News & Information – December 2009
In spite of a difficult economic environment, this last year was a very productive one for IOCC as we expanded our work in key areas. In the Holy Land, IOCC provided agricultural development in the West Bank and continued humanitarian relief supplies to the embattled communities of Gaza. In Syria, IOCC was awarded $3.75 million as a continuation of its work to provide Iraqi refugees with job skills training, education and humanitarian assistance. Throughout East Africa, IOCC continued to supply millions of dollars worth of medical supplies and books. In 2009, IOCC also began a new work with the Uganda Orthodox Church to build new schools and equip an orphanage.
IOCC's new partnership with the Uganda Orthodox Church to build schools and upgrade orphanages was a key programming highlight for 2009. Above, Uganda teenagers in Katente look forward to having an orphanage in their village receive new upgrades through IOCC. (photo credit: Z. O'Dell/IOCC Ethiopia)
I commend our IOCC staff for working to bring the love of Christ to people caught in the turbulence of 2009. Whether it was flooding in the southern U.S., recovery from war in Gaza and Georgia, typhoons in the Philippines, or the continual health crisis in Africa, IOCC staff delivered supplies, built schools, educated refugees, provided food and water security, and demonstrated that the Orthodox of America care.

But our work was only accomplished because of the partnership between you and IOCC. Your generosity and belief in us during a difficult economy made our humanitarian work possible. Thank you. May God give you a double blessing for believing in us and for allowing us to do the work of the Gospel.

We look forward to 2010 knowing that it will present a unique set of challenges. There will be natural disasters and, no doubt, there will be armed conflict. Poverty and disease will continue to devastate people's lives. However, our focus is on the greatness of God to empower us to face these challenges. With great expectation, we look forward to the doors He will open for us in 2010.

Wishing you and your family a blessed New Year,

Constantine M. Triantafilou
Executive Director and CEO

Assisting Refugees in Ethiopia
IOCC has launched a new program in Ethiopia that is addressing sexual and gender-based violence against female refugees living in the capital of Addis Ababa. IOCC has provided workshops for 20 refugee women who are representatives of their communities to raise awareness regarding sexual and gender-based violence prevention and support. Also, 50 police officers in Addis Ababa were provided training on preventative measures, available assistance for victims, and applicable protective laws. IOCC and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church will also provide psychological counseling and medical support to victims, skills training for economic self-sustainability and public awareness raising activities. IOCC's program is made possible through a partnership with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church's Refugee Affairs Department and with funding from the U.S. Embassy Julia Taft Fund and the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.

Lebanon's Public School Children Receive Sanitary Facilities
Bekaa, Lebanon – When Lara, Nancy, and Mohammad returned to school from their summer vacation, they saw something most public school students in Lebanon rarely see; new clean bathrooms. Students in Lebanon's under-funded public schools are still denied basic, sanitary bathrooms. The bathrooms were so bad in the Kob Elias Intermediate School in Lebanon's Bekaa region that many of the 220 students often waited until they got home to use the bathroom. "Nothing functioned properly and nothing in there was even close to hygiene standards," says school health advisor Ms Fida Eid.

With the help of IOCC, Kob Elias and 70 other public schools located throughout Lebanon received new toilets, tiles, sinks and mirrors, as well as doors with locks.

"Now, with the flu season, it is important to reinforce how students can protect themselves from influenza and H1N1 virus, and proper hand washing is the most effective way to control the spread of infectious diseases," says Eid. IOCC also placed posters on the doors and walls of the restrooms to help spread awareness among students on proper hygiene habits.

Students were excited to tell that faucets, toilet flushes, and door handles are cleaned daily with detergents. Lara, 16, almost never went to the restroom at school before, "but today I feel as if I'm home", she says.

Nancy's biggest joy from all of this is having mirrors in the restroom. As for Mohammad, he admits, "When the facilities were dirty and old, we often created more mess, but now that we have clean restrooms we feel responsible for keeping them clean".

Albuquerque Metropolitan Committee
The Albuquerque Metropolitan Committee is one of IOCC's newest fundraising committees, organized only a few months prior to planning their first event for IOCC. In November, the Albuquerque Metropolitan Committee held its first annual dinner for IOCC at St. George Greek Orthodox Church. The Albuquerque community gathered for a pan Orthodox Vespers service, followed by dinner, entertainment, and a presentation by keynote speaker and Chairman of the Board, Alex Machaskee. The dedicated volunteers of the Albuquerque Metropolitan Committee rallied their community and gathered 200 people to raise almost $15,000 for the work of IOCC! Hats off to the Albuquerque Committee for a successful first event!

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