ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Now there are two needs Southern Baptists across the globe are responding to: Haiti and Chile.
Both were devastated by earthquakes. Haiti’s was more severe because the earthquake struck near the nation’s capital city, Port-au-Prince, with its crowded population and structures not designed to withstand earthquakes.
Both suffered extensive loss of life. Haiti: perhaps more than 200,000. Chile: 723 at presstime. Both suffered in what was said to be the worst-ever disaster to hit their nations. If all the superlatives already had not been used for Haiti, the situation in Chile would be considered dire. Southern Baptists are responding to needs of people in both nations.
Organizers of the “Buckets of Hope” initiative for Haiti relief estimate that 150,000 food buckets will be shipped to Port-au-Prince to help combat hunger in the earthquake-devastated country.
Under Buckets of Hope, which was launched in January, Southern Baptists for about $30 can purchase five-gallon plastic buckets with handle and lid – Wal-mart SKU# 00982650640 – and pack them with a specific list of items described in detail at www.namb.net and several other sites.
The food in a single bucket can feed a Haitian family for a week; the bucket is useful in a variety of ways – carrying water, sitting on, storing belonging – to name just a few.
Baptists also are asked to include a $10 cash contribution, placed in an envelope and attached to the bucket’s lid, to help with the cost of shipping the buckets to Haiti.
Several Baptist state conventions have announced a goal for the number of buckets their state’s church members will contribute.
Kentucky plans to send 10,000 filled buckets; Tennessee, 7,000. Louisiana’s goal is 5,000 buckets, as is Georgia’s and South Carolina’s.
Other states, such as North and South Dakota, are sending money to Haitian Southern Baptists in Florida, to assist in their bucket brigade and maximize the benefit to Haitians, rather than paying for shipping within the United States.
Each of the buckets is to include a label in French Creole indicating tha the Bucket of Hope is a gift of Christian love and support from Southern Baptists. Once the buckets arrive in Haiti, they are to be distributed by Haitian Baptist churches.
In Colorado, churches are turning Buckets of Hope into outreach efforts, and in Lexington, Tenn., a Wal-mart has set up a display so people can select a bucket and the items to fill it all in one location, with flyers atop a nearby card table to show what is needed and how to fill the bucket.
For more about Buckets of Hope, see www.namb.net.
Two Disaster Relief trained medical teams from Louisiana recently returned from Haiti. Read that article in the next issue of the Baptist Message.
Southern Baptists has released $50,000 for immediate needs in Chile, where the death toll climbed past 700 in an earthquake disaster described by the nation’s president as “without parallel in Chile’s history.”
At press time, a four-person Southern Baptist assessment team led by Charles Clark, International Mission Board leader in the area, was en route to Chile for dialogue with ministry partners about needs and on-the-ground evaluation of the damage caused by the 8.8-magnitude earthquake that struck in the pre-dawn hours Feb. 27.
An estimated 500,000 homes were destroyed or badly damaged in the quake, and some towns on Chile’s coast were completely destroyed when a tsunami wave swept in after the quake. More than 2 million people have been affected by the earthquake, said Chilean President Michelle Bachelet.
The $50,000 from Southern Baptists is to be used to help local Baptist churches meet crisis needs like water, food, blankets and shelter, said Jim Brown, director of Baptist Global Response-U.S.
“Many of our people are physically and emotionally exhausted,” said Terry Lassiter, the IMB’s strategist for the American Peoples affinity group. “Those who live in high rise buildings in the area told me they didn’t think they were going to survive. The 90 or so aftershocks that have occurred area continual reminders of the horror everyone felt during the event itself.”
With reporting from the IMB, NAMB, BGR and Baptist Press.