Haitian Methodist President and Secretary to visit UK and Ireland

The President and the Secretary of the Methodist Church in Haitiare set to visit the UK and Ireland a year following the earthquakethat devastated their country.

President Revd Gesner Paul and Secretary Marco Depestre will travelto the UK and Ireland where they will update partners on theprogress of the relief effort in Haiti. They will arrive onFebruary 24th and leave on March 8th during which time they willmeet with many people including Lord Leslie Griffiths, who wasordained in Haiti, Revd Tom Quenet and Rev Laurence Graham of theMethodist Church in Britain and Ireland.

The earthquake that rocked the island on 12 January 2010 killed230,000 people and left one million people homeless. In theimmediate aftermath of the disaster, The Methodist Church inBritain and the Methodist Relief and Development Fund launchedrelief appeals which have raised more than £918,000 to date. Sofar, £393,000 of this sum has been spent on Methodist Church inHaiti projects with further funds channelled through MRDF'semergency partner in the country.

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

"Recovery in Haiti has been painfully slow due to a complexinterplay of factors, not least of which has been the politicalinstability and insecurity facing Haitians and overseas workers.But progress has been made. The Methodist Church in Haiti hasworked with many international partners to build schools andclinics in settlement camps, move people from tents intosemi-permanent homes, rebuild schools and clinics and recover thechurch's ability to provide long-term care and relief to Haitiansunder these very difficult circumstances. Most Haitian people aredemonstrating their supreme dignity in the face of almostimpossible circumstances."

The relief effort has helped to provide shelter, water andsanitation, counselling and support an emergency agriculturalproject. A cholera epidemic, which has spread through all ofHaiti's ten regions, has affected more than 20,000 people, leavingmore than 2,000 dead. One of MRDF's partners in Haiti has carriedout information campaigns warning people about the disease'ssymptoms and has also distributed water treatment tablets, watercans and buckets.

Nick Burn, MRDF's Programme Manager for Haiti, said: "The situationin Haiti remains critical. Daily life is extremely hard for themillion Haitians living in tents, but the people I met showeddignity and resilience in adapting to the challenges they face. Ourpartners are working tirelessly to meet both immediate needs andprovide long-term support for those affected by thedisaster."