JANUARY 1, 2022
During the 2021 service year,a the world remained in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic. As explained in the article “Global Relief for a Global Pandemic,” we have spent millions of dollarsb on pandemic relief and formed more than 950 Disaster Relief Committees.
Indeed, while the pandemic was raging, other natural and man-made disasters affected our brothers and sisters around the world. In response to over 200 of such disasters, the Coordinators’ Committee of the Governing Body approved the spending of $8 million in addition to the relief provided for COVID-19. Consider how your donations were used to help victims of two recent disasters.
Eruption of Mount Nyiragongo
On May 22, 2021, Mount Nyiragongo, a volcano in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, began to erupt. The lava flow destroyed houses, schools, and a water reservoir. But lava was not the only danger. For days after the eruption, toxic volcanic dust fell on the city of Goma and dozens of tremors were recorded. More than half the city was ordered to evacuate. Hundreds of thousands fled, some across the border to Rwanda.
Among those displaced were about 5,000 of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Some lost their homes to the eruption; others’ homes were looted after they fled. The relief committees in both Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo coordinated relief efforts. Regarding one relief committee, the Congo (Kinshasa) branch reports: “Despite the chaotic situation in the city and even before the evacuation order was given, the committee began distributing food, water, bedding, and clothing.” In one town where over 2,000 of our brothers had gathered, a relief committee set up tents, handed out masks, and explained how to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 and cholera.
Within three months of the disaster, our brothers had distributed more than six tons of rice, six tons of maize flour, three tons of cooking oil, and three tons of water. To save funds, the branch arranged to buy food locally in large quantities instead of ordering more expensive food from abroad.
“We were very discouraged and in pain,” relates one sister whose new home was destroyed by the eruption. But then her family received physical and spiritual relief. She now says: “With Jehovah’s help, we still have what we need. We have seen that Jehovah carries our load and makes it easy for us to bear.”
Venezuela’s Economic Collapse
Venezuela has suffered a major economic crisis for years. Our brothers there are enduring harsh living conditions, food shortages, and an increase in crime. Yet, Jehovah’s organization has not abandoned them.
During the past service year, over $1.5 million was spent on purchasing and transporting food and soap to needy households. The Venezuela branch reports: “It is by no means easy to transport 130 tons of food to all four corners of the country each month and then get it into the hands of the brothers in need.” To ensure that the food does not spoil, the brothers often send items that have a longer shelf life. The branch adds: “We buy most food in bulk and in season as well as when prices are lower. Then we transport it using the most cost-effective method.”
Leonel, a Disaster Relief Committee member in Venezuela, loves his assignment. “Relief work is special,” he says. “This privilege has really built me up since the death of my dear wife from COVID-19. I keep busy and feel useful to the brothers in need. I have seen firsthand how Jehovah keeps his promise not to abandon his people.”
One brother who received relief had served on a relief committee himself in the past. “Now it was my turn to need help,” he says. “We did not receive only material relief. The brothers also helped me and my wife to remain calm. They cared for us, consoled us, and encouraged us.”
Some disasters occur with little or no warning. Yet, Jehovah’s organization is often able to obtain and deliver relief supplies quickly, thanks to your donations to the worldwide work. Some of the methods to donate are described at donate.jw.org. We appreciate your generosity.
a The 2021 service year began on September 1, 2020, and ended on August 31, 2021.
b Dollar amounts in this article are in U.S. dollars.