Throughout the past year, Puerto Rico has seen more than its fair share of hardship. COVID-19, earthquakes, drought, and tropical storms have relentlessly torn exhausted communities across the country.
Thanks to supporters like you, Convoy of Hope has distributed food, water, and other necessities to people affected by these disasters. We have hosted multiple distributions that made a big difference for those in need.
Benny was one of the many people who received groceries from a distribution that took place in his community. When a local partner asked how he was feeling, Benny simply replied, “Blessed.” Benny explained that he and his family have braved earthquakes and the pandemic together, but have continued to endure. “Thanks to God, we’re standing … God always provides,” he concluded. “We thank the organization of Convoy of Hope.”
“We’re grateful for everything that you’ve done,” another survivor, Sol Caraballo, expressed while exiting a point of distribution site. “How you have blessed us in a special way through Convoy of Hope. Thank you.”
Residents of Puerto Rico have withstood an extraordinary amount of adversity in recent months. But with your help, we are able to deliver hope to those who have struggled to find it. Thank you for helping us to deliver hope in every storm.
As tornado season begins across the U.S., Convoy of Hope is keeping a close watch on the weather to ensure we can respond when disaster strikes. One of the most important things you and your family can do to stay safe during a natural disaster is to prepare ahead of time. Staying educated about terminology and the factors that contribute to tornadic weather will keep you prepared.
According to the National Weather Service, approximately 1,200 tornadoes develop every year. The 2020 storm season brought severe tornadoes that impacted Columbus, MS, Lee County, AL, and Monroe, LA — all of which led to responses from Convoy of Hope.
The severity of a tornado is measured by the “Enhanced Fujita Scale,” generally abbreviated as “EF”, and ranks a tornado’s threat level from zero to five. An EF-0 tornado brings wind gusts between 65 and 85 miles per hour and may cause light damage to siding, gutters, and tree limbs. An EF-5 tornado comes with wind gusts in excess of 200 miles per hour and can level houses, uproot trees, and throw vehicles.
Although meteorologists can forecast conditions that may be favorable for tornadic activity, they can’t predict tornadoes. For that reason, preparation is the best precautionary measure you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones in the event a tornado strikes.
“Preparedness is not merely putting aside a case of water and some ramen noodles,” Convoy of Hope’s Disaster Services team says. “It requires us to think through scenarios, try to anticipate potential needs, and take practical action toward preparing for those needs.”
Convoy of Hope’s Disaster Services team recommends that you:
Create a preparedness kit.
Include one gallon of water per person for three days, and three days worth of non-perishable food per person.
Add flashlights, blankets, shoes, and rain gear for each person.
Account for personal hygiene items by including a one-gallon, sealable bag of necessary items per person.
Be sure to include one weeks worth of vital prescriptions.
Use portable, waterproof storage to house important documents. They could be digital or physical copies that you entrust to a loved one.
Create a family communications plan. Be sure you have a plan to contact family members if you are not together when a disaster occurs. Plan ahead for the possibility that there might not be cell service or internet.
Stay educated and aware of your surroundings.
Explore the possibility of first aid, CPR, and other disaster preparedness courses.
Remain up-to-date on weather monitoring.
Apps like Emergency Red Cross and NOAA Weather Radar can help.
If you find yourself in the immediate path of a tornado, the National Weather Service and the CDC recommend the following steps.
Note indicators of an approaching tornado. Indicators often include large hail, a loud roar that sounds like a train or a jet engine, and an exceptionally dark or green-colored sky.
Plan a route for you and your loved ones to get to shelter.
If you’re indoors, get to the lowest floor of the structure. Next, find the innermost point of the building to put as many walls as possible between yourself and the outdoors.
Avoid windows. Do not try to open windows to let the wind blow through.
Use whatever padding or protective gear you can to shield yourself from flying debris.
If you’re outdoors, lie flat in a ditch, culvert, or another low lying area and cover your head.
Planning ahead for inclement weather is vital for safety. Convoy of Hope consistently hears the sentiment, “We never thought it would happen to us,” when they talk with those affected by a disaster. With a bit of preparation, you can provide peace of mind and an extra measure of protection for your and your household.
As you think through your disaster preparedness plan, click here to download our Family Preparedness Guide for more important information to help you plan ahead.
