UMCOR Relief Efforts in Haiti: One Month after the Quake
*By Linda Unger
February 14, 2010—Since the January 12 disaster, UMCOR has carried out an initial assessment of damages and needs, developed a five-year work plan, and shored up strategic partnerships with the United Nations, NGOs and the Methodist Church in Haiti. The organization has leased office space and hired staff to run the field office which will open next week to advance the work plan.
The government of Haiti estimates that upwards of 217,000 people died in the earthquake and another 300,000 were injured. The number of people affected by the disaster soars to three million when the displaced and those indirectly affected are included. About 75 percent of the capital, Port-au-Prince, is in ruins.
A national day of remembrance for those who perished was held across the Caribbean nation on Friday, February 12.
The UMCOR work plan anticipates three phases of recovery: emergency, recovery and rehabilitation.
The emergency phase stretches from the time of the earthquake through April and includes the start of the rainy season in March. It addresses the most immediate needs of access to food, clean water and sanitation, temporary shelter and emotional and spiritual support.
During the recovery phase, which is expected to run through the first year anniversary of the disaster, UMCOR will respond to needs for increasingly permanent homes, schools, clinics and churches; livelihood restoration and income generation, among other concerns.
The third phase, rehabilitation, will likely stretch through January 2015 and will offer assistance for both physical reconstruction and economic development as well as rebuilding systems, like health and education.
Melissa Crutchfield, an UMCOR executive for international disaster relief, says the plan is a “living document,” one that provides a roadmap for recovery while also taking into account emerging needs as relief efforts progress.
Gifts to support UMCOR’s Relief Efforts in Haiti Top $11 Million
The first 30 days since the earthquake has seen a great outpouring of solidarity with Haiti from United Methodists and many other people of goodwill across the US.
Generous supporters have contributed more than $11 million to UMCOR’s Haiti recovery plan, as well as the components for more than 350,000 health kits, which are positioned to distribute in Haiti as soon as circumstances allow.
Offers of help have come in other forms, too, including supplies like toothpaste, volunteers at UMCOR West and UMCOR Sager Brown, and layette kits. According to Kathy Kraiza, who manages the relief supplies, with babies being born into temporary shelters among the rubble left by the earthquake, there is a need for clean swaddling clothes to wrap the newborns. Instructions for assembling layette kites are available here.
Brentwood United Methodist Church in Brentwood, Tenn., raised $150,000 for UMCOR’s Haiti recover work. A concert the church sponsored brought in $50,000, and three weeks of Sunday collections brought in the rest.
And one little boy, Daniel, sent an UMCOR Hearts for Haiti card to a counterpart in Haiti: “Dear 5-year-old boy,” he wrote, “I want to send money to you. I hope God brings you a miracle. Love, Daniel.” Enclosed with the note was Daniel’s allowance, $1.65.
“The response of the church has been remarkable and generous,” said Bishop Joel Martinez, General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) interim general secretary. “Even the smallest gift has the power to bless.”
In the days leading up to the one-month anniversary of the quake, the seven wealthiest nations of the world, known as the G-7, agreed to forgive Haiti its outstanding debts. “The debt cancellation will give Haiti some economic breathing room,” Bishop Martinez said, “but it will not solve all of the problems there.”
Preparing for Volunteers in Mission
Steps are being taken to prepare for United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) teams to respond in Haiti. According to Crutchfield, in collaboration with the Methodist Church in Haiti, volunteer projects and programs are being developed to align with UMCOR’s work plan based on the needs identified. Volunteer teams may begin mobilizing by filling out a registration form.
Every gift will be important as UMCOR rolls out its five-year work plan for Haiti recovery.
“The $11 million dollars raised so far is a good start, and we’re grateful for all that has been done,” Bishop Martinez said. “But UMCOR will be there for the long haul and will need additional support.”
“It’s going to be a challenge,” says Sharad Aggarwal. “Conditions in Haiti were difficult before, but they are even more complicated now.”
And he adds, “We’re on the right track. We have to keep remembering who we’re doing this for: the people of Haiti.”
How to Help
Gifts to support UMCOR's relief efforts in Haiti can be made online by visiting www.umcorhaiti.org. For gifts by mail, please make checks payable to UMCOR and mail to UMCOR, PO Box 9068, New York, NY 10087. Please indicate Haiti Emergency, UMCOR Advance #418325 on the memo line of your check. One hundred percent of gifts made to this advance will help the people of Haiti.
*Linda Unger is the staff writer for UMCOR communications