2010: Scientology Volunteer Ministers Provide Aid World Over in the Wake of Disaster
Over the course of the past twelve months, hundreds of thousands trained in the skills of the Scientology Volunteer Minister reached out and helped others in times of disaster. Their actions embodied the words of Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard: “A Volunteer Minister does not shut his eyes to the pain, evil and injustice of existence. Rather, he is trained to handle these things and help others achieve relief from them and new personal strength as well.”
In the tradition of the Scientology Volunteer Ministers, who worked tirelessly at Ground Zero in the months following 9/11, Scientologists took temporary leave of their homes, families and jobs in 2010 to help rescue the lives and livelihoods of victims of natural and manmade disasters.
Bringing the disaster relief techniques that have made the Volunteer Ministers’ bright yellow tents and T-shirts a symbol of effective help at more than 200 disaster sites worldwide, in 2010 they provided physical and spiritual aid to victims and rescue workers at more than a dozen major disaster sites.
January 2010 – Haiti
The defining moment of 2010 Volunteer Minister service began just before 5 p.m. on January 12 when a 7.0 earthquake sent shockwaves through the nation of Haiti. In reply, on January 16, the Church of Scientology sponsored a chartered transport from JFK, carrying hundreds of doctors, nurses and EMTs—as well as Volunteer Ministers, to provide support services for medical teams. In the weeks following, the Church sponsored four additional chartered flights for volunteer medical teams. Owing to logistical bottlenecks to the island, the Church further sponsored the chartering of a former Coast Guard vessel to transport hundreds of tons of medical supplies, equipment, food, water and clothing. Additional Scientology Volunteer Ministers accompanied each charter, to provide support in makeshift hospitals, camps for the homeless and orphanages. Volunteer Ministers also provided care to the injured and displaced, delivering “assists” to relieve spiritual and emotional trauma.
In total, working in liaison with international relief organizations, Volunteer Ministers from 22 nations stepped forward to answer the call for help in Haiti. As Vincent Gennaro, Assistant Chief of Surgery for Project Medishare’s Haiti Relief Effort put it, “No matter what we asked Volunteer Ministers to do—it didn’t make any difference. They didn’t ask any questions. They just did it.”
February 2010 – Chile
On February 27, an 8.8 earthquake devastated Chile, triggering three successive tsunami waves that struck coastal cities. Within hours, Chilean Volunteer Ministers were on the ground distributing supplies to the affected, in tandem with the Red Cross. Later joined by Volunteer Ministers from Mexico and the United States, they established their base outside Conception, the city hardest hit by the disaster. Their operation focused on providing logistical aid to disaster sites, from Donihue to Coltauco. Volunteer Ministers additionally teamed with naval personnel from the base in Vina del Mar. In providing emotional succor, more than 4,800 Chileans received help from Scientology Volunteer Ministers.
March 2010 – Uganda
In March, torrential rains in eastern Uganda touched off a series of mudslides, devastating villages. In response, Volunteer Ministers travelled from across the border in Kenya, assisting with search and rescue operations for unaccounted villagers. The Volunteer Ministers further assisted the displaced and injured living in “tent camps” housing nearly 30 thousand in the aftermath.
May 2010 – Nashville
On May 1, in the wake of Tennessee thunderstorms, the Cumberland River crested at 52 feet in Nashville—a level not seen since 1937. Volunteer Ministers mobilized from Nashville’s Church of Scientology, joining forces with local Red Cross. Volunteer Ministers also teamed with Hands-On Nashville, a local volunteer disaster unit, to provide on-the-ground coordination for relief efforts. Volunteer Ministers further established and operated Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) food banks and vaccine stations in community centers across the city, in addition to assisting the National Guard with emergency ration distribution.
May 2010 – Guatemala
The Pacaya volcano erupted in Guatemala on May 28, with rising plumes 6 miles into the air. Guatemalan Volunteer Ministers immediately provided assistance in the shelters at Amatitlan. In the aftermath of Tropical Storm Agatha’s floods and landslides, Volunteer Ministers attended evacuees in shelters at Villa Canales and San Miguel Escobar. For their efforts, Volunteer Ministers earned the respect and recognition from CONRED (National Coordination for the Reduction of Disasters) and were placed on their rolls of disaster relief forces.
July 2010 – Pakistan
When floods struck the Indus River Basin, it stood as Pakistan's worst natural disaster in memory. Volunteer Minister teams from Karachi escorted and cared for displaced children, provided much-needed rations and supplies, and airlifted emergency medical teams to bring antibiotics and fresh water to those afflicted.
September 2010 – New Zealand
When New Zealand was hit with a 7.1 earthquake, Volunteer Ministers from Auckland ran relief logistics in partnership with the local Red Cross.
September 2010 – Northern California
In San Bruno, California, San Francisco-based Volunteer Ministers were among the first responders to a gasline explosion. They worked shoulder-to-shoulder with civil defense personnel to help clean up debris and man emergency ration lines.
Through the course of providing disaster relief in the past 10 years, Scientology Volunteer Ministers have trained and partnered with more than 800 organizations, including the Red Cross, FEMA, National Guard, Salvation Army, Mexico’s International Rescue Brigade, Boy Scouts and hundreds of local, regional and national groups and organizations, giving freely of their skills, their care and compassion.
New 2010 Volunteer Minister Website
The Volunteer Ministers not only serve at worst-case disasters, but stand ready to provide help with everyday “disasters.” To expand this help, 2010 saw the launch of a new website: volunteerministers.org. The site content has been translated in 17 languages and includes online training in assist technology, as well as practical skills to help individuals in need—including the resolution of marital strife, rearing children, overcoming drug addiction and much more.
The Scientology Volunteer Minister program was initiated by Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard in 1976. There are now hundreds of thousands of people trained in the skills of a Volunteer Minister across 185 nations.