By Katie Henneman
Posted: June 9, 2005 Print-friendly
Sometimes it may seem that sending a health or school kit is too small compared to the immense needs of vulnerable people worldwide. I just returned from a visit to Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, where I participated in several kit distributions. I can tell you from experience that every kit really does count.
Children abandoned and living in orphanages. Elderly people living out their days in rundown state institutions. Refugees and people uprooted from their homes. They all appreciate the basic supplies donated by United Methodists through UMCOR Sager Brown. The countries I visited are still reeling from the breakup of the Soviet Union and the years of war and violence that followed. Unemployment and poverty remain widespread and living conditions, especially for the thousands who live in temporary housing or camps, can range from decrepit to truly appalling.
Perhaps the most moving moment was during my visit to a former hostel in Baku, Azerbaijan. Displaced families have lived in the building for more than a decade, with several people sharing each small room. While the families do what they can to keep their living quarters clean, the overcrowded conditions makes the communal bathrooms and common cooking areas almost unbearable. For these mothers and fathers, the gift of a clean towel, soap, toothbrush, and toothpaste provides a great improvement in daily hygiene for themselves and their children. It is a small gift that makes a big impact on their daily lives.
During a visit to an orphanage in Tbilisi, Georgia, I saw children’s eyes light up with the gift of a school kit. These children have rarely, if ever, received a gift or new items of their own.
The eyes of the elderly can light up as well, as they did when we distributed bedding paks and health kits to women and men who live in an elderly house in Yerevan, Armenia. Many of them left their homes due to the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and they know they will never return. They have spent ten years in homes like the one we visited, several people living in one room, in cold and aging buildings.
Charity organizations in the region do what they can to provide for the community with limited resources. Even providing daily food supplies is a struggle. While a kit or a new blanket may seem like a small contribution, it makes a big difference to the people that receive them – every kit you donate counts.
Katie Hennemen is a program associate for UMCOR NGO (nongovernmental organization). UMCOR NGO establishes field offices in countries where extensive and long-term relief is needed.
Photo: Last year UMCOR Sager Brown sent 146,637 health kits and 56,892 school kits. So far this year 224,000 health kits and 126,000 school kits have been requested. Credit: Bill Bache 2004
This woman smiles as she examines the health kit she just received. UMCOR gave elderly women and men in her home in Yerevan, Armenia, health kits and bedding packs to make their lives a little easier. Credit: Katie Henneman/UMCOR NGO, March 2005.
How You Can Help
UMCOR can fill these requests only with your assistance. Not only are the kits helping children and adults in the countries Katie visited, they are also helping people of all ages in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Liberia, Democratic Republic of Congo and many other places around the world. Soon, hurricane season will return and flood buckets will be added to this list of requests.
It’s fun and easy to assemble these kits—just print out the instructions from on UMCOR's kits page and start packing! You can also send bulk supplies or financial donations to cover the cost of additional supplies and shipping. This is an essential service United Methodists provide to our neighbors worldwide. All of us can be a part of it!
You may send your financial donations to UMCOR Advance #901440, Material Resource Ministry, or #901515, Sager Brown via credit card or check. Donors using a credit card may give by calling a toll free number, 800-554-8583. Checks may be mailed to UMCOR, P.O. Box 9068, GPO, New York, NY 10087-9068. United Methodist Committee on Relief follows the professional accounting and auditing regulations of The United Methodist Church. It is exempt from tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of the United States and qualifies for the maximum charitable contribution deduction by donors. One hundred percent of every donation to this appeal goes to support relief and recovery efforts in the disaster-stricken regions.
Just How Many Kits Does UMCOR Sager Brown Send?
Last year UMCOR Sager Brown sent 146,637 health kits and 56,892 school kits. So far this year 224,000 health kits and 126,000 school kits have been requested. This is the highest requested number ever, and these numbers will likely grow as the year progresses. This is in addition to the other kinds of kits and supplies Sager Brown collects and distributes. You can find out about the many items Sager Brown sends around the world at www.umcor.org.