HOTLINE - week of June 14, 2010

CWS examines oil spill response through Katrina lens; In Pakistan, CWS assisting those affected by Cyclone Phet; Children creating hope in Kenya; World Refugee Day; Help dads around the world this Father's Day!

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Florence Coppola
United Church of Christ Disaster Response Coordinator Florence Coppola looks out on an oil-streaked marsh in Louisiana.
Photo: Jessica Vermilyea/Lutheran Disaster Response

Gulf Coast oil spill

"You can't separate Katrina from the oil spill," says Bonnie Vollmering, CWS associate director for domestic emergency response.  "In Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, 100 percent of the houses were destroyed.  They're still recovering from Katrina, and now they have the oil spill to deal with."

While on the Gulf Coast this past week, Vollmering and others from CWS-affiliated disaster response groups were told that those whose livelihoods depend on the sea, who had been struggling to make ends meet before the oil spill, have all but lost their livelihoods now.

After Katrina, CWS worked to return families back to their storm-damaged homes.  However, Vollmering says that how CWS assists in this disaster will likely be different.

"This is such a different type of disaster, it's going to take more commitment to collaborate, and creativity to identify what the needs are," she says.  "We want to make sure we provide the best kind of help for exactly what's needed."

CWS and its disaster response partners are waiting to fully understand the needs of affected Gulf Coast communities before considering how CWS might be of greatest assistance in the long-term recovery.


Cyclone Phet hit south Pakistan on June 6, bringing heavy rains, high winds and severe flooding.  Some 250,000 people are affected, and standing water continues to pose health risks.  Lack of safe drinking water and insufficient access to food and shelter are also concerns.

CWS is distributing relief supplies for 1,025 families in Dasso and Pattan and is focusing on possible support for rehabilitation needs in Balochistan.  CWS is in close contact with our local partners and other agencies responding to the disaster and will continue to respond as necessary.


"I used to spend my days at the market, searching for odd jobs and begging for food," says Catherine Amina, 18, of Ndithini, Kenya.  "My dream was to start a sewing business.  I fulfilled my dream after my youth working group lent me money to start a tailoring and dressmaking shop.  Since then I have invested some of my profits into animal husbandry, and I now have two cows, six goats and twenty-two chickens from which I sell eggs and chicks.  My businesses are a big success.

"With this money I am now able to care for my three sisters and my grandparents, and to pay the school fees for one of my sisters so she can achieve her dream of becoming a doctor and starting a hospital in our village.  I have also been able to employ an additional tailor in my shop, and to offer apprenticeships to two of my youth working group members.  I now have a new dream to expand my business and start a second shop in Mbusyani."

Catherine Amina's story is one of many included in the CWS Giving Hope methodology guidebook.  The CWS-supported Giving Hope program assists child-headed households in Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Mozambique.  Through the program, young people orphaned by HIV and AIDS, or by war or genocide, are empowered to continue their education, grow food, make items to sell, or start small businesses.

World Refugee Day

June 20 marks World Refugee Day, a day to celebrate and recognize the contribution of refugees around the world.  CWS works with refugees around the world--from assisting communities in Darfur, Sudan, and aiding refugee settlements along the Thailand-Burma border as they work to find durable solutions for their displaced people, to helping resettle refugees here in the U.S. and advocating for just and fair refugee legislation both domestically and internationally.

For resources to help you celebrate World Refugee Day, please see

Father's Day

Celebrate your dad and other special men in your life with a CWS Best Gift!  Help provide a father in need with tools or seeds to help him provide food for his family, livelihood training so he can earn extra income, or a draft animal to help lighten the load around the farm.  See how special you can make Dad's day at

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