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Pastor calls on Wall Street to help Haiti

 
A home in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, stands open to the outdoors, its side sheared away by the earthquake. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.

By Jan Dragin*
Jan. 27, 2010 | NEW YORK (UMNS)


Wall Street executives are being challenged to tithe their bonuses.
Photo courtesy of f-l-e-x / Sjoerd van Oosten

The United Methodist pastor who leads Church World Service called Jan. 27 for Wall Street's financial industry leaders to tithe their bonuses for the reconstruction of Haiti.

"This month's catastrophic earthquake is not only an unforgettable tragedy but a wake-up call to rich nations of the world," said the Rev. John L. McCullough, the top executive of Church World Service. The agency's aid workers and longtime local Haitian partner agencies, along with other international humanitarian groups, including the United Methodist Committee on Relief, are assisting survivors on the island.

The Jan. 12 earthquake that struck the island nation killed more than 100,000 people and destroyed much of Port-au-Prince and the country's fragile infrastructure.

"As a relief and development agency that has worked in Haiti beginning in 1954, Church World Service has seen the dire challenges, strife and unremitting, abject poverty that the people of Haiti have experienced for generation after generation," McCullough noted.

A collaborative effort to assist the people of Haiti is needed, McCullough said, "not simply to recover from what was the worst natural disaster in this hemisphere, but to assist them as they build, for the first time in their history, a country and a life that reflects and respects their indomitable spirit."

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Church World Service also is urging forgiveness of Haiti's remaining debts.

"Last Friday's ‘Hope for Haiti Now’ telethon made a powerful statement about our common humanity," he said. "Now is the perfect moment for executives in the financial sector to make an equally powerful statement about corporate social responsibility by tithing their bonuses towards the longer and arduous challenge of redeveloping Haiti."

Despite a tough economy, a high jobless rate and an increase in the number of homeless families, he noted, “the American people managed to contribute to the $61 million raised in the one-night benefit for the Haitian people.

“At the same time,” said McCullough, “more Wall Street bankers and traders this year are expecting to receive massive bonuses than last year, despite public outrage over the industry’s seeming impunity to its own role in the economic meltdown.

"We're inviting all Americans to join the call and invite Wall Street to offer 10 percent of those bonuses to Haiti. Consider it a sacrificial offering. Consider it seed money to jumpstart the reconstruction and development that we hope world leaders will now fully commit to while in Davos this week."

The agency is using Facebook and Twitter to spread its message. More information about the "Bonuses4Haiti" cause can be found on the CWS Causes page on Facebook.  

*Dragin is a communications consultant for Church World Service.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or newsdesk@umcom.org

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