UMCOR readies start-up operations in Sri Lanka, Indonesia
|A UMNS photo by Paul Jeffrey, ACT International
A young tsunami survivor poses in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka.
Feb. 2, 2005
young tsunami survivor poses in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka. A UMNS photo by
Paul Jeffrey, ACT International. Photo #05-021. Accompanies UMNS story
By Linda Bloom*
YORK (UMNS) — Guy Hovey was in Sarajevo, Bosnia, during the siege of
that city, and he witnessed in Northern Iraq how Saddam Hussein’s
efforts at ethnic cleansing wiped away entire villages.
Hovey — who directs operations for Europe and Asia for the United
Methodist Committee on Relief — was unprepared for the magnitude of the
devastation he found in Sri Lanka after the Dec. 26 tsunami.
only sections of the country were struck by the tsunami, "the
destruction is just total in the affected areas," he said. "Nothing
comes close to the scope of it. The power of nature is unbelievable."
a Feb. 1 presentation at the United Methodist Board of Global
Ministries, UMCOR’s parent organization, Hovey outlined preparations
under way for the agency’s long-term response. United Methodists already
have donated more than $6 million to assist the Asian tsunami
|Photo by Paul Jeffrey, ACT International
A tsunami survivor walks in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka.
UMCOR is allocating
$100,000 apiece to start-up operations in Sri Lanka and Indonesia. The
agency also will request approval for a $1.5 million project in each
country from directors of the Board of Global Ministries when they meet
tsunami survivor walks in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka. Many European
Methodist churches with special links to Sri Lanka - including
congregations in Germany, Switzerland, Ireland and Britain - have given
aid directly to Sri Lankan Methodist organizations. A UMNS photo by Paul
Jeffrey, ACT International. Photo #05-026. Accompanies UMNS story #022.
Sadoo, field staff for UMCOR’s emergency services, will arrive in Sri
Lanka on Feb. 4 to set up an office, do assessments, act as a liaison
between the agency and local Methodists, and meet with donors and
government officials. A second person, yet to be named, will be deployed
visited Sri Lanka in January with Kristin Sachen, UMCOR’s head of
disaster response, and said they were impressed by the capabilities of
Sri Lankan Methodists. "Their emergency response was excellent," he
the church has been overwhelmed by the task, he noted, and the Sri
Lankan Methodists want UMCOR to provide the mechanism for their
continuing relief work.
and the Methodist Church of Sri Lanka have chosen an area on the east
coast of the island nation for the work. Hovey believes the area will be
underserved by other relief organizations, which are concentrated in
the south. Tamil rebels control the area, and the Methodist Church is
one of the few organizations allowed to work in areas under their
authority, he said.
|Photo by Paul Jeffrey, ACT International
Sri Lankan refugees return home to rebuild their lives.
He hopes to assist an
estimated 2,000 people in eight communities near the town of Verugal
with an integrated reconstruction program focusing on housing and
livelihoods. Many in the area had made a living by fishing or farming
and can reclaim those occupations. Less fortunate, according to Hovey,
are the unskilled laborers whose places of employment were destroyed by
Lankans from a refugee camp near Palattadichchenai return home to
rebuild their houses and lives. They were left homeless by the Dec. 26
tsunami. Refugees in the camp have received assistance from a variety of
organizations, including the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka, a
member of Action by Churches Together International. A UMNS photo by
Paul Jeffrey, ACT International. Photo #05-024. Accompanies UMNS story
they have in places like Bosnia and Kosovo, United Methodists want to
foster interfaith dialogue and opportunities for reconciliation among
the Christians, Hindus and Muslims in the area. "There’s a lot of good
we can do beyond the reconstruction and income generation," Hovey
in Indonesia will include housing and income-generation projects in
Banda Aceh and Meulaboh. Hovey expects to conduct short-term employment
generation or cash-for-work projects, such as cleaning up debris. UMCOR
also is investigating relief work on the small island of Nias, which he
said had more tsunami damage than first reported.
donations to UMCOR’s "South Asia Emergency" relief efforts can be
placed in local church offering plates or sent directly to UMCOR, 475
Riverside Drive, Room 330, New York, NY 10115. Designate checks for
UMCOR Advance #274305 and "South Asia Emergency." Credit-card donations
can be made online at www.methodistrelief.org or by calling (800) 554-8583.
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or email@example.com