Newsline Extra for February 5, 2010

 

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Newsline Extra: Haiti response update
Feb. 5, 2010  

“For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble…” (Psalm 27:5a).

HAITI RESPONSE UPDATE
1) Next phase of Brethren response in Haiti begins.
2) EDF gives $250,000 for Brethren and CWS work in Haiti.
3) New Family Household Kit collection is announced for Haiti.

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New at Brethren.org is a blog about a Brethren Disaster Ministries assessment trip to the US territory of American Samoa, where last September an off-shore earthquake caused a 12-15 foot tsunami wave. Associate director Zach Wolgemuth is journaling from his trip to the island, where he and volunteer project director A. Carroll Thomas are collaborating with the American Samoa government, local Long Term Recovery Committee, FEMA, and ecumenical partners to develop a response suited to the island culture and needs of survivors. Brethren Disaster Ministries is assessing the possibility of beginning a new rebuilding project on American Samoa. Find the blog and Wolgemuth’s journal at http://blog.brethren.org/?p=56 . ********************************************

1) Next phase of Brethren response in Haiti begins.

A new phase of the Church of the Brethren disaster response in Haiti has begun, with the building of temporary shelters for earthquake survivors and church members who have lost homes in Port-au-Prince. Also underway are two Brethren feeding programs for children, and plans to continue building permanent homes in other areas of Haiti where people displaced by the earthquake are seeking refuge.

The church’s response effort is being carried out with leadership by Eglise des Freres Haitiens (Haitian Church of the Brethren) and Brethren Disaster Ministries, with funding from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF). The Church of the Brethren’s participation in the work of Church World Service (CWS) and ecumenical partners in Haiti also continues.

Two more EDF grants have been given for earthquake relief efforts, totaling $250,000 (see full story below).

Although communications with Haiti continue to be difficult, Brethren Disaster Ministries Haiti consultant Klebert Exceus has reported by telephone on a new Temporary Shelter Program expected to serve some 20 Brethren families and neighbors–or 120 people–of two of the hardest hit congregations of Eglise des Freres Haitiens. Building of the shelters will start Monday.

The Temporary Shelter Program is intended first for Brethren families in the Delmas 3 and Marin congregations who lost their homes, and for some neighbors in need in those areas. Two pieces of land have been rented where shelters will be placed. They will be made of canvas walls, with tin roofs, and placed on thinly poured cement floors. Construction teams will be hired locally, under Exceus’s direction along with leadership by the National Committee of Eglise des Freres Haitiens.

The feeding of daily meals to children at the Paul Lochard No. 2 School in Port-au-Prince began on Jan. 25 and is reported to be successful. Several hundred children are receiving one hot meal a day at the school, which was founded by Exceus and employs three of the Haitian Brethren pastors on its faculty. Some of the children served by this feeding program are “restevec”–children whose families have been forced by poverty to sell them as slaves or domestic servants in richer households.

Another group of children are to begin receiving daily meals next week, through a Kids Club at the Delmas 3 Church of Eglise des Freres Haitiens. Also in the planning stage is a biweekly food packet for families living in the communities around the three Brethren congregations in Port-au-Prince.

Brethren Disaster Ministries is purchasing the food in Haiti, in an effort to support the agriculture of the country and help provide income and jobs directly to Haitians who are in need.

“There was a good harvest in Haiti this year, and lots of food is available in the markets,” said Roy Winter, executive director of Brethren Disaster Ministries. “The challenge is that no one has money because they lost their income source in the quake. Further, as tons of donated food are imported, farmers will likely struggle to sell their goods, further compounding the financial crisis of this earthquake. Our plan is to buy from Haitian farmers as much as possible.”

The program is hiring Haitian Brethren to purchase the food, and hiring local construction teams to put up the temporary shelters, in another effort to provide work for those who in addition to their homes, also lost all possibility of an income in the earthquake. “We’re employing people to do a particular task, and it gives them the dignity of an income,” Winter said.

“The result is we can feed a child a hot meal for about $1,” he said. The program also may work with the Dominican Church of the Brethren to help purchase food in the DR and transport it into Haiti.

