HOTLINE - week of March 29, 2010

World Health Day: CWS helps families improve their health; Maintaining survivors' dignity is key in Haiti quake recovery; CWS assists survivors of mudslide in Uganda

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Mother and baby in CambodiaCambodia--Mother and baby who have benefited from a CWS-supported mother/child health program.
Photo: CWS

World Health Day

April 7.  Church World Service programs are helping families to improve their health by gaining access to clean water, learning about basic health and better nutrition, and improving sanitation in their communities.  

For example, in Cambodia, CWS is emphasizing mother/child and community health.  Says Chhoen Savorn, 20, of Sraeung village, “I was pale, weak and always sick.  Through the health program I have gained a lot of knowledge on how to take care of my child. Now my child is healthy and growing.  I apply what I’ve learned to daily life by growing a home garden with green vegetables, sweet potato, cassava, corn and bananas.”

“My people have gained a lot of knowledge about health care--especially providing a variety of vegetables for better nutrition for pregnant women and under-five children,” says Cheng Srey Ni, a village health volunteer.  “Now families go to health clinics,” she adds. “They benefit from the advice provided to ensure safe delivery and care for their newborn babies.”

Indigenous peoples of the Gran Chaco region of South America are also taking part in health-related activities.  In Argentina, indigenous leaders recently participated in a week-long workshop on nursing and environmental health.  In the Bolivian and Paraguayan Chaco, indigenous groups are taking part in events addressing community and women’s health, nutrition and the environment.  

In Indonesia, CWS provided two groups in Sibaruas village, West Sumatra--an earthquake-affected area--with three pumps to clean some 20 contaminated wells.  

In Kenya, CWS is helping to provide some 40 latrines, four water tanks, and 20 hand-washing stations through its School Safe Zones program. Members of each school community are providing labor and some in-kind contributions.  The students, teachers and surrounding community are taking part in basic sanitation and hygiene training--important components to improving and protecting the communities’ health.

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Enabling quake survivors to preserve their dignity is central to recovery in Haiti, according to John Nduna, general secretary of the ACT Alliance, of which CWS is a member.

"I was very moved by the reality of their lives and the dignity they manage to maintain despite the conditions,” says Nduna, about meeting people displaced by the Jan. 12 earthquake.  

Haitians stress that "dignity" is no mere watchword. It must now undergird how immediate and long-term assistance, rehabilitation and recovery are fashioned in Haiti.

And, ultimately, the recovery and reconstruction of Haiti will need to be done by Haitians themselves.  

“There is a strong, organized civil society comprised of grassroots community-based organizations under umbrella networks, as well as larger, established development non-governmental organizations (NGOs)," notes a recent Refugees International report.

The CWS-supported ACT Alliance's response has upheld the need for, and value of, close ties between local organizations and ACT members, many of whom have a long history in Haiti.

Church World Service and Service Chretien d'Haiti are working together to assist more than 1,200 Haitians with disabilities. CWS is also assisting at-risk children and displaced people along the Haiti-Dominican border, and is supporting the broader relief and recovery efforts of international partners working in Haiti.

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“Thank you so much for this timely response to the many families affected by the landslides,” says Samuel Watulatsu, founder of CWS partner the Foundation for Development of Needy Communities.  “We are indebted to you all that have continued to offer moral and in-kind assistance.”

Survivors have received kitchen utensils and other assistance through CWS and FDNC.  In addition, FDNC health workers are providing sanitation in a camp for survivors. FDNC is also working with government and humanitarian agencies to look at the reasons for the landslides and to develop a plan to help mitigate them.

In this holy season, CWS wishes you peace and hope.

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