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CHURCH WORLD SERVICE EMERGENCY RESPONSE NEWS BRIEFS

Editor’s Note: The following "news briefs" about Church World Service emergency response work, while numerous, still offer only a few snapshots of a much broader program. See www.cwserp.org for more information. Additional contact info follows.

Moreover, Church World Service also supports development and refugee assistance work around the world, and actively educates and advocates on issues related to human need. See www.churchworldservice.org for more information.

-CWS Response in El Salvador Continues
-CWS-Supported Faith-Based Groups Help After Mississippi, Alabama Storms
-Voluntary, Church Groups Alert to Unmet Needs Following West Coast Quake
-CWS Provides Food-for-Work Opportunities in Indonesia
-Donated Medical Equipment Sent to Cuban Ecumenical Council
-Indonesia Emergency Management Training Completed
-CWS Emergency Response Program Plans Training in Puerto Rico
-CWS Helps People Affected by Afghanistan War, Drought
-CWS Blankets, "Gift of the Heart" Kits and Layettes Get Used in the U.S., Too
-CWS Sends Blanket Funds in Wake of Blizzards in China, Mongolia
-CWS Sends $335,000 in Kits for IRD Project in Serbia
-CWS Helps Start Small Loan Program in Bosnia

CWS RESPONSE IN EL SALVADOR CONTINUES

Church World Service continues to support partners who are providing emergency relief in El Salvador following the January 13 and Feb. 13 earthquakes there.

Immediately following the initial quake, CWS helped to provide shelter for 3,000 of the survivors. CWS also provided a $30,000 air-freight shipment of 4,000 blankets, and by providing communications assistance during the initial stages of the disaster.

CWS then expanded its reach to 14,550 families, who are receiving emergency support packages of corn flour, sugar, powdered milk, a heavy duty plastic bag for carrying water and, when needed, additional foodstuffs and tools.

As it transitions to the rehabilitation and reconstruction phase, CWS seeks to assist an additional 12,500 families. The work in El Salvador is expected to continue through January 2002.

CWS is appealing for $500,000 to assist families affected by the quakes, which killed at least 1,240 people, destroyed nearly 75,000 houses, and caused major damage throughout El Salvador. Some one million Salvadorans were affected, with more than 60,000 people reported in temporary shelters.

The appeal will assist in providing food and non-food items: shelter, water and sanitation, medical assistance, psychological counseling, earth-moving equipment, disaster prevention education, and a food-for-work program in the later reconstruction phase.

Efforts also will focus on promoting self-organization within the affected communities and reorganizing the productive capacity of these communities.

These efforts will provide life-sustaining emergency assistance and hope to the most vulnerable individuals and families affected by the disaster, particularly in rural areas and in the poorest communities in El Salvador.

CWS-SUPPORTED FAITH-BASED GROUPS
HELPING AFTER MISSISSIPPI, ALABAMA STORMS

Church World Service is supporting the creation of two new faith-based organizations that will help with long-term recovery following severe storms that swept northern and central Mississippi in mid- to late-February.

The Golden Triangle Community Agency Recovery Efforts (GTCARES), based in Colombus, Miss., already is at work following a Feb. 16 storm that destroyed 98 homes and caused major damage to 230 more in Colombus and Starkville.

The Pontotoc Ministerial Alliance is organizing an "unmet needs committee" following the Feb. 24 storm that killed at least five people, destroyed 92 homes and caused significant damage to 88. Lower income areas suffered extensive damage.

Church World Service Disaster Resource Consultant Art Jackson (508-873-6812; ajackson@kersur.net), of the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, is helping organize both groups and has been assessing damage, which he describes as severe but in some cases very scattered and isolated. The Massachusetts-based consultant also has attended meetings of Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD).

In addition to Jackson, CWS Disaster Response Facilitator Charles Moeller (888-300-4425; ldrcfm@vistatech.net), of Lutheran Disaster Response, has assisted in communication with the faith communities in Mississippi.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has authorized disaster assistance for residents in 35 counties in northern and central Mississippi.

CWS provides assistance in partnership with faith-based organizations in disaster-affected communities. This is usually done by grants of "seed money" so faith-based disaster programs – which will oversee long-term recovery efforts for residents in need -- can begin while funding from major donors is pending.

