UMCOR / News Room / News & Features / Archives 2006 / 20060510

Blessings in a Bag: Ordinary Items in Health Kits Make a Difference

NEW YORK, May 10, 2006-They're cramped in the single room where they've been living for these two years. They're a family of five now, with the new baby, who was born here in this barrack-like collective center, in Tbilisi, Georgia, far from home. There are no amenities: no running water, barely space enough, or money enough, to cook a hot meal. They are displaced from Abkhazia, a disputed region, now living in the capital city of the Republic of Georgia. It's hard for any of them to see what their future will be.

Can Ordinary Things Make a Difference?

Members of the Martha Circle are making health kits. Some are sipping tea in the well lighted meeting room of their United Methodist Church. Each one is wrapping a comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, band-aids, nail clipper and other small items into a hand towel, and inserting into a plastic bag.

Even as she puts the finishing touches on a kit, one of the women is skeptical. How can such ordinary things, things these women take for granted, make a difference to anyone?

But the skeptic joins the others in blessing the finished kits, a carton full. One of the women offers to take the carton to a shipping facility. By the next morning the kits are on their way to UMCOR Sager Brown, in Baldwin, La.

From Baldwin to Tbilisi

 At Sager Brown a volunteer quality-checks the kits from the Martha Circle. As she sorts and checks, she packs them into a larger carton, combined with health kits from other United Methodist churches. Soon there are dozens of marked cartons of health kits, school kits, and layettes. They'll go first to the seaport in Houston, Texas, and from there to the Black Sea port city of Poti in Georgia. The sea leg of the journey takes about 45 days. After a customs inspection the kits go by rail or truck the 250 miles to the UMCOR warehouses in Tbilisi.

 A few UMCOR workers load up the kits and head to the displaced persons centers to begin the distribution. The family of five receives their health kits, and the workers leave a school kit for each of the older children. The new baby receives a layette kit. The workers tell the family about health care opportunities, for example where to get a prescription for the father's bad cough. He will go to a clinic supported by donations to the UMCOR Medicine Box program

Please Help Provide Blessings in a Bag

 United Methodists made over 346,000 emergency kits in 2005-each one a blessing for a family like the displaced persons in Tbilisi. Ordinary items can and do make a difference.

 You can help! UMCOR Sager Brown needs layettes, health kits and school kits to support an ongoing ministry of providing emergency supplies. Please visit the Relief Supplies pages to see how to make and ship.