From the Executive Director
Zoe. Life. Down the hill about fifty yards I could see life. A small bright green plant standing eighteen inches out of the blackened scorched earth reached up to the sky. Standing on the top of the mountain in the village of Artimeda I looked out and saw only burnt houses, cafes and small businesses. I saw entire mountains devastated. Even the dirt was burnt dark black and grey. The mountains in the distance looked white as if dusted by snow but the wind blows only ashes. Telephone and electric poles lay on the ground. Shells of houses were scattered on the mountain. The smell of burnt wood and the ashes irritated my eyes and mouth, but I could not stop staring at the mountains and forests. I stood there trying to comprehend how intense and massive the fires must have been to totally destroy all that lay before me. In the distance I could see areas where the fire spared part of a tree or house, but everything else I saw was ravaged by the flames.
I thought about the charred overturned fire truck we passed on the narrow road as we approached the village and the fireman who perished. I thought about the mother and her four children dead arm and arm only a few yards off the road. And yet, God's message was reaching up to me through the weeds in that small green plant. I could see that with darkness there is light.
I turned to see the villagers gathered around the priest and talking about the food they had just received from a group of volunteers. Above the church and on the terrace of a partially burned house there sat an elderly man whom I had met in the square. He had returned to his home and was gazing at the valley below. What is he going to do next? He lost his livestock in the fire. His olive trees are all burnt. I knew that he and those like him would need much help. I assured him that his Orthodox brothers and sisters in America were with him.
I began to think what we could possibly do to respond. At that moment, the priest put his arm around me and said, "Look over there!" He pointed to the small green plant- "Zoe! Life! There is life." I smiled in agreement.
In this expanded Executive Summary you will read about IOCC's relief work in Greece, including our plan to provide animal feed for hundreds of vulnerable farmers (see http://www.iocc.org/news/9-7-07.aspx). We have also included a slideshow (see below) of the hard-hit Peloponnese where IOCC is concentrating its response to the wildfires. I am confident that together we can continue to respond in one voice to Christ’s call for Greece, as we are doing in 16 other countries around the world.
On behalf of IOCC's Board and Staff, I want to convey my heartfelt sympathy to all those who lost loved ones. May Their Memories Be Eternal!
Yours in Christ
Constantine M. Triantafilou
Executive Director and CEO
|Food Security for the Northern West Bank
IOCC's Jerusalem/West Bank office reports that the Food Security program for five villages of the Qalqilya area of the northern West Bank is underway with households harvesting their first vegetables. Cooperatives for household gardening, bee-keeping and animal husbandry have been formed to provide support for each other. There are plans to train the women to weave the wool of their sheep into sweaters (Palestinian families are accustomed to using the animal skins for rugs and mats). IOCC is assisting approximately 300 families to provide for their food needs by improving the use of their land and livestock. IOCC is providing tools, seeds, and expertise with the ultimate aim of providing up to 30% of their food needs.
|Public Schools in Lebanon Receive Major Book Shipment
IOCC Lebanon received a container of textbooks valued at $582,000. The books will be distributed among the public schools that IOCC is renovating through its program with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The nearly 9,000 textbooks, which were donated by McGraw-Hill Companies through Brother's Brother Foundation, are for students aged 6-12. This shipment demonstrates how IOCC's Gifts-in-Kind program supports and enhances our current programs.
VOICES of: FAITHFUL SUPPORTERS
"Why do I support IOCC? First and foremost it is Orthodox; I feel it is part of my heritage. Secondly, I appreciate their follow up. I give to a lot of organizations, but this is one organization that I never have any doubt about where my money is going. I especially appreciate all the work they do with children. I see the need and as long as I am able to respond to that need I will."
Athanasia Arbes, Deal, New Jersey
(IOCC Supporter Since 2000)
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