April 14, 2005
By Linda Bloom*
Conn. (UMNS)—In response to last year’s hurricane and resulting floods,
the United Methodist Committee on Relief is establishing an official
presence in Haiti.
of the aid group have approved $1.5 million for start-up and program
implementation costs on the Caribbean island. The action came when
directors met during the April 11-14 spring board meeting of the United
Methodist Board of Global Ministries, UMCOR’s parent organization.
United Methodists have worked in Haiti for years—particularly through
the Methodist Church in Haiti—this is the first time UMCOR has
undertaken the legal process of registering as a nongovernmental
organization there, according to Marc Maxi, UMCOR’s regional director
for Africa and the Caribbean.
floods resulting from Hurricane Jeanne last September not only claimed
more than 3,000 lives, but created rockslides and thick areas of mud,
destroying livelihoods for thousands of farmers, stock breeders and
traders. Nearly 30,000 people were left homeless, many in the Gonaives
After an UMCOR team surveyed the damage, “we decided it was time for us to go on the ground,” Maxi said.
accompanied the Rev. R. Randy Day, the board’s chief executive, and the
Rev. Kristin Sachen, head of UMCOR’s emergency services, to Haiti at
the end of February to begin the process. Although Maxi is a native of
Haiti, he had not returned to the island in 25 years.
is clear on why this step is important. “I see what UMCOR does. I see
the need on the ground. I think it’s a perfect match.”
told the directors she believes UMCOR “will be able to leverage grant
money for additional projects” with its new status in Haiti.
headquarters will be in Port-au-Prince and it will maintain a field
office in Cap Haitien—where some 10,740 women, children and men are
expected to be project beneficiaries.
agency’s work will focus on northern Haiti and include the repair and
rehabilitation of homes, conflict resolution, revival of economic
activities and income generation.
will continue to work with the Methodist Church in Haiti and provide “a
degree of capacity building” for the church. Maxi said he expects the
projects to “complement what the church is currently doing.”
church work in Haiti includes a school hot-lunch program, health care
and medical mission, and community health worker training program.
directors allocated another $511,344 for recovery efforts on the island
of Grenada. After Hurricane Ivan struck the island in early September,
89 percent of the homes there were damaged or destroyed. All
crops—fruits, vegetables and nutmeg—also were destroyed.
its work in Grenada, UMCOR is partnering with GENCODA, a local agency
that it has supported in the past. About 5,000 people are expected to
receive assistance from programs for housing reconstruction and
rehabilitation and sustainable agriculture recovery.
to continuing “Hurricanes 2004” recovery work in the United States,
directors approved $1.9 million to the denomination’s Florida Annual
(regional) Conference over the next two years; $500,000 in 2005 and
$400,000 in 2006 for the Alabama-West Florida Conference; $180,000 for
the Western North Carolina Conference over the next two years; and
$50,000 for the Western Pennsylvania Conference.
for the work in Haiti, Grenada and the United States should be
designated to UMCOR Advance #982410, “Hurricanes 2004,” and dropped in
church collection plates or mailed directly to UMCOR at P.O. Box 9068,
GPO, New York, NY 10087-9068. Credit-card donations can be made 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.