By Linda Unger, UMNS…
TAMPA, Fla.—During its first plenary session on April 30, General Conference 2012 ratified a General Board of Global Ministries resolution urging support for the reconstruction and development of Haiti in the wake of the massive destruction caused by the 2010 earthquake.
“In the midst of crisis are opportunities to change the cycles that have contributed to Haiti’s struggles,” says the resolution adopted with amendments by the United Methodist Church.
Through the resolution, the church acknowledges Haiti’s proud history and the centuries of “foreign imposition, dictatorship, and debt” that weakened the nation and resulted in consequences that contributed to widespread destruction and death at the time of the earthquake.
It expresses sorrow for all the lives lost and remembers among them Global Ministries executives Sam Dixon and Clinton Rabb, who with 300,000 Haitians died of wounds sustained in the disaster.
The church describes in the resolution a series of opportunities that are capable of reversing the cycles of struggle in Haiti to “rebuild the country in a way that is stronger than it was before the earthquake.”
Specifically, it underscores the need for Haitians to lead the rebuilding of their country and calls on governments, multilateral institutions and others to collaborate with leaders in Haiti and in the diaspora on those efforts.
It encourages United Methodists to give donations for Haiti through The Advance (Haiti Emergency, Advance #418325) because 100 percent of those gifts will be used for the rebuilding and development of Haiti. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has managed the granting of those funds to partner organizations since the earthquake.
UMCOR also opened a field office shortly after the disaster and has been working with the Eglise Methodiste d’Haiti (Methodist Church in Haiti) and other church and humanitarian aid organizations there in the areas of capacity building, education, livelihoods, shelter and reconstruction, and health and hygiene.
“The approval of this resolution by the General Conference is a very significant affirmation on behalf of our entire denomination. It signals an important recommitment to serving and supporting the people of Haiti,” commented Melissa Crutchfield, who leads UMCOR’s International Disaster Response office and has been deeply involved in relief and recovery work in Haiti since the earthquake.
“This official resolve of the whole United Methodist Church paves the way for UMCOR and our partners to continue with renewed vitality the important work that lies ahead,” she added.
Generous United Methodists, whose sacrifice the resolution recognizes, have put more than $45 million to this purpose, and UMCOR already has designated more than $27 million of those funds for specific programs, including its collaboration with United Methodist Volunteers in Mission in Haiti.
Through the resolution, the United Methodist Church calls on governments and multilateral institutions also to do their part by forgiving Haiti’s debts and providing grants rather than costly loans for rebuilding and development. The church urges nongovernmental organizations to use a rights-based approach to their assistance, based on respect for the Haitian people.
The church recognizes the pivotal role of women in the rebuilding of Haiti and also calls for guarantees for their protection and safety from sexual violence, “particularly in temporary settlements.” It urges the U.S. government to create an expedited Haitian Family Reunification Parole program to allow thousands of Haitians residing legally in the United States to bring their family members from Haiti to the U.S.
Ms. Unger is the staff editor and senior writer for the United Methodist Committee on Relief.