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"Poverty: A Time for Sharing"

An interfaith religion special on CBS April 26

New York, April 1, 2009
POVERTY: A TIME FOR SHARING, an interfaith religion special, will be broadcast Sunday, April 26 on the CBS Television Network. Check your local station for exact time. 

Half of humanity lives on less than $2 a day. A billion people worldwide cannot read or write. Poor children die in great numbers from preventable diseases. Global poverty and its killing effect is on the rise despite ongoing efforts by governments, the United Nations, and Non-Governmental Organizations, including religious groups. 

Poverty in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and how American religions serve the poor is the subject of POVERTY: A TIME FOR SHARING Americans of Faith Confront World Poverty, which will cite the work of Protestant, Catholic and Mennonite Christians, Jews and Muslims—all sharing a common thread of responding to immediate need and empowering indigenous peoples so they can control their own lives. 

Many Americans think malaria has been wiped out, but in Africa a poor child dies of the disease every thirty seconds. The UN Foundation started the "Nothing But Nets" campaign in 2006 in which a $10 contribution bought a net to protect youngsters while asleep.  The United Methodists, Lutheran World Relief and the Union for Reform Judaism soon followed suit. We hear from United Methodist Bishop Tom Bickerton, an official spokesperson for the "NETS" campaign, Elizabeth McKee Gore of the UN Foundation, and sports columnist Rick Reilly of ESPN. We also visit Africa for an up-close look at the nets’ effectiveness. 

American Jewish World Service works with 400 non-governmental grassroots groups in 36 countries. AJWS president Ruth Messinger says, "They need a partner to provide financial and technical assistance and, from time to time, wonderful, skilled volunteers." She describes working on behalf of underprivileged children in India. We also hear from Julia Kaminsky, a volunteer who worked to empower women and educate teens about sex in a village in El Salvador. 

Mennonite Christians are represented by Arli Klassen, Executive Director of the Mennonite Central Committee and Jim Bowman, former MCC representative in Kenya. Their work, across 66 countries stresses service to the poor and non-violence in all conflicts. Klassen also shows us a mobile health clinic in Laos, which gives vaccinations and medical attention to mothers and newborns. Bowman describes how building a dam to trap water-retaining sand provides a Kenyan village with drinking water in the dry spell.

Islamic Relief serves the world's poor in 35 countries using donations from American Muslims. "We're in the poorest countries of the world," says Natasha Issak a fundraiser in the Northeast U.S.  Issak and Yousef Abdullah, operations manager of the Northeast Regional Office of Islamic Relief takes us to Afghanistan, where they set up training programs to empower Afghanistan's enormous number of widows and orphans created by decades of war. Abdullah describes a refugee camp in Sudan where IR has dug wells, built a clinic and schools serving 11,000 people.

Annemarie Reilly, chief of staff of Catholic Relief Services, the worldwide relief arm of the U.S. Catholic Church, describes CRS work in response to the tsunami which devastated Indonesia in 2004; ongoing work in Ethiopia drilling wells with community help; working with Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity caring for the poor and dying;  and the holistic approach used to serve HIV positive people in Zambia.

John P. Blessington is the executive producer; Ted Holmes is the producer. The special is produced with the cooperation of the National Council of Churches, The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, The Islamic Society of North American, The Union for Reform Judaism and the New York Board of Rabbis.

Press Contact: Jeremy Murphy, 212-975-4577, 

NCC News contact:  Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 646-853-4212 (cell) ,

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