Disaster Response Ministry with Haitian Refugees

Recipients leave an aid distribution sponsored by the United Methodist Committee on Relief with their food package in Mellier, Haiti. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose. 

Thank you so much to those of you who responded with open hearts to assist Haitian medical evacuees and their escorts by registering with Hosts for Hospitals.

Many of you expressed interest through phone calls and emails about assisting the refugees and were thankful for the opportunity to serve. We will continue to look for opportunities to assist the Haitian community in Philadelphia with refugees who came to this area through other venues.

News has come to us from the Health and Human Services (HHS) in regards to the arrival of Haitian refugees to Philadelphia:

… (HHS) will stand down ‘alert’ status for the Philadelphia Federal Coordinating Center (FCC) effective 2300hr Feb 18, 2010.  On behalf of the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Department of Public Welfare, we express our appreciation to all of the agencies, organizations, and individuals who participated in this project to coordinate the potential arrival of Haitian refugees into the Philadelphia area. Your willingness to step up and contribute to the planning and operation of this project was very much appreciated.

Opportunities to serve are still available in the nation of Haiti through UMCOR and our Volunteers in Mission (VIM). Since the January 12 earthquake, UMCOR has carried out an initial assessment of damages and needs, developed a five-year work plan, and shored up strategic partnerships with the United Nations, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and the Methodist Church in Haiti. As of February 18, 2010, $12 million has been received for UMCOR Haiti Relief. Hundreds of thousands of kits have been received at UMCOR Sager Brown and are being verified for shipment to Haiti.

The UMCOR work plan anticipates three phases of recovery: emergency, recovery and rehabilitation. Currently operating in the emergency phase – from the time of the earthquake through April, including the start of the rainy season in March – UMCOR is addressing the most immediate needs of access to food, clean water and sanitation, temporary shelter and emotional and spiritual support. With recent reports indicating that 75 percent of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, will need to be rebuilt; volunteers soon will be needed to go to Haiti. Volunteer teams are beginning to mobilize by filling out the registration form at http://secure.gbgm-umc.org/HaitiVolunteer/.

And, please pray for those who are hungry, displaced, sick or in poverty because of these and other natural and human-made disasters, and for the workers who minister to them. Our prayers are with all of these families, along with our hopes that they will find care and support along their road to recovery.

I will continue to share information and opportunities as they become available.  Please know that all of the work and effort will not be in vain. It has been an invaluable learning experience and effort on the part of all involved. The Disaster Response Ministry will be reviewing our role in the plan as it was developed and we will add it to our disaster response manual should it be needed in the future. If you need any additional information, please contact your Disaster Response Coordinator, Debra DePrinzio at ddeprinzio@comcast.net (home) or 215-919-9789 (cell).