UMCGiving

Central American still reeling from devastating 2020 hurricanes

Maximo (left) inspects what is left of his house on a hillside in Cunen, Guatemala. A landslide caused by Hurricane Iota in November left little behind, but his family got out safely. PHOTO: COURTESY IENMPG
Maximo (left) inspects what is left of his house on a hillside in Cunen, Guatemala. A landslide caused by Hurricane Iota in November left little behind, but his family got out safely. PHOTO: COURTESY IENMPG
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Maximo was attending his mother’s funeral service in November when he received an urgent call from his neighbors in Cunen, Guatemala. His house on the hillside was gone after a landslide wiped it out during Hurricane Iota. It took him hours to reach the site because debris blocked the road. But his pregnant wife and three children had gotten out in time.

María de Lourdes Ramírez Mroczka, a United Methodist missionary working with the National Evangelical Primitive Methodist Church in Guatemala to distribute emergency aid in Cunen, was amazed by Maximo’s deep faith as he was never without a smile. “You don’t argue with God,” he said. “The Lord gives, the Lord has taken away. I praise the Lord because my family is safe.”

The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season produced 30 named storms and 13 hurricanes – the most ever recorded in a season, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Several of the worst Category 4 hurricanes made landfall in Central American countries, affecting some of the poorest populations in Latin America. From August 2020 through January 2021, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) released a series of emergency grants to Methodist and ecumenical partners to aid emergency relief efforts across Central America.

A member of a Lutheran Synod youth group helping to distribute relief supplies (holding the UMCOR sign) poses with a family that has just received their food rations. PHOTO: COURTESY OF THE SALVADORAN LUTHERAN SYNOD 
A member of a Lutheran Synod youth group helping to distribute relief supplies (holding the UMCOR sign) poses with a family that has just received their food rations. Photo: Courtesy of The Salvadoran Lutheran Synod.

Your gifts on UMCOR Sunday helps support lay the foundation for the (UMCOR) to share God’s love with communities everywhere.

Recovery from this year of disasters will take years, but currently, emergency relief is still ongoing, with COVID-19 cases and lock-downs complicating operations. Roland Fernandes, general secretary for Global Ministries and the UMCOR, reiterated UMCOR’s commitment to the region.

In El Salvador UMCOR partnered with Accion Medica Cristiana in Nicaragua to provide immediate food relief for residents of 11 communities in the Tasba Pri territory where there are the most vulnerable sectors of the population: pregnant women, new mothers, families with children under five years of age, elderly residents and subsistence farmers who lost their crops.

Subsistence farmers and women with young children were two of the vulnerable groups targeted in Nicaragua to receive Accion Medica Cristiano emergency relief in partnership with UMCOR. PHOTO: COURTESY OF AMC 
Subsistence farmers and women with young children were two of the vulnerable groups targeted in Nicaragua to receive Accion Medica Cristiano emergency relief in partnership with UMCOR. Photo: Courtesy of AMC.

In Honduras the UMCOR grant provided food for approximately 236 families in the communities of Cortes (Valle de Sula, Chamelecón and Villanueva) and Yoro (El Negrito and Subirana,, an indigenous village.)

In Guatemala, UMCOR partnered with Iglesia Evangélica Nacional Metodista Primitiva de Guatemala, the Methodist church there, to provide emergency relief for some hard-hit communities. Guatemala experienced severe flooding early in the season from Amanda and then later from both Eta and Iota.

Women come for eggs and other food rations at a distribution point coordinated by the Methodist Mission in Honduras. PHOTO: COURTESY OF THE METHODIST MISSION IN HONDURAS 
TWomen come for eggs and other food rations at a distribution point coordinated by the Methodist Mission in Honduras. Photo: Courtesy of The Methodist Mission in Honduras.

Two more grants have been released for the Methodist Church in Mexico, Tabasco Area of Southeastern Annual Conference, and the Evangelical Methodist Church of Panama. These projects are underway but are currently navigating new COVID-19 regulations before they can reach beneficiaries.

Because of climate change, bigger, more frequent storms are forecast for Central America in the foreseeable future. UMCOR is committed to walking with partners through the recovery process. UMCOR also embraces the opportunity to integrate the work of International Disaster Response and Global Migration to reach people affected by more intense and frequent storms related to the changing climate.

excerpt from a story by Christie R. House, consultant writer and editor, Global Ministries and UMCOR.

One of six churchwide Special Sundays with offerings of The United Methodist Church, UMCOR Sunday calls United Methodists to share the goodness of life with those who hurt. Your gifts to UMCOR Sunday lay the foundation for the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to share God’s love with communities everywhere. The special offering underwrites UMCOR’s “costs of doing business.” This helps UMCOR to keep the promise that 100 percent of any gift to a specific UMCOR project will go toward that project, not administrative costs.

When you give generously on UMCOR Sunday, you make a difference in the lives of people who hurt. Give now.