HOTLINE - week of November 23, 2009
CWS intensifies focus on assisting children; Families in Darfur, Sudan, continue to need assistance; CWS assists school safety project in Myanmar (Burma); Cooperatives a boon to Haitian farmers
As the world observes Universal Children’s Day (Nov. 20), Church World Service is intensifying its focus on the world’s most vulnerable children, under the banner "All Our Children."
CWS is working to focus and expand its existing child-centered programs in Latin America and the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia, with concentration on small child and maternal nutrition and health, access to education, school safety, especially for girls, and protection for children and their rights.
The initiative recreates the spirit of the original All Our Children campaign, spearheaded by CWS in the early months following the U.S. invasion of Iraq. That effort raised more than $2 million in funds and material aid for Iraqi children affected by the war, with assistance ranging from medical and hygiene supplies for children's hospitals and institutions to trauma care and conflict resolution-themed puppet shows.
Rev. John L. McCullough, CWS Executive Director and CEO, says CWS is strengthening its commitment to the needs of vulnerable children "because we fear for the future of the next generation.”
To read more, visit www.churchworldservice.org/news.
Darfur is in danger of becoming a forgotten emergency, says Nyika Musiyazwiriyo, outgoing program director for the CWS-supported ACT/Caritas coalition in Darfur.
“Food, water and health care… still need to be provided on a daily basis as people cannot access these themselves,” explains Musiyazwiriyo.
The conflict between Sudan’s Khartoum government and the rebel movements in Darfur has become more complex, involving cross-border dynamics with neighboring Chad, inter-tribal violence, and increased banditry. The UN says that 2.7 million remain displaced throughout the region.
The CWS-supported coalition is assisting nearly 300,000 people living in eight densely populated camps in South and West Darfur, as well as in villages and host communities in the areas around these camps.
The international community has “done so much to support the people of Darfur with basic services and life-saving activities. Yet, without peace and the ability to go home, the situation will not change.
“We cannot let people forget what’s needed here,” concludes Musiyazwiriyo.
Church World Service is supporting a school safety initiative as part of its long-term response following 2008’s Cyclone Nargis. Immediately following the cyclone, CWS responded with food, water and emergency shelter. CWS also helped to rebuild schools.
Today, CWS is working in partnership with four villages to build a bridge, improve handrails for three bridges, construct fences around two schools and a gate for another, fix roads leading to four schools, and install electricity at two schools. By working together the communities are making the schools and their surroundings safe for their children.
Four rural cooperatives--out of 13 assisted by Church World Service--are about to “graduate” from CWS’s Haiti Northwest program. The program started in response to 2004’s Tropical Storm Jeanne, to assist families who had lost crops and livestock. Since then, the four coops have increased their membership to 1,358 farmers, more than half of whom are women.
Cooperative members pool their resources in a community “bank” through which they save, borrow, store grain, share land and animals, learn to manage their land and money, and repay their micro-loans.
Says cooperative member Renold Oscar, “I have a piece of land that I used to sharecrop. One day one of the landowner’s family got sick and he said he needed to sell the land, so I wouldn’t be able to work it anymore unless I bought it. I had a pregnant cow, but if I sold it, I would lose more. So I talked with my wife and decided to go to the cooperative.
“I talked with the credit committee and they agreed to lend me $63. With that I bought the land. A month later the cow gave birth. If not for the loan from the cooperative, I would have lost two cattle or the land that is my resource.”
CWS has recently begun a new phase of two major food security programs, in 13 cooperatives in Haiti’s Northwest and Artibonite departments and 32 communities in the Dominican Republic. In Haiti, 2,300 cooperative members will benefit in this new phase, along with 700 families in the Dominican Republic.