CWS is supporting response efforts in Mississippi as part of a "Winter Storms Appeal." Earlier, CWS had issued an appeal following earlier tornadoes in Alabama and in other southern states. The initial appeal was issued Jan. 5, 2001, to assist in the development of a number of faith-based organizations seeking to do long-term recovery work. In Arkansas, CWS also sent 500 woolen blankets to aid in the relief efforts of local agencies in regions affected by storms.

VOLUNTARY, CHURCH GROUPS ALERT TO UNMET NEEDS
FOLLOWING WEST COAST EARTHAKE

Faith-based and other voluntary groups in Washington State are watching out for hidden damages and "special needs" cases following the Feb. 28 earthquake that caused an estimated $2 billion in damage, injured 320 people and caused at least one death.

Six Washington counties have been declared eligible for disaster assistance. Officials say the 6.8 earthquake could have caused considerably more damage had it been a shallow quake. But "hidden damages" already are emerging and being identified, said Church World Service Disaster Resource Facilitator Neil Molenaar (360-479-4315; neilmolenaar@aol.com), of the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee.

Molenaar reports that in Pierce County, several homes are experiencing major damage due to earthquake-related landslides and more are threatened.

Mudslides believed to be triggered by a combination of the quake, aftershocks and rain reportedly have destroyed at least five homes and have affected three communities, Disaster News Network reported. Rain also is compounding cleanup efforts and it is likely that "special needs" cases will emerge, Molenaar said.

CWS PROVIDES FOOD-FOR-WORK OPPORTUNITIES IN INDONESIA

Church World Service is providing food-for-work opportunities for thousands of families in Central and Eastern Java, Lomback and Sulawesi, Indonesia, who are struggling to keep food on the table and improve their environment.

In South Sulawesi, CWS has distributed nearly 2,100 tons of rice to pay 36,335 families for their work on 120 different projects in and around the city of Makassar (Ujungpandang).

In one project at Kecamatan Tamalate, a suburb of Makassar, 250 villagers worked for 20 days on a variety of activities that they chose, aimed at improving their environment and their health.

The activities included building a 65-foot wooden bridge across the Machini Sombala canal, about 100 feet of paved pathway, and a long ditch to drain the area’s excess water.

Villagers point out that the new bridge saves valuable time each day for school-bound children, mothers going to market and others moving to and from their homes.

DONATED MEDICAL EQUIPMENT SENT TO CUBAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL

CWS has sent $82,569 worth of donated medical equipment and supplies to the Cuban Ecumenical Council. The shipment arrived Feb. 4.

INDONESIA EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT TRAINING COMPLETED

Thirty-five participants - both Christian and Muslim - participated in a Feb. 4-9 emergency management training in Denpasar, Indonesia, led by Church World Service staff.

Those participating included CWS staff members in Indonesia, as well as staff of the Indonesia Council of Churches (PGI) and long-time CWS partner CD Bethesda.

Participants were field emergency officers responsible for making assessments, generating appeals and implementing response programs.

The training leaders were CWS Emergency Response Program International Consultant Ivan DeKam and Don Schramm of the University of Wisconsin Disaster Management Program.

It was the 12th CWS-led international emergency management training since 1997.

"It was a very energetic and interactive training," said CWS ERP Director Rick Augsburger, who attended the training. "There was a real commitment to furthering a network of faith based emergency responders.’’

CWS PLANS EMERGENCY RESPONSE TRAINING IN PUERTO RICO

Faith-based response, recovery and planning will be the focus of a CWS Emergency Response Program training planned for mid-April in Puerto Rico.

CWS Disaster Resource Consultants, the Rev. Francisco Velazquez, Presbyterian Church, and the Rev. Abigail Rosado, Christian Church (Disciples), will be joined by representatives from churches, church organizations, church agencies, and VOAD members from across the island.

CWS HELPS PEOPLE AFFECTED BY AFGHANISTAN WAR, DROUGHT

The Church World Service Pakistan/Afghanistan Program is working to assist the most vulnerable people affected by the war and drought in Afghanistan.

Twenty years of war, combined with the worst drought in more than 40 years and worsening economic impoverishment, have resulted in an appalling humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.

