UMCOR Hotline: A look back at 2012
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) moved into its third year of work in response to the January 2010 earthquake that devastated much of Haiti.
UMCOR’s work has transitioned from the relief phase of disaster response into the development phase. UMCOR is working with partners toward long-term and sustainable goals in the areas of livelihoods, education, health, water and sanitation, shelter and reconstruction, and capacity strengthening and partnership.
United Methodists and other people of goodwill donated about US $45 million to UMCOR’s rebuilding efforts in Haiti. About half that sum has been used or committed in the emergency phase, and about half remains for development work, which is projected to continue for five years. Read more.
HELPING JAPAN REBUILD
UMCOR continues to work with partners in Japan to recover from the March 2011 triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis. Overall, UMCOR is working to revive local economies in impacted areas and to help displaced families find housing solutions.
Through partners such as Global Medic, Asian Rural Institute (ARI), and Japan Ecumenical Disaster Response Office / National Council of Churches in Japan, UMCOR is working to provide relief to survivors of all three disasters
The spring of 2012 brought hundreds of tornadoes that tore through parts of Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Texas, and Oklahoma, among other US states. A major outbreak at the end of February spawned 36 tornadoes; another, occurring March 2-3, led to at least 117 tornadoes that touched down in 11 states.
UMCOR worked closely with the annual conferences in the affected areas to provide support. Grants as well as training and personnel support helped the church establish disaster-response ministries that will be helping families for years to come.
UMCOR continued its long-term response to those areas especially hard hit by the exceptional 2011 storm seasons, including Hurricane Irene and the tornadoes that caused so much damage in North Carolina, Alabama, and Missouri.
PREPARING FOR DISASTER
A major function of UMCOR’s US and international disaster-response work is preparing local people to respond to disasters that may happen in their communities.
“The United Methodist Church's first response to disaster rests with the people in the local church,” said the Rev. Tom Hazelwood, UMCOR’s assistant general secretary for disaster US response. “It always begins and always ends with neighbors helping neighbors.”
In 2012 the 10,000th Early Response Team member was certified, and the largest ever jurisdictional disaster response academy was held. Early Response Team members are trained and credentialed by UMCOR to allow them to enter disaster-stricken communities in the early days to being the process of helping families and securing homes so that other work may begin.
UMCOR also works with Methodists and United Methodists overseas to help them establish their own disaster response programs. Training in Chile, the Philippines, Myanmar (Burma), and the Caribbean all took place this year to assist and support these disaster-prone areas prepare for and mitigate future events.
FAIR TRADE PARTNERSHIPS
UMCOR celebrated ten years of partnership with Equal Exchange, a cooperative that distributes fairly traded goods. UMCOR established the UMCOR Coffee Project through Equal Exchange’s Interfaith Program, which allows United Methodists to purchase coffee and other fair-trade items to support both the producers of these products and the UMCOR Sustainable Agriculture and Development (SA&D) program. In celebration of this partnership anniversary the two organizations developed Hope’s Blend, an UMCOR fellowship coffee.
UMCOR also established partnerships with three additional fair trade organizations in 2012: Prosperity Candle, which empowers refugee women to rebuild their lives through the art of candle-making; SERRV, which works to eradicate poverty by providing opportunity and support to artisans and farmers worldwide through consignment shops; and Zimele, which is a South African organization that helps vulnerable women develop their own businesses, such as the sale of fair-trade crafts.
IMAGINE NO MALARIA
UMCOR continued its work to end malaria deaths in Sub-Saharan Africa by distributing mosquito nets in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zimbabwe, and Angola in 2012 through Imagine No Malaria. In total, more than 110,000 nets were distributed this year in these malaria-prone nations, bringing the total number of INM net distributions to 1.2 million.
Education is a critical part of the net distribution strategy. UMCOR mobilizes volunteers for each distribution by educating them about malaria and net usage. These volunteers help with the distribution and then follow-up with recipients to help hang the nets properly and answer questions. More than 5,000 community health workers have been trained by UMCOR.
Sleeping under an insecticide-treated bed net is one of the most important things people can do to protect themselves against malaria. But without proper training for the community, the nets may be hung incorrectly or used for purposes other than intended.
