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Volume 12, No. 1 Spring 2009
Families in Gaza Endure,
Struggle to Rebuild
IOCC’s Jerusalem-based staff responded quickly to the Gaza crisis, coordinating efforts with local organizations and delivering food to families in Gaza City. A new $750,000 grant from the US government will allow IOCC to provide food, blankets and hygiene supplies to more than 6,000 families. (Photo credit: East Jerusalem YMCA)
Gaza City, Gaza — Ahlam is a mother of four and lives in the Gaza Strip near the border with Egypt. She thought she had experienced enough tragedy when her husband was killed and her home was demolished in 2002 during the second Palestinian uprising. But on January 4, 2009, she and her children were told they had five minutes to evacuate their home. The family got out, then within minutes their home was reduced to rubble.

The deadliest conflict in Gaza in four decades has killed 1,300, wounded 5,300, and displaced more than 26,000. IOCC’s Jerusalem-based staff responded quickly, coordinating efforts with local organizations to deliver food to 23,000 children and adults residing in shelters and affected communities throughout Gaza. IOCC also assisted beleaguered hospitals and shelters by providing thousands of quilts and hygiene kits.

“The situation in Gaza remains very critical,” says Dirk Lackovic’-van Gorp, IOCC Representative for Jerusalem/West Bank. “Significant numbers of people need food and the population is very traumatized and in need of psychological counseling.” Officials estimate that 14,000 homes have been partially or completely destroyed and that schools and hospitals, as well as water, sewage and electrical facilities, have all sustained significant damage.

Through a new $750,000 grant from ARD, Inc. by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), IOCC will provide 6,000 families (about 42,000 people) with food, blankets and hygiene supplies. IOCC is working to assist the most vulnerable, including those who have experienced the death or injury of a family member or who have a primary bread winner that is unemployed as a result of the conflict.

IOCC is also planning a program through funding from Action by Churches Together (ACT) that will rebuild community centers and, at the same time, provide work for unemployed construction workers.

His Beatitude Theophilus III, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, has authorized IOCC to work with His Beatitude Archbishop Alexios of Gaza to assist vulnerable Orthodox families in Gaza City with emergency home repairs as part of the response.

IOCC’s appeal for Gaza continues. His Eminence Metropolitan Philip of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese has encouraged the faithful of North America to continue to support IOCC’s efforts in Gaza: “I strongly urge each of our parishes to collect money in a way they see fit and forward it directly to IOCC as soon as possible.”

“In the past we were able to rebuild our home,” says Ahlam, “but with the siege imposed on Gaza and the suspension of aid, I doubt that we can build our home for the second time.” Ahlam and her family received food, milk and blankets from IOCC. She is grateful for the help, but like thousands in Gaza who wonder about what lies ahead, it is hard to be optimistic.

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In This Issue

IOCC Extends A Healing Hand to Africa

Message from the Executive Director

Families in Gaza Endure, Struggle to Rebuild

Orthodox Volunteers Make A Difference in the U.S.

Trauma of War Lingers for Children in Georgia

Seeds of Hope Take Root for Greek Farmers

The Will To Help

IOCC Foundation

Become an IOCC Parish Representative

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