HOTLINE - week of December 6, 2010

CWS continues assistance for families affected by Indonesian tsunami; Indigenous peoples in Gran Chaco improve their lives, with CWS help; CWS security training assists humanitarian groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan; Check out Best Gifts for this holiday season

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Young survivor of earthquake & tsunami
Indonesia--A young survivor of the earthquake and tsunami in the Mentawai islands; he and his family are using water from a reservoir for daily needs.
Photo: Ikhsan Mentong/CWS


On Oct. 25, a powerful earthquake struck the Mentawai Islands off the western coast of the island of Sumatra, resulting in a tsunami with 12-foot waves pushing more than a quarter mile inland in some areas. More than 400 people were killed, and at least 700 homes damaged. Some 15,000 people remain displaced.  Most of the disaster-affected areas are remote and isolated, with small boats the only means of transport for emergency relief.

CWS and local partners are arranging alternative transportation due to the logistical challenges. CWS has provided a 30 x 40-foot warehouse tent that is serving as a health center, 226 baby care packages, 434 plastic mats, 266 tarpaulins, along with ropes, packs of cooking and eating utensils, and 900 CWS Blankets.  

During the crisis phase, CWS is also providing emergency water, sanitation and hygiene facilities for three months for 300 households who have been displaced or lost their homes due to the earthquake and tsunami.  CWS is also providing emergency shelter tool kits for the families.

In the post-crisis phase, which will last some nine months, CWS will provide transitional shelters for 100 displaced households. In addition, CWS will help to improve access to water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, and local partner agencies will improve their capacities through a series of CWS training sessions on disaster preparedness, community-based disaster risk management, community organizing and development, project management and relief standards.

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Gran Chaco

As we observe Human Rights Day, Dec. 10, CWS continues to assist the indigenous peoples of the Gran Chaco region of South America.

The Gran Chaco is home to dozens of indigenous hunter-gatherer peoples who for thousands of years lived in harmony with their eco-system, before losing most of their land.  Through the Chaco Initiative, CWS and local partners are working with indigenous communities to regain traditional lands; develop livelihoods via training in sustainable agriculture, seed banks and improved animal raising; and heighten focus on education and the protection of human rights.

CWS and its partners in Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay are strengthening the organizational capacity of groups of indigenous men and women in the Gran Chaco to secure legal title to their ancestral territory and to use the land in ways that are economically, socially and culturally sustainable.

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Recently, 34 managers from several non-governmental organizations operating in Pakistan and Afghanistan participated in a week-long CWS security and risk management workshop in Murree, Pakistan.

“In response to the growing and changing nature of threats to humanitarian groups across Asia and the Pacific--particularly local organizations--we want to increase the capacity of the humanitarian community to assess and manage the risks of their environments,” says Kathrine Alexandrowiz, coordinator of the regional risk management project and head of programs for CWS in Asia and the Pacific.

Paul Wooster, facilitator for the training, is also carrying out workshops in Thailand, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.  He says that Pakistan and Afghanistan are particularly challenging due to the presence of international forces and the shrinking humanitarian space for aid groups.  “NGOs face a range of threats including kidnapping, improvised explosive devices and suicide attacks,” he adds. “Security affects everything about how an organization works--what we do, how we do it, where we do it, and when we do it.”

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Best Gifts

As the holidays approach, CWS Best Gifts are a great way to let your loved ones know you care.  

Visit to pick out your gifts and help families and communities around the world.

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Your support for Church World Service work around the world and in the U.S. is urgently needed.


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