On 20 th April, Ya’an, Lushan County in Sichuan Province, China, was hit by a large earthquake claiming around 200 lives and causing around 14,000 injuries.
At least 200,000 homes were destroyed and rural areas were particularly adversely affected. The damage to infrastructure also made it difficult for rescuers and aid workers to respond effectively. Amity issued the following report on the initial part of their contribution:
“Nanjing-based Amity staff members rushed into Lushan County to release the first batch of supplies to a damaged Middle School as well as to prepare for Amity’s large-scale disaster relief distribution, scheduled to start on May 9. In this phase of emergency, Amity Foundation caters to the actual needs of the affected people.
On May 3, the Hong Kong government’s Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) approved HK$5,304,000 (£460,000) to Amity Foundation Hong Kong, to help provide relief aid to the earthquake victims. On 9 May, Amity staff members from Hong Kong arrived in Ya’an, to join their Nanjing-based colleagues who were already in place. At the height of the operation, the team consisted of 30 members, including Nanjing and Hong Kong Amity staff, four colleagues from Amity printing press, and other volunteer members and drivers.
Essentially, Amity staff had to overcome problems such as dangerous landslides, traffic accidents and difficulties in the logistics of 12 trucks loaded with relief supplies in difficult terrain and adverse surroundings. Despite such an unforgiving environment, Amity accomplished its tasks to distribute directly into the hands of victims emergency supplies, which included rice, cooking oil, cooking tools, tarpaulins, blankets, folding beds and other
necessities. Up to May 22, Amity’s aid had reached 13,803 households of 50,091 people afflicted in Lushan County.
Anti-Slavery Day has been created by Act of Parliament to raise awareness of modern slavery and to inspire people to eliminate it.
Modern slavery or Human Trafficking is defined as: The movement of a person from one place to another into conditions of exploitation, using deception, coercion, the abuse of power or the abuse of someone’s vulnerability, even if consent had been given to be moved. Despite thinking this is a problem in other countries or big cities, it is a major issue that affects us all and the victims are in their tens of
So, who are the victims? Women, men, young people, children. They can be from any country including our own. Individuals are used for cheap labour, as drug mules, for sexual exploitation and other uses for the attainment of profit. The list is endless. Two centuries ago, the average slave could generate, we are told by experts, a 15% to 20% annual return on investment for their exploiters. Today the return is several hundred % per year and for sexual exploitation 900% per year.
We are also victims in different ways, sometimes without even knowing about it. Drugs on the street, counterfeit goods, or ordinary items bought by us but made by trafficked labour, not to mention the back pages of our newspapers or the exploitation by the internet, as identified by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection
Despite all of the above, Government, Charities and Churches are seeking to work together to combat this. However, it is very early days and issues still need to be tackled in a variety of significant ways. Government takes a departmental approach - other countries appoint a champion independent of political parties. MP’s have an all-party parliamentary group. Charities and the church have a variety of
sites which can be found by going onto the internet.
The Methodist Church supports a project in Birmingham to facilitate a local response and has helped set up a Regional Anti-trafficking network in the West Midlands. The Anglican Church, through The Children’s Society, has projects in London, Birmingham and Manchester.
Locally, yes us, what are we doing? A service will be held on Sunday 20th October for Anti-Slavery Day. Yes, it will identify what Human Trafficking is, but the service will also look at our Faith in Action, the Hope that the church can give in this, and the Love that it can provide by reaching out. Please come.
By the way, you could help! Write to your MP and Police Commissioner - ask them what they are doing? Tell your friends, go on line and find out more.
What a couple of months we've had! With some wonderful experiences too... June saw two 'firsts' for FMC and for me - an afternoon trail and garden party at the Manse; and the first of what I hope will be many Quiet Days, hosted by Pippa Jacobson.
Both of these were opportunities for being together - the first was a really fun afternoon exploring gardens of church members and friends (or as someone said to me - a chance to have a proper nosey at someone else's garden!). The second was a relaxed day sharing thoughts about being Amazed by God - and having created people in His image, encouraging each of us to see the potential that there is in each of us as people of an awesome God. And I experienced a first for myself too in July - spending a day at one of Gilly's Quiet Garden Days - led very sensitively by Wendy and Andrew Rudd, with the wonderful hospitality of Gareth and Gill Morgan. www.quietgarden.org
It was a wonderful day for me - a chance to rest in God's presence, and to think and reflect on the topic God was drawing me to. It was also lovely to meet new people and to have time to reflect and to write in my journal.
This year as a church we are hoping to continue our focus on teaching and discipleship - and the two 'firsts' we shared together, of fellowship and fun on a garden trail, and of being quiet and reflective together, are part of that focus. Please feel free to share in any future events (next year's Manse event will be on Saturday 21st June - put the date in your diary now). I long for us to take time to have fun together, getting to know each other more closely, learning and growing together as we walk arm in arm as fellow believers.
Finally, at the end of my first year with you in Frodsham, I want to say a big and very heartfelt thank you - to each one of you. For the things you do in the name of the Church, from looking after the finances, property and garden, to music and worship in church, leading groups, baking cakes (including apple crumble and chocolate brownies, which I love!), to lots of practical 'doing' of things, to helping to lead in the way God is taking us; and for the things you do to share your faith in everyday life - visiting people, being a good friend, talking about God to others, praying with and for people, volunteering in so many ways in the community, just being you.
The church wouldn't be the witness it is without you playing your part - what you bring to the fellowship, family and community is so important.
And I would like to close by giving thanks at the end of my first year for the good and positive ecumenical relationships shared in Frodsham - seen in action at the Rotary Fun Day recently at Castle Park. I invite you to join with me in praying for continued opportunities to share together and to be a united witness in this lovely town of Frodsham, and to give thanks for our sisters and brothers in the other churches in Frodsham, and for the work of Wellspring too.
God bless you,
Reverend Denise Harding
Blog posts written by the Minister and Members of Frodsham Methodist Church.