HOTLINE - week of March 7, 2011

Tsunami survivors in Indonesia will soon trade tents for transitional housing; International Women's Day is March 8; Human Rights Commission Hearing: safe water for all is vital.

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Family living in tent
Indonesia – After surviving the October 2010 earthquake and tsunami in the Mentawai Islands, this family has been staying in a tent for more than two months, with no privacy.
Photo: Andreas Sinaga /CWS Indonesia


Not meant for long-term use, the tent camps still housing survivors in the Mentawai Islands have grown cramped, uncomfortable and unsafe for those who lost their homes in last fall’s earthquake and tsunami. Some 1,200 displaced families on Pagai Selatan Island are hoping for help in building a new house or transitional shelter so they can truly begin to rebuild their lives.

Living in a small tent with his wife and five children, Linus worries about his family. “We don’t stay in the tent during the day because it’s really hot,” he says, “but at night it gets chilly.” He earns his living as a fisherman but doesn’t stay at work long, fearing his family’s belongings may be stolen from their tent.

Immediately after the disaster, CWS began providing resources to help displaced families.  Now, getting the survivors into safer, more durable housing is a high priority. Working with the local government, CWS is helping provide construction materials and teaching the survivors how to build semi-permanent houses. These can be built quickly and then enhanced to withstand wind and rain – and most earthquakes.

For Linus and others whose homes have been washed away, having a secure and private place to call home will allow them to focus on rebuilding their lives. And the training and resources CWS provides will help ensure that lives and livelihoods are restored.

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International Women's Day

Woman and child
CWS-supported programs help empower women to return to school, start businesses and provide for their families.
Photo: Henry Jones

March 8, 2011, is a global day of celebrating the contributions – and the potential – of women. For this, the IWD’s centennial year, the United Nations has adopted the theme, “Equal access to education, training, science and technology: Pathway to decent work.” It’s a statement that also aptly describes one of the ways CWS strives to empower women in developing nations, where they are often undervalued and impoverished.

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Safe water for all

On March 3, 2011, faith leaders, water and sanitation experts, and government officials appeared before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission to present the challenges – and the opportunities – in resolving worldwide safe water issues.

Among them was CWS Executive Director and CEO the Rev. John L. McCullough, who described the lack of safe water and sanitation for much of the world’s population as “an affront to human rights.”
CWS supports water initiatives around the world, helping villagers work together to develop and maintain their own clean water and sanitation resources. McCullough said even the poorest communities can have access to clean water through simple, effective and inexpensive technologies such as bio-sand filters.
The massive U.S. budget cuts recently proposed for global humanitarian aid would hurt provision for both water and food security.

To read more, visit

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