“The wind was terrible,” Christian said with a somber look on his face. “As the storm grew stronger and stronger … me and my wife were both holding the French doors shut.”
No sooner had survivors like Christian begun assessing the damage Hurricane Laura caused than Convoy of Hope sprang into action. Hurricane Laura was one of 26 disasters in the U.S. that Convoy of Hope responded to in 2020. Additionally, we responded to 36 disasters overseas, serving more than 1 million people internationally and more than 4.5 million people domestically.
Christian and his wife were trapped in their home when Hurricane Laura struck. Back in 2005, Christian and his family found themselves in a similar situation. Hurricane Rita decimated the Lake Charles area of Louisiana, leaving many without food, water, shelter, or other necessities. It was then that Christian had his first experience with Convoy of Hope.
“Convoy of Hope helped us tremendously. They were our lifeline for three weeks,” he said.
After Hurricane Laura dissipated, more than 450 volunteers distributed close to 1.6 million pounds of resources to people in need. In order to give back after his experience in 2005, Christian decided to become a volunteer with Convoy of Hope.
“As we give food, as we give water, people receive the help, I think it gives a little hope,” Christian said.
Because of volunteers like Christian and supporters around the world, Convoy of Hope served nearly 60,000 individuals across 16 cities in Louisiana. Thank you for helping us provide hope in every storm.
Chege ran with desperation in his eyes. Sweat poured down the 8-year-old boy’s face as he took in another panicky, dust-filled breath. He sprinted through fields of brittle grass and down the winding roads that surrounded his Kenyan neighborhood. He had to find help.
His mother was dying.
The night before, his father — an abusive, violent alcoholic — had beaten Chege’s mother during a drunken rage.
The next morning, she called to Chege, saying, “I want you to run and find your father, because I feel like I’m going to die.”
The boy ran as fast as he could, but his mother passed before they returned. Chege thought his future died with his mother. But, his life was far from over. Chege was enrolled in a school where Convoy of Hope fed hungry children like him. It was there that he also received his first pair of shoes.
He started studying diligently, and his teachers began to see a difference in his performance. With a nutritious meal in his stomach and determination in his soul, he advanced three grade levels in one year.
Eventually, he finished school and was accepted into university to study chemistry.
Today Chege finds time to tutor students in the school he attended as a child — the same place where Convoy of Hope still feeds children every school day. “I’m telling them they are valuable,” he says. “I tell them I was like them. Hungry in my body and in my mind, and people like Convoy of Hope came along and fed me. And now, because of them, I will never be the same. I will accomplish my vision. And nothing can stop me.”
That’s what we call “hope multiplied.” From the outskirts of a Kenyan village to major metropolitan cities within the U.S., Convoy of Hope is partnering with schools, churches, community groups, and friends to spread hope to people who just need to know someone cares.
More than 20 years ago, Convoy of Hope began conducting Community Events in Chicago, Illinois. Year after year, we brought together churches, businesses, and civic organizations to reach out to thousands of honored guests in these communities. With the assistance of more than 1,000 volunteers at each event, we returned each year with groceries, job fairs, medical and dental services, children’s shoes, and more — all of which was free of charge to guests. Local authorities and law enforcement said they saw a tangible difference in the communities because of the kindness shown.
Through Community Events held in 2015, 2016, and 2018, we served 28,193 Guests of Honor living in the Chicago area. “Lives have been changed because of the generosity of your partners and the diligence of the workers,” says one Chicago pastor.
When COVID-19 threatened to cancel the 2020 Chicago Community Event altogether, the large-scale gathering was in jeopardy. But the community was determined to make it happen. They knew what it would do for children and families in need. Through a Disaster Services model — where food and services are distributed safely — more than 5,000 families were still served. Despite the pandemic and all the obstacles it brought that day, hope was multiplied.
“Each day, Convoy of Hope’s friends and partners make sacrifices so others can receive real help and lasting hope,” says Hal Donaldson, Convoy of Hope’s President. “From our Children’s Feeding programs, to the job training initiatives for women, to water and agriculture initiatives for farmers, to Community Events and our disaster relief efforts, people are having their hope restored and multiplied.”
This story was first published in Convoy of Hope’s Hope Quarterly magazine. Read the rest of the issue here.