HOTLINE - week of April 18, 2011

Japan's nuclear crisis now elevated to Chernobyl proportions; One woman's story in Kenya; Global humanitarian relief at risk in 2012 Budget proposal; CWS keeps wary eye on natural disasters across U.S.

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Riziki Yoana, Kenya, has gone from homeless to hopeful – selling vegetables and supporting her three children and four siblings after their home was demolished by a private developer.
Photo: CWS

Japan’s nuclear crisis level now elevated

One month after a massive earthquake and tsunami struck the northeastern coast of Japan and crippled a Fukushima nuclear power plant, the Japanese government has raised the crisis level to 7 – the top of the global scale for nuclear incidents. On par with the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the ongoing nuclear crisis is unlikely to be resolved in the near future.

CWS will provide more than $2.8 million in assistance, focusing on emergency support to about 25,000 individuals now living at evacuation sites in northeastern prefectures. Along with food and water, relief efforts thus far by CWS and its local partners have included medical care provided by stationary and mobile medical clinics; patient transportation; hygiene items and toilet facilities; and generators, high-pressure sprayers and washing machines.  

Today, CWS partner Peace Boat begins relief assistance in Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture, providing 2,000 hot meals per day to evacuees in the area and cleaning debris from evacuation sites and surrounding areas.

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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Job lost, opportunity found: one woman’s story in Kenya

Riziki Yoana lived in a 10-foot by 10-foot room with her three children and four siblings in Kisauni, Mombasa in Kenya – until a private developer bulldozed their home and displaced 500 other families as well. She was working as a household helper when she heard the news.

Yoana was allowed two days off to find new living arrangements. Unfortunately, she couldn’t secure shelter for the family until the third day and was dismissed when she tried to return to work. Her job had been their only source of income. “I was both jobless and homeless,” she says.

“The pain of watching my siblings and my three children sleeping in the open without anything to eat was unbearable.” Ultimately, Yoana found assistance through the CWS Giving Hope program. Along with food and housing support, CWS provided a seed grant so Yoana could start a business selling vegetables – which has become quite successful. She now earns double what she made as a household helper.

With money to pay rent and expand her business, Yoana is also thinking of sending her children and siblings to school. “CWS has given me hope to live again!”

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Global humanitarian relief at risk in 2012 Budget proposal

When President Obama and Congress reached an agreement on April 9, averting a possible government shutdown, the global humanitarian aid community breathed a sigh of relief.

Even in the face of an $8 billion cut in foreign affairs spending, the 2011 budget agreement preserves most of the assistance for our impoverished and vulnerable global neighbors. The recent compromise comes on the heels of an advocacy campaign waged by CWS and other relief agencies to let lawmakers know the impact that devastating cuts could have.

Contrary to a widespread but mistaken view, humanitarian and poverty-focused foreign aid make up less than 1 percent of the total federal budget. “Drastic cuts in this area will not help to solve the budget crisis,” said CWS Executive Director and CEO, the Rev. John L. McCullough.

Though the short-term budget fears have been lifted, the proposed 2012 budget still includes a nearly 30 percent reduction to international funding. CWS urges Congress to continue its assistance to our hungry and impoverished neighbors.

On the domestic side of the 2012 budget, notes McCullough, analysts have estimated that about two-thirds of the cuts in the multiyear proposal would come from assistance for low-income Americans. In an April 13 statement, McCullough also told Congress that, in poor countries, recent advances in development could be reversed if major cuts in 2012 funding are enacted. “Millions of additional people will go hungry. Countless more children will lose their lives to preventable and treatable diseases.”

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CWS keeps wary eye on natural disasters across U.S.

CWS is monitoring spring flooding in the Upper Midwest, particularly Fargo, Grand Forks, and Devil’s Lake, N.D. As a pre-emptive measure, CWS Emergency Blankets are being supplied to partners in Fargo including the American Red Cross, Lutheran Disaster Response and UMCOR. In addition, CWS will provide $2,000 for community-based efforts Devil’s Lake, which is close to overflowing.

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