HOTLINE - week of September 6, 2011

CWS launches appeal for Hurricane Irene recovery; Roma family finds the door to a better life; Reducing disaster's risks despite climate change; Change is coming soon!

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Duda Giltena
A student in the CWS Roma Women’s Empowerment program in Belgrade, Duda Giltena says she is living proof that education pays off.
Photo: CWS Europe

CWS launches appeal for Hurricane Irene recovery

The mammoth storm may be over but Hurricane Irene's effects are felt from North Carolina through New England.  Irene dumped 5 to 15 inches of rain over a 36-hour period August 27-28, causing massive flooding and killing some 40 people.  Hundreds of thousands of homes were damaged and many roads were washed away, particularly in rural areas.

Church World Service has issued a $210,000 appeal to help communities coping with flooding and storm damage.  Already groups in North Carolina, Maryland and New Jersey have requested CWS Kits and CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets.

CWS emergency response specialists are also working with federal, state and local officials to get material goods sent where most needed and to provide long-term recovery and other training to long-term recovery committees in affected communities.  These committees are essential to the rebuilding process and ensure everyone has a chance to recover, regardless of means.  Read more and learn how to help.

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Roma family finds the door to a better life

Duda Giltena was brought up the same way as other Roma children – believing their lives were determined by fate.  She then married Ismet, whose path had been similar.  “We never went to school: we didn’t know how to read, write or count,” she says.

Fleeing Kosovo in 1999 literally empty-handed, the couple ended up living for six years in the Belgrade Roma settlement Tosin Bunar – in one room, with Ismet’s parents, brother and sister-in-law, and their children.

Ismet worked manual construction jobs to support his family, while building a house for them in the Zemun Polje settlement.  Although Ismet and Duda had no education, they strongly believed in its power and enrolled their children in the Branko Pesic primary school.  When CWS began the Roma Women’s Empowerment program, providing literacy classes for Roma women, Duda was one of the first who enrolled.

Although the focus remains on women, this initiative has become an all-inclusive response to the obstacles the Roma face with regard to education: it helps keep Roma children in school, promotes gender equality and actively involves Roma men.  Today, Duda and Ismet attend classes together and have learned to read and write.

“For the first time in my life, I am working, and I feel proud that I am able to contribute to my family,” says Duda.

“Education is the most important thing you can offer to yourself and to your children,” Duda adds, noting that the Roma program “suddenly opened a door for us that led us to a better life.”

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Reducing disaster’s risks despite climate change

“Climate change is affecting communities already dealing with problems like hunger, malnutrition, poverty and lack of access to clean drinking water,” says CWS Indonesia Director Michael Koeniger.  “The key is adapting to a changing climate.”

Koeniger spoke at the outset of the five-day ACT Alliance Global Disaster Risk Reduction workshop, which began yesterday in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.  Attended by staff members of the ACT Alliance, several CWS staff from around the world and others, the workshop includes visits to field projects and information on innovative ways of reducing disaster risk and adapting to climate change.

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Change is coming soon!

Based on feedback from our readers, we are planning a facelift for our e-communications with you.  Stay tuned!

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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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