When Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia last February, there was much uncertainty regarding the fate of vulnerable minorities living in isolated enclaves. Five months later, that uncertainty remains unresolved. There is no question, however, of IOCC’s resolve to see a stable, equitable and prosperous society emerge. We began our humanitarian mission to Kosovo in 1993 and have operated it continuously through all of Kosovo’s conflicts.
I am pleased to announce that The John G. Rangos Sr. Family Charitable Foundation will match every dollar contributed to IOCC Kosovo projects up to $50,000. Our goal is to raise $500,000 for a new initiative to build economic development projects for isolated rural communities in Kosovo, and aid families displaced from the region since 1999.
IOCC will also expand efforts to provide sustainable agricultural training and other projects that provide employment and foster inter-ethnic cooperation. Schools and educational and recreational programs will also receive assistance.
This new initiative for Kosovo builds upon our previous work, including repair and supplies for schools, expansion of the Visoki Decani winery, and assistance to families returning to Kosovo from central Serbia. We will continue to work with local community groups and the Serbian Orthodox Church, including the Visoki Decani Monastery. I hope you will accept our invitation to give generously to our campaign to help vulnerable families in Kosovo achieve true self-sufficiency.
Constantine M. Triantafilou
Executive Director and CEO
As residents continue to recover from the Midwest floods, poignant stories have emerged such as that of a woman who lost everything but only cared about not finding her favorite picture of her daughter. “This is a vibrant community, which has been changed forever,” says Father Chris Flesoras, a member of IOCC’s Emergency Response Network, known as the “Orthodox Frontline,” which provided trauma counseling and coordinated resources with other charities in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. IOCC’s US Program dispatched the Frontline team after a week of torrential rains caused the worst flooding to hit the Midwest in 15 years. Twenty-four people perished and more than 40,000 had to evacuate their homes in what is being described as the largest disaster since Katrina. The IOCC team provided trauma counseling and helped survivors connect with resources from FEMA and other agencies. IOCC also provided cash grants to Orthodox parishioners who have sustained damage and is partnering with Catholic Charities to reach out to the community at large.
IOCC Georgia has launched a new program to help young people prevent drug abuse. Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the program trains clergy of the Georgian Orthodox Church and public school teachers to identify risky behaviors and to facilitate educational and prevention activities among young people and parents. The one year campaign targets the most impressionable group of Georgians: youth between the ages of 11 - 21. Students are engaged through healthy lifestyle activities including athletic clubs, art exhibitions, and service to the poor. The program has also begun airing public service ads to raise awareness on drug abuse by using faith-based messages. An estimated 1.35 million Georgians will be reached through the media campaign alone.
IOCC Chairman of the Board Alex Machaskee and Executive Director and CEO Constantine M. Triantafilou recently visited Ethiopia to monitor IOCC’s field operations. IOCC Ethiopia recently won an $8 million contract with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to continue its successful HIV/AIDS prevention and training program. The new contract will allow IOCC to expand the program from 20 to 30 dioceses with its in-country partner, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church Development and Inter Church Aid Commission (EOC-DICAC).