From the Executive Director: A New Milestone for Bosnia
IOCC came of age as an organization in Bosnia-Herzegovina. When we delivered emergency supplies during the Bosnian war, we proved that an Orthodox organization could be a fair distributor of humanitarian relief, getting aid to those who needed it the most. Bosnia also gave us the chance to demonstrate that when the war was over IOCC would stay on to help families recover their lives and build their new country. Through four major grants by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) over the course of 12 years, IOCC invested tens of millions of dollars into programs addressing Bosnia’s long term need for revitalization in agriculture, civil society, and small businesses. Thousands of farmers and small business owners and hundreds of nongovernmental organizations received tools and training from IOCC.
With the close of this funding, IOCC passes another Bosnia milestone. Our office in Banja Luka, once the largest IOCC field operation with 18 staff, has been transitioned. Two full time staff will stay on to continue IOCC’s microcredit program; the rest of the staff have moved on. No words can adequately express my gratitude to all those who have served Bosnia through IOCC. At times they risked their lives; at all times they worked tirelessly.
I am proud to announce that three veterans, Dusko Vucic, Zoran Micic and Miodrag Matavulj, have launched their own development organization. Through the Agency for Cooperation, Education and Development (ACED), they will continue to do what they did so well for IOCC Bosnia: developing programs to assist the agricultural, educational and civil society sectors.
I am inspired by ACED’s stated vision for Bosnia: “a modern, cultural and economically prosperous society based on the principles of justice, equality, tolerance and mutual respect.” ACED allows IOCC to leave behind an indigenous capacity to continue what is part and parcel of our mission – providing people with the tools to achieve true self-sufficiency.
Bosnia and IOCC have come a long way. Now, we look forward to working with ACED as our newest local partner to continue to fulfill the potential for Bosnia.
Constantine M. Triantafilou
Executive Director and CEO
“ ... As for us (Zoran, Miki and me) – 12 great years with IOCC have passed. [Twelve] years with an uncountable number of positive memories. But also 12 years full of challenges, obstacles and hurdles. However, all problems and headaches were paid back by being able to rest in the assurance that we did our utmost. As a team member I can state that no extra mile was long enough to take. The dedication and devotion of the IOCC BiH team is [hard] to outperform.”
IOCC has restarted its operations in Iraq, which were suspended for 10 months due to the security situation. IOCC delivered emergency food parcels and hygiene kits to nearly three thousand families in Baghdad. Funding for the project was made possible through Action by Churches Together (ACT) International. Each food and hygiene parcel is designed to supplement the basic nutrition and hygiene needs of approximately three people during a one-month period and includes items such as soap, laundry powder, spaghetti, cheese and beans. IOCC purchased all the supplies from local markets in order to support the local economy. These latest supplies allow Iraqi families to have more disposable income to spend on other necessities such as electricity from local generators.
IOCC staff member Chrysanthe Loizos had the opportunity in March to volunteer with her family on a team to build new homes for individuals who lost their properties during the 2005 U.S. hurricane season. IOCC’s “Volunteer in the Gulf” program has sent over 300 volunteers to the Gulf Coast to build new homes through a partnership with Habitat for Humanity.
IOCC’s Gifts-in-Kind (GIK) program facilitated two shipments in March for Lebanon and Indonesia. A shipment of drugs used to treat diabetes and high blood pressure was received by YMCA Lebanon. The drugs will be distributed to government hospitals and clinics which serve patients free of charge who cannot afford medication or treatment. In Indonesia, Church World Service (CWS) provided IOCC with 3,750 baby kits and 10,000 hygiene kits worth a total of $270,000. Medical Teams International (MTI) received the shipment and distributed the supplies on Nias Island where IOCC has supported several programs since the 2004 tsunami.
IOCC Ethiopia Program Manager, Dr. Sisay Alemayehu Abayneh, recently published an article on HIV-1 pathogenesis in the publication, AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses. The full text of the article appears at http://www.liebertonline.com.