Church World Service Expedites Emergency Aid in Haiti

Church of the Brethren staff assemble hygiene kits for the relief effort in Haiti, during a staff retreat that is being held this week: (from left) general secretary Stan Noffsinger; Mary Jo Flory-Steury, executive director of Ministry; Carol Bowman, coordinator of Stewardship Formation; and Ray Glick, coordinator of Donor Visitation and Deferred Gifts. Brethren Disaster Ministries has called the church to donate kits to support the work of CWS in Haiti, with donations of kits to be sent to the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.
Church of the Brethren Newsline
Jan. 20, 2010

Following this morning’s 6.0 aftershock in quake-decimated Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Church World Service (CWS) staff on the ground continue to expedite emergency aid to those in need while also turning attention to vulnerable children and people with disabilities. Emergency hygiene and baby care kits and blankets now are being distributed.

The Church of the Brethren has given a $25,000 grant from its Emergency Disaster Fund to help support this initial CWS response to the Haiti earthquake.

The church’s Material Resources program at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., also has begun shipping relief supplies to Haiti for distribution by CWS. The Material Resources staff led by director Loretta Wolf, are working to coordinate shipments being made ready for Haiti on behalf of CWS, IMA World Health, and Lutheran World Relief.

“Church World Service has arranged for one air shipment and one ocean shipment,” Wolf reported. The air shipment of 14,743 pounds of blankets, baby kits, hygiene kits, flashlights, and toothpaste left New Windsor yesterday for Haiti. The ocean shipment of a 40-foot container of blankets, baby kits, and hygiene kits was scheduled to leave New Windsor today. “Initial plans are for the container to enter through the Dominican Republic. We are currently receiving medicines and packing medicine boxes for IMA,” Wolf added.

With ocean shipping schedules backed up, the CWS release today said that the agency has also scheduled an air shipment of medicine boxes on Thursday, Jan. 21. The shipment of medicine will respond to “the ongoing desperate medical needs of survivors,” said CWS Disaster Response Program Director Donna Derr. “As soon as they arrive in Port-au-Prince, we’ll provide some of those to our long-time local partner Service Chrétien (SKDE), who manages a small clinic there.”

The medicine boxes also are prepared and shipped from the Brethren Service Center on behalf of IMA World Health. Each box contains enough essential medicines and medical supplies to treat the routine ailments of about 1,000 adults and children.

“Medical responders and the few clinics now operating are crying out for more supplies, where even aspirin in scarce and shipments of medicines and supplies are in stasis at the airport or waiting on ships,” CWS said in its release today.

Now in Port-au Prince, three CWS trauma counselors and psycho-social care specialists already have arrived to provide services for individuals, especially children and aid workers who also are suffering in the wake of the death, injuries, loss, and tragedy. “CWS’s local partners are carrying their own losses and the setbacks to their work on the island around in their hearts even as they help others,” the release said.

“Today, we accompanied Ernst Abraham to the Service Chretien d’Haiti offices which were destroyed. It was very emotionally wrenching as he talked about the programs they had worked so hard to build, such as projects to serve those with disabilities, and how the momentum of those initiatives and all that had been accomplished over the last years felt like a victim of this disaster as well.”

Church World Service first began work in Haiti in 1964. The agency works with local Haitian partners to provide development and agriculture assistance and response to disasters like the brutal hurricanes of recent years.

The CWS team, working in Port-au-Prince and from a coordination center in the Dominican Republic, plans to obtain food from markets in Haiti, if possible. But all other items will need to come in from outside the country. A collection center for water, food, and clothes–to be distributed by churches in Haiti–has been set up on the Dominican Republic border.

CWS also is “closely monitoring developments in the displacement of Haitians from Port-au-Prince and the social and legal challenges to Haitian immigrants living in the United States,” said Erol Kekic, director of the agency’s immigration and refugee program. The CWS Miami Office and 17 Board of Immigration Appeals-recognized CWS affiliate offices across the United States are prepared to provide immigration legal services and assistance with applications for Temporary Protected Status, which has just been extended to Haitians.

For further information on the CWS response in Haiti, visit .

The Church of the Brethren Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. Contact  to receive Newsline by e-mail or to submit news to the editor. For more Church of the Brethren news and features, subscribe to “Messenger” magazine; call 800-323-8039 ext. 247.

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