Emergency Relief Headed to North Korea

By   •   September 2, 2011

At least 15,000 people have lost their homes in North Korea because of extreme seasonal rains that have claimed dozens of lives.

In some areas, about 50 percent of all homes were destroyed, but perhaps even more pressing is the number of wells that have been contaminated, creating a critical need for clean water.

Samaritan’s Purse, in response to the flooding emergency, sent more than 90 tons of supplies from Charlotte Douglas Airport late Friday morning.

“This is just a way to try to help,” said Franklin Graham, CEO and President of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. “I want them to know there is a God who loves them and cares for them.”

The shipment includes blankets, heavy duty plastic sheeting, medicine, hygiene kits and community water filters, which can produce 10,000 gallons of clean water each day.

Samaritan’s Purse is the lead agency for this flood relief effort, but is partnering with four other agencies: Christian Friends of Korea, Global Resource Services, Mercy Corps and World Vision.

During phase one of the emergency response, a team of six people, representing all of the relief agencies, will observe the distribution of relief items in North Korea.

“This is from the churches and Christians in America,” Graham said. “And we give this in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ.”

The U.S. Government, through USAID, granted $900,000 to be used for flood assistance and Samaritan’s Purse has contributed approximately $1.3 million to this relief effort, bringing the the total investment in the country to $15 million over the past decade and a half.

“Over the years we’ve developed stronger and stronger relationships,” said Ken Isaacs, the vice president of projects for Samaritan’s Purse.

The groundwork for the Samaritan’s Purse relationship dates back to two Billy Graham visits to North Korea in 1992 and 1994, and a 1997 visit by Ruth Bell Graham, who began attending a mission school in Pyongyang in 1934 and maintained contacts in the region.

Mr. Graham met with President Kim Il Sung during his visits, which led to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association setting up mobile dental clinics. Samaritan’s Purse began maintaining the clinics in the 1990s, an effort it continues to support.

During a 2009 visit, Franklin Graham presented $190,000 worth of equipment and supplies for a new dental center being built in Pyongyang.

Isaacs said Samaritan’s Purse would like to see its dental impact increase in the country.

“Samaritan’s Purse would like to find a Christian dentist with ties to an academic institute that would be interested in starting a training program,” Isaacs said.

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