UMCOR Sends Second Shipment to Mozambique

By United Methodist News Service
News media Contact: Linda Bloom =B7 (212) 870-3803 =B7 New York, N.Y.
As a developing cyclone posed a new threat to flood-ravaged Mozambique, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) dispatched a second shipment of relief supplies to the African country.

The 15-ton shipment left March 1 and is expected to arrive at Mozambique within six weeks, said the Rev. Bob Osgood, based at the UMCOR Depot in Baldwin, La. The shipment includes more than 7,000 health kits, 150 bedding packs, 150 home care kits, 3,300 emergency ration bars, 48,000 doses of oral re-hydration salts, more than 200,000 servings of dehydrated potatoes and 3,000 units of mosquito netting.

UMCOR's first shipment was expected to arrive at any time in the capital of Maputo, Osgood added, in a March 2 telephone interview. The shipment was flown to southern Africa and was being transported by land to United Methodist officials in Mozambique, he said. UMCOR also has sent $80,000 to help with relief efforts.

By conservative estimates, more than 800,000 people in southern Africa have been affected by floods resulting from rains and Cyclone Eline. Several cities are reported to be under water in Mozambique, including Chokwe and Xai-Xai in Gaza Province, Machanga and Buzi in Sofala Province, and Novi Mambone in Inhambane Province.

A Feb. 29 helicopter inspection of damage by Action By Churches Together (ACT) -- an ecumenical coalition of relief agencies that includes UMCOR - showed that Xai Xai, for example, resembled a huge lake, with only radio masts and a few higher buildings rising above the water. Entire neighborhoods and thousands of huts had disappeared.

While helicopter rescue efforts continued, the BBC reported that as of March 3, tens of thousands of Mozambicans remained stranded by the floodwaters. Government ministers from Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe were to meet in Pretoria, South Africa, to discuss coordinated relief efforts.

The Rev. Paul Dirdak, UMCOR's chief executive, said he had heard that two well-known United Methodist mission projects, Chicuque Hospital and the Cambine Mission, had not suffered flood damage.

Carol Kreamer was among the volunteers working at the UMCOR Depot when the second shipment was dispatched. She is director of the Mozambique Initiative of the two United Methodist annual (regional) conferences in Missouri. Churches in that state have made a 10-year covenant with the United Methodist Church in Mozambique, matching each of that country's more than 130 congregations with a congregation in Missouri. "They try to communicate and know the needs and share prayer concerns," Kreamer said.. Each partner church contributes $900 annually for the pastor's salary and administrative costs and $1,200 to support the district superintendents in Mozambique.

Although Mozambique - still recovering from a long civil war -- remains one of the poorest countries in Africa, it was beginning to improve economically. But recovery from the current flooding, the worst in memory, will take at least 10 years, Kreamer said. She is beginning to learn of some United Methodist churches and districts that have been seriously affected by floodwaters, she said. Missouri churches already have begun to take special offerings for the flood relief efforts, and Kreamer hopes to have a special Sunday designated to stimulate widespread donations.

Dirdak said UMCOR would continue its relief shipments to Mozambique as funds become available through donations. You can support UMCOR's response to this disaster through donations to UMCOR Advance #156500-0, designated either "Mozambique" or "South Africa." Checks may be dropped in United Methodist church collection plates or mailed directly to UMCOR at 475 Riverside Dr., Room 330, New York, NY 10115. Credit-card donations can be made by calling (800) 554-8583. At this point, financial gifts are the most effective way to respond to this emergency.

One hundred percent of your gift goes to this emergency. The generous giving of United Methodists to the One Great Hour of Sharing supplements the cost of Advance gifts. See also: You Can Help Disaster Victims, More about UMCOR.