13 January 2010

Appeal launched to help thousands struck by devastating Haiti earthquake

The Methodist Church in Britain has launched an emergency appeal and granted £20,000 in immediate aid to Haiti after a catastrophic earthquake rocked the Caribbean nation yesterday.

Reports revealed that the 7.0-magnitude quake, the worst to hit the country in two centuries, tore down the HQ of the UN Mission, the presidential palace and thousands of homes in the space of a minute at 16.53 Haitian time and 21.53 GMT. Survivors used the micro-blogging site Twitter to report on the unfolding tragedy.

Revd Marcus Torchon, a Haitian Methodist minister serving in the Liverpool District on an exchange programme, said: "I am still waiting for news from family members who are missing. I managed to speak to my nephew after the quake happened, but since that phone call there were more than 10 after-shocks. Now the line is dead because the major phone networks are down.

"It is really destabilising emotionally. Practically, I would like to be of service to them. I feel that at some point I may have to go there when the airport is open. At the end of the day, we have nothing but our faith in God."

Revd Tom Quenet, Partnership Coordinator for the Americas and Caribbean, established contact with the President of the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas at 3am GMT today. Tom said: "Following the damage caused by four successive hurricanes that hit the island in 2008, I fear that the people of Haiti will wake up to scenes of devastation, fear and loss of life."

Haiti's Methodist church is the largest membership district of the Methodist Church in the Caribbean & the Americas with 12,000 members.

Tom Osbeck from aviation ministry Air Calvary said: "The buildings, homes, businesses and hospitals of Port-au-Prince are flattened. We stand outside and weep as we hear thousands of crying people. Thousands have died - many, many around our house."

David Carwell of Mission Aviation Fellowship said: "All kinds of things in our house shook and slid and came tumbling to the floor. There have been many aftershocks and tremors. They seem to be weakening, but I doubt if it's over yet."

The Methodist Church in Britain is appealing to people to make their response through the World Mission Fund while international relief agencies and governments work to bring relief to Haitians.

Donations can be made through the Just Giving webpage here: or by sending a cheque payable to the World Mission Fund and posting it to Dave Bennett, Fundraising Coordinator, at Methodist Church House, 25 Marylebone Road, London, NW1 5JR. Postal donations should be labelled 'Haiti Appeal'.

Further information from Revd Tom Quenet or Carole Richmond, Methodist Church House, 25 Marylebone Road, London NW1 5JR. Tel: 0207 486 5502

A special prayer for the people of Haiti is available online here: www.methodist.org.uk/index.cfm?fuseaction=opentogod.content&cmid=2890.

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