When the current dire situation eases in coming weeks or months, Brethren Disaster Ministries plans to bring volunteer workcamp groups from the United States to assist the Haitian Brethren in the rebuilding phase of the recovery. More information about upcoming volunteer opportunities in Haiti will be shared as soon as planning is in place.

As of mid-week the situation in Port-au-Prince has improved, reported Jeff Boshart, coordinator of the Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding program in Haiti, after a phone call with Exceus. “Food and water are much more prevalent, although there are still complaints in some places of not getting enough.”

Boshart said that currently the members of the Delmas 3 Church are receiving food and water. Members of the Haitian church’s National Committee also have all received emergency funds through the Church of the Brethren “and they are grateful,” he reported. “Everyday life is coming back in Port-au-Prince…. Churches had regular services on Sunday as well.”

“In closing (Exceus) said, the people we have helped are very very happy,” Boshart said. “He said we can’t even imagine how what we did has helped them and how grateful they are that we came in their moment of need.

“It sounds like the church folks are starting to look to the future, even if that future is only next week. After what they have all been through, that’s saying something.”

 

2) EDF gives $250,000 for Brethren and CWS work in Haiti.

The Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) has given two more grants for earthquake relief: $125,000 to support the Church of the Brethren response, and $125,000 for the work of CWS and partner organizations in Haiti. The two grants are in addition to two previous grants of $25,000 each for the same purposes.

The $125,000 grant to the Brethren response will provide daily hot meals for children at the Paul Lochard No. 2 School in Port-au-Prince, and for children at the Kids Club at the Delmas 3 Church of Eglise des Freres Haitiens, and will support the hiring of teachers for the school program. In addition, the grant will fund a biweekly food packet that organizers plan to distribute to families in the communities around the three Brethren congregations in Port-au-Prince, and one-time or occasional food packets for congregations or families supporting displaced earthquake survivors in other areas of Haiti, as necessary.

The grant will support purchasing food locally in Haiti or in the Dominican Republic. Purchasing the food locally will help support Haitian and Dominican farmers and others involved in agriculture on the island. Church members will be hired to purchase food in Haiti. When necessary, the program will work with the Dominican Church of the Brethren to help purchase food and transport it into Haiti. Some donations from other organizations are also expected.

The new Temporary Shelter Program for 20 families in two locations of Port-au-Prince also will receive funding through this grant. The Temporary Shelter Program is intended to give aid first to Brethren families in the Delmas 3 and the Marin church congregations who have lost their homes in the earthquake, but also to neighbors in need in the areas where the congregations have been meeting. Two pieces of land have been rented where the temporary buildings will be placed, and work already has begun to dig latrines on one of the pieces of land. The building of temporary shelters is expected to begin Monday. Shelters will be made of canvas walls, with tin roofs, and placed on thinly poured cement floors. Construction teams will be hired locally, under the direction of Brethren Disaster Ministries Haiti consultant Klebert Exceus, along with leadership by the National Committee of Eglise des Freres Haitiens.

Additional initiatives that may be supported through this grant include the purchase of property for temporary housing and long-term church use, and eventual inclusion of US volunteers in response activities.

The sum of $2,500 from the grant has been given to the Dominican Church of the Brethren to assist 25 members of Haitian background to visit members of their families who are still in Haiti, according to Global Mission Partnerships executive Jay Wittmeyer. The group plans to travel by bus to Haiti on Monday morning, each carrying up to two suitcases of 50 pounds each of food items and other relief goods for their families.

The EDF allocation of $125,000 to Church World Service represents the Church of the Brethren contribution toward an appeal total of $1,720,672 for the work of CWS and partner organizations in Haiti. The grant will contribute to the large-scale response of the US Christian community and the worldwide Christian response through the ACT (Action by Christians Together) Alliance.

Specific response activities supported by this grant include food relief assistance, non-food relief assistance, the provision of water along with sanitation and hygiene measures, emergency shelter, psychosocial support, education support and school reconstruction, house rehabilitation, livelihood and agriculture rehabilitation, communal shelters, community assistance, and disaster preparedness and risk reduction.

