LDS humanitarian efforts subject of UN briefing

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Children in Ethiopia receive a nutritional porridge called Atmit produced by The LDS Church to help relieve starvation. (Photo courtesy Mormon Newsroom.)
Children in Ethiopia receive a nutritional porridge called Atmit produced by The LDS Church to help relieve starvation. (Photo courtesy Mormon Newsroom)

The expansive humanitarian aid efforts of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have had plenty of attention, but they’ve never been the subject of conversation on the world’s stage.

That is, until Feb. 27, when for the first time in the history of the United Nations, the Church’s humanitarian aid was the subject of a briefing at the Department of Public Information. The department’s Nongovernmental Organizations (NGO) Relations and Advocacy hosts a series called “Focus on Faith,” and Thursday’s briefing was part of that.

Church representatives included Sharon Eubank, director of humanitarian services and LDS Charities; Ahmad Corbitt, senior manager of public affairs in New York; and Elder Phil Colton, a nuclear physicist and retired U.N. employee who is currently serving as a public affairs missionary in New York. Their presentation was entitled “Discovering Mormonism and Its Role in Humanitarian Assistance.”

“Faiths and religions are central to achieving common goals and transformational change,” Eubank said in the briefing.

The Church provided $84 million in assistance to people in 130 countries during 2013. That amount includes initiatives to provide clean water, neonatal resuscitation, vision care, wheelchairs, family gardens, immunizations and emergency response.

The United Nations Department of Public Information exists to help NGOs, like the Church, access and spread information about UN issues to the public. Some churches in the Focus on Faith series have emphasized how their efforts mirror those of the UN, and the LDS Church was no different. Elder Colton attributed declines in poverty and childhood mortality rates to the “hard work on the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals from people throughout the world,” including the Church.

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Breanna Olaveson worked in the magazine industry before taking her writing from full-time to nap time with the birth of her first daughter. Her work has appeared in the Ensign, Liahona and New Era magazines, as well as Utah Valley Magazine, Utah Valley BusinessQ, Utah Valley Bride and the Provo Daily Herald. She lives in Utah county with her husband and three children. She blogs at www.breannaolaveson.com.

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