HOTLINE - week of December 21, 2009
Five years after the tsunami, CWS continues work in Indonesia; Supporting refugees along the Thailand-Burma border; CWS urges focus on poorer nations at Copenhagen climate summit; Roma families in Serbia growing food in greenhouses
CWS Best Gifts
There's still time to say Merry Christmas with creative alternative gifts that honor your friends and loved ones and spread help and hope at home and around the world. Shop now! >>
Five years have passed since the December 26, 2004, Indian Ocean tsunami--one of the largest-scale disasters in modern history. The CWS response in Aceh province began almost immediately with prepositioned supplies, and, the long-term response has included housing reconstruction and rehabilitation, supplementary feeding, distribution of medicines, CWS Kits and other non-food items. CWS has also focused efforts on the island of Nias, Indonesia, the site of a March 2005 earthquake, and helped to support partner recovery work in India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Somalia.
“Overall, the CWS activities have been successful and we have achieved what we set out to do,” says CWS Indonesia Director Michael Koeniger. “Much remains to be done in Aceh and Nias,” Koeniger continues. “Communities without health services, schools without water supply and sanitation facilities, and… malnourished children are still very much a reality.
“CWS provided supplementary feeding for severely and moderately malnourished children and also carried out growth monitoring. In Nias, for example, we set up community feeding centers in 24 villages, using local food… and other resources for more than 500 children.” CWS also helped to provide vitamins and fortified biscuits and noodles.
“CWS also trained local health volunteers and built six village health posts in Aceh and a village maternity clinic in Nias,” Koeniger adds. The CWS health and nutrition program has reached thousands of children under age five in Aceh and Nias. Koeniger also reports that CWS has built more than 700 new homes in Aceh and Nias.
This year, the CWS-supported Thailand-Burma Border Consortium is marking its 25th anniversary of working with refugees from Burma living in camps along the border. The TBBC provides food, shelter and other support for some 140,000 refugees in nine camps, as well as assistance to about 100,000 internally displaced persons in eastern Burma.
“Every year the Burmese Army destroys more villages, displaces more people. Over 3,500 villages have been destroyed since 1996, over a million people displaced,” says CWS’s Jack Dunford, founder and executive director of TBBC.
“We have made a lot of progress over the years to get the situation recognized,” Dunford says. “We just have to keep flogging away.
“My dream,” he continues, “was always for peace to come to Burma and for TBBC to move to the other side and help in the reconstruction of eastern Burma. That day still seems far off… But I feel that day is closer now than I have felt it at any time in the last 25 years.”
CWS, a TBBC founding member, provides support to the TBBC through the Blankets+ program.
This past week, CWS Executive Director Rev. John L. McCullough took the voice of the faith community and CWS advocacy to the Danish capital where world leaders were meeting to address climate change.
Says McCullough, “Accountability and good governance remains a major concern and must be a component of negotiations if the Copenhagen summit is to deliver on any agreements. The poor can ill-afford the deception of an agreement that bad governance cannot deliver on.”
Some 55 Roma people in four families in Krusevac, Rasinski district, are taking part in a greenhouse project, with the help of Church World Service and local partner Voice of Kosovo and Metohija. The families are originally from Kosovo, have few job opportunities, and do not have permanent resident status in Serbia, so are not eligible for public assistance.
Through the project, the families are working to grow enough vegetables for themselves--tomatoes, green peppers, lettuce, spinach and onions--for year-round use and to earn a small income from sales in the market.
They have received basic gardening tools, and irrigation and heating equipment for the greenhouses. They are learning about seedling production, preparing the soil for planting, ecology of vegetable crops, and control of weeds and diseases.
In this season of hope, Church World Service prays peace and well-being for neighbors here at home and around the world. Merry Christmas!