Youths from Savannah UMC in Savannah, Missouri, present UMCOR Technical Officer Mike Barbee with a $300 check. The youths raised the money to support UMCOR’s Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene work. Photo: Hannah Hanson
UMCOR shared with more than 4,000 young people its work to alleviate suffering around the world
By Abby Britt and Shelby Stotz*
In Orlando, Florida, on June 24-27, Christ was moving through an event called Youth 2015—or Y15 for short. The theme was "Go On," and more than 4,000 youths and adults from all over the United States and different countries gathered to worship Christ and were called to serve.
"It's awesome to see so many people with similar beliefs who can come together in this environment to learn more about their faith, society, and how they can help other people," said Jeremy Kincaid, a youth pastor in the North Texas Conference.
Y15 was organized by Young People’s Ministries, a division of United Methodist Discipleship Ministries.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR was happy to participate in Y15. Hannah Hanson, UMCOR church relations manager, sent greetings from the main stage and also spoke about UMCOR during worship. She led a workshop called “When Disaster Strikes,” about disaster preparedness, and then led a TED-style talk, which at the gathering was called a UniTed talk.
|During the “Poop in a Hole” workshop, youths brainstorm and create a campaign to promote UMCOR’s Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene work at their home churches. Photo: Hannah Hanson
Mike Barbee, technical officer for UMCOR Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) projects, led a second workshop called “Poop in a Hole.” During his UniTed talk Mike explained that UMCOR meets needs for water by drilling wells and protecting springs; for sanitation by improving toilets; and for hygiene by promoting handwashing. UMCOR supports the most vulnerable people as they seek to meet their own needs.
When UMCOR builds wells, latrines, bathing shelters, and handwashing stations, it also supports education, Mike said. Having these close to home means women and girls no longer have to walk miles to collect water and the children can spend that time going to school. Mike spoke of a 10-year-old girl who spent four hours a day collecting water because there was no water source nearby.
A mock latrine from El Neem, a camp for internally displaced people in South Sudan, was set up as an exhibit at Y15. Participants had the opportunity to view the latrine, step inside, and take pictures! We had the chance to talk to participants about the latrine and get their thoughts about UMCOR.
Question: What was your reaction to seeing the latrine on display?
Thomas Lewis, East Ohio Conference Council on Youth Ministry (CCYM): "I'm used to seeing latrines because I use them at church camp. It's cool that UMCOR can help people in every way they can, even if it's just giving them a bathroom to use."
Ryland Fernandez, California-Nevada Conference: "The latrines will make cleaner conditions and livable environments. I believe a lot of people will benefit from this." In fact, 1.8 billion people in the world do not have access to a toilet.
Question: What was the most surprising fact you learned?
Ryland Fernandez: "The fact that such easily found materials can be used for such beneficial work." The latrines are made of a concrete floor with metal or hand-woven reed mats for the side walls.
Jeremy Kincaid, youth pastor, North Texas Conference: "It costs $260 billion dollars yearly for lack of sanitation." This is the estimated cumulative price paid in developing countries in terms of health center visits, medication, work days missed due to illness, lost income potential due to children not completing school, and other repercussions. See the infographic on UMCOR’s Youth 2015 Web page.
‘A good cause’
|At the UMCOR booth at Y15 a youth asks for information about the UMCOR latrine and how he can be involved the UMCOR’s Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene work. Photo: Brenda Carr
Not only were people impressed with the UMCOR booth, one church decided to hold a fundraiser for UMCOR. Crossroads United Methodist Church in Collierville, Tennessee, in the Memphis Conference, launched a $1 hug fundraiser on the spot.
Chloie Lott started the $1 hug fundraiser and involved her friends Emily Davis, Diana Millican, Logan Erickson, and Youth Director Matthew Barrick. "Everyone had ‘Free Hugs’ signs, so I made a ‘$1 Hug’ sign. The first day we made $3, the next day we made $41, and by the last day we’d made $155 for UMCOR," Chloie said.
When asked why she’d chosen UMCOR for the fundraiser, Chloie said: "UMCOR is a good cause, and my church has worked with UMCOR making flood buckets—and UMCOR had a booth at Y15. So it was a perfect fit! I'm just happy I could help."
Like UMCOR on Facebook, Follow UMCOR on Twitter and Instagram. Check out UMCOR’s Web page and look for our Youth 2015 page. Learn more about UMCOR’s WASH work and support it with your gift to UMCOR Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene, Advance #3020600.
*Abby Britt, 17, and Shelby Stoltz, 18, participated in the Youth 2015 gathering in Orlando, Florida. They are from the Dakotas Annual Conference and attend First United Methodist Church in Rapid City, South Dakota.