March 1, 2011
Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — As survivors begin to piece back their lives in the New Zealand city of Christchurch following a 6.3 magnitude quake that struck on February 22, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of New Zealand has initiated efforts to provide assistance to those who have lost homes and places of work. The death toll in Christchurch stands at 148, but authorities expect it to rise to near 200.
International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC)  is working to support relief efforts personally led by His Eminence Archbishop Amfilochios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of New Zealand and Exarch of Oceania who visited Christchurch just days after the initial quake to assess the damage and the needs of the people. Emergency supplies such as water, blankets, food and other essential items are being provided for families affected by the earthquake.
The IOCC response is being coordinated through the Chancellor of the Archdiocese in New Zealand, Fr. Christodoulos Papadeas, who previously served at Brotherhood of St. George in Denver, Colo. Also providing support is Fr. Amphilochios Basiltiotellis of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary parish in Christchurch.
Fr. Paul Patitsas, who previously served parishes in Rocky River, Ohio and Albuquerque, New Mexico, is part of IOCC's Emergency Response Network and is working with IOCC directly to manage the response. The "Frontline" as the network is known, is made up of Orthodox clergy and laity volunteers who are trained and experienced in emergency response.
Christchurch is home to three Orthodox Christian churches. Still unconfirmed is the death of a Serbian woman who was a recent émigré from Serbia to New Zealand who remains trapped in the rubble. Fr. Patitsas reports that many suffered extensive damage to their homes and have lost their places of work. The relief efforts will assist both Orthodox and non-Orthodox people who have been affected by the quake.
IOCC, founded in 1992 as the official humanitarian aid agency of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), has implemented programs in more than 35 countries around the world.
You can help the victims of disasters around the world, like those in New Zealand, by making a financial gift to the IOCC International Emergency Response Fund , which will provide immediate relief as well as long-term support through the provision of emergency aid, recovery assistance and other support to help those in need. To make a gift, please visit www.iocc.org , call toll free at 1-877-803-IOCC (4622), or mail a check or money order payable to IOCC, P.O. Box 630225, Baltimore, Md. 21263-0225.