Winter Storms and Our Partnership with CWS

Winter Storms - Week of Compassion has been monitoring the severe winter storms on the East Coast as well as Southeast and Midwest. We have responded to several congregations and individuals and will continue to do so as needs arise. We will continue to monitor these storms and ask that we join together in prayer for all of those affected.

Chaco region of Bolivia and Argentina
By Chris Herlinger, CWS

The first thing you have to know about the Chaco region of Bolivia and Argentina? History matters. In this, the largest dry forest in the world (and, after the Amazon, the second largest forest reserve in South America), indigenous groups have lost their land, were marginalized, and have struggled with the exigencies of neglect, poverty, poor health care and spotty education.

The good news is that CWS, a partner of Week of Compassion, is working with human rights groups, church-supported partners and indigenous organizations in making a difference in the lives of people in the Chaco.

This has happened in at least two ways.

CWS supports efforts of indigenous groups to reclaim their land through legal cases and court challenges - slow work that in recent years has finally begun paying off, with families and communities winning the right to secure legal title to their ancestral territories.

Another way? Support for development programs that are improving food security - the availability and access to food - through efforts like community vegetable gardens. The gardens improve not only a community's diet but also recover the values of "ancestral knowledge," of growing different varieties of crops.

Dependence on one crop - corn, mainly - is not good for health or for the land, and a return to a traditional plant-based diet that includes a variety of vegetables - not just corn - is paying off dividends. One farm couple in Bolivia, Justina Romero and Adolfo Torres, said the support from CWS and partners to grow vegetables not only for themselves but for sale, have given them much-needed support and sense of well-being.

"Thanks to you, we have this," said Torres.

Justina Romero and her husband, Adolfo Torres, pose together in their garden in the Guarani indigenous village of Kapiguasuti, Bolivia. They and their neighbors started the gardens with assistance from Church World Service, supplementing their corn-based diet with nutritious vegetables and fruits. Photo by Paul Jeffrey, CWS. 

Justina Romero and her husband, Adolfo Torres, pose together in their garden in the Guarani indigenous village of Kapiguasuti, Bolivia. They and their neighbors started the gardens with assistance from Church World Service, supplementing their corn-based diet with nutritious vegetables and fruits. Photo by Paul Jeffrey, CWS. 

Neighbor Juancito Pinto, agreed, saying that with less need to purchase food, the community is becoming far more self-reliant.  Before the gardens, he said, "people were hungrier." Now hunger is rare, and the bounty of life is something to treasure.

Through your generosity, Week of Compassion works closely with CWS and many partners around the world to improve lives and help create new futures. Thank you.

This Week's Responses:

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance
Madagascar, Cyclone and Flood Relief
Kentucky, Flood Relief
Tennessee, Winter Storm Relief

Development and Long-Term Recovery and Rehabilitation
Arkansas, Long-Term Tornado Recovery