times of crisis. The international member churches and associations of the Evangelical Mission in Solidarity (EMS) as well as many private donors contributed a total of €500,000 between June 2020 and February 2022 to fight the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
The challenges posed by Covid varied considerably between member churches. While some supplied food for the most vulnerable in their communities, others had to ensure that children whose homes and school facilities were temporarily closed could continue their schooling online or in their home villages. Funds were also urgently needed to pay for the salaries of pastors and teachers. At the same time, specific help was provided in the form of Covid tests, personal protective equipment and hygiene training.
Increase in domestic violence linked to the pandemic
In May 2021, the EMS organised a workshop together with its member churches to share experiences and promote cooperation among the churches. What had already been foreshadowed here continued in the months that followed. The member churches reported more and more occurrences of domestic violence. Apart from cramped living conditions, the main causes of stress focus on fears about the future, financial worries or unfamiliar daily routines. This leads to more frequent quarrels, aggression or outbreaks of violence. As a result, the focus of the EMS Corona Relief since mid-2021 has been on the prevention of domestic violence. Applications for support for such projects rose sharply during this period.
For example, the Presbyterian Church of Ghana (PCG), the Church of South India (CSI), the Evangelical Christian Church in Halmahera (GMIH) and the Basel Mission - German Branch (BMDZ) subsequently started various projects through the EMS Corona Relief for the protection of women. The projects include protected spaces, often with pastor families, pastoral counselling and informational talks with the victims and their families, and legal support for the victims. Women are offered training to improve their economic status and to empower their standing in the family and in society. The projects are designed to continue after the pandemic.
In addition, funding also continued for the relief projects mentioned at the beginning of this report. The examples below show how varied and specific the EMS Corona Relief became as it was tailored to the needs of the people in the EMS member churches.
Securing pastoral care for congregations
Since in-presence church services could no longer take place due to the pandemic restrictions in many countries, there were no collections to finance the salaries of pastors. The EMS Corona Relief supported the continued payment of salaries in many countries. In this way, it secured the economic existence of pastor families and pastoral care in the congregations during the crisis.
Food and hygiene packs for low-income congregation members
The co-workers and volunteers of the Church of South India (CSI) as well as the Protestant Church in South-East Sulawesi (GEPSULTRA), the Christian Church in South Sulawesi (GKSS), the Christian Church in West Sulawesi (GKSB) and the Indonesian Protestant Church in Donggala (GPID) regularly supported needy families who had lost their livelihood due to Covid with food packages and daily necessities.
Committed care for the elderly despite Covid in India
The Mercy Home of the Church of South India (CSI) in pandemic-hit Tamil Nadu did not close like so many other homes. Instead, it expanded its services with the support of the EMS Corona Relief. The home management increased the number of beds and took in more needy elderly people. The dining room and kitchen were redesigned to conform to the required hygienic standards. They increased the number of offers for routine check-ups and organised more leisure activities.
Personal protective equipment for medical staff and pastors in Bali
Pastors serving in the pandemic were particularly vulnerable. Many fell ill and some died of Covid. In order to protect the pastors and medical staff of the church facilities as much as possible, the Christian Protestant Church in Bali (CCPB) provided a lot of personal protective equipment thanks to the EMS Corona Relief. It was then possible to look after congregation members and carry out funerals without any risk.
Empowering children during the pandemic in China
Children of migrants in the large Chinese cities and their surrounding areas are particularly threatened by Covid and the consequences to their health, the loss of schooling and education and, in the worst case, domestic violence.
Supported by the EMS Corona Relief, the Chinese Amity Foundation informs teachers, school doctors and students in schools and communities about lifestyle, health care and infection prevention. The children are encouraged to deal with the topic of prevention in a playful way, for example by acting as a young reporter or in a theatre play. When they perform their play on stage, it also strengthens their personality.
Vaccinations for Filipino migrants in Seoul
PROK's Seoul Diaspora Church in the centre of Seoul is a meeting place for Koreans and Filipino migrants, most of whom have no residence permit. These illegal, uninsured migrants, who have often lost their jobs due to Covid, can now receive vaccinations legally, but they find it difficult to claim their right. What prevents them from doing this is bureaucracy and the fear of going to a vaccination centre, which is a state-run institution and therefore a threat to them.
The Seoul Diaspora Church uses the EMS Corona Relief to provide food parcels and monthly rent subsidies to these migrants. It arranges medical assistance, provides information on access to Covid vaccinations and helps to overcome bureaucratic difficulties along the way.
This is just a small sample of the many activities made possible by the EMS Corona Relief. With the final approval phase in February 2022, the EMS Corona Relief will end for the time being.
On behalf of the recipients, we would like to thank all those who have contributed to the EMS Corona Relief. Stay healthy and safe.
Corona Relief Task Team