Member associations have offered financial support for projects in other countries. The Sisterhood Bethesda in Basel, Switzerland, maintains its commitment to diaconal work, even though the small community of 20 elderly Sisters is no longer able to conduct projects of their own. The three projects outlined here are indicative of their generous support to vulnerable people in a time where hope has been diminished and the future looks grim for so many people.
In collaboration with the relief agency Connexio (Network for Mission and Service of the United Methodist Church) in Switzerland, the Bethesda Sisters have offered emergency aid, focussed on alleviating the suffering of vulnerable people and food insecurity.
In Argentina, food packages have been distributed to people in slum areas who have lost their income as a result of quarantine measures. In North Macedonia, protective clothing and disposable tableware was purchased to continue meal delivery and home care ministries for old and sick people. In the DR Congo, pastors’ families, whose income had diminished in a way that they could no longer live on it, received a big sack of corn meal each. Thanks to the love in action of the Bethesda sisters, thousands of people have been helped quickly and efficiently.
The Bethesda Sisters have also funded relief work offered by Osteuropa Mission Schweiz (OEM -Eastern Europe Mission Switzerland), an independent Christian relief agency that advocates for ethnic minorities, the socially weak and disadvantaged, and is committed to fighting poverty that impacts the most vulnerable. OEM church members of all ages have prepared pots of soup outdoors, each of 100 litres. Soup, bread and vegetable salad have been given to needy people on the streets. As the food packages were given out, the church members prayed with the people and blessed them.
The Bethesda Sisters have also supported relief efforts in the Philippines, in collaboration with the agency Onesimo, a faith-based, non-profit NGO working among street children and their families and at-risk young people in Manila. It helps young people whose lives in the slums, or streets, are filled with hopelessness. During the COVID-19 lockdown, Onesimo has distributed food packages to thousands of families. In spite of the pandemic, about 400 young people are still cared for in the community-based rehabilitation programs in the slum churches. As schools have been closed, the young people are relying on alternative school systems, such as provided by the rehabilitation programs. Many of the slum churches have no computer nor internet provider. They were so thankful for financial support, so that the young people could continue their training through online learning.