`Am I my brother's keeper?'

To the question, "Am I my brother's keeper," posed by Cain to the Lord (Gen. 4:8-9), President Thomas S. Monson in an address at the annual Rotary International banquet in Salt Lake City Nov. 20 emphatically answered: `Yes, we are our brothers' keepers!"

And because of that, President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, said there is a responsibility to do something about the terrible suffering worldwide as a result of tornadoes, floods, fires, drought, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, conflicts of war, etc.President Monson was accompanied to the banquet by his wife, Frances.

During his address, President Monson provided a glimpse of the magnitude of the Church's efforts to help relieve worldwide suffering. Since 1985, he said the Church has been involved in 2,340 humanitarian projects in 137 countries. Total value of the Church's humanitarian assistance in these projects has been $162.5 million. (Please see separate box on this page.)

He said that in the Church, "we take most seriously" the admonition from the Lord in the 25th chapter of Matthew:

"For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. . . . Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." (Matt. 25:35-36,40.)

President Monson explained that Church funds for caring for the poor and needy come from fast offerings, and then enumerated some of the Church-operated welfare enterprises that include storehouses, canneries, employment centers and Deseret Industries stores. (Please

see separate box on this page.)

"It is a wonderful thing to see what is accomplished as a result of that type of investment and effort," President Monson said.

He explained to the Rotarians his own personal interest in caring for the poor and needy. He said when he was bishop of a west Salt Lake City ward of 1,080 members, including 87 widows, he had the largest welfare load of any ward in the Church.

"I've seen hunger and I've seen want," President Monson declared. "I've seen people - wonderful people -

growing old and infirm. I developed very young in life a spirit of compassion for others who might be in need."

President Monson then explained some of the Church's humanitarian aid, which he said is a relatively new term for "help expanded beyond the basic welfare program."

He told of the Church's response in 1985 to the needs of famine-stricken Ethiopia. "As the suffering there became apparent, our members in the United States and Canada were invited to participate in two special fast days," explained President Monson. The proceeds received from these two fast days, he said, amounted to $11 million and provided much-needed aid to the people in Ethiopia, Chad and other sub-Saharan nations. "Not one cent was deducted for overhead." He said the Church collaborated in these efforts with the American and International Red Cross, the Red Crescent and Catholic Charities.

"Hunger knows no ecclesiastical boundary," President Monson went on. "Striving together, we can feed children, we can provide hope, we can preserve life."

Speaking of working in partnership with other community, state and private organizations to assist the needy, President Monson said the Church has:

Provided food from the Church welfare system and furnishings from the former Hotel Utah to local agencies as diverse as the Salvation Army, Jewish Family Services, Travelers Aid and the Indian Alcoholism Recovery Center.

Provided $75,000 and volunteers to help with Columbia University's Family-to-Family "home evening" program in Harlem, New York City. This program, said President Monson, reportedly has produced more positive results than all the social and economic programs the university had previously initiated.

Provided the Cambodian Royal University of Agriculture with the equipment and trained experts needed to establish a food canning and processing program.

Helped the National Council of Negro Women in Zimbabwe establish projects to assist people in need of food, clothing and medical supplies.

In 1996 alone, President Monson explained, suffering populations in various nations around the world received through Church humanitarian service:

Sufficient clothing to outfit an estimated 8.7 million people in 58 countries.

More than 1 million pounds of medical and educational equipment and supplies to 70 countries.

President Monson also spoke of Church aid to North Korea, "where we have no members of our faith," but which "has a great need for help to eliminate starvation." He said such assistance has amounted to $3.1 million and has included:

2,150 tons of corn, powdered milk, flour and medical supplies.

400 tons of fertilizer, pesticides and seeds.

More than 500 seedling apple trees.

"There are ships on the ocean waves right now taking more food to the children primarily in North Korea. I'm happy we could help."

He continued by pointing out that when civil war engulfed the former country of Yugoslavia, the Church provided more than 4 million pounds of clothing, medical supplies, flour and powdered milk; 5,000 cases of beef; thousands of blankets, baby bottles and hygiene kits; and recently 50,000 bars of soap were shipped from the Church's soap factory in Salt Lake City. Total amount of assistance, President Monson said, amounted to more than $6 million.

He then spoke of help provided by the Church to victims of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, which left "a path of destruction" behind it. "Our people were there to help," said President Monson. "Home after home was cleaned and repaired without charge. It mattered not the faith or color of the person who occupied the home.

"On Saturday morning after the storm, we needed about 100 men to start putting new sheeting on the roofs. We sent the word out that we needed 100. Three hundred came all the way from New York, Connecticut, the Carolinas. They stayed in shifts until all of the homes that they could possibly enter were repaired and the roofs restored."

He said a top priority of the Church's humanitarian efforts is "helping people to help themselves," and therefore we strive to promote humanitarian initiatives that encourage self-reliance. (Please see separate box on page 3 for examples of these initiatives.)

President Monson said when the Church works with other faiths and organizations, "in the endeavors to lift the level of life for so many people, we can accomplish anything. When we do so, we eliminate the weakness of a person standing alone and substitute, therefore, the strength of many serving together."

After his talk, President Monson was presented an engraved crystal bowl for his humanitarian and charitable work through the Church.

Additional Information

Promoting self-reliance

The Church strives to promote humanitarian initiatives that encourage self-reliance. Examples include:

Village banking in Guatemala that significantly improves the nutrition levels and financial stability of families.

Micro-enterprise projects such as one in Armenia that combines knitting skills and business management training initiatives.

Surgical initiatives in the Philippines that correct physical defects such as cleft palate, deformed limbs, hearing and sight impairments, etc.

Vocational skills training in India (e.g. machine repair, X-ray technician) that leads to productive employment.

Church-operated welfare enterprises

Storehouses 100

Canneries 80

Employment centers 97

Deseret Industries 45

LDS Social Services offices 63

Priesthood-managed production projects 106

Welfare missionaries in 33 countries 1,049

Humanitarian efforts since 1985

Number of projects 2,340

Countries served 137

Cash donations $26.1 million

Total value of assistance $162.5 million

Food distributed 9,800 tons

Surplus clothing distributed 20,798 tons

Medical equipment distributed 894 tons

Educational material distributed 794 tons

Major disaster assistance efforts 76


Mexico fire 1990

Bangladesh cyclone and flooding 1991

China earthquake 1991

Philippines Mt. Pinatubo volcano 1991

Bosnia civil conflict 1992

Africa drought 1992

Croatia civil conflict 1992

Hurricane Andrew 1992

Midwest U.S. flooding 1993

Northridge, Calif., earthquake 1994

Rwanda relief 1994

Japan earthquake 1995

Bosnia/Crotia/Serbia relief 1994-1996

North Korea crop failure 1996-1997

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