Magazine article Anglican Journal

Challenge Post-Tsunami Is Identifying Needs

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Challenge Post-Tsunami Is Identifying Needs

Article excerpt

Anglican dioceses affected by December's deadly tsunami have expressed appreciation for the outpouring of support from Canada but are requesting patience in terms of identifying what their needs are and how they may best be assisted by their church partners.

National church staff, inluding the primate, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, have been contacted by Canadian Anglicans eager to help tsunami-affected areas in Asia and Africa, not just in financial ways.

"We've received calls to serve, (saying), 'I'm an electrician, I'm a teacher, I'm a medical doctor. Where can I go to help?" said Andrea Mann, Asia-Pacific coordinator of the national church's partnerships department. "We've received requests from half-a-dozen parishes around the country who would like to be twinned with other parishes for reconstruction for the next couple of years."

Archbishop Hutchison said in an interview that the church's challenge is "to identify the specific projects that we can match with that kind of volunteerism."

Ms. Mann said she has already asked the churches in North India and Colombo, Sri Lanka, whether they need volunteers with specific sets of skills and parish-to-parish twinning programs.

"The reply that came back was it's still difficult at this point to know what to say with respect to those longer-term initiatives because the situation is still unfolding," she said. "The sea is calm and the extent of the devastation is pretty generally known, but in terms of what to do with all of that, it's still not clear. That's because people are still, in some places, digging out from under." She added: "We're being asked to be patient."

(In Indonesia, there are still people stranded where roads and bridges have collapsed and where helicopters are unable to land, according to a report by the Action by Churches Together [ACT], a global ecumenical alliance of 195 churches, including the Anglican Church of Canada, that supports a community-led response to disaster.)

Ms. Mann will visit some of the devastated areas in Sri Lanka this month to meet with the diocesan relief and rehabilitation task force and committees, clergy and lay leaders "to get a sense of what the longer-term needs are."

Bishop Duleep de Chickera of Colombo (who, with, his wife Gita, attended the 2004 meeting General Synod as partners) has stressed the need for churches to listen to their people's needs since the), are still in trauma. …

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