HOTLINE - week of December 20, 2010

CWS helping children gain a sense of normalcy after Mount Merapi eruption in Indonesia; Preparing and praying for peace after January referendum in South Sudan; Don't give up on the DREAM Act, says CWS; CWS Best Gifts a great way to give this holiday season.

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Children in psychosocial program
Children participating in the CWS psychosocial program sing, dance and play games to help them in their recovery.
Photo: Matt Hackworth/CWS


Even though children in most of the villages that dot Mt. Merapi's mountainside have returned to school, many haven't been able to return home because of continued threat of eruption from the volcano, which first started erupting in October.  School provides a sense of normalcy for the children, and a CWS afterschool program helps the children remain connected and supported.

"I was in the shower when the volcano erupted and I still am really scared," says Siti Fatonah, a gradeschooler.  "I come here to the program and see all my friends, and then I'm not as afraid."

CWS provides psychosocial care based on decades of experience responding to disasters. "We know that children need a sense of normalcy when their world is turned upside down," says CWS Program Officer Nofri Raco.

The children gather at a community building for games, singing and interaction to pass the time after school is over in the afternoon. CWS continues to provide emergency blankets and CWS School Kits and Baby Care Kits to those displaced by the repeated blasts of Mt. Merapi.

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Southern Sudan

In January a referendum in South Sudan will decide whether the south will split from the north. It is predicted that many of the 500,000 or so southerners living in northern Sudan will travel to the south before the referendum—straining already fragile resources and infrastructure—and many have registered to vote in anticipation of the referendum.

“We all registered early the very first day,” says Cecilia Akuyu, a United Methodist Women member in Pisak.  The Rev. Isaac Sebit, a United Methodist pastor in nearby Yei, says, “We’ve lived with war for too long... it’s our destiny to be independent. God wants us to be free.”

The referendum on independence, scheduled for Jan. 9, is part of the terms from the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The CPA ended a 22-year-war between north and south Sudan that killed more than 2 million people. Keeping the peace has not been easy however, and international observers are preparing for possible scenarios—including resumption of hostilities—depending on how the vote plays out.

In September, Christian leaders began “101 days of prayer for a peaceful referendum in Southern Sudan.” Joining churches from Southern Sudan with brothers and sisters worldwide, it is an ecumenical movement dedicated to praying for peace no matter the outcome of the referendum. A movement for peace, it joins people in prayer for the future of South Sudan.

About a recent ecumenical service, Rev. Sebit said, "We prayed that God will help us to be independent and live in peace,” he says. “We want our children’s future to be different than the painful past we have endured.”

CWS-supported efforts in central and southern Sudan include preparedness training for 180 staff of ACT Alliance members, pre-positioning of shelter and water purification supplies to assist 5,000 households, and a plan to procure 5,000 emergency kits containing water purification tablets, tarpaulins, mosquito nets, blankets, plastic mats, cooking and kitchen utensils, jerry cans, soap and machetes.

In the Darfur region of Sudan, the CWS-supported ACT program continues to deliver life-saving services for some 350,000 displaced people and to the communities hosting them.

For more, please see the article by Paul Jeffrey at

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The Dream Act

Church World Service has expressed deep disappointment that the Senate on Saturday blocked the DREAM Act, which would offer protection and a path to legalization for thousands of young, highly achieving and productive undocumented immigrants who have grown in the U.S. CWS is telling those young people, "Don't give up the dream," and urging lawmakers to bring the issue to life again and to a favorable conclusion early in the new Congress. Senate co-sponsors Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) have said that they are committed to doing just that.

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CWS Best Gifts

Make a new tradition this year and be the change in the world by giving your loved ones a CWS Best Gift—you’ll be amazed at the lives you’ll touch! Visit

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May the peace and joy of this holy season fill your life with light today and always.  Merry Christmas!

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


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