HOTLINE - week of March 15, 2010

CWS continues assistance for Haitian families displaced by the quake; Chile earthquake survivors receive food and other assistance; World Water Day is March 22; families in a Kenyan village celebrate successful water project

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Women serving foodHaiti--Women dish out hot food for people displaced by the Jan. 12 quake.  CWS is helping to provide basics to quake survivors.
Photo: Jonathan Ernst/LWR-ACT Alliance


“We had no other choice. We couldn’t stay,” says 39-year-old Fontil Louiner, a video technician who recently returned to his hometown of Petite Riviere, in the northern department of Artibonite.

In pulling up stakes and leaving the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince--and helping establish a 500-meals-a-day feeding program in Petite Riviere--Louiner not only became part of a wider exodus; he also became part of a story about quiet, localized efforts of Haitians who are assisting fellow Haitians.  

Though Louiner had worked in Port-au-Prince for 20 years, he maintained ties with his home town, serving as a part-time manager and DJ of a local station, Family Radio.   

Family Radio has ties with Haitian community-based agencies that, in turn, have a relationship with Service Chretien d'Haiti, a longtime Church World Service partner.  Now, in the wake of the earthquake, the station has helped to galvanize public support for a grassroots-run meals program.

Family Radio sent out an appeal for donations and for money to pay for food.  Local residents began dropping off rice, other foods and cash donations in order to provide 500 meals daily for displaced Port-au-Princians. Station employees and volunteers provide the meals at a feeding center located adjacent to the Family Radio offices.

The future is not clear for the displaced, who are staying in family homes, in tents and public spaces like schools.  “Nobody knows how long we’ll be here," Louiner says of the displaced.

CWS is working to assist quake-affected Haitians through long-time partners in Haiti and the neighboring Dominican Republic.  This includes material aid shipments and plans for long-term recovery work. In Port-au-Prince, CWS is supporting work with about 125 at-risk children and some 600 people with disabilities and their families.  CWS is also helping to assist some 2,000 displaced persons along the Haiti-Dominican border, providing food, shelter materials, health services and psychosocial assistance.

For more on CWS response in Haiti or to donate online, visit

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Church World Service-supported partners in Chile continue their response to the devastating Feb. 27 earthquake that killed nearly 500 people and caused massive damage in the south-central part of the country.  

CWS provided a cash grant to the Methodist Church of Chile, and is also supporting efforts by the Fundacion de Ayuda Social de las Iglesias Cristianas.  

FASIC and other ACT Alliance members have established the Inter-Church Emergency Committee Chile 2010, to provide pastoral care and other support to people affected by the earthquake. An initial shipment of food, hygiene kits and water was provided to 300 families in Concepción. Assistance for 500 families in the Maule and Bíobío regions is also being prepared.

In all, CWS-supported efforts will provide emergency relief for a total of 1,500 families. A rehabilitation phase of between two months to a year may involve cash-for-work, small economic initiatives, house repair and rebuilding, capacity building, advocacy, training in risk management and psychosocial assistance.

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Regina KiokaKenya--Regina Kioka (right) and other Kaikungu villagers.
Photo: CWS

“Our village is called Kaikungu, which means ‘dusty place,’” says Regina Kioka, a resident of Kitui district. As a result of climate change, droughts in this part of East Africa have become more frequent and more intense.  

“I used to walk more than six miles to bring back four gallons of dirty water,” says Kioka.  Then in 2008, Church World Service provided support to fund a durable water solution for the village. “A water management committee of 13 members was elected by the community, and I was made chairperson.  We were trained in project and water resource management, group dynamics, hygiene and sanitation.  

“In February 2009, the construction of three dams began and community members dug sand dam sites and collected and carried stones and other materials. In three weeks the dams were completed.  

“Now, I walk only one-third of a mile to fetch water, taking me about 15 minutes.”  It has been over a year since the construction of the sand dams, “and Kaikungu is still celebrating,” Kioka notes.  “My life has changed, too.  I now have a lot of free time and have started basket weaving as a means of generating income for my family.  I give thanks that God touched the hearts of those that brought us this program.  Our village should no longer be referred to as ‘Kaikungu.’”

The Kaikungu water project is part of the CWS Water for Life program.

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