HOTLINE - week of December 13, 2010

CWS continues to assist people with disabilities in Haiti; Families in Serbia gain new livelihoods with CWS help; CWS Best Gifts a great way to give this holiday season.

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Mireille Emerival
Haiti--Mireille Emerival struggles to cope with life in a wheelchair and raising two children.  Emerival is participating in a CWS program for people with disabilities.
Photo: Maria Halava/ACT


Even before the Jan. 12 earthquake, many Haitians lived with serious, ongoing challenges.  One such person is Mireille Emerival, a mother of two boys -- and a widow.  Injured 11 years ago when she was shot by home invaders, she has been in a wheelchair ever since.

“Since my husband died, I’ve been alone with my two children. Moving around has been difficult and we haven’t had anybody to help us. Life has not been easy,” she says.

Life became much worse after the earthquake. Emerival only got aid when she was accepted into a Church World Service program for people with disabilities.

“Since March, I have been able to discuss things with social workers. For the first time, I feel like I’ve been acknowledged and that I’m part of something,” she says.

Through the CWS program, people with disabilities have gained access to services, psychosocial support, trauma counseling and tools or working capital to recover their jobs and incomes.

After the earthquake, CWS met with the program’s 600 participants to assess the right kind of support for them.

As well as the support from social workers, Emerival receives $75 each month. With that help, she has started a small business selling candies and baked goods, earning income to meet her family’s needs.

“I still need to pay the school fees for the children and to rehabilitate our house after the earthquake. But all in all, I’m coping better now,” she says.

In addition to helping people with trauma normalize their lives, priorities are housing, getting children back in school, and creating livelihood opportunities.

“People have to deal with more than just the earthquake now. All the problems and difficulties they had even before accumulated on that particular day,” says Marie Yona Fabre, a psychologist working with an ACT Alliance affiliate.  

“The most important thing is what people can do themselves and how they can help themselves go forward in their lives,” Fabre says.

Additionally, CWS continues to address emergency and recovery needs in the wake of the Jan. 12 earthquake, and support the work of agricultural cooperatives in northwest Haiti.  And, as part of cholera prevention and mitigation, CWS is providing CWS Hygiene Kits and water purification supplies in the Artibonite and Northwest regions, as well as in Carrefour-Feuilles and other parts of Port-au-Prince.  CWS and its partners are also providing education and doing outreach on good hygiene practices.

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The Roma population is the poorest in Serbia.  Faced with ongoing discrimination, Roma people live in marginalized communities, and many of the children don’t attend school.  

“My family came from Kosovo and we lived off physical labor and daily wages.  We worked hard and have recently taken in my grandparents, who had been living in one of the collective centers in southern Serbia,” says Redzep Tafiri.

CWS is providing vocational and other training for refugees and internally-displaced families to facilitate their access to economic opportunities.  

Explains Tafiri, “I finished hairdresser’s school and have practiced in the field.  I applied for a CWS grant to help me start a business--a hair studio.”  

Tafiri’s salon is the first private business opened in the Roma settlement of Zemun Polje, in the suburbs of Belgrade.  In addition to being joined by two other hairdressers, Tafiri also offers an opportunity for young, upcoming hairdressers, who have completed the ‘Branko Pesic’ elementary school and enrolled in the hairdressing courses, to become apprentices.

CWS works with Branko Pesic school as part of its Income Generation for Roma Families project, developed to supplement ongoing preparatory education for vulnerable Roma children.

“For the first time in my life, I feel that things depend solely on my own strengths and effort, and I feel energized and sure of myself," says Tafiri.  "If my shop proves to be a profitable and valuable business, it will ensure a long-term income and stability for my family.  

“I am so grateful to CWS for… working with us and investing in our communities," says Tafiri.  "I hope my shop can serve as an example not just to my neighbors but to other Roma and non-Roma underprivileged communities.”

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CWS Best Gifts

To quote Winston Churchill, "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."  

Green up your holiday by giving your loved ones a CWS Best Gift--providing hope for people in need around the world. Visit

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