From the Worldwide Faith News archives

UMCOR eyes coordinator for Mozambique relief work

From NewsDesk <NewsDesk@UMCOM.UMC.ORG>
Date 14 Apr 2000 14:22:16

April 14, 2000 News media contact: Linda Bloom·(212) 870-3803·New York

By United Methodist News Service

A disaster coordinator will be appointed soon to direct the United Methodist
response to flood relief efforts in Mozambique.

Designating a local coordinator to work through the United Methodist Church
of Mozambique is the first step toward creating a comprehensive plan
regarding the devastation caused by February rains and Cyclone Eline, said
Kristin Sachen of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) on April

As UMCOR's executive for international emergency response, Sachen joined
several others in an April 4-9 assessment visit to Mozambique. In the areas
directly hit by flooding, they found that members of various villages had
formed working units in the refugee camps. "The camps were very well
organized and were neat and tidy," she added.

Places like the denomination's Chicuque Hospital, however, have had no
relief effort despite the indirect effects of the disaster. "That area is
not flooded but it is cut off, it is isolated by the breaks in the road,"
Sachen explained. Inflated prices and a lack of goods have contributed to a
sense of weariness there, she said.

The hospital itself has a major problem with erosion, and a new break in the
road "is a serious hazard that endangers the homes and the lives of the
people who live alongside it." Sachen is hoping the government may have an
interest in cooperating with the church to share the costs of repair.

Once a coordinator is named, UMCOR plans to arrange disaster response
training for both clergy and laity in the church in Mozambique, empowering
them to respond to current problems and future disasters. Right now, for
example, the church needs members who can go into the villages to determine
who needs to have their houses rebuilt, she said.

Another member of the assessment team was Rebecca Williams, who works with
the nongovernmental organization (NGO) established by UMCOR for projects
funded by governmental and other organizations. Williams will propose that
UMCOR set up an NGO office in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, according
to Sachen.

Churches outside the United States and Mozambique also have become directly
involved in relief efforts. As of mid-April, United Methodists in Germany
had raised about $275,000 for Mozambique, according to Thomas Kemper, a
church official.

About 27 United Methodist churches were affected by the floods, according to
information passed from the Mozambique church to Carol Kreamer, coordinator
of the Mozambique Initiative of the denomination's Missouri Area.

In the Gaza District, Chokwe United Methodist Church was destroyed, along
with the pastor's house, and its 800 members lost everything. Thirty-five
families belonging to the church in Xai-Xai lost their homes, and the city
itself was destroyed. In Bilene, church members and the pastor need housing,
food and clothing because the entire infrastructure was destroyed. At
Nataniel Bahule United Methodist Church, the floods directly affected only
about 10 members, but food is a problem because many people have taken
refuge in the area.

In the Inhambane North District, Nova Mambone church was destroyed, with
1,500 suffering from the disaster. Maimelane United Methodist Church also
was destroyed, along with the homes of 15 families, including the pastor.
The floods affected 25 families belonging to Inhassoro church.

In the Sofala District, the church in Buzi was destroyed and the population
of the city, including the 500 church members, left with nothing. United
Methodist churches in Beira, Central Manga and Dondo suffered some damage
but were not total losses.

Erosion and the lack of a proper road remain problems in the Inhambane
Centro District, where Chicuque is located, but the churches were not
physically affected. Nor are there major problems with the churches in the
Massinga South, North and Vilanculos districts, although some houses were

In the Maputo District, the local churches of Betania, Malhangalene,
Malhazine and Chamanculo were affected by floods and erosion. In the Maputo
West District, Xinavane United Methodist Church, with 1,200 members, was
destroyed. Many other homes, including the pastor's house, also were
destroyed. Some of the 600 members of local churches in the Moamba area have
lost their homes and belongings.

"The members that are not affected by this calamity are contributing clothes
and other things to help our brothers and sisters that were affected by
floods and cyclone," wrote the Rev. Xavier Guambe, director of the council
on ministries for the Mozambique church. "The government assists too, but
the situation is demanding."

He added that the next phase after the emergency will be to help people
rebuild their homes. United Methodist Bishop Joao Somane Machado of
Mozambique has purchased a machine that makes bricks out of earth to assist
with this effort, as well as for rebuilding churches and parsonages.

At this point, according to Sachen, monetary donations are more crucial than
volunteer teams to get a major relief effort going. The United Methodist
Church has issued a Churchwide Appeal for Flood Recovery in Mozambique and
Neighboring Countries. Checks may be written to UMCOR, designated to Advance
No. 156500-0, and placed in church collection plates or mailed to 475
Riverside Drive, Room 330, New York, NY 10115. Credit-card donations can by
made by calling (800) 554-8583.
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