U.S. City partners with Christian aid group

By January 11, 2005

Indonesia (FH/MNN) — Food for the Hungry (FH) and the City of Phoenix announced an historic partnership that will provide emergency relief and long-term development aid for survivors of last month's devastating tsunami. Named "Rising to Help," the joint venture combines the strengths of both groups to help tens of thousands of survivors in Indonesia's Aceh Province.

"We've never seen so much devastation," said Ben Homan, president of Food for the Hungry (United States). "Whole cities have been wiped out. But I'm deeply moved by the bold leadership of the City of Phoenix. This public-private partnership shines as an example of how to make a lasting difference."

The alliance will help rebuild the city of Meulaboh (pronounced May-ool-ah-
bow), whose recovery is critical to the long-term stability of all Indonesia. It's a town where one in every three of a population of 120,000 people perished in the tsunami.

Partnership goals include providing emergency intervention for orphans and displaced families, training the surviving population in new trades and income generation and helping to rebuild relations between the U.S. and Indonesian communities. On Wednesday, January 12th, Vice Mayor Peggy Bilsten will travel to Indonesia with Food for the Hungry to further assess the needs of Meulaboh, Phoenix's adopted community.

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon challenged other U.S.-cities to adopt reconstruction projects in the devastated region. "Phoenix has never been shy to lead," Gordon said. "We're proud to be the first, but we don't want to be the only." Gordon also asked Phoenix employees, citizens and businesses to give and get involved.

"The agenda is simple, 'Rise to Help,'" said Homan. "Grassroots efforts in the U.S. can make a huge difference, and they are. This partnership with the City of Phoenix is more than just asking citizens to give a check. It's about getting involved to help the people of Meulaboh rebuild their lives."

Food for the Hungry has strategic partnerships around the world, but this is the first large-scale initiative where a U.S.-city is mobilizing citizens to reach out to those devastated by the recent disaster. Officials believe this focused effort will provide greater impact, and allow Phoenicians more opportunities to connect with relief efforts than just making cash contributions.

Although FH offices are based in Phoenix, it maintains an international hub in Thailand, which allowed trained relief staff to assess the situation and respond in Southeast Asia in less than 24 hours after the tsunami hit. FH has since begun coordinating distributions of clean water and critically needed items, including food, shelter and clothing through its many partners throughout Thailand, Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka.

FH and the City of Phoenix are urging businesses and individuals to help by calling 1-800-2-HUNGERS or by donating online at www.fh.org. Founded in 1971, Food for the Hungry provides emergency relief and implements development programs in 47 countries to help the world's most disadvantaged people.

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