Alliance Justice and Compassion resources and promotes the local and global ministries of The Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada that seek to bring wholeness and well-being to people made vulnerable by circumstances of poverty, disaster, and injustice. May the stories and thoughts inspire the reader to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Serbia Flood Relief and Recovery

Imagine flood water submerging your house past the roof! That was the reality for many in Serbia this past May. (See post: May 20, 2014) The church in Novi Sad immediately sent a team to live in the hardest hit town of Obrenovac where approximately 36,000 homes were affected. This relief team has been tirelessly serving the neediest families by providing food and hygiene kits, helping to clean out homes and visiting families to bring encouragement. To date they have assisted 170 families. Danny and Vera, our International Workers who are overseeing this response shared that immediately after the tragedy, people were just happy to be alive. Weeks later, as reality has sunk in, there has been great discouragement and hopelessness expressed by many that they visit.  
Ways to pray:
  1. Pray for the families who have lost the contents of their homes; pray that God will provide!
  2. Pray for their encouragement and a spirit of perseverance!
  3. Pray for the relief team that they too would have strength and endurance.
  4. The relief team is the only Christian presence in this town. Pray that as they share the love of Christ, the people of Obrenovac will find new hope and strength and that a church will be established.  
If you are interested in donating to this relief effort, please click here and under Donation Allocation, click the drop down menu and select Global Emergency Response Fund.

If you have time to continue reading, below are a few brief stories of affected families from Danny and Vera: 
This young family came to Serbia as refugees. With the money they brought after selling their property in Croatia, they built a new, lovely home. Flowers were planted, they had new furniture…their son just turned two. The flood water went over the roof, and left the house beyond repair. Since then they have been living in common accommodation, that has been so bad; no hot water, no cooked meals….eating bread and spreads for weeks. They called desperate for food. We brought parcels of food and hygiene items. Just few days after, late one evening father called apologizing and desperate, "Please, we need food. Our child needs to eat." No one has come to even assess the damage, they are losing hope that they will get any help at all.

I have no need for hygiene items, 
I have nothing to clean. Please, give us food.
Father of household above

The family pictured above has been going through an extremely difficult time. Boban has been without work, and  his wife Biljana works a consistent night shift at the supermarket in Belgrade, for extremely low pay. Now their home is beyond repair, and they have lost all their possessions in the flood. Their  little son Filip is staying with relatives, because there is no more home to live in. They have been touched by our visit and help. We will continue to visit them, and they truly appreciate our care.

This family really moved us. Two generations were living in two homes next to each other. Both have been ruined by the floodwater. ALL possessions have been taken away as garbage. They have been sleeping in a motorhome. Each day they work very hard at their homes. Taking layers of walls off, waiting for it all to dry. We were so surprised how warm and welcoming they were. They are very touched that someone wants to help them.
Another household that suffered greatly had water fill the house right up to the ceiling. All furniture, all windows, doors, floors, utilities - everything had to be thrown out. Walls now have to dry out before repairs can begin. Our team was able to provide them with two beds, a small table and a small one-burner hotplate so they can cook. Both husband and wife could not control the tears as they showed us the picture of their daughter that died of cancer couple of years ago, leaving the grandchild in their care. They also have their own twin son and daughter living with them. No food, no money; only broken hearts and depression.

We live on the main road, 
no one stops to even ask if we are alive. 
You have been coming to us, 
and that brings tears to my eyes.
- Father of household above.

This last story is about a home also flooded to the roof.  The family with 4 kids have lost everything. "Thank God for the nice weather," the mother said, as she was roasting some peppers on an open fire outside. The only furniture is a mattress that the relief team had previously brought for them. Yet, they still cannot sleep there because it is so damp.  They stay with friends but that place is small for them all. They were thrilled that we were able to give some clothes and laundry soap. They have to hand wash everything so they are thankful for nice weather so they can dry clothes outside. The father is a welder but currently has no work in this 'dead' town.

We fear for our oldest boy, 
he is in constant fear that water will come again. 
We fear the winter! How will we survive the cold? 
Will I have job to feed my family?
Father of household above.