Week of Compassion has invited the participation of three international women, representing several of our partner organizations, to the Quadrennial Assembly (QA) in North Carolina from June 23-27. Nana Doliashvili, from the Republic of Georgia, is the Director of the Tbilisi Youth House Foundation. Josipa Mihaljovic is from Bosnia and Herzegovina, representing the Bosansko Grahovo Women’s Association and our Build a Village integrative development program. In 2008, WoC Director Amy Gopp facilitated the Woman-to-Woman Pilgrimage to Bosnia and Croatia, along with the Office of Disciples Women, where they met Josipa and other program participants. Jovana “Vanja” Savic is from Belgrade, Serbia, where she works in communications for the Church World Service Balkans Office. All three women hail from an area in eastern and south central Europe where war, conflict, and displacement have been commonplace. Through WoC’s close partnership with Church World Service, we have supported all three women’s work.
Nana, from post-Soviet Georgia, is now itinerating through the state of Georgia! Josipa is being hosted by women in the Tennessee and Michigan regions. Jovana is now traveling through Idaho and Montana, where she is speaking about human trafficking. Jovana has extensive experience in the field of human trafficking, particularly the trafficking of women, and will bless the Quadrennial Assembly with words of wisdom for how Disciples women might address this tragic reality. Jovana is the Rosa Page Welch scholarship recipient to QA, funded by the Council on Christian Unity.
Week of Compassion welcomes our special guests and partners to the United States and to Quadrennial Assembly!
Southern Sudan Still in Need
As we continue to support the tremendous needs in the Darfur region of Sudan, we cannot forget the South. Southern Sudan faces the consequences of more than two decades of civil war, which is coupled with an influx of returnees, environmental factors and widespread tribal conflicts. The long period of drought and failure of the long rains in Eastern Equatoria state (since 2009) has had a severe adverse affect on the population, whose only harvest this year is expected to be in September. The March 2010 South Sudan Annual Needs and Livelihoods Assessment reports that 30% of households in Eastern Equatoria State are severely food insecure, with an additional 42% of households moderately food insecure.
Week of Compassion continues to contribute to our Action by Churches Together (ACT) response to reduce the impact of the drought on human lives and to support displaced households in Eastern Equatoria and Jonglei States. Our support will help 8,700 households by providing food and will also help 5,342 children in 14 schools in the region. This support will be complemented by peace-building activities.
Drought and Famine in Mali
In 2009, three regions of northern Mali experienced low, sporadic rainfall, half the usual average for these desert areas. Low rainfall has resulted in depletion of underground aquifers, excessive levels of salt in the few remaining wells, and a complete loss of grass and leaves on desert trees. The traditionally nomadic population in these regions usually follows routes defined by access to water and fodder. These traditional sources have largely failed, and by the end of April 2010, the little financial reserves used by the pastoralists to purchase and transport fodder and water for their families and livestock had been exhausted. By April 2010 reports of animal deaths were common, closely followed by malnutrition in children and now increasingly in adults. As most families are pastoralists living hundreds of kilometers from urban centers, these early figures are anticipated to be much higher as the situation develops. Families have been forced to move to non-traditional areas in search of food and water, causing tension between different ethnic groups, where the hosting community has little choice but to try and protect its limited reserves. Hundreds of herders have moved to northern Mali from Burkina Faso and Niger, and on finding limited resources in Mali, are now too weak to return.
At this point, the Malian Government’s Early Warning System estimated that 258,000 people in the main towns of Gao and Kidal were suffering from malnutrition in April. The Government distributed 6,970 metric tons of food to 3,310 families. Families who have moved to look for fodder and water for their animals are not able to access the distribution centers. These families at the edge of the towns are the most vulnerable. Often, women and children are the ones left behind while the men go in search of water and fodder with the remaining animals. In a rapid assessment, ACT Alliance members estimate at least 4,000 nomadic families are now camped on the edge of the town with dying animals. The situation is now critical with a need to distribute food, water and fodder to prevent major human death and a level of animal depletion from which it will take many years for families to recover.
Through ACT, we are supporting grassroots community emergency committees that have already identified the most vulnerable and are distributing food, water and fodder. Thanks to our partnership with ACT, Week of Compassion is contributing to this rapid response to avert human and animal death in northern Mali.
Gulf Oil Spill
We have received a number of calls regarding ways that people can help respond to the devastating oil spill along the Gulf Coast.
1. The actual clean up effort is dangerous. We do not want to expose untrained volunteers to that level of toxicity. Nor do we have the capacity to train a large number of people in those skills.
2. Our primary partner in this sort of disaster is Church World Service. They, like many other organizations, are still figuring out the appropriate way to provide help, and are having conversations with fishers, shrimpers, and aid partners on the coast to see the best way to provide aid.
3. As is our protocol when disasters occur in a region of our church, we have been in touch with the Great River Region about this. They are currently identifying and cataloging needs to which we can respond.
4. We are still monitoring the situation. The nature of the damage done by an oil spill is different from other disasters such as earthquakes, and tornados. How the spill affects personal property and people's livelihoods may require a different type of response or assesment. If there are needs our friends and congregations can identify--specifically--please let us know so we can respond.
News from WoC Partner IMA World Health
After a decade of fruitful collaboration with IMA, the Protestant Church of Congo (ECC) has been selected as one of the principal recipients of a project grant funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.