Methodists working hard for Haiti relief and development

By staff writers
16 Apr 2010

Three months on from the catastrophic earthquake that hit Port-au-Prince, British Methodists are continuing to put money and support into the vital relief effort in Haiti.

Moved by news of the disaster that killed around 230,000 people, made a million people homeless and devastated the country’s infrastructure, thousands of Methodists across the UK responded to appeals for funds issued jointly by the Methodist Church and the Methodist Relief and Development Fund (MRDF) - matching the efforts of other Christians, people from different faith communities and thousands of people of no belief but 'good faith'.

£14,000 of the £404,000 raised so far by the Methodist Church’s World Mission Fund (WMF) is being used to purchase, transport and set up large tents in Haiti to be used as temporary classrooms, ensuring that children’s education in Haiti continues.

Eight schools have been totally destroyed and 17 are so severely damaged that students and teachers are afraid to use them, says MRDF.

The Rev Gesner Paul, President of the Haitian Methodist Church, has expressed his gratitude for the support.

He said; “Thank you for the marvellous work that you have been doing in promoting the cause of Haiti at this critical time in the life of our Nation and Church, even under difficult circumstances for you. We thank God that this work has started to bring such fruit especially as we were wondering how would we face the relief and reconstruction work that has to be done.”

A further £43,000 from the Methodist World Mission Fund (WMF) has been sent via the Methodist Church in Haiti to support the salaries of teachers in the worst affected areas for the next three months. £25,000 has been sent to contribute for three months to the salaries of church pastors.

Over £370,000 has been donated so far to MRDF’s Haiti appeal since its launch in January. The charity is responding to the earthquake through partnerships with the Methodist Church in Haiti and Action by Churches Together (ACT) International.

So far, donations have been used to provide food, clean water and emergency shelter to thousands of people affected by the earthquake. At a malnutrition clinic in Port-au-Prince, hundreds of children were given enriched milk, spinach, beans and rice in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake.

The most severely malnourished children had meals of ‘plumpy nuts’, a special protein-based paste full of vitamins and minerals. The appeal funds also helped to provide medical care and counselling support to many survivors.

Simeon Mitchell, Director of Fundraising, Marketing and Campaigning for MRDF, commented: “Many of us were shocked by the images that emerged as survivors tried to come to terms with the loss of lives, homes and livelihoods. We are very grateful that so many Methodists turned that feeling of shock into an act of compassion by making a donation and a tangible difference. We are committed to supporting both emergency relief and long-term rehabilitation work in the country. Donations to our appeal will continue to meet people’s immediate needs as well as fund the construction of houses, and provide seeds and tools so that vulnerable families can plant crops for the next harvest.”

The Rev Dr Leslie Griffiths, former President of the Methodist Conference, and the Rev Tom Quenet, Partnership Coordinator, visited the Methodist Church of Haiti in February 2010 to witness the relief effort first-hand.

“Amongst the partners of the Methodist Church {of] Haiti in the Americas and the Caribbean, there has been a genuine determination to work together in helping the people of Haiti and the Methodist Church there,” said Mr Quenet.

“This coordinated response to the needs of a people following a disaster of such magnitude is significant and encouraging for future responses," he added. "By working in partnership with our partner churches and with MRDF, we are discovering that each of us has complementary skills and resources that can be powerfully used to make real differences to people’s lives.”

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To donate via the Methodist Church please visit www.justgiving.com/Methodist-Church-Haiti-Appeal To donate via MRDF, visit www.mrdf.org.uk

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