Main Menu

Church raises $6 million for tsunami relief, but need continues (Jan. 27, 2005)

Church raises $6 million for tsunami relief, but need continues (Jan. 27, 2005)

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Church raises $6 million for tsunami relief, but need continues

Jan. 27, 2005    News media contact:  Michael Wacht*    
407-897-1140     Orlando  {0238}

An e-Review Feature
By Linda Bloom**

BATEILIK, Indonesia — Children play outside their tent at a camp for people displaced by the Dec. 26 tsunami. The Methodist Church of Indonesia is helping support programs at the facility. A delegation of United Methodist mission and communications leaders visited areas of Sumatra, Indonesia, near the epicenter of the earthquake that triggered the waves. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose, Photo #05-0141.

NEW YORK (UMNS) — As Indonesian officials once again increased the estimated death toll from the Dec. 26 tsunami, United Methodists continued their efforts to assist the survivors.

The denomination raised $6 million for relief work by Jan. 25. The United Methodist Committee on Relief is encouraging church members to continue making cash donations and collecting health and school kits and medicine boxes for shipment to South Asia.

Church members from Indiana and Missouri also have pledged to rebuild two Methodist churches damaged by the tsunami — providing additional space for community centers and clinics — in the Indonesian cities of Banda Aceh and Meulaboh.

BBC News reported Jan. 25 that Indonesia’s health minister, Fadilah Supari, estimated more than 220,000 died or were missing and presumed dead because of the tsunami and preceding earthquake. A United Methodist delegation recently visited Aceh Province in northern Sumatra, where most of the destruction occurred, carrying donations of medicine with them.

The new estimate brings the total killed in 12 countries throughout the region — including Sri Lanka, India and Thailand — to more than 280,000.

Many of the survivors are homeless. Methodists in Indonesia are providing aid to the 8,671 internally displaced people living in 11 camps around the town of Bireuen. Children account for more than a quarter of the camp residents.

Working with the Indonesian Methodist Church, UMCOR plans to assist with cleanup in the Banda Aceh and Meulaboh areas, offer grief counseling and pastoral care, and embark on a pilot program for house replacement.

In Sri Lanka, the agency expects to work with Methodists on community-based projects that also help restore lost income for residents. UMCOR’s partner in India, Churches Auxiliary for Social Action, already has provided emergency food and supplies to some 50,000 families and plans to build more than 800 temporary shelters. CASA has applied for approval to rebuild housing in 24 villages.

UMCOR has worked in partnership with Church World Service on the delivery of health and school kits to tsunami-damaged areas. Kristin Sachen, an UMCOR executive, said the ecumenical relief agency is anticipating making such deliveries for at least nine more months. “We will be helping them with the kits,” she added.

Church World Service has been active in the region for more than 20 years and has more than 100 staff members in Indonesia, with offices in Medan, Banda Aceh and Jakarta. The relief agency’s Pakistan emergency response team has been helping its longtime partner, the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka, respond to needs in that country.

As part of Action by Churches Together — a global alliance that also includes UMCOR and Church World Service — the National Christian Council is coordinating medical assistance to 10 camps for displaced people around Batticaloa, Sri Lanka. Five of the camps are in church buildings, with about 1,800 lodged in the Methodist church.

Donated kits are processed at UMCOR’s Sager Brown Depot in Baldwin, La. Gwen Redding, director of Sager Brown, reported that, as of Jan. 25, some 36,000 health kits already had been dispatched to the Church World Service warehouse in Maryland for shipment to the tsunami region.

The health kits focus on personal hygiene as a method of improving overall health. Each kit contains a hand towel, washcloth, comb, nail file, bar of soap, toothbrush, toothpaste and six adhesive bandages, sealed in a one-gallon plastic bag.

School kits contain ruled paper, blunt scissors, an eraser, a ruler, six pencils, a pencil sharpener, crayons and construction paper.

Instructions for the kits can be found at online.

Each medicine box contains both over-the-counter and prescription medicines, enough to treat 1,000 people for about three months. Information can be found at for organizing the boxes.

Monetary 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.” Credit-card donations can be made online at or by calling 800-554-8583.


This article relates to Disaster Response.

*Wacht is director of Florida United Methodist Communications and managing editor
of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.