Area mission plans tsunami relief effort

Published 6:00 am Thursday, January 6, 2005

Alexander Macleod and the Rev. Ben Yoo thought it would takeyears before they could pursue plans to build orphanages in southAsia. With the recent tsunami ravaging the country, they’ve had tostep up their efforts.

The two are putting together a team, through the McComb-basedUnited Brethren Mission, to build orphanages and reconstruct homesdestroyed by the Dec. 26 disaster that demolished homes and claimedthousands of lives.

“This has just intensified the need to do this,” Macleodsaid.

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Yoo agreed, saying, “It’s a good time to do this. We believe wehave to do something for the people there.”

Mission work of this sort is not new to Macleod and Yoo. Theyhave worked as volunteers in India, constructing churches andpreserving the water supply. The United Brethren Mission was formedto address situations such as the one in Sri Lanka, said Macleod, atheology teacher in the country.

Macleod missed being in Sri Lanka and the tsunami by only a fewweeks. The Scotland native, who was trained at Reformed TheologicalSeminary in Jackson, had traveled to McComb in early December tospend the Christmas holidays with the Yoos. He believes the tripmay have saved his life.

“My family is pretty relieved that I wasn’t there at the time.When I heard about it, I was shocked. This kind of thing is hardlyever heard of,” Macleod said. “There was tremendous loss of lifeand devastation along the entire coastline.”

Macleod has talked with the principal of the college where heteaches and several of his friends there about the damage leftafter the incident.

“They say there is massive destruction everywhere,” he said.”From the reports I’ve heard, it will take years for them torecover from this.”

Already, Macleod and Yoo have been contacted by numerous peopleexpressing a desire be part of the team. The two need about 12volunteers skilled in construction and the medical field to meetthe needs in Sri Lanka. The workers will travel to Sri Lanka at theend of March for a three-month mission effort.

“We also need people who are able to deal with the circumstancesthere, and obviously, they have to be flexible,” Macleod said.”There are many people here who want to help and have theresources.”

But their greatest need now is financial funding and donationsin the form of building materials and medical supplies.

“We want to do the best that we can do,” said Macleod. “We hopeto be able to improve the situation of some of the people.”

To help out, contact Yoo at (601) 810-4272 or mail contributionsto the United Brethren Mission, 135 S. Sixth Street, McComb, MS39648.