HOTLINE - week of August 9, 2010

Families struggle to survive in flooded areas of Pakistan; CWS assists children's programs in Latin America; International Day of the World's Indigenous People

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Mehr Nisar, 55, a flood survivor in Balakot, Pakistan
Pakistan flood survivor Mehr Nisar lost her husband during the 2005 earthquake. Now she has lost her prefab shelter in Balakot where she has been living with her son.
Photo:  Ghulam Rasool/CWS


Church World Service continues to provide food and shelter supplies to families affected by devastating floods in Pakistan.  In addition, CWS’s health teams are providing free treatment and medicines through its mobile health facilities.     
CWS was the first organization to distribute food in Sibbi, Balochistan, “for which the people are very grateful,” says CWS Pakistan Senior Project Officer Saleem Dominic.  “Food,” notes Dominic, “is the initial immediate need, with hygiene and shelter next.”  

Some 1,600 have died in the flooding and an estimated 15 million people have been affected.

“The floods have caused widespread damage to agricultural and croplands, adding further threats of food insecurity to flood-affected families.  Particularly affected are the croplands in the province of Punjab, known as the breadbasket of Pakistan--thereby exacerbating the problems facing the country,” note CWS staff in the region.  “As sources of food supply remain underwater, families face the possibility of not being able to harvest and sow their crops,” they explain.  

“People in many of the affected areas had hardly managed to get their lives back together after the earthquake. Again everything they had is taken away from them,” said Dennis Joseph, associate director of the CWS program in Pakistan.

The CWS food packages include rice, wheat flour, beans,  cooking oil, tea, sugar and salt--enough for a family of five for a month.  The shelter kits include winterized tents and plastic sheets.

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August 12 is the International Day for Children.  CWS works around the world to make children’s lives better. In Latin America, for example, CWS is supporting work in several countries to provide children with education, healthcare, family stability, trauma counseling, and protection from violence and exploitation.    

This past year, CWS helped to forge closer ties between partners in Haiti and the Dominican Republic who were both working to assist vulnerable children.  The Caminante education project, in the Dominican Republic, provides education, vocational training and counseling for vulnerable children, many of them of Haitian heritage, who find themselves working in the sex industry. Following the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, two psychologists, two teachers and a social worker from Caminante conducted workshops in Port-au-Prince to help restore some sense of normalcy and happiness to children left shaken by the quake.   

Through a program in Brazil that works with schools, communities and families, street children are reinserted into their families.  In Nicaragua, young people and the community at large receive training that helps to prevent violence against youth who work in markets in Managua.  Sexual abuse survivors receive shelter, psychological attention, healthcare and vocational training. And in Uruguay, children who work as trash collectors and their families learn how to use public services.  The children also form groups focusing on health and environmental protection.

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CWS working with indigenous people

On this International Day of the World’s Indigenous People, Aug. 9, CWS continues to work with indigenous communities around the globe.  

For example, in the Gran Chaco region of South America, CWS is working with partners in three countries--Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia--to promote sustainable livelihoods.  Indigenous families are learning new techniques in agriculture, such as developing seed banks and in raising goats and hogs.  In addition, the program is promoting greater access to water, youth education and women’s empowerment, and helping communities to gain title to their traditional lands.  

Among indigenous ethnic minorities in Vietnam, CWS has focused primarily on improving health services, access to water, food security, nutrition for children, and education.  And in Laos, CWS works mostly in the northern ethnic minority areas, helping to provide education, including teacher training, skills training, and small project initiatives for minority families.

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