HOTLINE - week of May 2, 2011

Killer tornado outbreak in southeast United States; Rwandan orphan realizes his dream; CWS urges support for Domestic Refugee Reform and Modernization Act.

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AL children Reuters Lee Celano_1.jpg
Children rummage among debris of Rosedale Courts housing complex in the aftermath of deadly tornados in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Photo: REUTERS/Lee Celano, courtesy www.alertnet.org

Massive tornado outbreak brings death and destruction to southeastern U.S.

Storms spawning more than 200 tornadoes swept through six states April 27, leaving hundreds dead and thousands homeless. Alabama was the hardest hit, with more than 250 confirmed dead and many more injured or still missing.

An EF-5 tornado with winds up to 205 mph struck Smithville, Miss., according to the National Weather Service. Other states with fatalities caused by the violent twisters were Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia and Kentucky, where homes and businesses were also swept away.
    
President Obama has signed emergency declarations for Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia, promising federal support for response efforts. Church World Service is in contact with member denominations, partner agencies, FEMA and other disaster recovery officials as they respond to immediate needs.
 
In addition to providing CWS Hygiene Kits, Emergency Clean-up Buckets and Blankets as needed, CWS is preparing to respond to requests for training support as well as requests for financial support for long-term recovery efforts.

The recent tornadoes – including the EF-4 twister that hit St. Louis, Mo., on April 22 – have come on the heels of ongoing spring disasters across the country; parts of the Middle West – particularly areas near the upper Mississippi River, the Ohio River and the Red River in North Dakota – continue to be threatened by floods. CWS continues to monitor flood situations across the U.S.

To help now, text CWS to 50555 to donate $10, or  donate online at www.churchworldservice.org.

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Rwandan orphan realizes his dream

Nlyombabazi Jean (Nlyombabazi means Grace of God), from Rwamagana, Rwanda, lost his parents when he was 13 and living in a refugee camp in Tanzania. In 1999, he returned to Rwanda and, in 2002, reclaimed the family plot.  He dreamed of going to secondary school, which is expensive.

“In 2004, I joined a youth working group for child-headed households. We did several projects like vegetable gardening and producing beans. We also started a joint savings account. I shared my dream of secondary school with my group, and they helped me plan a restaurant business to earn income to cover my future school fees.”

Jean took a loan from the CWS-supported group to open a restaurant in 2005. He earned enough to repay the loan and open a savings account for school. “In 2006, I realized my dream. I went to secondary school.” Jean’s restaurant is still in the picture; he is renting it to a neighbor. “Even though I am now at school, my business continues to support me.”

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CWS urges support for the Domestic Refugee Reform and Modernization Act

H.R. 1475, a bill recently introduced in the House of Representatives, would help the refugee resettlement program operate more effectively.

Around the world, 9.2 million men, women and children have fled their home countries due to persecution based on religion, ethnicity, nationality, political opinion or cultural group. Less than one half of 1 percent of these refugees have the opportunity to be resettled to another country.

The new bill would enable the Office of Refugee Resettlement to direct resources more effectively, increase inter-agency communication, improve the funding allocation process and collect data to accurately analyze future needs and accountability.

CWS urges supporters to tell their representatives to help protect refugees worldwide by supporting both H.R. 1475 and continued funding for the refugee resettlement program.

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Your support for Church World Service work around the world and in the U.S. is urgently needed.

 

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