Earthquake and Tsunami Response Continues in Chile
October 22, 2010—More than eight months have passed since an earthquake and resulting tsunami killed more than 500 people and wiped out hundreds of thousands of homes in Chile.
In the midst of the destruction—and reconstruction—is the Methodist Church of Chile (IMECH). IMECH and its disaster response organization, Methodist Humanitarian Aid Team (EMAH) continue to provide support for survivors. “We are reconstructing hope, lives and the capacity for the community to walk with one another,” says Bishop Mario Martinez, during a recent visit to United Methodist Committee on Relief's (UMCOR) offices in New York.
Just four months before the earthquake struck, IMECH invited UMCOR to lead a disaster response workshop. The church left this training event with the newly formed disaster response organization, EMAH, and a disaster response plan. Little did they know that they would put all that they learned to the test in just a few months. Juan Salazar disaster response coordinator of IMECH called their earthquake response a “final exam” for the training in his recent presentation to the General Board of Global Ministries. According to Melissa Crutchfield, UMCOR disaster response executive, they passed with flying colors. “They are so highly effective,” she said about the Chilean Methodist response.
The church is reconstructing homes, providing psychosocial support, microenterprise support and food assistance. Funding for much of this work comes through UMCOR and the ACT Alliance. The ACT Alliance is a global network of more than 100 church-based humanitarian organizations.
The Chilean Methodists work through a variety of networks to provide a coordinated effort. They work through the Methodist Church of Chile, EMAH, the ACT Alliance, Fundacion de Ayuda Social de Las Iglesias Cristianas (FASIC), and the InterChurch Emergency Committee Chile 2010 (CIECH); an ecumenical group formed the day after the earthquake struck. In many areas, teams from this ecumenical group were among the first to arrive to provide assistance.
Bishop Martinez and Salazar were in New York Oct. 11-13 to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with UMCOR at the General Board of Global Ministries semi-annual meeting. The MOU formalizes the relationship between UMCOR and the Methodist Church of Chile and EMAH.
UMCOR is also providing financial and additional training support for IMECH and EMAH’s response to the earthquake and tsunami. While more than $649,440 has been raised to date, more is needed to provide the support Chile needs to recover. Your gift to Chile Emergency, UMCOR Advance #3021178, will go a long way to support recovery efforts.