04 November 2016

Haiti Not Yet Prepared for Disaster Volunteers

Below is a part of a letter from the United Methodist Committee on Relief regarding assistance from international teams to Haiti in response to Hurricane Matthew. UMVIM, SEJ will communicate the needs for teams to deploy or send resources as soon as we have word from UMCOR that it is appropriate to do so.  

Azim Akhtar, UMCOR Haiti’s Head of Mission is experienced in humanitarian assistance. He and the rest of the 
UMCOR Haiti staff are already at work responding to this current disaster through an UMCOR grant that will provide 
emergency water and food rations, cooking pots, and other emergency supplies as needed.

One of our primary partners in Haiti over the last six years has been EMH, the Eglise Methodist d’Haiti 
(Methodist Church of Haiti). Through UMCOR’s support, EMH has already begun to provide food to the survivors of
 the hurricane. In the coming weeks, UMCOR will continue to explore and develop with EMH additional humanitarian 

One of our important attributes of mission in the United Methodist Church is our fervent willingness to volunteer. Local volunteerism is key to connecting the church and the community. The Volunteers in Mission program provides 
opportunities for volunteers to assist with long-term development, building projects, medical missions, and other 
activities. In Haiti, volunteer teams from throughout the US have helped build the infrastructure of the church there 
for decades. 

Because of the strong commitment these partner churches and annual conferences have with specific churches, 
communities, and districts in Haiti, their hearts have been broken as they have watched reports of damage and 
loss in the communities to which they have given so much time, energy, and resources. Because of this commitment, 
many of these partners have selflessly declared their willingness to go now to Haiti to assess damage and discover 
how they can help. While this level of dedication is admirable, UMCOR is strongly advising that such groups wait 
until Haiti has fully transitioned from the relief phase to the recovery phase.

In the meantime, visits by teams, even individuals or small teams, would run the risk of doing more harm than good. 
Well-intentioned volunteers generally and unknowingly take energy and resources from host organizations which they 
would otherwise use to manage or support humanitarian assistance activities. From a support and logistics standpoint, volunteering in the US is very different from volunteering in other countries. Finally, one of the side benefits of many 
disaster response activities is that local people are hired and materials, as much as possible are procured locally. 
For the reasons stated above, and because we have full confidence in our staff on the ground, visiting Haiti at this 
time would be inappropriate.

When recovery projects for volunteers become appropriate and available, UMVIM teams will be informed through the
 jurisdictional UMVIM Coordinators, under the guidance of Una Jones, Global Ministries’ Director of Mission Volunteers.

1 comment:

  1. UMCOR is working with its partners to respond quickly in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti.