You Can Help Haiti Now
*By Linda Unger
February 3, 2010—United Methodists and many people of good will in the U.S. and around the world have been deeply touched by the affects of the massive earthquake in Haiti last month and are anxious to help. While volunteers who would travel to the devastated Caribbean nation are being asked to delay their plans, there are many ways you can help Haiti now.
The severity of the disaster for a people already well known as the most poverty-stricken of the Western Hemisphere only makes more acute the concern for their immediate needs following the January 12th earthquake.
“People want to do something,” says Catherine Earl, the United Methodist Committee on Relief’s (UMCOR) Executive Secretary for U.S. Disaster Response. “They’re longing for a connection to the survivors, to reach out to hurting people.”
In fact, so many people have expressed a desire to travel to Haiti and put their hands to work for the relief effort that Methodist Church in Haiti President the Rev. Gesner Paul has issued an open letter asking volunteers to consider delaying their arrival until spring.
“On behalf of the Methodist Church in Haiti and the Haitian people, we thank you,” Rev. Paul says in his January 28th letter. “Thank you all for your outpouring of love, support and Christian brotherhood in our great hour of need.”
International volunteers are much needed and will be welcomed, he continues, “after this initial emergency phase is complete, at which time the Methodist Church in Haiti will work closely with UMCOR and United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) to identify rehabilitation projects which match the needs prioritized in the country.”
“Recovery from the earthquake will be long and painstaking and ultimately, not the stuff of international news headlines,” says Melissa Crutchfield, an UMCOR executive for international disaster response. “UMCOR already is making plans to remain for years in Haiti, as it did in Indonesia following the 2004 tsunami, to accompany the people in this arduous task.”
The time will soon come when volunteers will be able to go to Haiti to personally participate in the relief and recovery effort. In the meantime, here are seven ways you can mobilize your community, church, classmates and colleagues to help Haiti now—and into the future:
- Prepare relief supply kits, especially health kits and layette kits. Gather with friends, family or fellow travelers to put together these continually needed supply packages. Learn how here.
- Pray daily for those left hurt and homeless in Haiti, for those who have lost loved ones, and those who are separated from family members. Worship resources including prayers, video, flyers and songs are available here.
- Organize a fundraiser event and channel 100 percent of the proceeds directly to Haiti earthquake relief through UMCOR.
- Visit www.umcor.org often for updates and images of unfolding needs in Haiti and among Haitian and Haitian American communities in the U.S.
- This Valentine’s Day, give a Haiti gift card to the one you love and make a donation to UMCOR relief efforts in her or his name.
- Contact your Conference Disaster Response Coordinator and offer your time and talent to aid Haitian evacuees.
- Remember: Haiti recovery will take years, so give generously to support UMCOR’s immediate relief and long-term recovery effort. Gifts to Haiti can be made online by visiting www.umcorhaiti.org. For gifts by mail, please make checks payable to UMCOR and mail to UMCOR, P.O. 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 go to help the people of Haiti.
Register now to volunteer in Haiti when the time is right. Even if that time is not this moment, you can still be there, be hope for Haiti right here in your community.
*Linda Unger is staff writer for UMCOR