Best way to help relief effort: stay home, make donation, agency says

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Best way to help relief effort: stay home, make donation, agency says

Jan. 14, 2005    News media contact:  Michael Wacht*    
407-897-1140     Orlando  {0226}

An e-Review Feature
By Kathy L. Gilbert**

UNITED METHODIST NEWS SERVICE — In the wake of televised images of the death and destruction in the tsunami-ravaged countries of South Asia and Africa, many United Methodists are feeling the need to go and help.

United Methodist Committee on Relief officials are urging those who want to help to remember that the people in the stricken countries are feeling the same need and are working to recover from the disaster. And thousands of people who have been left homeless by the Dec. 26 tsunami need the jobs that the recovery will bring.

"What is inspiring to me is that the Methodists in all of these areas are on the frontlines of response, and they are doing the same job we do when a disaster hits in the United States," said the Rev. Kristin Sachen, head of UMCOR's disaster response. "God is already present. We do not need to go there to make God present."

Many skilled people, especially those with medical training, are asking about volunteer opportunities, she said. "The truth of the matter is, if you did not have plans already in place before the disaster, it is too late to decide to go now."
People who do travel to Asia and Africa need to get proper medical qualifications and figure out where to stay. "You need to think about whose space you will be taking if you go," she said.
UMCOR is not equipped to deploy medical personnel as volunteers in an emergency, she said. "In the long-term recovery effort, there may be opportunities for volunteers; we just can't answer that right now."

For now, the best way to help is to send a donation to UMCOR — and stay home, officials say.

In addition to volunteer interest, UMCOR has heard much concern about the children left orphaned by the tsunami. "The native people in these countries are very concerned about their children," Sachen said. "They don't want them taken out of the country."

UMCOR has released the following statement about its efforts and needs:

"UMCOR is working closely with its partners, Churches Auxiliary for Social Action in India, Action by Churches Together in Indonesia, and the Sri Lanka Council of Churches, to provide survivors with supplies, fresh water, medicines, temporary shelters and other necessities. Right now, thousands of local volunteers are assisting the Methodist churches there to be the heart and hands of United Methodists everywhere.

"The very best option for immediate participation is a gift of cash. That will assure that United Methodists will continue to have a strong presence through UMCOR's work in the coming weeks as the recovery effort unfolds."

Donations to UMCOR's "South Asia Emergency" relief efforts can be placed in local church offering plates or sent directly to UMCOR, 475 Riverside Drive, Room 330, New York, NY 10115. Designate checks for UMCOR Advance #274305 and "South Asia Emergency." Online donations can be made by going to Those making credit-card donations can call 800-554-8583.

This article relates to Disaster Relief.

*Wacht is director of Florida United Methodist Communications and managing editor
of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Gilbert is a staff writer in United Methodist News Service's Nashville office.

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