A ministry answers questions about post-disaster recovery

By July 3, 2008

International (MNN) – From typhoons
in Bangladesh to raging fires in Nepal, the damage left in the wake of these
natural disasters and many others like
them was devastating.

Millions of dollars poured in
from around the world in the first few waves of global response.  Second-wave responders remained to see that
the infrastructure was being put into place.

What happens when the relief groups pack up
and go home? Nathan McLaughlin of FARMS
International
says there's a huge vacuum left behind that often reveals a ravaged
local economy. 

"A lot of these small vendor
businesses will go out of business because there's a lot of free money; there's
a lot of aid and support. One of the
challenges then, and what FARMS has been working on over the past many years,
is that, as those organizations leave, businesses need to get started back up."

FARMS provides the funds for the
national loan committees. Those
committees distribute loans to needy families recommended by local churches for
income generating projects (loans range from $100 – $1,200).  In this case, the funds are going to
re-starting projects that atrophied with the influx of relief funds and
supplies.

However, McLaughlin says the
dollar isn't going as far as it used to, so that's having an impact on the
restoration programs in the disaster zones…both in ministry and in business.
"The poverty is really accentuated there. The challenge for the churches
and the Christians in those areas is really extreme, but it's really a good
opportunity to spread the Gospel. A lot of these groups that we work with
overseas are able to get aid and help out directly." 

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