As Methodist Relief and Development Fund's (MRDF) appeal to aid the victims of the Boxing Day earthquake and tsunami reacthes more than £155,000, the fund is also emphasising its long-term commitment to poverty elsewhere in the world.
The appeal, which as launched on 27 December, is still open, but MRDF's Kevin Fray says that the response so far has been astounding.
"When we launched the appeal" said Kevin, "we had no idea that it would be so successful so quickly. The generosity of the Methodist people and others who have given has been tremendous. On behalf of MRDF, and the partners through whom the money is being channelled, I thank everyone who has given so freely."
MRDF's appeal will be channelled through ecumenical partners, mainly Action by Churches Together (ACT). Organisers of the appeal say that the money raised by MRDF can be sent immediately to areas where it is needed.
MRDF partners in India are providing clothing, medical care and support for fishing families whose homes and livelihoods have been destroyed by the tsunami. The Christian Weaker Section Development Society (CWSDS), featured in last year's MRDF Harvest Pack, is among those organisations providing counselling, care and practical help for survivors. "The affected people badly need food, drinking water, clothes and medicines," explained Mr Raj, CWSDS Co-ordinator, "Our Christian conscience cannot keep quiet when the situation is so bad."
ACT partners in Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka are also responding to immediate needs and providing long-term help. MRDF has already passed on all the money raised to date. This has been spent on: truckloads of food and water to remote communities; transport to safe areas for people affected by flooding; emergency feeding programmes in churches and schools; blankets, clothing and cooking equipment; house reconstruction programmes; trauma counselling.
But MRDF is also encouraging people to think about another recently launched initiative; "Make Poverty History".
Throughout 2005, under the title of "Make Poverty History", there will be a series of events designed to try and change the policies that keep so much of the world in poverty. The first public event in the year will be a march by Dawn French and women clergy to Downing Street.
"In the six days between the earthquake and New Year, "says Kevin Fray, "as many people died of preventable causes brought on by poverty as died in the tsunami. Make Poverty History isn't about giving money, but rather giving time and energy. We have been overwhelmed by the kindness with which people have given to the MRDF appeal: what we ask now is that people give their effort to backing Make Poverty History. Worldwide about 30,000 people are dying every day because of poverty that comes from the unfair ways we run the global economy."
The Make Poverty History campaign draws on the fact that in 2005 the UK has the presidency of the EU and the G8 group of nations. Both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are backing the goals of the campaign, but for action to take place other governments need to sign up as well.
"Britain has a chance to use its leadership in 2005 to make the world a better, fairer place," says Kevin Fray.
"Make Poverty History is a chance to enable poorer countries to share in the world's wealth and growth so that they eventually won't need aid."