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Global action 2005-2006

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A message from the ACT Coordinating Office
ACT celebrated its 10th anniversary in August 2005. This decade of working together as an alliance of more than 100 churches and related agencies, assisting people in need in humanitarian crises, culminated in an extraordinary and unprecedented year of disaster response in 2005.

As a coordinating office, we facilitate the responses to crises, operationally and financially, of the many members of the alliance so that globally we are joined as Action by Churches Together.

As is tradition, our annual report is titled "Global Action." For us, global action means not only our worldwide presence through all our members and being an alliance that saves lives and supports communities in emergencies, but emphasizes the local expressions of the church and community-based approaches. By acting locally, by putting capacity at the heart of who we are, we create the foundation and building blocks that underpin our effective global action together as an alliance.

Such action was exemplified by the swift response after the tsunami in December 2004. Within just a few hours after the huge waves struck, local members, supported by the alliance, were on the front lines of the disaster response. The same holds true in many other parts of the world: When emergencies happen, our local members are there and continue to be there long after the emergencies are over. They assist people in meeting immediate needs, restore hope through respecting each person's dignity, and, in the longerterm, work with communities to re-establish livelihoods and improve disaster preparedness.

An abundance of action and hope was needed in 2005. ACT's response to the tsunami was the largest of its kind in our ten-year history in terms of funds raised, geographical scope, and time span. Our response continued throughout 2005 as we worked jointly with Caritas Internationalis in Sudan's Darfur provinces. In October, yet another major disaster unfolded as a devastating earthquake struck parts of Pakistan and India a few weeks before winter set in. In terms of the number of people forced from their homes, this disaster eclipsed the tsunami. As in many cases, ACT members provided relief that saved many lives.

But too many people in too many places remain, in a sense, still "forgotten" by the world-in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Colombia, and Iraq, where conflicts continue to hold people hostage, with seemingly no end in sight. ACT is there, understanding that we do not work alone and that we value the gifts of all people of goodwill seeking to work collegially.

As we move into ACT's second decade of existence, we are committed as an alliance to building upon our deeds and actions together, not for our own sakes, but for the sake of the people we serve. For 2006 and beyond, we will continue to respond to emergencies together, seeking to create a vision of restored community that we believe is God's intention for the human family, remembering those who may feel forgotten by the world, restoring livelihoods, and holding high people's dignity.

A year after the tsunami hit Sri Lanka's coastal regions, Rev. Anil Silva of the Methodist Church in Matara, a predominantly Buddhist area, described how his small church drew long lines of people every day. Every day he was asked, "Why are you doing this? Why are you working for us, day after day?" His tireless response was, "Even if the gate to the church building is closed, the work goes on. The body is in action."

In the many parts of the world where people are struggling to overcome humanitarian disasters, we thank God for the commitment, courage, and perseverance of our members and their partners, often themselves caught in the same emergencies they respond to on behalf of the alliance. We thank God for the communities that work with us and allow us to walk with them, and for our members and partners who continue to support this work-in action, in deed, and in hope.

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