Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Church World Service aids hurricane survivors in Haiti.

As a powerful Hurricane Ike roils toward the Texas coast after hitting Cuba, Haiti, and other parts of the Caribbean, humanitarian agency Church World Service (CWS) announced it had already sent an initial $10,000 rapid response grant to its partner in Haiti. The partner agency is SKDE (Sant Kretyen Pou Developman Entegre), the Christian Center for Integrated Development.

CWS also announced that it is expediting a shipment of CWS Blankets, Baby Kits, and Hygiene Kits to be distributed in Haiti by humanitarian agency partners who are members of Action by Churches Together.

Four storms have lashed Haiti in recent weeks, resulting in what CWS partner Christian Aid described as possibly "lasting damage to Haiti's 'rice bowl,'" according to the CWS release. The "rice bowl" is a farming area whose revival is key to Haiti's struggle in overcoming its current food crisis. CWS and Christian Aid said it is expected that as many as 4 million Haitians will be in dire need of food in the midst of a still-active hurricane season. Haiti hasn't experienced hurricane damage of this magnitude since 2004, when Hurricane Jeanne essentially destroyed Gonaives and killed more than 3,000 people, the release said.

From Cuba, CWS received an initial material aid request from its church partner Iglesia Bando Evangelica Gedeon. CWS Emergency Response director Donna Derr said the agency is prepared and can respond to Cuban survivors' needs, through the material resource provision of the license CWS holds from the US Department of State.

Other CWS partners and colleagues in the Dominican Republic, and the Turks and Caicos Islands have managed to deliver some reports, but information has been limited, CWS said. The Cuban church partner said the damage from Hurricane Gustav had made the situation in the country "very difficult," and that Hurricane Ike heaped insult on injury. In eastern Cuba, a network of volunteers from Cuban churches who are trained in psychosocial support and counseling are working with affected families and communities.

"The combined devastation from these storms is stunning," said Derr.

The Church of the Brethren contributes to Church World Service disaster relief through grants from the denomination’s Emergency Disaster Fund. Send donations to the Emergency Disaster Fund, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120.

Source: 9/17/2008 Newsline Extra

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