HOTLINE - week of July 5, 2010

CWS helps meet emergency needs in Kyrgyzstan; Roma children and parents find help through CWS in Serbia; July 7 is International Day of Cooperatives, CWS assistance to co-ops in Haiti going strong.

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Ethnic Uzbek women displaced by violence
Ethnic Uzbek women react to the violence in the city of Osh. Up to 2,000 people have died in ethnic clashes.
Photo:  REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov, courtesy


"I could not recognize my old house," says Haticha Egembergieva, a 51-year-old Kyrgyz woman living with her five children in a tent camp on the outskirts of Osh.  "It is fully burned down.  I have no idea when I will go back to my house."

The civil conflict in southern Kyrgyzstan, which erupted in the first half of June, has been characterized by violence, hatred and cruelty.  Women, children, elderly and men of different ethnic groups, in particular Kyrgyz and Uzbek, are still traumatized by what they have experienced in these past weeks, including loss of loved ones and reports of rape.  While many of the displaced have returned home, a number of homes and shops have been destroyed and life is not back to normal.

Since the constitutional referendum on June 27, the situation in Kyrgyzstan appears more stable.  However, tensions continue, and violent acts including killings and kidnappings are still reported from southern Kyrgyzstan.

The ACT Alliance, of which Church World Service is a member, has called upon the provisional government in Kyrgyzstan and the international community to move quickly to set up an independent investigative body, which can be accepted by all sides of the conflict as a trustworthy, impartial authority.

ACT partners are focusing on food shortages and immediate needs, including purchasing food produce from local farmers and providing supplementary food items and basic non-food relief items.  Some 25,600 households are receiving food/non-food parcels to meet basic needs for a family of 5-8 people.  Non-food items include candles, matches, and shelter items (tents, blankets, mattresses, etc.).

Partners have also distributed 20 tons of rice and vegetables in Osh, as well as 7,000 family relief packages containing dry food rations and kitchen utensils in Bishkek.


The Church World Service-supported Roma Children’s Initiative addresses various needs of Roma children and families by increasing the educational level of pre-school children (ages 3-6) and helping to enroll them in the formal educational system, organizing Roma parents to advocate for their children’s rights, training teachers to work with Roma children, and helping parents to earn a living.

The program was developed at the "Branko Pešić" primary school, located in Zemun district, in Belgrade.  The Zemun community hosts nearly 20,000 displaced families, including around 5,000 Roma families.  Of this number, many are Roma from Kosovo.  Most have no jobs.  Often their only source of income and food are from garbage sites, where they sift for food or recyclables.

The educational, income generation and recreational components of the program also prepare Roma children ages 5-9 for enrollment into mainstream schools, providing grants and business training for Roma families that struggle to keep their children in school, and organizing summer and winter camps for children who otherwise would not have recreational opportunities.

Erduan Saciri is one of the amazing first generation of pre-schoolers who started the program in 2004.  He and his family escaped from the conflict in Kosovo, though he was too young to remember their flight to safety.  They now live in Grmeč settlement in a run-down house that is often without running water and electricity.

For Erduan, the joy of childhood started in school, where he began learning about left, right, up and down, the colors and seasons.  When he first started, he was the only child in his family to go to school.  He grew to love it and then brought his sister Emina and brother Elvis to join in.

Erduan’s father, Nusret, also gained a new sense of security when he received a grant to purchase a motorcycle, which he uses to earn money and provide a living for his family.

Assistance to Cooperatives

On this year’s International Day of Cooperatives (July 7), Church World Service continues to applaud and assist the work of cooperatives in various parts of the world.

In Haiti, for example, 13 rural cooperatives, established in the wake of Tropical Storm Jeanne in 2004, are supported by CWS and partner SKDE.  The cooperatives are proving effective in long-term food security and self-reliance in the Northwest and Artibonite regions, providing their members with access to revolving funds to purchase seeds, tools and fertilizers.  Women members have access to credit to help start small businesses.  Members also receive training, including adult literacy classes, and technical assistance.  Following the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake, the co-ops provided food to assist more than 200,000 people who fled Port-au-Prince.

CWS is now helping the coops to expand to meet additional ongoing food needs.

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


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