4:30 P.M. EST April 15, 2010 | STAMFORD, Conn. (UMNS)
Dr. Brian Good of Salt Lake City examines Medina Alexis at Grace
Hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Holding Medina is her
mother, Ketly Alexis.
A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.
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United Methodist mission volunteer service in post-quake Haiti will
focus on housing, health, education and pastoral services through a
six-month pilot project expected to get under way soon.
The pilot program, which could be extended, will involve both
Haitians and volunteers from outside the country. It is the outcome of
consultations among the representatives of the Methodist Church in
Haiti, the United Methodist Committee on Relief, United Methodist
Volunteers in Mission and the volunteers office of the United Methodist
Board of Global Ministries.
The program is open to qualified volunteers from the United States
and from Methodist churches in the Caribbean, Latin America and other
parts of the world.
A $565,000 grant from UMCOR for the project was approved April 13 by
UMCOR directors and affirmed by the Board of Global Ministries, of which
UMCOR is a part. Discussion of the project in committee indicated that
teams could possibly be in the field by early May.
Since a Jan. 12 earthquake devastated Port-au-Prince and surrounding
areas, more than 3,000 people have registered their interest in going to
Haiti as mission volunteers on a Web site maintained by Global
Families crowd a makeshift camp at the municipal soccer stadium in
Leogane, Haiti, following the earthquake. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.
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Family housing will be one of the initial priorities, said Melissa
Crutchfield, UMCOR’s international disaster coordinator. While
earthquake-resistant housing will be the long-term goal, she indicated,
an immediate need is for transitional housing. Facilities for schools
and health services are also priorities. In addition, the project
includes training for Haitian pastors to become better equipped to deal
with earthquake-related stress.
Infrastructure challenges -- such as transportation for people and
materials, and housing for visitors -- have slowed the use of mission
volunteers in post-earthquake Haiti, according to UMCOR staff.
In the pilot stage, volunteer teams will work on projects selected as
priorities by the Methodist Church in Haiti. Each team will comprise
eight to 12 members with skills appropriate to particular projects. U.S.
teams will be coordinated through United Methodist Volunteers in
Mission, a grassroots movement that operates on annual conference and
Each team of volunteers will provide from $3,000 to $5,000 per
qualifying project, amounts that will be matched by funds from the UMCOR
grant. Team contributions will go through The Advance, the designated
mission-giving channel of the church. All priority sites are expected to
be identified by mid-June.
A central calendar
Teams will be scheduled through a central U.S.-based office, which
will ensure that necessary paperwork covering insurance, finances and
travel is appropriately handled. An office in Haiti will provide links
to the church there and coordinate logistics and materials on the ground
Susan J. Meister of Belleville, Ill., has been chosen as the
calendaring consultant. She is a member of Signal Hill United Methodist
Church in the Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference and has experience
in mission, relief and church communications.
The Rev. Mary Ricketts and husband, the Rev. Mike Willis.
The Rev. Mike Willis of Vestal, N.Y., who is fluent in conversational
Creole, the language of Haiti, will be based in Port-au-Prince. He and
his wife, the Rev. Mary Ricketts, are pastors of the Vestal United
Methodist Church. He has been involved in Haiti mission work since 1995
and has visited there some 20 times, leading work teams in construction,
microcredit and clean water projects.
Haitians will be involved in each undertaking. The proposal states
that "substantial numbers of Haitians can be hired to work with team at a
suggested 2-to-1 ratio of Haitians to Americans."
The first critical step for volunteers is to register online at http://secure.gbgm-umc.org/HaitiVolunteer/.
In the United States, these names will go to the jurisdictional and
annual conference coordinators, who will assist in assembling teams and
coordinating with the calendar office.
Teams from Latin America and the Caribbean will be organized with the
assistance of Global Ministries, the Methodist Church in the Caribbean
and Americas, and the Council of Evangelical United Methodist Churches
in Latin America.
The United Methodist Church has been sending volunteer-in-mission
teams to Haiti for more than 30 years, and has strong links to
congregations and institutions there. Prior to the January earthquake,
the network was placing approximately 100 teams per year in Haiti.
*Wright is an author and consultant to the Board of Global
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.