Christian Non-Profit Providing Disaster Relief, Development And Charity For Weary Bodies And Thirsty Souls

Thirsty Ground International

How Does Thirsty Ground International Help?

This is typically done within the first phase of any disaster response where local infrastructure is partially or completely non-functional and people from all sectors of a community need basic needs met for food, water, shelter, hygiene and medicine.

This phase has no timed end point, but typically transitions from relief to development when local infrastructure begins to function again to the point it can meet the needs of locals in a way similar to before the disaster event occurred.

Examples of past and present TGI relief aid:

  • Clean water and habitation/shelter missions in the Philippines in 2013 after Typhoon Haiyan.
  • Mass distribution of rice and shelter material in Nepal after the 2014 earthquake.
  • Material aid (food, medicine, heating) given to Iraqi and Syrian refugees from 2015 onwards.
  • Clearing rubble from and rebuilding homes for people destroyed in the 2020 Beirut port blast.
  • Coordinating a relief truck filled with several metric tons of blankets and food to areas affected by the Syrian earthquake in 2023, and so on.

These are projects aimed at benefitting the local community either by increasing existing capacities or building new capacities.

What are capacities? It can be understood as the ability within a community to produce something necessary for life and livelihood to those within it, such as providing solutions to produce food, water, electricity, education, housing or work opportunities to people.

This is not introducing something from outside to the community that is non-sustainable in the long term, such as bringing in a relief truck with 10 tons of food. That would not be increasing capacity within the community itself to produce food. However, if abandoned farm land in a community was rejuvenated to produce fresh produce again, this would provide new capacity to the community that didn’t exist before.

This phase typically begins near the end of an initial disaster response, with the intent of building sustainable capacity in a local community such that direct relief aid is no longer necessary to sustain people’s lives and livelihoods. This can include things like digging wells to provide new water sources, installing solar panels to provide new sources of electricity, funding schools/education programs to provide new skills for people to be able to work, funding new business startups run by locals, building new clinics/hospitals where none existed, expanding local agricultural production, and so on.

We would consider education initiatives to be in this general category. Education of all kinds increases capacity in the community for individuals to know more, do more and work more. People who cannot read, write or even effectively do basic multiplication are at a serious disadvantage and are often unable to help further develop their community in constructive ways. Support for basic elementary and secondary education initiatives, including vocational skills and ESL programs, brings new capacities to a community that did not exist before. Included as a sub-category under education would also be translation work that brings useful materials into the native language of target communities. Language barriers can create blockages between the flow of useful and important knowledge into a community. By assisting with translation of key materials, we can help create a greater knowledge base for the community to access, facilitating education in new or existing areas, and increases the communities knowledge base capacity. 

Examples of some past and present TGI development projects:

  • Business grants provided direct to locals to enable them to work and start their own business providing a useful service to the community.
  • Financial support for local Christian schools and their students to enable them to remain open and educate those in the community.
  • Enrolling individuals in educational vo-tech programs to teach them a new trade needed in their community in order to provide them with work.
  • Agricultural development projects providing tools, seed and fertilizer to locals, or the larger-scale Grace Farms project that rejuvenates local farm land using principles from regenerative farming methods and produces local capacity for vegetable production.

This could be seen as similar to direct relief aid given in the midst of an active disaster response, but it is distinct in that it is direct help given out of compassion due to personal circumstances of the individual. It is not necessarily related to the disaster event itself, although the individual’s circumstances may have been worsened by the disaster. 

This type of help can occur in any phase of a response. It differs from direct relief aid because it is not applied to the entirety of an affected community. It is applied to people qualified for this type of help based on circumstantial need and may not have a clear ending point for when the recipient may be able to provide for their own needs independently in the future. Thus, charity can continue indefinitely. It is not necessarily intended to produce a sustainable outcome but does produce a compassionate witness within the community. Common examples of charity would include orphanages, soup kitchens, and other mercy-ministries that have no prospect of being self-sustaining in the future. Charitable ventures have a place alongside more focused relief and development projects, especially within a response rooted in Scripture, as examples of charity abound within the Bible.

This can include helping a war widow still unable to make ends meet years after an initial disaster event occurred that killed her husband. This can include the elderly who cannot afford medication or food and have few living relatives able to help them. This can include the handicapped and their family members who have no social safety net to help with needs arising from their disability. This can include refugee families burdened with caring for the essentially orphaned children of family members killed or disappeared during a war. This can include the sick who are in extreme poverty due to unfortunate providential situations who cannot afford a life-saving surgery or medical intervention, and so on.

Some examples of past and present TGI compassionate charity:

  • Medical assistance to the chronically ill, elderly, handicapped and impoverished with medical emergencies in the local and Syrian refugee community from 2015 onwards.
  • Food, blankets and heating assistance to refugees and poor locals during winter periods or when seasonal work ends and local abilities to cope financially are exceeded for that period.
  • Direct distribution of bread and fresh produce to poor local and refugee families with children that are well below the poverty line and unable to afford adequate nutrition.

This is a hybrid category that involves the active funding and organization of development projects that are not presently sustainable on their own due to local/national economic conditions but provide needed work and beneficial services to the local community. This is not an “official” category of relief/development recognized by global NGOs, but if you read on you’ll see why it can serve an important function. 

The end goal of such projects is for them to be economically self-sustainable in the future, owned and operated by qualified locals. The immediate goal is to counter a local “welfare” mentality and provide informal work opportunities to willing locals instead of giving handouts that increase dependency within communities. These projects were begun with the knowledge that it was not currently possible to make them financially sustainable due to present economic conditions. They are developed and operated at a loss, essentially subsidized by TGI, in order to build at present the structures, training and capacities that will be needed for the future when local/national conditions do change. They produce a product of value that in turn is accessed by the community as well as donated onwards to individuals receiving compassionate charity from TGI volunteers. 

Examples of local/national conditions that can make ventures unprofitable at present but sustainable in the future would be situations of hyperinflation, governmental/economic collapse, international trade barriers, failed internal infrastructure, production/demand imbalances, internal subsidy pricing that artificially drives down real market pricing, ongoing conflicts and war, etc…

These projects are not directly owned by TGI but done via grant funding to implementing partners vetted through local Evangelical churches. Our volunteers may provide operational assistance, technical advice, hands-on labor, planning and funding coordination, etc… but these projects are owned by trusted locals when land or facilities are involved.

We refer to this as charitable development because it is initially a charitable (not independently sustainable) response to needs within the community for capacities and work that don’t exist. But it is also done with future development in mind, by investing in capacity building that has the potential to be self-sustaining when national conditions change. Due to the fact that national conditions are outside the control of TGI, we have to operate these by faith for the present charitable needs being met and hope in a future change that is in God’s timing.

Some examples of past and present TGI charitable development:

  • A bakery operated in a poor local and refugee community that provides access to bread daily, and also provides bread to hundreds of refugees donated from the daily bakery production.
  • Market-garden farms operated to produce high-quality fresh produce accessible to the community, and that is also donated free of charge in large quantities to local poor and refugee families.
  • A women’s sewing and knitting program operated to train local and refugee women to make quality, in-demand knit or sewn goods such as hats, shawls and blankets, that are then purchased by TGI and donated to needy families in the community.  
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