|UMCOR assists storm-ravaged people in Haiti|
Tropical Storm Hanna passes over Haiti and the
Dominican Republic on the island of Hispaniola on Sept. 2. A UMNS photo
illustration by Jeff Schmaltz, NASA.
By Melissa Hinnen*
Sept. 10, 2008 | NEW YORK (UMNS)
The United Methodist Committee on Relief is responding to four catastrophic storms that tore through Haiti in less than a month.
Hundreds of deaths and extensive flooding have been reported, and
thousands of homes and livelihoods destroyed. In a country with limited
resources and widespread poverty, more than 650,000 people have been
left especially vulnerable.
Survivors of Hurricane Ike walk down a rubble-filled street in Holguin, Cuba.
A UMNS Web-only photo courtesy of the Rev. Ivelis Matthews.
UMCOR Haiti is on the ground responding with targeted direct assistance,
and personnel that evacuated during the storms have returned safely.
The office in Cap Haitien sustained minimal damage, and the staff is
working in the North Department of Haiti, providing disaster relief for
the short and long term.
Thomas Dwyer, director of operations for UMCOR’s non-governmental
organization unit, said that "in tandem with immediate relief, we are
providing support to assist in rebuilding peoples' lives.
"Families will need tools and materials to help repair their homes, and
children will need school supplies to return to school," Dwyer said.
"UMCOR is prepared and resources are mobilized to help people through
this difficult process."
Hurricane Ike, which formed at the beginning of September, was the most
recent storm to strike Haiti and Cuba. However, U.S. law prohibits UMCOR
and the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, its parent agency,
from providing direct assistance in Cuba. In 2006, the federal
government failed to renew the board’s license to send funds into Cuba
for ministries of various kinds. Many other denominations have also lost
Emergency relief kits and materials will be distributed to displaced
people and orphanages in Cap Haitien. UMCOR Haiti is offering a variety
of assistance packages to families, including long-term access to
potable water, cash for work activities to help clean up the affected
areas, school kits, cook stove and building materials.
UMCOR Haiti also is exploring working with the World Food Program and
Christian Aid to distribute health and hygiene kits, Dwyer said.
In addition to the NGO work, UMCOR is partnering with other
organizations through Action by Churches Together to address
humanitarian needs created by the storms.
“UMCOR is prepared and resources are mobilized to help people through this difficult process.”United Methodists have a
longstanding relationship with the people of Haiti. Strong ties between
the Methodist Church of Haiti and UMCOR helped facilitate the opening
of the UMCOR Haiti field office in 2005.
A primary goal of UMCOR Haiti is to help survivors recover from 2004's
Hurricane Jeanne. Agency workers have distributed relief supplies
consisting of health and school kits from UMCOR Sager Brown Depot in
Louisiana to more than 13,300 beneficiaries in public schools, local
associations and medical centers in program sites around the Northern
District as well as areas surrounding Port-au-Prince.
Additionally, UMCOR has distributed approximately 380 school and health
kits to vulnerable people through a clinic in Berthanie in the community
of Cavalion, Southern Haiti.
Donations support UMCOR’s work to address the immediate relief and
long-term recovery of those affected by the hurricanes in Haiti. Mail
checks to UMCOR, PO Box 9068, New York, NY 10087, and write "UMCOR
Advance 418325, Haiti Emergency" on the memo line. Online gifts can be
made at www.givetomission.org.
Methodists in Cuba have responded to the hurricane damage, although they
are severely limited financially. Reports on this work of the Methodist
Church of Cuba can be found in Spanish and English on the church’s Web site.
*Hinnen is a staff writer for the United Methodist Committee on Relief
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or email@example.com.
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Board of Global Ministries
Michigan Area Haiti Task Force