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UMCOR field office opens in Haiti


Residents walk past a cemetery damaged by the earthquake in Port-au-Prince.
UMNS photos by Mike DuBose.

The United Methodist Committee on Relief opened a field office in Port-au-Prince and is hiring full-time staff as part of a five-year plan to help rebuild Haiti after the Jan. 12 earthquake.

Anthony Jones, who has 20 years of experience with humanitarian relief agencies, has been hired as an emergency response consultant. He will be in Haiti for the next two months, said Melissa Crutchfield, international disaster response executive with UMCOR.

“Anthony will continue to meet regularly with the Eglise Méthodiste d'Haiti as well as the U.N. and other local and international partners to further develop UMCOR's short- and long-term humanitarian relief and recovery strategy for Haiti,” she said.

The relief agency will be hiring five staff members to work in the Port-au-Prince office, said Sharad Aggarwal, an UMCOR executive.

Since the disaster, UMCOR has coordinated food distribution projects in Mellier and Petit-Goave, Aggarwal said.

The UMCOR plan includes emergency, recovery and rehabilitation work.

The emergency phase stretches from the time of the earthquake through April. It addresses the immediate needs of access to food, clean water and sanitation, temporary shelter, and emotional and spiritual support.

During the recovery phase, which is expected to run through the first-year anniversary of the disaster, UMCOR will respond to needs for increasingly permanent homes, schools, clinics and churches, along with jobs and other concerns.

A man fashions a roof from tin sheets at the municipal soccer stadium in Leogane.

The third phase, rehabilitation, will likely stretch through January 2015 and will offer assistance for both physical reconstruction and economic development as well as rebuilding health, education and other systems.

“The response of the church has been remarkable and generous,” said Bishop Joel Martinez, United Methodist Board of Global Ministries interim top executive. “Even the smallest gift has the power to bless.”

In the days leading up to the one-month anniversary of the quake, the seven wealthiest nations of the world, known as the G-7, agreed to forgive Haiti its outstanding debts. “The debt cancellation will give Haiti some economic breathing room,” Martinez said, “but it will not solve all of the problems there.”

Steps are being taken to prepare for United Methodist Volunteers in Mission teams to respond in Haiti. In collaboration with the Methodist Church in Haiti, volunteer projects and programs are being developed to align with UMCOR’s work plan, Crutchfield said. Volunteer teams may begin mobilizing by filling out a registration form.

How to Help

Gifts to support UMCOR's relief efforts in Haiti can be made online by visiting www.umcorhaiti.org. For gifts by mail, please make checks payable to UMCOR and mail to UMCOR, PO Box 9068, New York, NY 10087. Please indicate Haiti Emergency, UMCOR Advance #418325, on the memo line of your check.

*Gilbert is a news writer for United Methodist News Service in Nashville, Tenn. Linda Unger, staff writer for UMCOR communications, contributed to this story.

News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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