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Wednesday, 05 January 2005

Uniting Church delegation to visit tsunami victims

The Associate Director of the aid and development arm of the Uniting Church in Australia will travel to South India and Sri Lanka on Saturday to visit partner churches in areas affected by the Tsunami to assess the situation and coordinate where appeal funds are most urgently needed.

Uniting Church Overseas Aid, a member of the Australian Council for International Development, launched its Tsunami appeal last week and has already given $30,000 to its partner churches in the region to help them deliver medical assistance, food and water, clothing and counselling.

UCOA Director, Rev Laurie Fitzgerald said the Uniting Church has received many reports from its partners in the region since the Tsunami hit and launched its appeal a week ago to assist in the region.

“The Uniting Church is actively engaged in the region affected through our partners the Church of Christ in Thailand, the Church of South India (including the Jaffna Diocese in Sri Lanka), the Church of the North India Diocese of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the Communion of Churches in Indonesia.

“The Uniting Church Tsunami Appeal will deliver funds directly to our partner Churches in the region and utilise their existing infrastructure buildings, equipment and local knowledge. Our experience is that churches are experienced in delivering aid assistance because in times of crisis they find themselves as a first port of call for those affected by natural disasters.”

Rev Fitzgerald said local Churches were already playing a vital role following the Tsunami.

“In South India people witnessed the tsunami swamp Chennai’s main beach. More than 1,500 people disappeared. The Bishop of Madras, Rev Dr V Devasahayam, reports that many people are homeless and that the Church alone is caring for 14,700 homeless people.

“While we have been able to express to our partners the deep sense of concern and compassion in the hearts of members of the Uniting Church here in Australia, most importantly we have been able to send assistance that has been used to provide relief assistance.”

“Our appeal will provide funds to allow this to continue and this visit will help us understand the need on the ground to ensure all money goes where it is most needed,” Rev Fitzgerald said.

Tax Deductible donations can be sent to: Uniting Church Overseas Aid - Tsunami Appeal
PO Box A2266, Sydney South 1235, NSW or made by phone by calling toll free 1800 998 122.