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|U.S. Church Support
Critical in "All Our Children" Effort, Coordinator Says
By Chris Herlinger
But equally satisfying to the campaigns field coordinator is AOCs base of support, which includes U.S. churches and denominations, ecumenical agencies, religious groups, private agencies and individual donors.
At a time when funding for humanitarian efforts within Iraq has often been difficult to come by, support by concerned Americans and churches has made a crucial difference, said Steve Weaver, who is also a Church World Service (CWS) International Emergency Response Consultant.
Its been satisfying to be working on a project attempting to do something positive amidst all of this destruction, said Weaver, who has been based in Amman, Jordan, since October and has coordinated the field work for AOC since January.
The AOC campaign is a $1 million, multi-agency effort to provide for medical and health supplies to Iraqi children. The campaign continues the long-term commitment of CWS to assist with ongoing humanitarian needs in Iraq, regardless of the current wars outcome. Church World Service has provided more than $3.8 million since 1991 for humanitarian assistance in Iraq.
The first AOC shipment supported a $91,000 project -- $86,136 in actual medical supplies -- to two pediatric hospitals in Baghdad in cooperation with Islamic Relief Agency (ISRA). The second shipment, in cooperation with UNICEF, centered on a $47,801 hygiene project for malnourished children -- $35,551 in actual supplies, $10,251 of which was shipped by truck from Amman, the rest procured in Baghdad.
A third shipment to support a hospital project is pending once crossings between the border of Jordan and Iraq, now prohibited because of the war, can resume.
Weaver said he expects the AOC program will expand its work once unrestricted access to Iraq is permitted and expects he will be spending much of his time in Iraq once that happens.
For Weaver, 33, a graduate of Eastern Mennonite University (EMU), the current assignment is the latest of a series of humanitarian assignments for various church-related agencies, including nearly a years work with the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in Burundi in 1995.
His international experience, which also includes work in Kosovo and Turkey, continues something of a family tradition: his late father, Dr. R. Clair Weaver, went on numerous Mennonite-sponsored medical missions to Latin America when Weaver was growing up, and Weavers first taste of international work came when he accompanied his father on a trip to Honduras at ages 15. There was a service ethos in our family, Weaver said.
Weaver, who lives in Lancaster, Pa., has worked for CWS since September 2001, when he helped develop the CWS Emergency Response Programs spiritual and emotional care program in the wake of the Sept. 11 tragedy.
Whether domestically or internationally, Weaver sees the support of U.S. churches and others in such work as crucial.
All Our Children is a great project to be working with because its a way churches, private agencies and individuals wanting to respond to the problems in this region can help, he said. Its been a part of the world that those of us from the United States need to respond to in helpful, thoughtful ways.
(All Our Children partners are: Church World Service, Jubilee Partners, Mennonite Central Committee, the National Council of Churches, Sojourners, Lutheran World Relief, Stop Hunger Now and Oxfam America.)
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