HOTLINE - week of January 17, 2011

Earthquake strikes southwestern Pakistan; Communities in Nicaragua improve their access to food and clean water; A Cambodian village improves access to year-round food with water from new wells; Girls in Mozambique gain new skills and confidence to stay in school; CWS continues assistance for quake survivors in Haiti

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Young Marieta's family is growing, drying and storing corn for food and for sale in the market in a CWS-supported program in Nicaragua.
Photo: CWS

Pakistan

Parts of southwestern Pakistan are reeling from a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck at 1:23 a.m. local time (3:23 p.m. EST, Jan. 18) near the Afghanistan border.  The quake's epicenter was near the city of Dalbandin.  CWS has an extensive presence in Pakistan and will provide updates as they become available once assessment is possible.

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Nicaragua

"When I see food I give thanks. When I eat food I give thanks," says Marciel Humaya, who works on food programs for CWS with partner CIEETS in Nicaragua. There, nearly half the population lives in poverty.

Church World Service is working with CIEETS, Interchurch Center of Theological and Social Studies, to improve the lives of rural families, who are gaining skills in sustainable agriculture and learning new techniques for food production that are vital for better health and nutrition.  

The families are also gaining clean water through a CWS-supported program that uses gravity to bring safe water down the mountainsides to villages below.  

“We hiked more than two hours to get to a rural community, worshipped together and witnessed the importance of having access to clean, potable water,” reports Don Tatlock, CWS Central America and Caribbean Liaison, on a visit to a community assisted by CWS.

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Cambodia

Today, gardens of tomatoes, eggplants and other vegetables grow in the village of Trang Khla year-round.  Dry, dusty beds of sand used to dot the village before Church World Service came to work with the people there.

“Lack of access to water used to be a very big problem here,” explains an old woman.  “Besides not having water for our own consumption, our harvest completely depended on the rainy season.  Most of the year we could not grow anything.”  

With CWS help, the people in the village dug wells and constructed concrete walls and aprons around them, making them more hygienic.  

“It’s such a difference from the situation before,” adds the woman.  “We can drink whenever we are thirsty, and we can water the plants from our own well.”

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Mozambique

Some 600 girls are being empowered by a CWS-supported program focusing on girls’ education and protection.  Through the encouragement of CWS partner PEDRA (Portuguese for “stone”), girls ages 10-14 are attending school, participating in after-school skills-building activities and postponing early marriages.  

The girls develop self-confidence and a sense of achievement, and become motivated to stay in school.  They also gain HIV/AIDS awareness and learn to make informed decisions about their future.  
Last year, some of the girls learned about savings and small business, and sold their embroidery and other products. Others learned how to plant banana trees and received seedlings to plant at home; planted vegetable gardens and sold the produce; or learned the basic use of sewing machines so they could make simple school bags.  Some trained with a Shakespearean theater group to broaden their experience. And, 12 older girls started a computer class and are training younger girls.  

The future is becoming brighter for them and their families.

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Haiti

Polycarpe Joseph
Haiti--FOPJ director Polycarpe Joseph distributes CWS Blankets at the CWS-supported FOPJ "House of Hope" in Port-au-Prince.
Photo: Chris Herlinger/CWS

“Our concern is that now that the earthquake anniversary is over, the world may neglect or ignore Haiti,” says Aaron Tate, CWS Haiti Earthquake Response Coordinator.  CWS and other ACT Alliance members continue to assist families in recovering their lives.   

One of the key issues in 2011 will be to link reconstruction with already existing long-term development projects.  The goal is not simply to rebuild, but to address the underlying causes of people’s vulnerability to disasters, such as the lack of economic resources.   

CWS is focusing on several priorities, which include continued support and expansion through 2012 for 13 farming cooperatives in the Northwest and Artibonite regions, as well as continued support through 2012 for people with disabilities and their families in Port-au-Prince.  

CWS also provides ongoing support for programs for vulnerable Haitian children in Port-au-Prince through Haitian partner FOPJ (Ecumenical Foundation for Peace and Justice)--initiatives that “help young people see a better future,” says FOPJ director Polycarpe Joseph.

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