07 January 2011

Haitian Methodist President and Secretary to visit UK and Ireland

The President and the Secretary of the Methodist Church in Haiti are set to visit the UK and Ireland a year following the earthquake that devastated their country.

President Revd Gesner Paul and Secretary Marco Depestre will travel to the UK and Ireland where they will update partners on the progress of the relief effort in Haiti. They will arrive on February 24th and leave on March 8th during which time they will meet with many people including Lord Leslie Griffiths, who was ordained in Haiti, Revd Tom Quenet and Rev Laurence Graham of the Methodist Church in Britain and Ireland.

The earthquake that rocked the island on 12 January 2010 killed 230,000 people and left one million people homeless. In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, The Methodist Church in Britain and the Methodist Relief and Development Fund launched relief appeals which have raised more than £918,000 to date. So far, £393,000 of this sum has been spent on Methodist Church in Haiti projects with further funds channelled through MRDF's emergency partner in the country.

Revd Tom Quenet, Partnership Coordinator for The Americas and The Caribbean, said: "We're very much looking forward to Gesner Paul and Marco Depestre's visit. They will be able to meet with Methodist Church leadership and other supporters in Britain who have been active in the relief effort.

"Recovery in Haiti has been painfully slow due to a complex interplay of factors, not least of which has been the political instability and insecurity facing Haitians and overseas workers. But progress has been made. The Methodist Church in Haiti has worked with many international partners to build schools and clinics in settlement camps, move people from tents into semi-permanent homes, rebuild schools and clinics and recover the church's ability to provide long-term care and relief to Haitians under these very difficult circumstances. Most Haitian people are demonstrating their supreme dignity in the face of almost impossible circumstances."

The relief effort has helped to provide shelter, water and sanitation, counselling and support an emergency agricultural project. A cholera epidemic, which has spread through all of Haiti's ten regions, has affected more than 20,000 people, leaving more than 2,000 dead. One of MRDF's partners in Haiti has carried out information campaigns warning people about the disease's symptoms and has also distributed water treatment tablets, water cans and buckets.

Nick Burn, MRDF's Programme Manager for Haiti, said: "The situation in Haiti remains critical. Daily life is extremely hard for the million Haitians living in tents, but the people I met showed dignity and resilience in adapting to the challenges they face. Our partners are working tirelessly to meet both immediate needs and provide long-term support for those affected by the disaster." 

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