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Unitarian Universalist tsunami donations exceed $1.5 million

UUA-UUSC joint effort
By Staff Writer
May/June 2005 5.1.05

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More than $1.5 million had been contributed to the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee and the Unitarian Universalist Association as of early March for tsunami relief in South and Southeast Asia and India.

The relief funds will be channeled to grassroots organizations in the region. UUSC is directing the relief aid through long-standing program partners in India, as well as colleague organizations working in Indonesia and Sri Lanka where the impact of the tsunami was most destructive. Assistance will also be provided to victims through the UUA Holdeen India program. (See sidebar for a link to a detailed report on Holdeen’s work.)

Aid is being provided to fishing communities, farm workers, and to groups offering job training, women’s empowerment, trauma counseling, alternative employment skills, and human rights education.

UUSC President Charlie Clements said the need for help will continue for years. The tsunami killed 130,000 and left a half million homeless. “In disasters of this magnitude, there is a danger of a repeat tragedy when international relief efforts begin to fade and infrastructure has yet to be restored,” said Clements. “That is often when disease and death stalks the survivors.”

The Board of Trustees of the UU Church of Greater Lynn in Swampscott, Massachusetts, matched all contributions of its members to the UUSC-UUA Tsunami Relief Fund, to a maximum of $5,000. In the first two weeks, it raised $4,770. Two of the church’s religious education classes also made items to sell at fellowship hour, with the proceeds going to the relief fund.

UU congregations on Massachusetts’ Cape Cod raised more than $20,500 that was used to pay for two water purification systems for Sri Lankan communities. The congregations involved were in Chatham, Barnstable, Falmouth, Eastham, Provincetown, and Brewster. The system’s manufacturer, Water-Health International, is installing the units at cost. Each system will purify enough water for 2,000 people for ten years.

Members of the UU Congregation of Monmouth County in Lincroft, New Jersey, contributed $4,900 during two morning services. Their contributions went to help buy a Save the Family Life Starter Kit, which included a fishing boat, thatched roof hut, cooking utensils, stove, food and other supplies for two months, as well as furniture, bedding, children’s books, school uniforms, and clothes. Each $5,500 package is prepared by two international organizations, IMGE Emergency Relief Fund and Hope Worldwide.

Donations to UUSC’s relief effort may be made at www.uusc.org or by mail to: UUSC-UUA Tsunami Relief Fund, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, P.O. Box 845259, Boston, MA 02284-5259. Checks should be made out to UUSC with “Tsunami Relief Fund” in the memo line. If you wish to donate by phone, call (617) 868-6600.

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