Message from the
|Volume 11, No. 3
Shota and his wife Medea were proud of the life they had built in South Ossetia. “We produced the best apples in Georgia,” said Shota, an elderly man who has to use a cane. Medea was proud of their orchards, their two-story farmhouse, their family heirlooms. On August 7, their world came to an end when Georgian and Russian forces engaged in a conflict that would eventually displace more than 160,000 individuals. Today, the couple has taken refuge in a kindergarten in the city of Gori and their sole possession now is Shota’s cane.
Displacement is a recurring theme in this issue of News & Needs. You’ll read about more families in Georgia coping with all that they’ve lost as well as the challenges of the coming winter. A new grant enables IOCC to provide winter supplies such as heating, bedding, fuel for cooking, and warm clothing to 2,000 individuals like Shota and Medea.
In Syria, IOCC expands its Iraqi refugee program. Thousands of Iraqi refugees and disadvantaged Syrians will benefit from new supplies, schooling, and vocational training. And in Iraq, where families continually face the threat of being displaced, more aid from IOCC to help combat malnutrition, a major problem for Iraqi children. You’ll also read about IOCC’s project to provide greater safety and training to Peloponnese fire fighters. Greece’s southern region, known for its hot and dry summers, continues to face the threat of wildfires.
Finally, our cover story focuses on Kosovo and how families are bravely working to keep from being displaced. His Grace Bishop Teodosije of Lipljan hosted basketball stars Dragan Tarlac, Vlade Divac and I on a two-day tour in September that took us to communities where IOCC has provided repair and building projects for schools and community centers.
I will never forget the amazed looks of the children and the way they strained their necks to get an eyeful of these basketball giants who came to be with them, to understand their world, and to leave behind gifts of basketballs, t-shirts and hats.
In the relative comfort of our lives in North America, we may never experience the loss that Medea and Shota have sustained or the vulnerability of a child in Kosovo. I invite you now to enter their world and to come alongside them.
Yours In Christ,
Constantine M. Triantafilou
Executive Director & CEO