HOTLINE - week of April 12, 2010

CWS helps rebuild flood-ravaged homes in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Join Haiti Webinar on April 14; Low-income families in Bosnia gain nutritious meals through CWS-supported project; Strong quake hits Sumatra, Indonesia

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Angelene Pierre drawing with chalkHaiti--Angelene Pierre, 13, and other children in Port-au-Prince  are participating in an art program, an effort to help young people work through post-earthquake stress.
Photo: Paul Jeffrey/ACT Alliance

Spring Build in Cedar Rapids

On Monday (April 12), volunteers from across the U.S. and Canada start to work in a new Church World Service-directed rebuild project to help families return to homes that were flood-damaged in June 2008.  

“It’s been almost two years since the Cedar River flood forced out these families. No one knows more than they do that that’s just too long to be away from home,” says Bonnie Vollmering, CWS associate director for domestic emergency response. “We’re working as hard as possible to help in such a trying time.”

Dubbed “Neighborhood: Cedar Rapids,” the Iowa project builds on the award-winning CWS rebuilding project, “Neighborhood: New Orleans.” That effort completely repaired more than a dozen families’ homes following Hurricane Katrina in an historic Lake Ponchartrain community. In all, CWS helped repair or rebuild more than 700 Katrina-ravaged homes across the Gulf Coast.

CWS is working with four local organizations and ten national, faith-based disaster response agencies to bring more than 700 U.S. and Canadian volunteers to Cedar Rapids in the next six weeks.

Many of the rebuilding and repair efforts are focusing on the hard-hit Cedar Rapids neighborhood of Time Check, where the local long-term recovery partners still have extensive cases of need. Despite ongoing efforts to help families put the flood behind them, there are still plenty of bare walls and water lines serving as reminders of June 14, 2008.

Volunteer repairing home
Iowa--A volunteer repairing a home in Cedar Rapids.
Photo: CRWRC

“There are many Cedar Rapids families who could return home but for a few major repairs,” Vollmering says. “We intentionally haven’t set a specific number of homes to be completed because we want to see exactly how many we can repair well in six weeks’ time.”

CWS and its national disaster response partners are providing volunteers, some donated materials, and other support.

National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster has recognized the CWS New Orleans ecumenical effort with an award for innovation.

“We had such a success in New Orleans that we had to try it in Cedar Rapids,” CWS Executive Director and CEO, Rev. John L. McCullough said. “Our hope is that the people of Cedar Rapids will feel like they haven’t been forgotten, and we can help some of those affected find a new sense of normalcy after such a devastating disaster.”

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Join CWS on Wednesday, April 14, at 2 p.m. for an online Webinar: “Haiti: Relief, recovery, and the road ahead.”  You are invited to participate in this live, online update about the continuing work of CWS in Haiti in response to the January 12 earthquake--relief and recovery work that you make possible.  Following the brief presentations, you will have the opportunity to ask questions.

Space is limited, so reserve your seat now at: After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar. System requirements: PC: Windows® 7, Vista, 2003 Server, or 2000; Macintosh®: Mac OS® X 10.4.11 (Tiger®) or newer.

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Some 3,200 people are enjoying pasta and bread at soup kitchens in the Tuzla region, thanks to a CWS-supported wheat-growing project of partner Merhamet.  

As part of the project, which is already providing bread for the soup kitchens, CWS purchased and established pasta making equipment and a chamber for drying pasta, vegetables and fruits.  The equipment can make and dry some 1,300 pounds of pasta per 12-hour day.

The project delivers fresh bread, pasta, vegetables and fruits to soup kitchens.  In addition, surplus food is dried and stored to build a stock available for delivery to people in the region who have no access to a soup kitchen. They receive a food basket containing mutton, dry pasta, dried or fresh vegetables and fruit.

The project is part of a larger recovery plan to assist low-income people and to re-establish livelihoods in Bosnia.  Among those getting meals through the project are women, children, ethnic Roma, elderly, displaced, and unemployed people, and those with disabilities.

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A 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit the Indonesian island of Sumatra on Apr. 7.  Aftershocks were felt in the northern province of Aceh, which was badly damaged by the 2004 earthquake and tsunami.  CWS, which responded to the 2004 tsunami and its aftermath, will respond to the current emergency, as appropriate.

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