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CHURCH WORLD SERVICE TO HELP BUILD QUAKE-RESISTANT HOUSING IN INDIA
CWS Emergency Response Director, Chairperson Return from Feb. 14-19 Visit to Quake Region

Photos: http://www.churchworldservice.org/india/index.htm

February 22, 2001, NEW YORK – Even as it helps shelter India earthquake survivors with tarpaulins, Church World Service is looking forward to supporting construction of quake-resistant housing for some 2,000 homeless families.

Church World Service is supporting the work of its long-time partner Churches Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA), which is laying plans for the housing construction project – part of a broader relief and rehabilitation program in the wake of the devastating January 26 earthquake that is believed to have killed at least 30,000 people.

"The quake not only destroyed homes and lives, but also set the state of Gujarat, the quake’s epicenter, back 15 years economically," said Rick Augsburger, CWS Emergency Response Director. "Long-term recovery and reconstruction will be a major challenge."

Augsburger just returned from visiting earthquake-affected areas, including Bhuj, Feb. 14-19 to show support for CASA and to help distribute family support kits to disaster survivors. He was accompanied by CWS Emergency Response Committee Chair Johnny Wray, Director of the Disciples Week of Compassion.

"The needs remain overwhelming," Augsburger reported. "We helped with the distribution of family support kits in the small town of Harori (about 180 families) in Kutch province. There are over 500 villages like Harori that are outside of the major cities and towns and who have tremendous damage and loss."

"The destruction is indescribable -- it is just so widespread," said Wray. "We witnessed CASA providing assistance to some of the poorest of the poor among the earthquake survivors."

CASA, which has a 54-year history of responding to disasters, now has at least 45 people on the ground involved in relief efforts in Gujarat, and has mobilized teams in the communities of Bhuj, Jamnaga, Gandhidham town and Rapar. CASA is being supported in its activities by local partners.

Ultimately CASA hope to assist 35,000 of the most affected families – between 175,000 and 210,000 persons – with priority given to those who were most vulnerable before the disaster. These include women, children, the aged, tribe and caste members who are generally agricultural workers, sharecroppers or small farmers – in other words, those who make up the majority of the poor and marginalized sections of Indian society.

CASA is providing each family with family support kit. The kits (cost: $25 each) include a blanket, a tarp and lantern, a dry ration kit of food, water, and a relief kit of essential items of clothing, and a set of kitchen utensils. In addition, hot meals of lentils and rice will be served to families living in camps.

Church World Service has thus far provided $270,000 for blankets and other emergency needs of survivors of the quake. CWS has also provided $50,000 to CWS-Pakistan for blankets, ground sheeting, and plastic tarps for 1,000 rural, poor families in Sindh Province, Pakistan.

In all, CWS is seeking $500,000 in support for these emergency relief efforts. Contributions may be earmarked "India Earthquake."

To support Church World Service Response efforts in India, please direct assistance to:

CHURCH WORLD SERVICE, Attn. India Earthquake, #6924, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515. Phone pledges or credit card donations: 1-800-297-1516. On-line contributions to: http://www.churchworldservice.org

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