2001-2011: The Volunteer Ministers Movement—10 Years of Indiscriminate Help
Over the past 10 years the Scientology Volunteer Ministers movement has become the world’s largest independent relief force.More than 800 Scientology Volunteer Ministers provided help at Ground Zero in New York in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, where they became known for their compassion, skill and willingness to take on any task. The Volunteer Minister tent at Ground Zero was known as “Freedom Café.” Rescue workers came for meals, companionship, and Scientology disaster relief techniques to help them cope with the daunting rescue effort. Hundreds of Volunteer Ministers from around the world helped with any needed task after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, from organizing supplies and distributing food to caring for newborn babies. Scientology Volunteer Ministers served in shelters for those left homeless by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, described as the worst disaster to strike Japan since the end of World War II.
The 800 Scientology Volunteer Ministers who served at Ground Zero in helping New York recover from the terrorist attacks of 9/11 have inspired the growth of a movement that now spans the globe. In September 2001 there were 6,000 Volunteer Ministers—with more than 200,000 today, it is the largest independent relief force in the world.
In creating the Volunteer Minister movement in 1976, Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard wrote: “A Volunteer Minister is a person who helps his fellow man on a volunteer basis by restoring purpose, truth and spiritual values to the lives of others…. He uses the technology of Scientology to change conditions for the better—for himself, his family, his groups, friends, associates and for Mankind.”
In carrying out that mandate, Volunteer Ministers have stacked sandbags along the Danube and rescued flood victims in Mozambique, Thailand and Pakistan. They provided relief to firefighters battling blazes in Australia, California, Greece, Israel and South Africa. They cleaned up after mudslides in Uganda, hurricanes and tornados in America, typhoons in Indonesia, and cyclones in Australia and Africa. And they brought relief and calm in the wake of terrorist attacks not only in New York, but also in London, Mumbai, Moscow and Madrid.
Volunteer Ministers from 26 nations flew to India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Indonesia to help survivors of the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Upward of 900 Volunteer Ministers responded to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. They flew into Pisco, Peru, after the 2007 earthquake, and delivered supplies and medical relief in Bihar, India, by boat when floods submerged entire villages, in 2008. And they were the backbone of the reconstruction effort after the 2009 6.3 earthquake in L’Aquila, Italy.
The Volunteer Ministers have been acknowledged for the thousands of lives they saved after the Haiti earthquake of January 2010. A permanent Volunteer Minister base trains and coordinates the work of hundreds of Volunteer Minister teams that continue to help in displaced persons camps.
In 2011, Volunteer Ministers responded to fires near Haifa, Israel; floods in Australia, Thailand and Pakistan; the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand; and tornadoes in Alabama and Missouri. But it was Japan where the VM activities took on epic proportions this year.
Despite media predicting imminent nuclear cataclysm, Volunteer Ministers began arriving in Northeastern Japan within hours of the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and 40-meter tsunami. Volunteer Ministers helped with search and rescue and providing succor to the survivors and continue providing relief throughout the today.
Since September 11, 2001, the work of the Volunteer Ministers has truly embodied the vision of L. Ron Hubbard for the program: “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.”
Through the last 10 years, Scientology Volunteer Ministers have trained and partnered with more than 1,100 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. They have provided physical and spiritual relief at more than 200 disaster sites.
Today hundreds of thousands of individuals are trained in the skills of a Volunteer Minister across 185 nations.