Thursday, 14 January 2010

How to help the victims of the earthquake in Haiti

Patrick Comerford

The students on the NSM course and the part-time MTh students return to the Church of Ireland Theological Institute this weekend.

The weekend ends on Sunday [17 January] with our Sung Eucharist at 11.45 a.m., which will include special prayers for the victims of the earthquake in Haiti and the collection will go to support the Bishops’ Appeal Fund and any projects in Haiti it decides to support.

The need is immediate and urgent. The death toll from the catastrophe may soon climb above 100,000. But there are million of living survivors who also need our compassion, our prayers and our immediate response in financial terms.

Church of Ireland response

Archbishop Alan Harper of Armagh issued a statement today [14 January] saying the tragedy of the devastating earthquake in Haiti on top of the wreckage caused by hurricanes in 2008 “has left what is already the poorest community in the Western world even more traumatised and impoverished. My heart goes out to the survivors, both those suffering injuries and the bereaved. I pray for the success of the international response to the disaster and I encourage all those who feel able to do so to contribute financially to assist the people of Haiti at this terrible time.”

The Church of Ireland Bishops’ Appeal, the Church’s World Aid and Development Programme, is donating an initial €20,000 towards the emergency relief effort. The funds will be sent through Christian Aid, which has partners working in Haiti.

Archbishop Harper and Archbishop John Neill of Dublin appealed for further donations for relief and have suggested that collections should be held in churches as soon as possible and sent through the Bishops’ Appeal.

You can donate in Euro or sterling or send contributions to:

Haiti Appeal,
The Church of Ireland Bishops’ Appeal,
Church of Ireland House,
Church Avenue,
Dublin 6.

The two “Black Santas” of the Church of Ireland, the Dean of Saint Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast, and the Vicar of Saint Ann’s in Dawson Street, Dublin, are also helping people to make contributions towards agencies working in Haiti.

A statement issued on behalf of the two archbishops and Bishop Michael Burrows of Cashel and Ossory, who is Chair of the Bishops’ Appeal Committee, appealed for collections in churches throughout the Church of Ireland in the coming days and weeks and for prayers for the injured and bereaved, for the safety of those attempting to render assistance and for the rebuilding of community life in Haiti.

Christian Aid appeal

Christian Aid has also launched an appeal for the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. Christian Aid is an agency of the Irish Churches working in partnership with the Churches in Haiti.

Christian Aid’s country programme manager in Haiti, Prospery Raymond, and the programme officer, Abdonnel Doudou, had to be rescued following the collapse of the Christian Aid offices in Port-au-Prince. Prospery Raymond estimates that in the area of the city where Christian Aid had its offices, 97 per cent of the housing has collapsed. The Christian Aid office was one of the stronger buildings in the area.It is still too early to know the full extent of the damage, but reports show a very high loss of life, widespread destruction of homes, schools and other buildings, and major damage to key water, electricity and road systems.

Prospery Raymond is also concerned that there may not be enough food in Haiti to last longer than the next three to four days.

Can you support Christian Aid’s Haiti Earthquake Appeal by holding a collection in your church on Sunday?

Your efforts will provide relief and reconstruction on the ground. Christian Aid has already released nearly €100,000 and will send more as soon as it can.

Peter Byrne of Christian Aid assures everyone that Christian Aid’s partners in Haiti are “very experienced in emergency response work, and have already begun emergency relief activities in the affected areas.”

“The need is massive,” says Peter. “People urgently need food, water, blankets, shelter and medical supplies.”

The following points might help you respond and act:

● €8 could buy a tarpaulin to provide shelter
● €15 could buy baby kits including baby food for two weeks
● €20 could buy a food stamp, which will provide canned food, flour, rice, sugar and cooking oil for two weeks for a family of four.

A Prayer for Haiti

On Sunday morning, we plan to use this prayer for Haiti as part of the intercessions at our Sung Eucharist:

Loving God of creation,
at this time of devastation we hold before you the people of Haiti.

When the damage is unimaginable,
and the suffering seems overwhelming,
remind us that every person affected is loved, honoured and precious in your sight.

We remember all those who have been hurt;
all who have lost their homes, livelihoods and loved ones.

Work through us
to bring healing to broken and distorted lives,
peace to those who have been thrown into despair,
light to those in darkness,
and hope to those who fear.

We ask this in the name of Jesus
in whom all life and grace is found.

You are welcome to join us on Sunday morning in the chapel of the Church of Ireland Theological Institute for the Eucharist at 11.45 a.m. Or you might like to use the poster in this posting to display in your church on Sunday or in your workplace.

For some information on Haiti and also Christian Aid’s work in Haiti:

Or you can visit the Haiti Earthquake Appeal site to donate directly.

Canon Patrick Comerford is Director of Spiritual Formation, the Church of Ireland Theological Institute and a canon of Christ Church Cathedral Dublin