HOTLINE - week of March 28, 2011

CWS providing emergency response in Japan; Advocacy conference inspires faith community; Conference examines Moldova water supply.

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Volunteers from Peace Boat, a Japan-based relief group, move food and other supplies made possible with CWS support.
Photo: Takeshi Komino/CWS

CWS upgrades Japan response

In Tokyo, CWS Asia/Pacific’s head of emergencies, Takeshi Komino describes a dire post-disaster scene. “Survivors that I interviewed echoed the same point: that relief efforts reported in the media are not consistently reaching them… the future is unforeseen for them, and they really do need our help.”

Komino notes that CWS partner agencies already have volunteers in the field who are playing “a key role in identifying needs and matching them with supply.”

One newly identified focus for CWS assistance involves a medical component and psychosocial care. Partnering with the Japan Platform, CWS will provide medical care including stationary and mobile medical units to assist at least 7,500 people. CWS will also provide basic hygiene items, temporary toilets and communications services to those displaced by the disaster, many of whom are now reportedly suffering from influenza and diarrhea.

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Japan -- Families search for the names of loved ones on a list of those missing or confirmed dead. As of March 27, about 17,000 people are still missing. Almost 10,500 have died, and thousands more are injured.
Photo: Takeshi  Komino/CWS

With OXFAM Japan, CWS is securing counseling services and safe, private spaces for 1,500 displaced pregnant women and mothers with young children living in crowded evacuation sites. CWS is also partnering with Peace Boat, Civic Force and Japan Lutheran Emergency Relief to distribute food, water, hygiene items, clothing and fuel to at least 10,000 individuals.  
CWS-supported assistance began on March 21, 2011, and will continue through September.

Contributions to support CWS emergency response efforts in Japan may be made online, sent to your denomination or to CWS.  Or, text CWS to 50555 to give $10.

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Advocacy conference inspires faith community to speak out

More than 700 policy and advocacy experts, theologians, congressional aides, faith leaders and grassroots activists gathered near Washington, D.C., for Ecumenical Advocacy Days (March 25 – 28). The conference, sponsored by CWS and the National Council of Churches, is designed to “help people understand not just why we must make our voices heard but also how to do it effectively," said CWS Executive Director and CEO John L. McCullough.  

This year's event, with the theme "Development, Security and Economic Justice: What's Gender Got to Do With It?" featured nearly 50 workshops focusing on domestic and international issues that affect women, who bear a disproportionate burden of poverty throughout the world.  

Though it is sometimes years – or decades – before activists see their efforts succeed, this year’s participants had at least one victory to celebrate. In January, after six years of lobbying, the ecumenical community’s efforts paid off, as President Obama announced he would restore the national churches' freedom to travel to Cuba to meet with and support partner churches there.

Read more at www.churchworldservice.org

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Conference examines Moldova water supply

This past week, CWS co-sponsored a major conference in Chisinau, Moldova --  “Implementation of the Human Right to Water and Sanitation in Moldova.” 

"Access to clean water is one of the main problems facing the Moldovan population," says Dr. Vitali Vorona, CWS regional representative for Europe. Moldova's water supply and sewer systems have degraded to the point that "up to 45 percent of the population uses drinking water that does not comply with sanitary standards," according to Vorona.  For more on this story, visit www.churchworldservice.org/news.

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