16 April 2010

Haiti aid continues to make a difference three months on

Three months on from the catastrophic earthquake that hit Port-au-Prince in January, money donated by British Methodists continues to make a real difference to the relief effort in Haiti.

Moved by news of the disaster that killed around 230,000 people, made a million people homeless and devastated the country's infrastructure, thousands of Methodists across the UK responded to appeals for funds issued jointly by the Methodist Church and the Methodist Relief and Development Fund (MRDF).

£14,000 of the £404,000 raised so far by the Church's World Mission Fund (WMF) is being used to purchase, transport and set up large tents in Haiti to be used as temporary classrooms, ensuring that children's education in Haiti continues. Eight schools have been totally destroyed and 17 so severely damaged that students and teachers are afraid to use them.

On hearing this news, Revd Gesner Paul, President of the Haitian Methodist Church expressed his gratitude, saying, "Thank you for the marvellous work that you have been doing in promoting the cause of Haiti at this critical time in the life of our Nation and Church, even under difficult circumstances for you. We thank God that this work has started to bring such fruit especially as we were wondering how would we face the relief and reconstruction work that has to be done."

A further £43,000 from the WMF has been sent via the Methodist Church in Haiti to support the salaries of teachers in the worst affected areas for the next three months. £25,000 has been sent to contribute for three months to the salaries of church pastors.

Over £370,000 has been donated so far to MRDF's Haiti appeal since its launch in January. The charity is responding to the earthquake through partnerships with the Methodist Church in Haiti and Action by Churches Together (ACT) International. So far, donations have been used to provide food, clean water and emergency shelter to thousands of people affected by the earthquake. At a malnutrition clinic in Port-au-Prince, hundreds of children were given enriched milk, spinach, beans and rice in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake. The most severely malnourished children had meals of 'plumpy nuts', a special protein-based paste full of vitamins and minerals. The appeal funds also helped to provide medical care and counselling support to many survivors.

Simeon Mitchell, Director of Fundraising, Marketing and Campaigning for MRDF, said, "Many of us were shocked by the images that emerged as survivors tried to come to terms with the loss of lives, homes and livelihoods. We are very grateful that so many Methodists turned that feeling of shock into an act of compassion by making a donation and a tangible difference. We are committed to supporting both emergency relief and long-term rehabilitation work in the country. Donations to our appeal will continue to meet people's immediate needs as well as fund the construction of houses, and provide seeds and tools so that vulnerable families can plant crops for the next harvest."

Revd Dr Leslie Griffiths, former President of the Methodist Conference, and Revd Tom Quenet, Partnership Coordinator, visited the Methodist Church of Haiti in February to witness the relief effort first-hand. "Amongst the partners of the Methodist Church Haiti in the Americas and the Caribbean, there has been a genuine determination to work together in helping the people of Haiti and the Methodist Church there," said Tom. "This coordinated response to the needs of a people following a disaster of such magnitude is significant and encouraging for future responses. In working in partnership with our partner churches and with MRDF, we are discovering that each of us has complementary skills and resources that can be powerfully used to make real differences to people's lives."

The two appeals remain open and those who wish to donate can do so in the following ways: To donate via the Methodist Church please visit www.justgiving.com/Methodist-Church-Haiti-Appeal or send a cheque payable to the World Mission Fund to Dave Bennett, Fundraising Coordinator, at Methodist Church House, 25 Marylebone Road, London, NW1 5JR. Postal donations should be labelled 'Haiti Appeal'.

To donate via MRDF, visit www.mrdf.org.uk or call 020 7224 4814 to give by debit or credit card, or send a cheque made payable 'MRDF (Haiti emergency)' and to MRDF, 25 Marylebone Road, London NW1 5JR.

Hi-res images from Haiti are available to download from the Methodist Media Photostream: www.flickr.com/photos/methodistmedia.

Fund totals listed are from 12 April 2010.

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