Thursday, October 15, 2009

Long Term Volunteers—Called to Serve

Volunteers at UMCOR Sager Brown prepare and sew material to make school bags.

Howard and I are from the New England Annual Conference and serve on the Board of the Northeast Jurisdiction Volunteers in Mission. We are members and Commissioned Missionaries of the Center Conway United Methodist Church in New Hampshire.
We arrived at UMCOR Sager-Brown on August 9th to begin our nine week stay as Long Term Volunteers. Howard and I settled into our efficiency apartment and unpacked. Monday at breakfast we renewed friendships with the staff and met the team we would be working with. Howard was assigned to work in Facilities – upkeep of the 11 buildings and 20 acre campus, while I was to work in the sewing room at the Depot. After breakfast we went over to the chapel for orientation and Safe Sanctuary training, then off to our work assignments.

This year while at the sewing room, I was responsible for cutting out school bags, making sure they were sewed properly and keeping the sewing machines in working order. In past years, we would cut and sew baby gowns and receiving blankets.

During the time here I have been able to interact with people from many churches and while working share stories of our faith and love of volunteering to help others. I’ve met so many wonderful people - all willing to give of their time and talents. Each week brought in another group of wonderful volunteers all eager to help. One lady at home made quilts for the Linus Project (quilts for children at the local Ronald McDonald home) and she asked if she could go thru my trash and pull out scraps of material so she could make quilts. After she left I received an email saying that because of the scrap material she was able to make an additional 12 quilts – what a wonderful way to recycle. The following week a lady asked if she could have the threads and end pieces from cutting and the scraps from the serger machines – she would use them as stuffing to make dog and cat pads for use at the local animal shelter. Another wonderful example of recycling from what would have been our trash.

Howard this year worked around the campus doing the many things that were needed to keep the buildings in working order – changing filters, light bulbs, painting and any other jobs assigned.

We have been serving here at Sager-Brown for the past 10 years. The people and the campus have a special place in our hearts and we are very happy to know that we have been invited back next year to serve again as Long Term Volunteers.

We are called to serve. When we look to serve, to make a difference in this world, lives are changed, including our own. The world listens with their eyes not their ears.

By Howard and Joan McGlauflin, North Conway, New Hampshire

Friday, October 9, 2009

Community Health

The parking lot outside of Christian Medical College Hospital becomes an overflowing waiting area as people wait to be seen by a doctor.

While visiting the Christian Medical College (CMC) Hospital in Vellore, India, I experienced many amazing things. The enormous numbers of people arriving daily for treatment and care, or to visit a relative by every conveyance possible was truly amazing. Standing in front of the emergency room entrance I was amazed at how orderly and peaceful it was as people waiting to be seen somehow knew where to go and what to do.

Over 5,000 people a day are seen at this facility. CMC Hospital serves as the base for an extensive outreach program that takes medicine to the people in over 300 local villages through a comprehensive program of community health education, prevention and treatment.

The philosophy behind the work of UMCOR Health is this same strategy. Education and prevention is much more efficient and effective than just letting nature take its course. UMCOR Health has embarked on a significant training program for community health workers and mid-wives to serve villages in Africa. Community health workers are recruited from their home villages, trained and re-trained to provide accurate public health knowledge, improve the immediate treatment of injuries, assist in the birthing process and recognize when a condition requires referral to a clinic or hospital. Community-based primary health care works.

Dr. Suranjan Bhattacharji,, the Director of the CMC Hospital, told this story of one way in which their community based primary health care system has enabled better treatment of patients in remote villages. The community health worker collects a specimen requiring laboratory analysis from a patient. The health worker gives it to a student trained to handle this responsibility who takes it with her to her school several kilometers away. She leaves it with the tea vendor outside the school. When the teachers break for tea, one who has come from the city picks up the specimen and carries it with him, dropping it off at the lab, when he returns to the city. The analysis is performed, the diagnosis made, a call is made to the community health worker, and medicine is sent by the reverse procedure, if necessary. In 24 hours, a patient in a remote village is ministered unto.

As UMCOR works in places near and far, new ways to serve those in need are being continuously discovered. God is sending United Methodists on an amazing journey as we learn new ways to help each other.

By the Rev. Sam Dixon, Deputy General Secretary, UMCOR

Friday, October 2, 2009

Spirit of Volunteerism

Weary survivors of Typoon Ketana find shelter.

Amidst the calamity, the spirit of volunteerism is very much alive in the Philippines. Many responded to the call of helping those affected by Typhoon Ketsana. Different organizations and civil society groups have come together to express their solidarity by donating goods and kinds to the survivors of Typhoon Ketsana. Many have offered their time in repacking goods in warehouses of sponsoring institutions. The National Council of Churches in the Philippines of which the United Methodist Church is member, also joined the relief efforts in the marginalized areas of the metropolis. Relief goods were distributed to Payatas in Quezon city.

Students from the Union Theological Seminary (UTS) have also come together to express their sympathy for survivors by voluntarily participating in the relief efforts spearheaded by the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). Believing that human suffering should be alleviated, the seminarians and some of the members of the UTS community offered their time to participate in repacking of goods. According to Ms. Ciony Ayo-Eduarte, office manager of UMCOR Philippines, the response was overwhelming when she made an announcement for people to participate in the relief efforts during the chapel service. Around 30 people voluntarily went to UMCOR depot (office) to participate in the repacking of goods to be distributed in Pampanga, Laguna and Bulacan.

During the orientation at UMCOR depot (office), Ms. Eduarte reiterated the need for people to be prepared as another disaster is yet to come. "As long as there is a calamity, whether human made or natural, UMCOR will continue to respond with open hearts and open minds to all people,"she said.

By Nony Eduarte, husband of Ciony Ayo-Eduarte, office manager, UMCOR Philippines