HOTLINE - week of April 25, 2011

Response to nature's fury across the U.S. ramps up; Democracy, development, peace, unity: Haiti's dream; Still gaps in humanitarian aid for Japan.

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Anne Suze Denestant
Haitian Anne Suze Denestant lost an arm in the 2010 earthquake.  She is a beneficiary of CWS support for disabled persons.
Photo: CWS

Response to nature’s fury ramps up

High winds, tornadoes, floods and wildfires continue to hammer several regions of the United States, causing severe damage and loss of life. Government officials are assessing the full extent of damage to the communities affected, and CWS Emergency Response Specialists are working with FEMA and area-specific disaster relief organizations to determine how best to help.

North Carolina’s Bertie and Cumberland counties have been declared a federal disaster; 24 people have died in severe storms and tornadoes, and more than 6,000 homes and businesses have been destroyed. Alabama has also suffered major destruction; in Tuscaloosa, two churches and several homes were destroyed. Other states with homes destroyed include Georgia, Virginia, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Arkansas.

Serious wildfires continue in Texas and New Mexico, and flooding is taking a toll in other states. The overflowing Red River is threatening communities in Minnesota, and in North Dakota flooding has left farmers unable to care for their livestock. In New York, Iowa and Virginia, flooding is occurring or imminent as streams and rivers rise to record high levels.
In addition to providing hygiene kits, emergency clean-up buckets and blankets as needed, CWS will also help communities develop long-term recovery plans as requested.

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Democracy, development, peace, unity: all one drea

Easter is “a symbol of going from good to bad,” said Polycarpe Joseph, head of the Ecumenical Center for Peace and Justice in Haiti. In an April 20 interview, he told CWS staff that, for Haiti, it also served as a reminder of the need to break the cycle of poverty and embrace true development.

“It’s a time to move from violence to peace, to move from division to reconciliation,” he said. “Democracy, development, peace and unity: it’s all one dream.”

Herode Guillomettre agreed. As president of the Christian Center for Integrated Development (known locally as SKDE) a CWS partner, Guillomettre urged CWS and its supporters to “continue to stand behind the Haitian people, by developing a relationship that goes beyond partnership.” He wants the Haitian people to be active in their own development, to end their dependency.

Currently, more than a year since the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, hundreds of thousands of people are still living in tents in Port-au-Prince and other locations. “You can’t have tent cities forever,” Guillomettre said.

CWS is supporting several long-term initiatives in Haiti, including working with SKDE to support and expand 13 food cooperatives in northwest Haiti; supporting programs for vulnerable Haitian children – including domestic servants, former gang members or teenage mothers – run by the Ecumenical Center for Peace and Justice; and supporting 1,200 disabled Haitians through housing repair and cash assistance programs.

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Still gaps in humanitarian aid for Japan

In Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture, where more than 5,500 of its 163,000 citizens were lost, shops are opening and road repairs are beginning in a city that was covered in water. But there are still gaps between the assistance needed and the help provided in some areas.

With local Japanese partner organizations Peace Boat, Civic Force and Japan Lutheran Emergency Relief, CWS is working to fill those gaps by providing food, water, health and medical services, hygiene items, clothing and fuel to survivors in the country’s quake and tsunami-decimated northeast coast.

Takeshi Komino, CWS head of emergency response for the Asia/Pacific Region, said four 10-ton trucks were loaded with supplies in Tokyo and delivered to at least 10,000 people in Miyagi’s Ishinomaki and Kesunnuma cities. An estimated 135,000 people are living in registered evacuation sites across Japan; thousands more may be living in unregistered sites.

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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