HOTLINE - week of September 12, 2011

Remembering 9/11; Severe flooding in Pakistan mobilizes CWS; CWS recognized for climate change work

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The flag that flew over the World Trade Center on 9/11 is seen during ceremonies marking the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, in New York, September 11, 2011.
Photo: REUTERS/Mark Blinch

Remembering 9/11

The fact that Church World Service regularly responds to disasters throughout the world made it no less shocking for staff at the New York headquarters to see the smoke billowing to the south on September 11, 2001.

Following the brutal terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, CWS brought together more than 100 religious leaders and caregivers to learn from a psychologist and a pastor who had worked with survivors of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

CWS organized trauma workshops in New York and surrounding states, with more than 1,000 Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh and Buddhist leaders and volunteers participating.

“Whether a crisis is a flood in a small community or a crisis the size of 9/11, people are always impacted dramatically at the emotional and spiritual level, and no one is better placed than the faith community to respond,” says Donna Derr, CWS director of Development and Humanitarian Assistance.

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Severe flooding in Pakistan mobilizes CWS

Food, shelter, drinking water and health care have become critical needs for the 5 million people affected by monsoon-driven flooding in Pakistan’s Sindh Province.

With 22 out of 23 Sindh districts affected, more than 200 have died in the flooding.  The Pakistan Disaster Management Authority confirmed that 131,410 people are residing in 1,484 camps.  Thus far, about 700,000 homes have been damaged and more than 1.7 million acres of crops destroyed.

Many areas remain inundated and inaccessible, increasing the risk of waterborne diseases and malnutrition for rural families already facing food and drinking water shortages before the flooding began.

CWS-P/A has already dispatched relief items such as shelter kits and food packages to be distributed among the flood-affected families of the Thatta and Badin districts. CWS also plans to provide food, emergency tents, relief supplies and mobile health services in the districts of Badin, Thatta, Umerkot and Mirpurkhas, based on the needs identified through field assessments from CWS staff and local partners.

A formal CWS appeal will be announced soon.

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CWS recognized for climate change work

“Church World Service doesn’t tell us how to do this.  We tell them of our capacity and they work with us,” said Rostom Gamisonia of the Rural Communities Development Agency, the Georgia-based development group that shared the 2011 ACT Alliance Climate Award with CWS.  The award was announced last week during the ACT Global Disaster Risk Reduction Workshop in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, which was attended by a number of CWS staff members.

The CWS-RCDA partnership was recognized for addressing climate change while creating new sources of income and employment.  The program’s four-pronged strategy includes using agricultural residues to produce fuel briquettes for heating and cooking as an alternative to cutting down trees; building solar water heaters and dryers for fruits and vegetables; reducing environmental degradation through reforestation and crop rotation; and helping communities to reduce climate change risks, promote the use renewable energy sources, and generate much-needed income.

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