HOTLINE - week of April 26, 2010

CWS expands food security initiative and jump starts other programs in Haiti to assist families displaced by the January quake; Tornadoes hit Mississippi and other parts of the southern U.S.; This Mother's Day, honor Mom and help mothers around the world

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Haiti girl carrying waterA girl carries water at a camp for families made homeless by the January 12 earthquake in Haiti. Photo: Paul Jeffrey/ACT Alliance


Marie Therese Mayard, 65, spent her first days after the January 12 earthquake in a tent in the city of Petit Goave, southwest of Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital.  For a time, Mayard and her friends were asking what, and even at times, if, they would eat.  When meals did come, they were often of the dry food ration sort.

But Mayard soon got the chance to buy her own food with a modest grant via CWS-supported ACT Alliance efforts in Haiti. 

For more than 50 years, Church World Service has worked to address the challenge of food security in Haiti.

The 13 rural cooperatives supported by CWS and Haitian partner SKDE--established in the wake of Tropical Storm Jeanne in 2004--have been effective in providing long-term food security and self-reliance in the Northwest and Artibonite regions. Today, these cooperatives face the challenge of providing enough food for more than 200,000 people who fled Port-au-Prince.

The co-ops provide their members with access to revolving funds for necessities like seeds, tools and fertilizers; rural women´s access to small credit to help them start or expand a micro business; appropriate training and technical assistance including adult literacy; and mutual support to members and their families.

CWS will also support efficient management of the cooperatives’ revolving funds and provision of fair credit opportunities for rural women entrepreneurs and farmers; strengthening and monitoring of “Passing on the Gift” schemes existing in most cooperatives, where recipients of animals such as goats and chickens share their offspring with other community members; training and technical assistance to cooperative members and leaders; and organizational and programmatic strengthening of the 13 cooperatives and SKDE.

“The plan is to work with cooperatives in the Northwest and Artibonite areas who will serve between 3,500 and 4,500 local families, with special attention to women-headed households.  Many of those have had displaced persons from Port-au-Prince move into their communities,” says Donna Derr, CWS’s director of development and humanitarian assistance. 

CWS is also jump-starting other new initiatives in Haiti in the wake of the quake, including support for the repair of damaged homes and expanding the homes of families hosting displaced family members, adding bedrooms and latrines.

CWS is providing basic services and transitional support to two spontaneous encampments.  CWS, with partners Servicio Social de Iglesias Dominicanas and Christian Aid, is assisting camps in Fonds Parisien and Ganthier, near the border with Dominican Republic.  Both were without any assistance until our agencies arrived.  Together we are providing food, water and shelter materials.  In the coming weeks and months, CWS will continue to address these needs, in addition to assisting with leadership formation, community organizing and temporary shelter solutions.

In Port-au-Prince, the House of Hope center, which assisted some of the most vulnerable Haitian children--teenage mothers, those working as domestics, and former gang members--was severely damaged by the quake.  CWS is supporting either the repair of the existing damaged building or the building of a new one.  CWS is also continuing to support education, vocational training, life skills and emotional support services for the young people.

Many people with a trade and profession lost their tools and small machinery because of the earthquake.  As one woman told a CWS staff member, “I was a hairdresser but without my tools, I am nothing.”  CWS is supporting a program that will provide grants averaging about $500 each for some 450 tradesmen and women who will be able to purchase the tools and equipment they need to go back to work and be self-sustaining.



A tornado devastated parts of Mississippi on April 24, leaving at least 10 people dead.  Many homes and businesses were destroyed or damaged, roads blocked and power disrupted to thousands of people. Tornadoes were also reported in Alabama, Louisiana and Arkansas. At least two people died in Alabama.  CWS emergency response specialists are connecting with local and regional partners to assess damage and needs.

Mother's Day

Mother's Day, May 9, is fast approaching.  This year you can honor Mom--and the other women important to you--by making an online alternative gift that helps a mother and family in need.  Then send Mom one of our beautiful eCards telling her how much she inspires you!  Get started now at

Your support for Church World Service work around the world and in the U.S. is urgently needed.


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