January 7, 2005
Dear Episcopal School Heads and Chaplains,
As the devastation and death toll continues to climb after the December 26 earthquake and tsunamis that hit 11 countries in South Asia, the NAES staff met upon its return from Christmas break on January 3 in order to formulate a plan for how the community of Episcopal schools can respond and assist in this time of unprecedented suffering and need. We have received calls and messages about suggestions on how to help and I am glad to be able to share our suggestions with you in this message.
Episcopal schools exist not merely to educate, but to demonstrate and proclaim the unique worth and beauty of all human beings as creations of a loving, empowering God. By weaving this vision into the very fabric of the school’s overall life, Episcopal schools ensure that their missions are built on the sure foundation of a Christian love that guides and challenges all who attend our schools to build lives of genuine meaning, purpose and service in the world they will inherit. The disaster in South Asia calls us and our students to prayer and to action. In short, we are called to walk the walk and to talk the talk.
Current relief efforts are focused on basic human needs for water, shelter, food and clothing. Rather than re-invent the wheel, we advise that your school support the efforts of Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD), the Episcopal Church’s disaster relief and development agency, with monetary donations to assist in answering these basic needs. At a later date, relief efforts will turn to the rebuilding of infrastructure and institutions. NAES will be keeping the community of Episcopal schools apprised of these future, long-term needs and how you can assist with them.
To assist you in knowing where ERD is concentrating its work and funds, I include here the text from their January 6 communiqué:
Episcopal Relief and Development
Episcopal Relief and Development is expanding its emergency relief efforts in South Asia after an earthquake and tsunamis affected 11 countries on December 26. More than 150,000 have died from Somalia to Thailand and an estimated five million people have been affected by the tsunamis. Thousands may be at risk of dying from a major disease outbreak and starvation. ERD is working in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Thailand to provide critical assistance to vulnerable children and families.
ERD is working with the Church of North India to supply emergency aid to reach people affected by the disaster on Andaman and Nicobar Islands. “Our Bishop in the Diocese of Andaman and Car Nicobar Islands is safe but almost all ten churches in the islands have been washed away,” he said.
In the Church of South India, ERD is providing food, clean water, and vaccinations to families in and around Chennai. “We are providing milk and biscuits for babies and little children and giving the old and very young blankets and a change of clothes,” said Dr. Pauline Sathiamurthy, General Secretary of the Church of South India.
An ecumenical partnership is also providing vulnerable families living in affected coastal regions, including the Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu states, with food and other basic needs.
ERD is providing basic supplies such as food and first aid materials to people affected by the disaster in Sri Lanka. ERD has also shipped 1,000 plastic shelters to the Diocese of Colombo for families left homeless by the tsunamis. The shelters are water-resistant and treated with insecticide which combats malaria and houseflies. More Sri Lankan families are receiving shelter and health kits, medicines, and food through ERD’s work with its ecumenical partner.
ERD is working with Church World Service to distribute food, medicines, blankets, and health kits to families in the hard-hit Aceh Province. Children displaced by the disaster will receive counseling services.
In Thailand, ERD is working with Christ Church, an Anglican Church in Bangkok, to provide emergency assistance to people in remote villages in
southwest coastal communities. ERD’s assistance will provide clothing, counseling, and other immediate needs to devastated communities. ERD will
work with Christ Church on a long-term housing program that will build homes for families.
How to Donate to Episcopal Relief and Development
To support families devastated by the earthquake and tsunamis in South Asia, donate to the South Asia Relief Fund at
Call: 1-800-334-7626, ext. 5129.
Mail: Episcopal Relief and Development
South Asia Relief Fund
PO Box 12043
Newark, NJ 07101
As part of its efforts to raise awareness and funds, ERD has prepared a bulletin insert you may wish to use as a handout in your school community.
It is available for download from the ERD web site at
We hope that you will let us know what program(s) your school undertakes in support of relief programs. We plan to share information about them through Network, the NAES newsletter, and the Association’s web site. Please contact David Schnabel,
It is at times like this that I am grateful for the mission and ministry of Episcopal schools. Thank you for all that you do and will be doing in the days ahead.
(The Rev.) Peter G. Cheney