Gifts to the Emergency Disaster Fund continue to be “the most important way to support lifesaving emergency relief efforts in Haiti,” the Brethren Disaster Ministries announcement said. Donate online at www.brethren.org/HaitiDonations  or mail checks to the Emergency Disaster Fund, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120.

 

3) New Family Household Kit collection is announced for Haiti.

Brethren Disaster Ministries and the Church of the Brethren’s Material Resources program at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., have announced a new kit collection for families affected by the earthquake in Haiti.

The Church of the Brethren also continues the appeal for donations of other relief supplies for Haiti earthquake survivors, including hygiene kits, baby care kits, and tarpaulins

The new Family Household Kit is specially designed for the needs of the Haitian Brethren families in Port-au-Prince area who have lost their homes in the earthquake. Because the kits are particularly heavy, and thus expensive to ship to the Brethren Service Center, the Brethren Disaster Ministries staff are working to set up collection points in each Church of the Brethren district across the United States.

“Pick-ups will be the first of March and again the first of April,” said an announcement. “Otherwise, ship to the Brethren Service Center, 601 Main St., New Windsor, MD 21776, or bring to Annual Conference,” which will take place in Pittsburgh, Pa., in early July.

The Family Household Kit contains critical supplies that enable Haitian families to prepare their own food and take care of family needs with dignity. Like-new items are welcome.

Contents for the Family Household Kit are as follows:

— A heavy 8-10 quart cast aluminum cooking pot, should be all-metal without plastic handles (like a dutch oven or brazier pan) and thus safe for cooking over charcoal. The best options come from commercial kitchen suppliers. Accompanied by a lid to fit the cooking pot.

— A heavy duty butcher knife.

— A small kitchen knife or paring knife.

— A manual can opener.

— Two large metal spoons for cooking and serving.

— Table service for six to eight people including metal flatware, durable and unbreakable plates and bowls, heavy plastic cups.

— Four coffee mugs, unbreakable.

— A plastic water pitcher with lid.

— A heavy plastic dish tub, for washing dishes.

— Two hot pads.

— Two dishcloths.

— Two bath towels.

— Two flat sheets (full size bed), 100 percent cotton.

— 100 feet of 1/8 inch or 1/4 inch braided nylon cord (two 50-foot sections are fine).

— One small personal item for the family such as a Creole songbook or Bible, a windup flashlight, a decorative item for the home, work gloves, a stuffed animal toy, etc. Most of the recipients of these kits will be Church of the Brethren members, so personal items can be religious.

The kit should be packed in the dish tub and place in a sturdy cardboard box for shipping. On arrival in Haiti, the Family Household Kits will be combined with Water Filtration Buckets, a water purification system using five-gallon buckets fitted with a water filter to provide a lifetime of safe drinking water. Brethren Disaster Ministries is purchasing the water filters and buckets in bulk for assembly at the New Windsor, Md., facility.

For instructions to donate hygiene kits and baby care kits, go to www.churchworldservice.org/kits, or download a CWS Kit Guide at www.churchworldservice.org/site/DocServer/KitGuide.pdf?docID=361 . Tarpaulins should be heavy duty tarps of the size 8 by 10 feet or 10 by 10 feet, intended for long-term use. Hygiene and baby care kits and tarpaulins may also be brought to district collection points, to Annual Conference, or otherwise should be sent to the Brethren Service Center at the above address.

For more information about this kit collection contact bdm@brethren.org  or 800-451-4407 ext. 3. To view a short video of Brethren Disaster Ministries executive Roy Winter illustrating how to put together one of the new Family Household Kit, go to www.brethren.org/site/PageServer?pagename=serve_brethren_disaster_ministries_HaitiEarthquakeVideo#2 .

 

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren, cobnews@brethren.org  or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Jeff Boshart, Roy Winter, Jane Yount contributed to this report. Newsline appears every other week, with other special issues sent as needed. The next regularly scheduled issue will appear Feb. 10. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source.

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