CHICAGO, IL (January 14, 2010) – Denominational leaders expressed gratitude today for the outpouring of support from Evangelical Covenant churches in response to the Haitian crisis, but also encouraged churches not to make plans to travel to the devastated island in the near future.
“Many people have the best intentions of wanting to help those in need, but at this point Haiti needs the assistance of experts,” says David Husby, director of Covenant World Relief (CWR). “People with disaster relief certification or other needed skills should check with the Red Cross or other large organizations looking for volunteers.
“We should leave it to those who are experts and are prepared for those kinds of tasks…”
“At this point, when there is a desperate search for survivors amid the rubble and a need to provide basic living necessities, we should leave it to those who are experts and are prepared for those kinds of tasks,” Husby adds.
Anyone else traveling to Haiti in the near future would more likely be a burden on current relief operations, says David Mark, the Department of World Mission’s coordinator for Latin America/Caribbean.
“Even if a group could get there, they would likely have to be rescued themselves by some relief agency since they would need total life support such as food, water, transportation, and shelter, thus distracting those services from addressing local needs,” Mark explains.
He notes that, “The major relief efforts already are severely limited in what they can do since the infrastructure is so damaged.”
The best way for Covenanters to provide assistance now is by offering prayers and donating money to the special fund Covenant World Relief has established, Husby says. Those desiring to donate immediately may do so online by clicking here. Checks may be made payable to the Evangelical Covenant Church and mailed to 5101 N. Francisco Avenue, Chicago, IL, 60625. Mark the check for Haiti Relief. All gifts will be acknowledged for income tax purposes.
“Covenant World Relief dollars already are at work in Haiti.”
Covenant World Relief dollars already are at work in Haiti. World Relief International (WRI) uses CWR emergency funds to provide the organization’s initial assistance during disasters.
In the current crisis, the funds are being used to provide emergency relief kits that will be distributed through World Relief International. The kits include food, water, and blankets.
To assist local churches desiring information for distribution to congregants, Covenant World Relief has created and posted online a downloadable bulletin insert. In addition to encouraging people to donate, the insert also provides links to websites that provide continually updated information.
“When the situation has stabilized and when it is appropriate for volunteers to participate, we look forward to working together with churches that are interested in participating in rehabilitation and long-term transformational development,” Husby says.
The strong working relationships Covenant World Relief has with its partner agencies will enable Covenanters to make a long-term, sustainable difference in Haiti through ongoing economic development, as has happened in other areas, such as the Andaman Islands following the tsunami five years ago.