Venezuela

Venezuela Relief Buckets to be collected

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AKRON, Pa. -- Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is asking constituents and friends to join an effort to collect 23,000 relief buckets. The buckets, which are similar to the Hurricane Mitch buckets, will be sent to communities in Venezuela affected by December 15 landslides that took the lives of nearly 30,000.

Tens of thousands of Venezuelans continue to suffer the consequences of the massive flooding and landslides that wiped away entire communities and buried the homes of an estimated 300,000. "It looks like a giant animal scratched pieces of the mountain off and sent them into the city," said Abe Janzen, describing the landslides around the capital city of Caracas.

Janzen, executive director of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Alberta, visited Venezuela in January with Jose Santiago, Eastern Mennonite Missions (EMM) Latin America area director, and Anthony Sanchez of Mencoldes, an MCC partner in Colombia. "You'll be able to see it for a long time," Janzen said. "There's just so much work to be done." Janzen and Santiago initiated the Mennonite relief involvement in Venezuela following a request by EMM-related Venezuelan churches.

Many of the homeless are living in temporary shelters. The three visited a shelter, located in a large stadium, which has housed 1,200 people for more than a month. Although there were plenty of mattresses, they found the building dark, with few activities for the people. "It's an unhealthy situation for them socially and psychologically," said Janzen.

Over the next six months, MCC and its partners in the region will work to provide relief in affected areas by providing: $44,500 Cdn./$30,000 U.S. for local purchase of food, toys and basic supplies; 10,000 health kits; and 23,000 relief buckets.

The buckets include:

4 bars of "antibacterial" soap
1 bottle of shampoo (450-830 ml./13-24 oz.) Place in plastic bag.
10 cups of powdered laundry detergent (Please double bag in 4 liter/1 gallon re-sealable plastic bags)
1 tube of toothpaste (minimum 130 ml./8 oz)
4 adult-size toothbrushes (in package)
4 new bath towels (medium weight, not white)
1 hairbrush, wide-tooth comb, and finger nail clipper
1 box of adhesive bandages (minimum 40, assorted preferred)
1 package of 18-24 sanitary pads (thin maxi or ultra thin)

Please follow instructions carefully. Limit your generosity to the contents above. Cards and letters of care and concern are appreciated. Place the contents in a box and deliver it to the nearest MCC collection site. Volunteers at MCC resource centers will repack the contents in a five gallon bucket for shipment.

Funds will be needed to purchase a Spanish language Bible and to cover the cost of shipping and distribution. Please include a $15 Cdn./$10 U.S. check, payable to MCC in an envelope taped to the outside top of the box.

In cooperation with Venezuelan Mennonite churches, EMM and Mencoldes, MCC has formed a preliminary plan for a $469,500 Cdn./$324,000 U.S. response to the landslides in Venezuela. Contributions for Venezuela flood relief may be mailed to any MCC office, designated for project 5931-2000. Contributions may also be sent to EMM, 53 Brandt Blvd., P.O. Box 458, Salunga, Pa. 17538. Earmark donations to EMM for Venezuela relief.

Based in Salunga, EMM is primarily supported by the congregations of the Lancaster Conference of the Mennonite Church. Mencoldes works in Colombia with displaced peoples, relief and development. MCC is the relief and development agency of the Mennonite and Brethren in Christ churches.