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HOTLINE - week of August 23, 2010

Long-term quake recovery continues in Haiti; CWS assists flood survivors in Pakistan; Hurricanes Katrina and Rita--five years later

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Flood people in tent
Pakistan—CWS is providing tents and food to assist  families displaced by severe flooding.
Photo:  CWS


In the midst of historic flooding, CWS continues to provide food and tents across Pakistan. And, CWS health teams and mobile health units are focusing on providing preventive and curative health services.

Among those affected is Mohammad Umar.  Farmer Umar and his family had been living a simple but good life on 10 acres in Sultan Kot village.  He was depending on the cotton crop to help him continue the education of his eight children.  His family had enough food and drinking water.  However, in late July, when floods suddenly hit his village, they lost everything. The family escaped with only the clothes on their backs; their house completely collapsed.  Their standing crop of cotton was washed away.  What little remained of their sorghum, wheat and cotton were destroyed by an infestation of insects that came after the floods.   

Umar says that he could not even salvage a blanket for his children.  He is grateful to CWS and the local partner for providing food and other relief items to his family.

CWS activities are benefiting families in seven districts of Khyber Pakhtunkwa, Balochistan and Sindh provinces.

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Sindy Jean Louis
Haiti—Sindy Jean Louis is keeping his business going with the help of a stipend from CWS.
Photo: Chris Herlinger/CWS

More than seven months after Haiti's devastating Jan. 12 earthquake, CWS continues its relief and rehabilitation activities and has firmed up plans for a three-year recovery effort.  "This is going to be a very long process," says CWS’s Donna Derr. "We remain committed to the vision of a better, repaired and ultimately flourishing country."

CWS is focusing its response on repairing/building additions to permanent housing; supporting agricultural sustainability;  supporting "durable solutions" for displaced persons in settlements along the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic; addressing the needs of vulnerable children; supporting economic recovery; empowering people with disabilities; and providing material resources and logistical support.

CWS is extending its food security program from 24 months to 36 months (now through 2012). The program centers on 13 farmer cooperatives assisting more than 3,000 members and internally displaced persons in the Northwest and Artibonite regions.  It provides access to revolving funds for seeds, tools and fertilizers; credit for rural women to help them start or expand micro business; training and technical assistance including adult literacy; and emotional support to members and their families.

CWS is also extending its program for persons with disabilities from 24 to 36 months, eventually expanding to other areas of Haiti beyond Port-au-Prince and providing psychosocial support, vocational training, and referral assistance.

Among those with disabilities receiving a monthly stipend through CWS is 14-year-old Sindy Jean Louis of Port-au-Prince.  He has been an amputee for four years since being involved in a bus accident.  The teenager has supported his family by selling phone cards and cold drinks.  He says his disability has not slowed him down, and that the stipend is helping him save enough “to keep the business going.”

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Hurricanes Katrina and Rita

“The faith community was remarkable.  Absolutely remarkable in every way they could be,” says Ellenor Simmons, commenting on the support of the faith community and humanitarian agencies like Church World Service, at this fifth anniversary of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  Simmons helps oversee long-term recovery projects for the United Way for the Greater New Orleans Area.

The CWS response to the hurricanes was multi-tiered, initially providing CWS Blankets, Hygiene and School Kits; organizing for long-term recovery work; and focusing on spiritual and emotional care.  CWS and Habitat for Humanity International helped some 700 families return to their homes--an accomplishment that won CWS and HFHI the Award for Excellence in Long-Term Recovery Partnership from the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.

Local recovery groups responding to the Gulf oil spill have not forgotten the support from CWS.  “You made a commitment to be with us and not forget us,” Simmons said, praising CWS’s long-term commitment to the region.

Not all the work is done, of course; there are those in the region who continue to live in temporary housing. Still, enough are back in homes for Simmons’ colleague Benita Corley to praise the combined efforts of local, regional and national organizations.

“We could not have done it without y’all,” she said.  “Church World Service was a real blessing for us.”

Bonnie Vollmering, CWS’s associate director for domestic response, returned the compliment.  “Numerous long-term recovery groups have and continue to work to assist those with unmet needs,” she said.  “If it was not for the collaboration of the local, regional, and national organizations in long-term recovery, many individuals would not be living in safe, sanitary and secure housing. Church World Service has had the pleasure to work with the local partners in assisting individuals to return home.”

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