Hurricane Iris struck southern Belize on Oct. 8, leaving 13,000 people homeless and severely damaging banana crops. MCC is funding a $46,000 Cdn./$30,000 U.S. reconstruction project proposed by the Belize Evangelical Mennonite Churches.
Church members plan to rebuild 11 houses and repair 15 additional roofs in four hard-hit communities. MCC funds will cover materials as well as meals and some transportation for Belizean work teams carrying out the rebuilding projects.
The Belize Evangelical Mennonite Churches include both English - and Spanish-speaking congregations, many of which are clustered around the northern city of Orange Walk. During a post-hurricane visit to the south to assess the situation, church members found the most need in isolated indigenous villages.
"We discovered that the major areas, where government has interest, are being taken care of, but the villages hardest hit were neglected," wrote Asuncion Alcoser, president of the General Church Council.
Drawing on a variety of connections in the region, church members are working with local pastors to assess need and plan the projects. Immediately after the hurricane struck, they donated a 48-foot trailer of food, clothing and other supplies for one village. They are now requesting additional health and school supplies from MCC.
Central America was suffering from a severe drought before Hurricane Michelle struck Honduras and Nicaragua two weeks ago. While hurricane-related rains may ensure a good harvest in April, MCC's current large drought relief project will supply affected farmers with food until then.
=A9 2001 Mennonite Central Committee
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