|Haitian Methodists, UMCOR assess volunteer needs|
The Rev. Gesner Paul, president of the Methodist Church in Haiti,
discusses the church's needs as Haiti rebuilds at the Methodist Guest
House in Port-au-Prince.
UMNS photos by Mike DuBose.
A UMNS Report
By Linda Bloom*
Feb. 2, 2010
The Methodist Church in Haiti and United Methodist Committee on
Relief are identifying “suitable projects and assignments” for volunteer
teams wishing to assist with earthquake recovery in Haiti.
Both groups are asking volunteers to delay their arrival in Haiti
until those assessments are complete.
Evaluations in the six church circuits most affected by the
earthquake are being made to determine the extent of the damage in
church communities and beyond, according to the Rev. Gesner Paul,
president of the Methodist Church in Haiti.
UMCOR's Melissa Crutchfield (left) visits with Jean
Rolex Joseph outside his home.
“Suitable projects and assignments for volunteer teams wishing to
contribute to the recovery effort will not be identified until this
process is complete,” he wrote in a Jan. 28 letter to The United
UMCOR executive Melissa Crutchfield, who left Haiti on Jan. 31, says a
new UMCOR team is there until Feb. 15 to conduct assessments and
coordinate work both with international aid groups and with the Haitian
Team members are Kate Paik, a program officer with UMCOR’s
nongovernmental organization who had oversight of the agency’s previous
Haiti office, and Larry Powell, an UMCOR consultant and trainer for
disaster preparedness workshops with both U.S. and international
disaster experience, including work in Haiti.
UMCOR is now recruiting permanent staff – both local and
international – for its Haiti office, and the agency is purchasing staff
vehicles; donations are welcome. Crutchfield said she hopes the staff
will be in place by the end of the month or sooner.
Priority projects in the spring
Paul estimates work teams for priority projects probably could
schedule trips for late March and April, once the emergency relief and
debris-removal phase is completed. Rehabilitation work also needs to be
completed at the Methodist Guest House before the building can host
volunteer teams again.
“Volunteer teams with pre-existing travel plans to Haiti are urged to
reconsider the timing and nature of their trip, in order to allow for
reassessment and prioritization of earthquake-recovery programs,” he
Paul expressed deep gratitude for the outpouring of love and support
from United Methodists. “You have kept us in your prayers and we are
grateful. You have sent donations through the United Methodist Committee
on Relief. We thank you for your generosity. You have expressed your
selfless interest in volunteering your time to come to Haiti to help
with the recovery effort and we look forward to welcoming you.”
Once areas for relief and rehabilitation are prioritized, United
Methodist Volunteers in Mission “will be integral in the long-term
recovery of the church and communities in Haiti, and opportunities will
soon be available to come and help in meaningful ways,” he wrote.
Initial need for skilled volunteers
Crutchfield expects medical personnel, structural engineers and
architects will be among the skilled volunteers needed at the beginning
of the recovery process.
She notes that while medical teams already have come to Haiti to
address urgent earthquake injuries, long-term medical needs will remain.
“There’s probably going to be a greater need for medical teams in the
next couple of months,” she says.
Haiti’s rainy season –– which starts in late February or early March
–– could contribute to a spike in communicable diseases. Crutchfield
says the relief agency will work with UMCOR Health and Haiti hospital
partners through the United Methodist Advance to address the country’s
Debris removal must be done before rebuilding can begin and UMCOR and
the Methodist Church in Haiti are among the groups organizing cleanup
teams of local citizens in cash-for-work programs. “That’s a really good
opportunity to empower the local community,” she adds.
Structural engineers and architects are among the skilled volunteers
who can contribute to what most likely will be a national rebuilding
plan, Crutchfield points out. “It’s critical that we have some experts
to lay a solid foundation,” she says.
In time, however, many types of volunteers can partner with the
Methodist Church in Haiti in both spiritual and practical ways through
the earthquake-recovery period. “I believe there’s an opportunity for
volunteers in the longer term for rebuilding not only the church
structures but the church community,” Crutchfield says.
Donations to support UMCOR's Haiti Relief efforts can be made to
Haiti Emergency, UMCOR Advance #418325. You can donate online
or write checks to UMCOR with "Advance #418325 Haiti Emergency" in the
memo line. Checks can be put in church offering plates or mailed to:
UMCOR, P.O. Box 9068, New York, NY 10087. The entire amount of each gift
will be used to help the people of Haiti.
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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