UMCOR / News Room / News & Features / Archives 2008 / 1211-UMCOR Brings Food, Medical Care

UMCOR Brings Food, Medical Care and Water to Zimbabwe

By Michelle Scott*

NEW YORK, Dec. 11, 2008—The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) launched a targeted course of action in response to the dire humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe this week. A severe food shortage and cholera epidemic combined with the world's highest inflation of more than 2,000,000% has created one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world today.

An immediate food distribution and additional support for United Methodist hospitals will begin to alleviate the suffering of many thousands in the days ahead. Providing clean water in Nyadire and additional long-term projects are also part of UMCOR's future plans in Zimbabwe.

"We are so pleased to work with Bishop Eben Nhiwatiwa to bring substantial assistance to our sisters and brothers in Zimbabwe," said the Rev. Sam Dixon, UMCOR's top executive, of UMCOR's latest efforts to bring direct assistance to Zimbabwe.

Food for the Hungry

UMCOR is purchasing and delivering 100 metric tons of grain through ZOE Ministry, a program of the North Carolina Annual Conference. The delivery of the food will begin next week and will go to all 12 United Methodist districts in Zimbabwe- reaching more than 1,200 households and 11,000 primary school students.

The grain will provide each person with an additional meal for 65 days. This is much-needed relief in an economy where a loaf of bread can cost half of one's monthly salary. UMCOR is working with the Zimbabwe Conference to secure documentation that will allow UMCOR to directly purchase, import and distribute food supplies.

UMCOR has 400 metric tons of maize ready to be delivered to Zimbabwe as soon as these documents are secured.

Help for the Sick

While the country's largest hospitals are closing in the midst of a growing cholera epidemic, United Methodist institutions are keeping their doors open to treat those in need regardless of their ability to pay.

Bishop Nhiwatiwa met with Zimbabwe's minister of health December 9 to express the church's desire to provide assistance in response to the epidemic. "We were so pleased to learn that through this meeting the Minister of Health has not only recognized the epidemic, but also given full support for UMCOR Health's efforts," reports Rev. Dixon.

UMCOR is shoring up the United Methodist hospitals to enable them to better cope with the worsening health situation in Zimbabwe and the cholera crisis in particular. Special cholera kits are en route to Nyadire and Mutambara that will allow the hospitals to effectively treat 2,600 people sick with the treatable but deadly illness.

Additional funds will provide food, supplies, and fuel for hospital generators. UMCOR is also making up for portions of staff salaries that have been lost due to the country's economic collapse.

A shipment of 14,000 school kits and 35 Medicine Boxes are en route and are expected to arrive in Zimbabwe in February to further support the work of the hospitals.

Water for the Thirsty

UMCOR is also working with the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference to rebuild and rehabilitate water services and equipment for Nyadire Hospital and surrounding areas. Poor water quality and sanitation facilities are the main causes of cholera. This project will greatly improve the health and quality of life for those living in the Nyadire area - approximately 500,000 people.

How You Can Help

UMCOR is implementing immediate and long-term projects to bring healing and hope to Zimbabwe. Financial gifts will support these efforts. Please give to Zimbabwe Emergency, UMCOR Advance #199456 to support the general response. Online Giving

Gifts to Hospital Revitalization, UMCOR Advance #982168 will specifically support United Methodist hospitals. Online Giving

*Ms. Scott is the executive secretary for UMCOR communications