HOTLINE - week of November 30, 2009
Young people in Uganda improve their lives through the CWS Giving Hope program; Rural Guatemalans are growing more food for their families; At-risk chilsdren in Dominican Republic and Haiti are finding hope for the future
As we observe Thanksgiving, CWS gives thanks for its many partners and supporters across the U.S. and around the world. A Thanksgiving reflection from our director, as well as several prayers, are available at www.churchworldservice.org/thanksgiving.
“By joining my youth working group, I not only gained new friends, but also learned how to run my own small business, selling oranges,” explains 13-year-old youth caregiver Andrew Tumusiime. “This has helped me to care for my mother, who is HIV-positive, and my younger brother.”
Tumusiime is taking part in the Church World Service-supported Giving Hope Program. Through the program, young people are empowered to continue their education, grow food, make items to sell, or start small businesses. They learn to work together with other young people to improve their lives and the lives of their families.
Youth caregivers are adolescents and young adults who are responsible for the primary care of their households. They may be the head of the household as the oldest individual, or be living with an adult who is elderly, ill or HIV- positive, and thus depends on them for support.
Says another Ugandan youth caregiver, 16-year-old Arrision Katusiime, “I used to be shy and unable to talk confidently in gatherings, even with my peers. That has all changed. I now not only talk with other youth, but also lead them in group activities. I have also learned how to give advice and counsel. This has helped me to support my HIV-positive mother, as well as fight HIV/AIDS stigma in my community.”
The Church World Service-supported Giving Hope program assists youth caregivers in Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Mozambique.
Some 538 indigenous families (about 2,690 people) in 26 communities in Totonicapan, are taking part in a CWS-supported project to increase and diversify food production, learn sustainable soil and water management techniques, mitigate natural disasters, protect watersheds and the environment, and organize joint marketing of surplus crops. Through innovative techniques, families are increasing their production of tomatoes, chiles, carrots, beets, onions, cucumbers, cabbage and various greens, in greenhouses and in open fields. With ready access to vegetables, they are improving their family diet and health, and their surplus is sold to provide income for the family.
During this Thanksgiving week, we give thanks for the recent launch of a long-term initiative linking CWS partners working with vulnerable children in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Proyecto Caminante, a leading Dominican agency working to prevent sexual abuse and exploitation of boys and girls in the tourist town of Boca Chica, near Santo Domingo, is coordinating with and learning from CWS partner Ecumenical Foundation for Peace and Justice, based in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. FOPJ assists children who have been pulled into the worst forms of child domestic work, including situations in which parents have given their children to live and work for someone else (often because the parents lack the resources required to support the child). Many of the children experience abuse and exploitation bordering on enslavement. FOPJ provides education and enrichment opportunities for the children and is working to end this and other forms of child exploitation. It also provides guidance and support to employer families in order to minimize abuse and improve the environment for the children.
Fifteen boys and girls participating in FOPJ’s House of Hope program are studying hard to take the government of Haiti’s Primary Education Comprehensive Exam next June. Because many children living and working as domestics do not attend regular school, intensive programs like that at House of Hope allow them to complete their primary education in three years instead of the usual six.