|UMCOR joins on-the-ground relief for Haiti|
A Mexican rescue team frees Anna Zizi from the home
of the parish priest at
Port-au-Prince's Roman Cathedral of Our Lady of the
Assumption on Jan. 19.
Photos courtesy of Paul Jeffrey/ACT
A UMNS Report
By Linda Bloom*
Jan. 20, 2010
The United Methodist Committee on Relief and a host of other
faith-based groups are on the ground in Haiti as they determine how to
assist earthquake survivors.
With more than $2 million in donations received by Jan. 20, UMCOR
already has provided emergency grants to the Methodist Church of Haiti
and GlobalMedic, a Canadian relief agency, to address immediate needs.
An assessment team led by UMCOR’s Melissa Crutchfield was gathering
in the Dominican Republic Jan. 20 and preparing to enter Haiti. She is
accompanied by five others with the relief agency, the United Methodist
Board of Global Ministries and United Methodist Communications.
Other United Methodist-supported organizations, including Church
World Service, Action By Churches Together International and Stop Hunger
Now, also are responding with aid.
Paul Jeffrey, a United Methodist photojournalist and missionary on
assignment with ACT, watched a Mexican rescue team free Anna Zizi from
the home of the parish priest at Port-au-Prince's Roman Cathedral of Our
Lady of the Assumption.
“The rescuers were crying afterwards,” reported Jeffrey. It was a
welcome opportunity to feel joy amid such devastation, he said.
ACT has deployed a “rapid support team” to Haiti, which will work
with members with offices already in Haiti. UMCOR is a pending member of
the new ACT Alliance.
Despite rescue efforts, few survivors were being pulled alive from
the rubble a week after the earthquake struck.
The Reuters news organization reported that 75,000 bodies were buried
in mass graves and that Haitian officials say the toll could be between
100,000 and 200,000. An organization called Partners In Health said
20,000 people are dying daily “who could be saved by surgery,” according
to a Jan. 20 story in The Wall Street Journal.
UMCOR’s partnership with GlobalMedic will focus on the distribution
of clean drinking water, says the Rev. Tom Hazelwood, an UMCOR
executive. It also will provide medical attention to earthquake
GlobalMedic is deploying paramedics, water technicians and a doctor
to assist the sick or injured, UMCOR reported. A water distribution hub
will provide 65,000 people daily with clean drinking water.
Haitians line up for gas, one of the
many basic staples in short supply
after the earthquake.
Working through local nongovernmental organizations and the United
Nations network in Haiti, GlobalMedic also will distribute 110,000
sachets of PUR water purifiers, 5 million Aquatab water purification
tablets and 110,000 oral rehydration sachets.
The supplies are being shipped into the Dominican Republic, and then
transported by ground into Haiti, Hazelwood said.
One of the tasks for the UMCOR team in Haiti this week will be
meeting with Gesner Paul, who leads the Methodist Church of Haiti, to
assess how best to work with church members there.
Mission volunteers from The United Methodist Church have been a
strong presence in Haiti for years, so another priority is organizing
for future volunteer teams.
“We know the (immediate) need is for medical volunteers,” Hazelwood
said. “We’re looking at trying to centralize the volunteer process.”
Bishop Joel Martinez, interim general secretary of the Board of
Global Ministries, is advising volunteer teams not to set out for Haiti
immediately. “The time for volunteers will come, and their assistance
will be crucial,” Martinez said.
Church World Service has sent in Don Tatlock, its Latin America and
Caribbean program manager, to coordinate its efforts in Haiti.
Recovery has been slow, Tatlock reported. "People are still sleeping
outside in makeshift tents on street sides, parks or any open area," he
said. "In some neighborhoods, you see signs written on sheets asking for
water and food."
Church World Service relief kits and blankets are being distributed
in Port-au-Prince, and the agency’s partners in Action by Churches
Together are bringing in water and sanitation equipment.
Tatlock said a European psychosocial team supported by Church World
Service also was arriving in Haiti to work with disaster survivors and
first responders. "The situation is so horrifying that there is concern
of post-traumatic stress syndrome for members of search and rescue
teams," he said in a report on the agency’s Web site.
Food aid flown in
A planeload of 80,000 pounds of water, medicine and medical supplies
organized by Stop Hunger Now is being distributed in Haiti, says the
Rev. Ray Buchanan, the United Methodist pastor who is the food aid
group’s founder and president.
He also has talked to Mission of Hope, the partner group in
Port-au-Prince that received most of those supplies, about a previous
supply of pre-packaged meals. “They told us that since the earthquake,
they’ve been feeding 50,000 a day using the meals we sent in December,”
Stop Hunger Now still has five containers of bottled water and three
containers of more than a half-million meals ready to go to Haiti.
“We’re currently doing our very best trying to find military transport,”
he said. “We’re working with the Army, Air Force and the Navy.”
Meal donations have come from a variety of sources, including a Jan.
18 packaging event in Lynchburg, Va., organized by the Rev. Larry
Davies, the United Methodist district superintendent there. The effort,
which resulted in 210,000 meals, “really touches the heart of what Stop
Hunger Now is trying to do,” Buchanan noted.
Volunteers also are needed in the United States to help assemble
health kits and other relief supplies for Haiti at UMCOR’s two supply
depots – Sager Brown in Baldwin, La., and UMCOR West in Salt
Lake City – as well as other church-owned regional warehouses.
Those interested in volunteering at UMCOR West can contact Director
Brian Diggs at (801) 973-7250, or e-mail WestDepot@umcor.org. To
volunteer at Sager Brown, call (800) 814-8765.
UMCOR is encouraging church members to collect health kits for
distribution in Haiti.
Gifts to support UMCOR's Haiti Relief efforts can be made to Haiti
Emergency, UMCOR Advance #418325. Checks can be made to UMCOR with
"Advance #418325 Haiti Emergency" in the memo line. Checks can be put in
the church's offering plate 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 email@example.com.
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