UMCOR begins pilot aid project for Haitians

Six young Haitian Methodists spent an afternoon dividing 55-pound bags of rice and 100-pound bags of beans into family-sized portions to feed more than 160 families who have had little assistance since the Jan. 12 earthquake.

"This is meeting their first need," said Val Keteline, 24. "The people will be very happy."

Workers move bags of flour in the Boutique Market in Port-au-Prince,Haiti, where the United Methodist Committee on Relief is buying supplies to feed 160 families in Mellier.

Workers move bags of flour in the Boutique Market in Port-au-Prince,Haiti, where the United Methodist Committee on Relief is buying supplies to feed 160 families in Mellier.

Staff members of the United Methodist Committee on Relief came to Haiti Jan. 21 to assess the damage to the country. On Jan. 29, they will distribute food to Mellier, a rural town outside of Port-au-Prince. The distribution will serve as a pilot program for UMCOR, said Melissa Crutchfield, an executive with the relief agency.

"We are starting on a small scale, distributing enough food for over 750 of the most vulnerable people," she said.

The families will receive rice, beans, oil and salt. The portions are enough to feed a family of five for five days. The community also will receive aqua tablets to purify their drinking water.

Pierre Naccsae, a Methodist Church lay leader from Mellier, will provide UMCOR with a list of the residents who most need the food, including widows, child-headed households, the elderly and single women supporting children.

"What we learn from this small project will help us prepare for much larger distributions in the future," Crutchfield said.

'God is happy'

UMCOR officials Crutchfield and Sharad Aggarwal and the Rev. Edgar Avitia Legarda, an executive with the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, spent the first few days in Haiti visiting communities served by the Methodist churches in Haiti. They talked to church leaders, held a focus group of 29 residents of Mellier, attended meetings of other international humanitarian agencies, did market research and came up with a plan the small group could handle with the help of church volunteers.

The volunteers took pride in helping the relief effort.

"God is happy with each good thing you do," said Sirjena Paulo, 22. "This is not the first time the church has done this for people."

 

Rose Stephane Bazile, 25, finished her teaching degree before the earthquake. She had planned to pursue a degree in psychology. She is hoping classes will start again, but she is not sure if the school will reopen.

"Right now, Haiti needs psychologists," she said.

Samuel Loomery, 17, has one more year of school and he wants to be a diplomat. But after the earthquake, he is not sure that dream will come true.

"I have hope in God because he gave me a second chance at life," Loomery said.

After four hours of work, each of the young people left with a bag of food for their own families.

An afternoon of volunteering left them wanting more.

"Samuel told me this was very fulfilling and they asked me if they could come back again," Crutchfield said, smiling. "I told them there will be plenty more opportunities in the future."

*Gilbert is a news writer for United Methodist News Service on assignment in Haiti.

News media contact: David Briggs or Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or [email protected].

Slideshow

Photos from team in Haiti

Video

FROM TEAM IN HAITI: Youth pack food

Related Video

Meals help Haiti

Million meals for hungry

Resources

Advance projects in Haiti

Fighting starvation, Haitians share portions

The Haiti crisis: health risks

UMCOR: Haiti Emergency


Like what you're reading?  United Methodist Communications is celebrating 80 years of ministry! Your support ensures the latest denominational news, dynamic stories and informative articles will continue to connect our global community.  Make a tax-deductible donation at ResourceUMC.org/GiveUMCom.

Sign up for our newsletter!

umnews-subscriptions
Mission and Ministry
Bishop Rodolfo A. Juan (in red stole) and a team of United Methodists pray over generators for the Bicol Philippines Conference. The generators from United Methodist Communications are being loaned to churches to provide free charging to communities affected by a series of powerful typhoons in the Philippines. Photo by Jerome Mercado.

United Methodists rally to help typhoon survivors

From sheltering evacuees to raising money, gathering supplies and sharing generators, Filipino United Methodists and church partners are embracing those affected by recent storms.
Mission and Ministry
The heavy rains brought by Hurricane Eta caused major flooding, especially in the northern part of the Honduras. Tocoa was one of the areas affected by the floods and United Methodists are supporting the recovery of the affected communities. Photo courtesy of the United Methodist Mission.

United Methodists in Honduras face tragedy with solidarity

After Hurricane Eta brought devastation to Honduras, United Methodist churches mobilized to provide food, supplies and shelter.
Mission and Ministry
An early response team from South Carolina responds to relief/recovery work at South Brookley United Methodist Church in Mobile, Alabama, after the destructive path of Hurricane Sally. On the roof is the Rev. John Elmore, pastor of St. Mark United Methodist Church, Greenwood, South Carolina. On the ground is Phil Griswold, member of New Beginnings United Methodist Church, Boiling Springs, South Carolina. Photo by Jill Evans.

For UMCOR, 2020 is one long emergency

At its annual meeting, the relief agency points to training, support as it deals with natural disasters, global health issues and the pandemic.