United Methodist Communications’ Response in the Philippines
Communications can be a matter of life and death in situations such as the disaster in the Philippines. I want to update you on United Methodist Communications' response to the recent typhoon and the role communications is playing. Much of this work is in collaboration with the Philippines bishops, the United Methodist Committee on Relief, church communicators and other partners.
- UMCom ran a full-page ad in USA Today pointing to a disaster response site on umc.org for information and donations.
- At the recent Council of Bishops meeting, I met with the bishops from the Philippines to offer communications assistance from UMCom, and they welcomed the offer.
- We have dispatched photographer Mike DuBose to the Philippines, and he was traveling with senior writer Linda Unger from the General Board of Global Ministries. They were on the ground in Tacloban this week and have filed stories and images about the church's response. This and other content can be found at umc.org/Philippines-typhoon.
- UMCom has hired an experienced Filipino communicator who is collecting stories and will be reporting on rehabilitation and reconstruction over the long term.
- We were contacted by the World Food Program's Emergency Telecommunications Cluster and NetHope to consider partnering on Information Communication Technology Centers. Through our Information and Communications Technology For Development initiative (ICT4D), we work with Inveneo, a technology company specializing in communications for development. Two Inveneo engineers are doing assessments in the affected area, looking for sites with the best potential for locating ICT centers. They are also carrying an emergency radio station kit, which can be used to broadcast information locally. They will meet with Bishop Ciriaco Francisco and his staff to assess needs in the episcopal office and region. They are coordinating with UMCOR staff.
- The Inveneo engineers carried with them four mobile phones and have given them to UMCom/UMCOR and local staff for communicating in the disaster area.
- The Rev. Neelley Hicks, United Methodist Communications' director of ICT4D, is in contact daily with emergency communications coordinators and partners in the Philippines and the United States to stay abreast of needs and on-the-ground implementation.
- UMCom's InfoServ staff are answering telephone inquiries and taking phone donations on behalf of UMCOR through an agreement we signed several months ago.
UMCom is innovating with communications and collaborating with partners to advance the church's response to this disaster. As we move forward together, let us continue holding the people of the Philippines in prayer.
The Rev. Larry Hollon
United Methodist Communications