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CCA Round Table deliberates on Asian Ecumenical Accompaniment in Nepal

“God, beyond our understanding the earth has turned violent, sweeping our brothers and sisters off their feet, crushing homes and lives, upending dreams, toppling the foundations of hope and sustenance. A shallow breath beneath the rubble and wailing in the streets. The injured and the dead, the new widow, the new orphan, the newly bereft turn to you Divine source of abundance and grace.”

This poignant prayer in the opening liturgy of theCCA Round Table Meeting on Asian Ecumenical Accompaniment in Nepalbrought out quite graphically the devastation and trauma that our brothers and sisters would have experienced in Nepal during and after the major earthquake that struck on 25April 2015.

During the CCA General Assembly several Asian churches and ecumenical organizations from CCA member constituencies had expressed their keen interest to support the victims of the earthquake in Nepal. Several churches conveyed their willingness to accompany the suffering people of Nepal and had suggested that CCA facilitate a process of accompaniment in Nepal especially through the Churches in Nepal. It is in this background that this Round Table was initiated by CCA General Secretary, Dr. Mathews George Chunakara.

The main objectives of the Round Table Meeting on ‘Asian Ecumenical Accompaniment in Nepal’ were to provide a platform for churches in Nepal and churches and ecumenical organizations from different Asian countries who are concerned about the situation in Nepal to discuss the post-earthquake situation in Nepal; to find ways and means for Asian ecumenical accompaniment in Nepal; work out practical modalities of organizing solidarity visits to Nepal by Asian church representatives; and explore possibilities to facilitate a process of diakonal support to the people and communities affected by the earthquake in Nepal as an expression of solidarity andAsian ecumenical accompaniment.

The meeting held at Bangkok Christian Guest House, Bangkok, Thailand from 30th June -1st July 2015, had participants from the National Council of Churches in Korea, Salvation Army, Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea, Presbyterian Church of Taiwan, Council of Churches in Indonesia (PGI), Hong Kong Council of Churches, and Thailand and ACT alliance including three representatives from NCC Nepal, and CCA Staff. The concern of the Australian churches was shared through Act for Peace, and so also did the Presbyterian Church of Korea pledge their total support to the findings and decisions of the Round Table meeting.

Dr. Rokaya, General Secretary, NCC Nepal made a presentation about the post-Earthquake situation in Nepal including the ground realities and the work done there by the Government, the I/NGOs and the NCC Nepal with the Christian community. Ms. Leslie Wilson shared about the relief work done by ACT Alliance Nepal. Needs and requirements on a short and long term basis were discussed and the response of Asian Churches in such a situation was deliberated on.

The earthquake claimed thousands of lives, crippled and disabled many, deprived people of their homes and livelihood, damaged property and destroyed infrastructure. Villages were devastated beyond recovery, schools were destroyed, and heritage buildings, temples and churches were demolished. People suffered from vulnerability to health problems, probable epidemics, malnutrition, lack of good drinking water, medicines and food shortage. The loss in livestock and the lack of time to plant crops before the monsoons was predicted to affect the economy of Nepal as 80 % of the population were farmers. Social problems like human traffickers trying to take away young girls and women from impoverished communities that had lost their homes and everything else, added to their burdens.

Although money for Relief work was pouring into Nepal it was lamented that nobody was sure whether this reached the people at the grass roots. Regional politics; national political uncertainty, instability and indecisiveness; religious fundamentalism and the independent work-style of I/NGOs without consulting local churches were some of the obstacles in implementing relief programs, Dr. Rokaya said.

The most important and urgent requirements he said were temporary shelters before the onset of monsoons, food, safe drinking water, better sanitation and Trauma healing.

The response of the Asian Churches was also discussed. The need for co-operation and action together without overlapping was emphasized. The churches were willing to work through NCC Nepal as they realized that it has a large and far-reaching network that would be helpful to reach out to remote areas where it was difficult for people to go due to poor roads or damages to roads and bridges. Linking the local churches to NGO and church networks was seen as an effective way to work together. Accountability, reliability and effective management of funds and material aid were emphasized. Special help for medical assistance, health and healing; capacity building in designing and setting up of temporary shelters, trauma healing and relief material were promised.

A major outcome was a CCA Team Visit comprising five people, from Korea, Taiwan and India to Nepal not only as a pastoral visit to the people and the local congregations, but also to gain first-hand knowledge of the extent of damage and assess to what extent and in what way the Asian churches can be of help in the recovery of Nepal and the people who have suffered. Their report is awaited, and will be integrated into a main report to be sent to the CCA Member churches. It was decided that this will be followed by a CCA Solidarity Team Visit in August 2015.

The photos show the Round Table participants in Bangkok, the CCA team being welcomed in Nepal and the team on their last leg of the tour before they left Nepal this morning.

Link : http://cca.org.hk/home/2015/07/cca-round-table-deliberates-on-asian-ecumenical-accompaniment-in-nepal/

Submitted by:Christian Conference of Asia
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