As indicated in previous communications, none of our present Free Methodist churches are in the affected coastal area of Sri Lanka. However, various pastors and church members have made trips to the affected areas to provide limited relief and assess the situation. With more information available to us now, we have been able to make some decisions with regard to the distribution of funds available to us.
Our Major Relief and Development PartnerMajor relief organizations such as our partner, World Relief, have the best ability to respond quickly to crises like this and have local partners they work with. These organizations are providing the most pressing needs of food, water and medical aid. Donations sent directly to World Relief, clearly marked for “Tsunami-Sri Lanka,” will be sent directly to their partner working in Sri Lanka. World Relief’s major contribution to the disaster will be providing $300,000 of food aid from the Canadian Food Grains Bank, of which FMCiC is also a partner.
Immediate Response to CrisisTo date more than $12,000 has been raised by FM churches in Canada and we are anticipating more coming in during the weeks to come. Most are sending in this money because of their awareness of our ministry in Sri Lanka that has developed over the last several years. We will send at least $10,000 within the next few days to help with such items as milk powder, cooking and eating vessels, undergarments, toiletries, bed sheets, lamps, mosquito protection, tents and bibles. These are items specifically requested by people in the displacement camps. These goods will be purchased and distributed by leaders in our Free Methodist churches and will go directly to those in need on the east coast of Sri Lanka, particularly in the Batticaloa and Ampara areas.
Medium-term Response to CrisisThe longer term implication for these displaced peoples is the construction of temporary shelters that may need to suffice for up to a year or more. Many homes have been destroyed as well as peoples’ livelihoods. Because seawater has polluted wells and agricultural lands, many will not be able return to their home areas for some time, months and even years. Many will be temporarily re-settled in areas at some distance from their homes.
Therefore we are seeking to raise at least $20,000 for the building of temporary shelters for family units. These will be simple post and beam structures covered with metal sheeting, costing about $200 per shelter. This is a simple design and cost suggested by leaders on the ground. This amount of money will provide shelter for about 100 families. Again these resources will be distributed in the Batticaloa/Ampara area through church leaders we have contact with.
Ministry team in February A ministry team was already planned to visit Sri Lanka in mid-February, led by Alan Retzman and Pastors Jeyerajah and Gomez. This team was intending to continue leadership and organizational development for the Free Methodist Church in Sri Lanka. This would seem to be the appropriate target date for raising the $20,000 for rebuilding costs. In the next few weeks we will assess ongoing needs and revise our plans as seems fitting. We will alert donors if there are major changes to the plan outlined here.
Donations can be sent through your local church for “Sri Lanka-Tsunami relief”, which will then be forwarded to the Ministry Centre in Mississauga for transfer to our leaders in Sri Lanka.