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'All Our Children' Approves New Projects for Iraq's Youngest

March 16, 2004, NEW YORK CITY (CWS/NCC)  - While debates rage over allies' presence in Iraq, and protests mark the anniversary of the U.S. pre-emptive strike, All Our Children -- a consortium that includes the National Council of Churches USA and the global humanitarian agency Church World Service -- steadfastly continues its work with Iraqi youth in targeted projects that further the health and well being of a population that suffers through the turmoil.

In one project, All Our Children approved repairs to the Bait al Tuful social institution, which provides shelter and care for street children. Working with Enfants du Monde and the Iraqi Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MOLSA), the institution serves as a transitional place where children have access to education, hygiene and protection.

Training for MOLSA social workers on recreational and reintegration activities is intended to ensure social reintegration for these children.

All Our Children also affirmed a proposal from the Iraqi Help and Development Organization to provide health assessments and support for schoolchildren. This is the first All Our Children Campaign project with an Iraqi non-governmental organization (NGO) and in that sense will also help build capacity for this Iraqi sector. All Our Children is a coalition campaign co-founded by the National Council of Churches USA, Church World Service and other faith-based humanitarian agencies, dedicated to serving Iraqi children.

Finally, the consortium affirmed the continuation of an All Our Children theater project for a third three-month series. This project provides live theater to traumatized Iraqi children in hospitals, orphanages, clinics and poor neighborhoods. Institution managers report that children who were previously unresponsive became animated and interacted with the play's characters, two cats in a dialogue about love and war, words which sound similar in Arabic.

The All Our Children consortium pledged to work to continue its project support beyond the original June 2004 target date.  "All Our Children fills a niche for helping small, highly effective projects," says CWS Executive Director and CEO the Rev. John L. McCullough. "In the midst of all the bad news, on all sides, the projects serve as valuable communication about how help can be given.  What we see is human need, and we can help. With support, we hope to continue the All Our Children efforts through the end of this year."

To date, the overall campaign has raised $841,748, with $410,000 of that amount provided through CWS. As of the end of 2003, the campaign had supported 14 projects.

Among the most recent projects are additions to the Kerbala Pediatric Hospital; deliveries of fresh food to orphanages and fresh water to hospitals in Baghdad; and the provision of refrigeration and cooking equipment to Baghdad hospitals.

Additional All Our Children projects supported by CWS have included local purchase of 100 beds for the Ibn Al-Aheer and Al Khassa Pediatric Hospitals in Mosul; purchase and distribution of fresh foods for 37 hospitals in Baghdad and Basra -- enough for three meals a day for 5,000 children over a 10-day period. Also: fresh food distributions to 21 hospitals over a two-week period in April / May with supplementary deliveries of dry food to seven hospitals and powdered milk to 18 hospitals.

CWS has shipped nearly 15,000 "Gift of the Heart" School Kits and 16,450 "Gift of the Heart" Health Kits to Iraq for distribution this spring. CWS "Gift of the Heart" Kits have been a centerpiece of public awareness initiatives in the San Francisco Bay area and other communities.

One of the cornerstones of the CWS response was a shipment of surgical equipment that arrived last October in Amman, Jordan, and has been distributed in Iraq. There were over 400 cartons of equipment in the shipment, with a total value of $1.2 million. The items have been distributed to the following hospitals in Baghdad: the Al Kadhemia General Teaching Hospital; the Ibn Al Bittar Cardiac Surgery Hospital; the Al Samera'e Gynaecology Hospital; and the Al Wasiti Surgical Hospital.

CWS has also provided $253,000 in support to its partner agency the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) to support the provision of basic and supplementary food commodities, medicines and medical material / hospital equipment to hospitals and medical centers and shelters, bedding, and heaters and kitchen utensils to displaced Iraqi families.

CWS is extremely grateful to denominational funders, foundation supporters and individual donors who have lent support to CWS efforts to assist the people of Iraq in what has been a challenging and difficult humanitarian environment.

Denominational funders: Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) / Week of Compassion; the Church of the Brethren; Episcopal Relief and Development; the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA); Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA); Reformed Church in America; United Church of Christ Wider Church Ministries; United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).

Foundation supporters: the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation; Trull Foundation; Shield-Ayres Foundation; The H.C. Gemmer Family Christian Foundation; C.E. & S Foundation; Bobolink Foundation; Central Alabama Community Foundation; Rose C. Stone Foundation; Tides Foundation; Laney-Vuaghan Family Foundation; and the Pascall International Foundation.

Continued support is needed for this effort. Contributions to support this work may be sent to your denomination or to Church World Service, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN, 46515. You can also make a donation online. Please designate for appeal # 6801 (Iraq Crisis).

Media Contacts:

Ann Walle, CWS/New York, 212-870-2654; 
Jan Dragin, CWS, 781-925-1526;

NCC Media Contact: 212-870-2252 or 202-544-2350 x11;

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