HOTLINE - week of February 22, 2010

Haitian quake survivors brace against seasonal rains; CWS responds to U.S. storm-hit communities; Water project helps families increase food production in Niger

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Marie Lucie Osias and her son
Marie Lucie Osias and her son--the lone survivor of her four children--are living in a makeshift shelter in Port-au-Prince.  With substantial rains already this past week, they and many others are hoping for better shelter before the full onset of the rainy season in March.  CWS and the ACT Alliance are working to provide shelter materials and other essentials.
Photo: Jonathan Ernst/LWR/ACT Alliance

Haiti

This past week, heavy rains drenched Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas.   

“It has rained before, but not so hard and so long,” says quake survivor Marie Lucie Osias, 37, who now lives in a makeshift shelter in the Delmas 40-B encampment in Petionville, with her 10-year-old son. Her other three children died in the quake.

“Our clothes got wet, everything got wet. I just tried to keep the water out the best I could,” she adds. Whenever water started to pool in the tarp that serves as her roof, she would push it up with a stick and try to make sure it ran off to the outside instead of coming in.

The CWS-supported ACT Alliance continues to provide emergency aid to quake survivors, prioritizing the delivery of shelter items in hopes of reaching as many people as possible before the full onset of seasonal rains. With insufficient time for building more permanent shelter, plastic sheeting and tents remain the order of the day.

The building of transitional shelters will begin soon, as well as the provision of building materials so people can construct sturdier shelters before the hurricane season begins in June.   

Since Jan. 12, CWS has provided more than $1 million in relief assistance, including thousands of CWS Hygiene Kits, CWS Baby Care Kits, and CWS Blankets, as well as medicine to treat approximately 60,000 adults and children for two months.  

2009 tax benefit to Haiti relief donors, for gifts made by March 1, 2010--The IRS has announced that cash donations for Haiti earthquake relief made after Jan. 11, 2010, and before March 1, 2010, may be claimed as donations on your 2009 tax return.  You must itemize your deductions to qualify for this special tax provision.  For more information consult your tax advisor or visit www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=218678,00.html?portlet=7

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U.S. Storms

People in many parts of the country are working to recover from severe snow, wind, ice and flooding.

CWS is in contact with state and local agencies to identify needs and arrange support. Thus far, CWS has provided a total of 3,225 CWS Hygiene Kits, 50 School Kits, and 3,085 CWS Blankets to: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Kansas City, Missouri; Louisville, Kentucky; and Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  CWS also provided the South Dakota Conference-United Church of Christ with 300 CWS Hygiene Kits and 300 CWS Blankets to assist a Native American tribe coping with winter storms. CWS seeks funding to cover shipping costs for these and other material resources provided in the winter season.

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Niger

Some 278 households (about 1,898 people) in the community of Baourou are benefiting from a new deep borehole well and ten shallower garden wells.  With the help of CWS and partner the Association for Peace and Solidarity, they are drinking clean water in their homes and growing more vegetables--like tomatoes--in the dry season.

“I am married and have seven children,” says Mounkeila Kjibrilla.  “Before I was assisted in starting my small farm, I used to go to neighboring Nigeria to earn income for my family.  Since I started the vegetable garden, irrigated by the water project, I have been able to earn about $4,783.  Now I have bought a motor pump and hired people to help in running my plot.  The Water for Life project has brought many benefits and transformation to our community.”

Increased availability of water is allowing women in Baourou to improve the nutrition of their families, while they increase their incomes by selling surplus vegetables in the market.  Many project participants are also learning about natural resource management and food preservation.

In addition, the community planted 3,500 Arabic Gum trees at a tree nursery through a reforestation initiative designed to help conserve water and the environment. The trees will provide a future income for the farmers.

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