For people in Sumba Island, the COVID-19 pandemic may not be their top worry. Thanks to their remote location, less than two dozen infections have been confirmed on the island as of 4 August 2020. However, the community is devastated by the economic blow of the coronavirus lockdowns.
Members of the five Gereja Kristen Muria Indonesia (GKMI) Ekklesia (Bali) church outposts on the island – mostly farmers of corn and seaweed or traditional weavers – have seen their income eroded. Their harvest is not absorbed fully by the market, and their woven fabric have no market as tourism comes to a stop.
“Before COVID-19, the people in Sumba Island were already facing extraordinary circumstances,” says GKMI synod moderator Agus Mayanto. “Global warming has lessened their seaweed harvest, and long droughts have become much more of an issue. They also have limited access to clean water and education.”
The MWC COVID-19 Global Church Sharing Fund has enabled GKMI to provide food baskets containing rice, noodles, cereals and other food items for some 100 households who are members of their congregations. The first distribution of food baskets is expected in the week of 9 August 9 2020, with two more planned at two- or four-week intervals, depending on the feedback given by the recipients after the first delivery.
“The food basket is the start to what is hopefully a transformational ministry on Sumba Island, encompassing access to clean water, education and economic empowerment,” says Agus Mayanto. “Poverty is rampant in this area and no other non-governmental organization is helping them out.”
About MWC’s COVID-19 response fund
Mennonite World Conference formed the COVID-19 task force with the support of more than 10 global Anabaptist agencies to respond to the needs arising from the pandemic in the Global South.
Under the leadership of the MWC Deacons Commission and delegates from around the world, the team determines criteria of accountability and coordinates responses to project proposals. This interagency response maximizes the strength of diverse organizations, builds on existing networks of primary relationships and mitigates competition for scarce funds.
—Mennonite World Conference