Horeya lives in a two-room stone house with an iron roof in the northern West Bank area known as Qalqilia. Her husband has been unemployed for the last two years, and she struggles to feed her five children. Every day she purchases produce from local farmers and resells them by the side of the road.
Hunger is not news, but when prices for basic staples that feed the world such as wheat, rice, and corn rise as much as 83 percent, we can understand what “Global Food Crisis” means. Some experts estimate that food production must increase 50 percent by 2030 in order to meet increasing demand. In their latest report, Bread for the World Institute urges the U.S. to make it a national goal to cut hunger and poverty by 2015.
What is IOCC doing? For Horeya, and for hundreds of Qalqilia families, IOCC is building food security by providing them with training, tools and supplies to create house gardens, water cisterns, and to cultivate bee hives, so that they can provide up to 30 percent of their own food needs. The $440,000 program, funded by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid (ECHO), helps those families cut off from farmlands and water supplies by the West Bank Barrier. Horeya is now waiting for her first harvest of tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, and beans. Along with providing food for her family and a source of income when she sells excess produce in the market, Horeya will also be able to teach farming skills to her children.
IOCC Jerusalem staffers Dirk Van Gorp and Dr. George Malki talked to OCN recently about the situation in the West Bank and IOCC’s program in Qalqilia. Dr. George relates the story of one family that successfully planted a house garden and built their own underground water cistern. “We were able to sell our products and to be able to provide for our basic needs,” said the father. The challenges will continue, but we can respond with these initiatives that build people’s ability to control their lives and to provide for their families.
Constantine M. Triantafilou
Executive Director and CEO
IOCC has received over $40,000 in donations in support of relief efforts for Myanmar cyclone and China earthquake victims. IOCC has directed these funds to its fellow Action by Churches Together (ACT) International member organizations who are running relief operations in affected areas. In China, ACT member, Amity Foundation is distributing emergency supplies, including rice, cooking oil, quilts, and tarpaulins. Amity plans to provide 16,000 individuals with food sufficient to sustain them through the immediate shortage. IOCC is also directing Myanmar donations to ACT member organizations working in the capital of Yangon and the hard-hit Irrawady Delta region. ACT members are providing safe water to communities through the rehabilitation of 5,000 water points. They will also provide emergency shelter for approximately 340,000 people and 10 days of food aid for approximately 68,000 people. IOCC will continue to direct donations earmarked for Myanmar or China to ACT member organizations.
More than 165 disabled individuals from the Thessaloniki, Macedonia and Epirus regions of northern Greece recently received wheelchairs, including sports wheelchairs for disabled athletes, other mobility devices, and therapeutic equipment. “For many people and especially children, this was the first time they received a wheelchair, such as one 14-year old boy who has been carried around by his grandfather his whole life,” says IOCC Greece Director Despina Katsivelaki. The equipment, worth more than $200,000, was made possible through a generous gift to IOCC by Peja Stojakovic of the NBA’s New Orleans Hornets. The wheelchairs were custom-fit to suit the needs of each recipient by a team of volunteer health care professionals from Wheels for Humanity, and local partners in Thessaloniki including the Hellenic Society of Disabled Children – ELEPAP and the Paraplegics Association of Greece “Alexander the Great.” The project is part of a larger regional program designed and implemented by IOCC with the support of the Peja Stojakovic Children’s Foundation to provide assistance to disabled children and adults in Greece and Montenegro. (Photos by Michael Allen/UCP Wheels for Humanity)
IOCC Georgia recently began airing commercials to help combat drug abuse and HIV/AIDS featuring national rugby team captain, Irakly Abusaridze. IOCC has received additional funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to include HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness messaging in its Healthy Lifestyles program. This program teaches clergy of the Georgian Orthodox Church and public school teachers how to identify risky behaviors and to facilitate educational and prevention activities among young people and parents. An estimated 1.35 million Georgians will be reached through the media campaign alone.
IOCC’s US Program recently hosted a series of sessions to train Orthodox clergy in providing pastoral care to people who have experienced trauma. The trainees, which included twelve clergy, five seminarians, and two IOCC employees, represented Antiochian, Greek, OCA, and Carpatho-Russian jurisdictions. The participants, who attended the sessions at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, MA, said that the training provided an interactive and engaging model for response to natural and man-made disasters, adding valuable tools to pastoral ministry. Seminar training included “pastoral crisis intervention,” “emotional and spiritual care in disasters,” and “critical incident stress management.” This is only the first of IOCC’s Emergency Training seminars, yet the Church and her local communities benefit greatly from this handful of first responders. (Photos by Kevin Ellers)