UMCOR HELPS HURRICANE AND TYPHOON SURVIVORS
Hurricanes Isaac and Sandy caused incredible damage in the United States, while numerous typhoons devastated parts of the Philippines in 2012. UMCOR responded immediately to these crises and continues to work to help survivors to this day.
In late August, Hurricane Isaac struck Haiti and then dumped heavy rains on Mississippi and Louisiana, causing severe flooding. UMCOR Haiti worked in partnership with the Methodist Church of Haiti to bring assistance to people affected by Isaac in that Caribbean country, while UMCOR US Disaster Response provided assistance to the Mississippi and Louisiana annual conferences in the United States.
Hurricane Sandy also brought destruction to the Caribbean before wreaking havoc in the United States. Coming at the end of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, Sandy swept through Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, and the Bahamas, and then caused massive damage in the eastern United States, especially New Jersey and New York.
UMCOR has provided more than $180,000 in immediate disaster-response grants and thousands of cleaning buckets, while hundreds of UMCOR-trained Early Response Team members have been helping families to clean out their ravaged homes.
Numerous typhoons struck the Philippines in 2012, including Typhoon Bopha in early December. UMCOR’s office in the Philippines office provided immediate assistance to disaster-stricken communities by mobilizing volunteers and brining food and material goods to displaced families.
UMCOR Philippines works year-round to help disaster-prone areas of this archipelago nation identify risks and identify ways to mitigate disasters.
CRISIS IN SYRIA
The continuing conflict in Syria has led to heartbreaking violence in this Middle Eastern nation. UMCOR is working through local partners to provide help to thousands of people who have been displaced by the violence. Partnering with International Blue Crescent and International Orthodox Christian Charities has allowed UMCOR to bring assistance to people in need.
UMCOR is also working with American Near East Refugee Aid to bring relief supplies to refugees who have fled to Lebanon. In November, UMCOR shipped a 40-foot container of supplies, such as health kits, bedding kits, layette kits, and school kits, to help those displaced by the violence.
UMCOR continues to monitor the situation in Syria and seek new avenues for assistance.
BUILDING INDEPENDENCE IN SOUTH SUDAN
South Sudan marked its first year of independence in July 2012. UMCOR has worked there since 2006, when the referendum was signed that ultimately brought a fragile peace to the region and led to South Sudan’s independence from Sudan.
UMCOR’s current work in South Sudan includes education for both children and adults; water, sanitation, and hygiene projects; health promotion; expanding food security; and developing livelihoods;
2012 saw several anniversaries in UMCOR’s work: 20 years of providing relief supplies through the UMCOR Sager Brown Depot , and a decade of service through field offices in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Afghanistan.
While the UMCOR Sager Brown Depot in Baldwin, Louisiana, is celebrating 20 years of work, the site itself has been a place of United Methodist mission for 145 years. “My hope is that UMCOR Sager Brown will be a beacon of light and hope in this world for many future generations,” says Kathy Kraiza, executive director of relief supplies for UMCOR.
UMCOR’s work in DRC has focused on agriculture, assisting displaced people, and improving community health.
UMCOR Afghanistan office opened shortly after 9/11. Much of UMCOR’s work in the country has focused on helping refugees return and settle in their former homes.
How You Can Help
You can support UMCOR in all of these efforts and more in the coming year by giving to UMCOR’s undesignated fund, UMCOR Advance #999895. This supports the general work of UMCOR and allows us to provide funding where it is most needed.
UMCOR provides emergency relief in many areas of the world. To find out more about UMCOR's ministries, please visit umcor.org. You can donate to any project by placing a contribution in the offering plate at a local United Methodist church; by sending a check to UMCOR, PO Box 9068, New York, NY 10087-9068; or by calling 1-800-554-8583, where credit card donations are accepted. You can also give online by clicking any of the "DONATE" links or make a $10 donation anytime by texting “UMCOR” to 80888. UMCOR is exempt from tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of the United States and qualifies for the maximum charitable contribution deduction by donors.
And, please pray for those who are hungry, displaced, sick or in poverty because of these and other natural and human-made disasters, and for the workers who minister to them.
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United Methodist Committee on Relief
General Board of Global Ministries, The United Methodist Church
Room 1520, 475 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10115
Voice Phone: 1-212-870-3816; FAX: 1-212-870-3624