Millions, including farmers and nomads, have little access to food and the situation is expected to worsen. More than one million people rely on food aid and four million people may be seriously affected by the ongoing drought.

Children and the elderly are the most vulnerable. People are dying from starvation, common respiratory diseases and over-exposure to this winter’s bitter cold. Houses damaged by war leave occupants exposed to intense cold, with the most vulnerable unable to afford cooking or heating fuel.

CWS is targeting its assistance to 5,000 of the most vulnerable families – specifically, 1,000 female-headed families in Kabul, 3,000 families in Panjsher and 1,000 families in darra-e-Yousaf. Being provided: three months of shelter, food and blankets.

CWS already has contributed $275,000 in CWS Blanket Funds toward these urgent needs and is seeking additional support for these efforts.

CWS BLANKETS, "GIFT OF THE HEART" KITS, LAYETTES
GET USED IN THE UNITED STATES, TOO

Church World Service blankets, "Gift of the Heart" Kits and Layettes get used around the world – and across the United States, too. In recent weeks, Church World Service has sent:

- $96,850 worth of "Gift of the Heart" health kits and layettes to social service agencies in West Virginia to assist the homeless. Agencies receiving the materials are located in Moatsville, Webster Springs, Summersville and Glenville.

- 100 woolen blankets to Grace Episcopal Church, Panama City Beach, Fla., for distribution to area homeless families living in the woods and in their cars.

- 500 blankets to the Interfaith Hospitality Network, Upper Montclair, N.J., for distribution to homeless and transient people.

- 1,000 blankets to The Storehouse, Albuquerque, N.M., for distribution to homeless and working low-income people.

- 300 blankets, 300 "Gift of the Heart" health kits and 105 "Gift of the Heart" baby kits for use by the Boise, Id., Rescue Mission for use in their ministry among the homeless.

- 200 woolen blankets and 300 baby blankets to York, Pa., to be distributed through three meal sites run by York’s Helping Hand for the Homeless.

In Taos, N.M., 500 CWS blankets, 450 sewing kits and 500 health kits are being distributed to homeless people and to participant families in the SER Jobs for Progress Program, a family self-sufficiency program.

Says SER staffer Consuelo Ochoa, "Families come to us in crisis, and we help them develop a plan for their future. The Church World Service Blankets and Kits are a wonderful resource for our program."

CWS SENDS BLANKET FUNDS IN WAKE OF BLIZZARDS IN CHINA, MONGOLIA

CWS has sent $25,000 in CWS Blanket Funds to the Amity Foundation, a long-time CWS partner, to assist 2,000 families affected by a recent series of severe blizzards in northern China and Inner Autonomous Mongolia.

The blizzards have left some parts of the region buried in snow and ice to a depth of six feet. Temperatures dropped dramatically low, resulting in 27 deaths. Well over 500,000 head of livestock may have frozen to death.

The herders of the steppe have not recovered from last year’s severe winter and the subsequent summer drought, which either killed or weakened thousands of animals. The herders rely on their animals for the necessities of life.

The Amity Foundation is in contact with local Mongolian authorities, who say there is an urgent need for blankets, clothing, food, fuels for cooking and heating, medicine, fodder and tractors for gaining access in the snow.

CWS SENDS $335,000 IN KITS FOR IRD PROJECT IN SERBIA

Church World Service has sent $335,000 in health kits and layettes to International Relief and Development (IRD) for use in an IRD project to assist displaced persons and refugees in Serbia.

CWS HELPS START SMALL LOAN PROGRAM IN BOSNIA

Church World Service has provided $9,340 to start a small loan program in Bosnia to help generate employment for some 35 to 50 families in selected areas of high unemployment, heavy war damage and high populations of displaced persons and returnees.

Conflict and subsequent displacement of hundreds of thousands of families has caused deterioration of the economy. Since 1996, CWS has been providing revolving loans and small grants to individuals and groups who want to start businesses, helping them to regain their lives and livelihoods.

To support Church World Service Response efforts, please direct assistance to: CHURCH WORLD SERVICE, 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

Call the CWS HOTLINE for updates: (800) 297-1516, ext. 111.

For further information about disasters to which Church World Service is responding, contact CWS Emergency Response at (212) 870-3151. E-mail: cherlinger@ncccusa.org Web site: www.cwserp.org

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