Mennonites help with hurricane relief in Nicaragua

By staff writers
24 Sep 2007

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), the North American Anabaptist relief, development and peace agency, is helping to provide food and other aid in seven indigenous communities in northeastern Nicaragua that were devastated by Hurricane Felix.

MCC has provided US$42,000 to purchase and distribute a five-day supply of groceries and basic items such as water purification tablets and plastic sheeting to about 3,000 people.

An MCC partner organization, Centro Intereclesial de Estudios Teologicos y Sociales (CIEETS), is distributing the aid in remote areas near the border with Honduras. Most of the beneficiaries are Miskito and Mayagna indigenous people who lost crops, livestock and other possessions to the hurricane, according to CIEETS.

Felix made landfall in northeastern Nicaragua on 4 September 2007 as a powerful category 5 hurricane before continuing over Honduras and dissipating. Many of the most affected communities are believed to be in Nicaragua's isolated, Atlantic coastal region.

Mennonite Central Committee's partner organizations are currently assessing needs in this region and preparing requests for aid. Nicaragua's Anabaptist Emergency Commission recently sent representatives to hurricane-affected communities that take three days to reach, including a journey by boat and a six-hour hike, according to Mark Epp, MCC's associate director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

The commission reported that Felix wiped out crops and food supplies in these communities and destroyed dozens of houses, Epp said.

MCC is accepting financial contributions to assist people affected by Hurricane Felix and Hurricane Dean, which struck Mexico and Belize in August. Contributions may be made online at http://www.mcc.org/donate - they should be designated for "2007 Hurricane Relief."

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