Sunday, January 24, 2010

'Africa for Haiti'

Note: The Archbishop has lent his endorsement to the widely supported "Africa for Haiti" campaign, launched at a press conference on 22 January by Mrs Graça Machel. This aims to identify, in partnership with Haitian civil society organizations, initiatives through which Africans from all walks of life can demonstrate their collective solidarity and support for the people of Haiti thereby uniting Africans in compassion and giving. Mrs Machel has suggested that the "Africa for Haiti" campaign focuses its efforts not on immediate relief but rather to contribute toward the medium to long-term reconstruction of communities in Haiti. As a result, it is estimated that fundraising for this campaign may continue for six months. The campaign is also urging African leaders to make tangible and generous commitments at the African Union Summit of January 25 to February 4 2010.

More details are available at http://www.civicus.org/civicus-home/1226 and http://www.episcopalchurch.org/81808_118736_ENG_HTM.htm.

"Africa for Haiti" - Endorsement from the Most Revd Dr Thabo Makgoba, Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town

I am glad to give my wholehearted support to this important initiative.

Across the continent of Africa over the years, so many of us have been the recipients of all manner of aid and support through many differing circumstances of need. Now it is Africa's turn to stand in solidarity with the country and people of Haiti, and offer whatever assistance lies within our ability, in the aftermath of the devastating earthquakes. In South Africa earlier this week, Church leaders from across the Christian spectrum joined in calling for a generous response to this suffering which we can only begin to imagine, and we welcomed the commitments that our own Government is making, alongside the growing help from individuals and organisations.

Yet we can and must do far, far, more. Now is the time for all Africans to join in helping these brothers and sisters of ours within the human family. We urge our political leaders not to be slow in joining the tide of compassion in response to this disaster. We too can show love and care, not only in words, but in providing financial and practical help, in sharing resources and expertise, especially in the challenging times of reconstruction that lie ahead. Therefore we look to the African Union Summit to express what it means truly to be 'Africans for Haiti'. One of the great riches of Africa is the spirit of ubuntu - the spirit that says 'a person is a person through other persons'. Now is the time to demonstrate our humanity through selfless generosity and tangible action. It is therefore my prayer that the Summit will have the courage and conviction to make specific and significant commitments, which are then swiftly and effectively implemented.

And in this way, may God in his mercy use us as a channel of blessing and love to those who stand in such great need at this time. Amen.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Haiti Appeal

Issued 18 January 2010

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

In the familiar parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus reminds us that anyone and everyone is our neighbour, especially those in need.

We have all watched in horror at the scenes on our television screens of the devastation suffered by the people of Haiti following the massive earthquake on 12th January. They are our neighbours in great need now. Attached please find a copy of the letter which I sent to Bishop Zaché, the Bishop of Haiti.

There are two important ways in which we can help our sisters and brothers there.

We can continue to pray for them – for those who have died and their families and friends, for those who have lost their homes and their livelihood, for those who are still missing or trapped, and for the injured and those who are caring for them.

And we can share our resources with them – however large or small.

I have been in touch with the South African National Disaster Management Centre to ascertain how we in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa can be of most assistance at this time. I have also shared with President Zuma and religious leaders about Africa’s response since the emergency and will say more about this later. Working through our Provincial Office, there is an account into which monies can be deposited.

Detail for donations:

Account name: CPSA Disaster Relief Fund

Bank: Standard Bank of SA Ltd

Branch: Cape Town

Branch IBT Code: 02 0009

Account number: 07 007 8394

The donations received will be channelled through some established agencies such as Médecins Sans Frontières, Gift of the Giver and the Red Cross.

The tiny country of Haiti is only just recovering from a deadly hurricane which hit the island in 2008, leaving 800 people dead and 150,000 displaced. The current estimates of the human tragedy there now are much worse – possibly 200,000 dead and 3 million people, almost a third of the population, directly affected.

Haiti is by far the poorest and least-developed country in the western hemisphere, with more than half of its people living on less than $1 per day, and 80% living on less than $2 per day. One-third of its children are malnourished and 500,000 cannot go to school. The unemployment rate is estimated to be 60 percent.

The Diocese of Haiti (which is part of The Episcopal Church) serves between 100,000 and 150,000 people in 168 congregations. There are less than 40 active clergy, most of whom serve multiple congregations in urban and rural areas. We have had news that the Bishop and his wife are safe, though she suffered some injuries when their home collapsed. The Cathedral, nearby convent and other diocesan buildings suffered major damage, as well as some outlying schools and churches. Several people were killed while taking part in a church service when the earthquake struck.

In addition to the churches, the diocese's ministry has included 254 schools; medical clinics; a renowned philharmonic orchestra and children's choir based at the cathedral; agricultural, reforestation and other development projects and micro-financing efforts run in part with help from Episcopal Relief and Development; peace and reconciliation work, including through the Desmond Tutu Centre for Reconciliation and Peace and non-violence training provided by Episcopal Peace Fellowship.

I would ask you to be as generous as possible as we reach out to our sisters and brothers in this time of their great need. Through our prayers and our giving, we can make a difference.

God bless.

Yours in the service of Christ,

+Thabo Cape Town

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Message to the Rt Revd Jean-Zaché Duracin, Episcopal Bishop of Haiti, Following the Devastating Earthquake

Issued 13 January 2010

Dear Bishop Jean-Zaché, dear brother in Christ

As news emerges of the devastating earthquake that has hit your country and its people, I am writing on behalf of the whole Anglican Church of Southern Africa to assure you of our urgent and heartfelt prayers at this traumatic time.

At Morning Prayer today, our Old Testament reading recounted the story of Cain who kills his brother Abel. Confronted by God, Cain responds, 'Am I my brother's keeper?' His intention is to claim that he is not responsible - and yet in today's increasingly interconnected world, it seems that God repeats his challenge to us all to shoulder the implications of acknowledging our lives are intimately bound up with those of every other human person, made in his image, across our planet. Therefore today, as we and others around the globe watch and wait for further information, we can do no other but hold you in our prayers, and ready ourselves to offer whatever support might be of most assistance. We particularly look to countries such as the United States of America to show the love of a neighbour in helping you not only materially, but in restoring dignity to those who are suffering devastation, and in supporting the long-term rebuilding of both infrastructure and human society.

Natural disasters such as this remind us of the fragility of life, and of how vulnerable we are to vast and powerful forces that are latent within our world. Humanity still has much to learn of how best to live in respectful harmony with our planet, especially in regions of particular risk. From building policies that take account of physical conditions, through to economic activities that affect our climate, we (and by this, I especially mean those who enjoy political and economic power and influence) have no honourable option but to work always to be part of the solution, not part of the problem - and must take particular account of the poorest and most vulnerable who so often bear the brunt in times of crisis.

My dear brothers and sisters in Haiti, as I sit in shock before TV pictures that are beginning to emerge, my prayer in this season of Epiphany is that the loving compassion and care of God will be made manifest despite and through the pain and suffering that afflicts you. Our Lord counsels us to grieve with those who grieve, but also not to lose hope, knowing that in all things the One who shines an inextinguishable light into every darkness both desires and wills to act redemptively. May you know the fullness of these, his promises, in the days and weeks ahead.

Issued by the Office of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town

Inquiries: Cynthia Michaels on 021-763-1320 (office hours)