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WOCCU announces disaster relief for Haiti quake
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (1/14/10)--The World Council of Credit Unions is attempting to contact local authorities and its own program staff working in Haiti to assess how best to help the estimated three million people who will be affected by Tuesday's devastating earthquake. Intermittant communications from Greta Greathouse, chief of party for WOCCU's Haiti HYFIVE microfinance program, indicate that WOCCU staff members are uninjured and accounted for. But Greathouse said there has been significant destruction to the island.
Click to view larger image Roughly three million men, women and children are affected by the earthquake in Haiti, said the World Council of Credit Unions. This photo was taken before the devastating earthquake. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions.)
The tiny island nation has 175 credit unions and 404,090 credit union members, according to WOCCU's statistical reports. Reverberations from the earthquake's epicenter, located 10 miles south of Port-au-Prince all but leveled Haiti's capital city. Hospitals have crumbled as have the presidential palace and the United Nations peacekeepers' headquarters (see related story on United Nations FCU's efforts). The death toll is expected to be in the thousands. It is likely credit unions are damaged. Last July, WOCCU launched a three-year program in Haiti to extend financial services to Haiti's rural poor with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development. The $34.4 million program is working to bring savings, credit and remittance products to underserved areas of Haiti and provide technical training to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. "The people of Haiti already had difficult lives, and it's almost impossible to imagine the devastation the earthquake has brought them," said Pete Crear, WOCCU president/CEO. "I'm thankful that our staff in Haiti is safe, and we're ready to assist them in their recovery efforts." WOCCU has fostered relief and rebuilding efforts during past international disasters, including the December 2004 Asian tsunami and earthquakes, the February 2006 Philippines landslide, and earthquakes in Peru, El Salvador and Malawi. WOCCU is now accepting donations to provide similar assistance to Haiti and its people. "We are committed to helping Haiti's citizens survive this crisis," said Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president and chief operating officer. "Donations to the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions will help us achieve this goal." To support Haiti's credit unions and members through the international credit union disaster fund, make payments, via check, credit card or wire to: Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions Inc., 5710 Mineral Point Road, Madison, WI 53705, USA. Donations also can be made online with a credit card at www.woccu.org/give. For wire transfer information, contact Valerie Breunig, Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions at 608-395-2055 or via e-mail vbreunig@woccu.org. Please indicate the donation is designated for the Haiti Disaster Relief Fund. U.S. credit unions also can support WOCCU's relief efforts by donating through the National Credit Union Foundation's CUAid system, which has been activated at www.CUAID.coop.
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