IOCC Assistance Continues in Disaster Areas of South Asia and US

Through an integrated village recovery program on Nias Island in Indonesia, IOCC and its partners are providing for the reconstruction of family homes and supplying tools, seeds, equipment and other assistance to farmers, fisherman and shopkeepers to enable them to rebuild their businesses and support their families. Photo by Dirk Van Gorp, IOCC

Baltimore, MD (May 5, 2006) — From Nias Island in Indonesia to New Orleans, Louisiana, emergency response efforts in South Asia and the U.S. Gulf Coast have given way to recovery and reconstruction programs. New projects initiated by IOCC and its partners are assisting people to return, recover and rebuild following the devastation caused by natural disasters.

“The heartfelt support by the hierarchs of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas and the Orthodox faithful in America in response to these disasters has been unprecedented,” said IOCC executive director Constantine M. Triantafilou. “IOCC is grateful for their ongoing help in the reconstruction efforts in these areas and for their faithful support for relief and development initiatives worldwide.”

In South Asia, Indonesia and Thailand are the focus of IOCC projects to assist in areas most severely affected by the December 2004 tsunami. IOCC is providing nearly $3 million in assistance to the two countries through projects focused on reconstruction, health, education and vocational training for young people.

IOCC is working with the Orthodox Church of Indonesia and the Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia (OMHKSEA) on Nias Island in Indonesia to construct, equip, and operate a new health clinic, the first to open in the devastated community of Gunungsitoli. New medical supplies and equipment valued at more than $325,000 have been shipped by IOCC to support the clinic.

In the communities of Tugala and Desa Fodoro on Nias Island, IOCC has partnered with Church World Service to provide support for an integrated village recovery program. The “Build a Village” program will provide for the reconstruction of family homes, rebuilding of water supply systems, and ensure public and private home sanitation facilities. Tools, seeds, equipment and other assistance provided to farmers, fisherman and shopkeepers are enabling them to rebuild their businesses and support their families.

In Thailand, IOCC is providing equipment, furnishings and supplies for a new primary health clinic located at the Ban Nam Khem School constructed by OMHKSEA.

A women’s resource directory has also been created by IOCC, OMHKSEA and a local partner with information on organizations throughout the country that provide services to women. The project’s main purpose was to promote the services of these organizations and create an increased awareness of such services to vulnerable women throughout Thailand.

In the United States, IOCC has helped an estimated 400,000 people affected by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma and delivered over $3.3 million in assistance to hurricane victims in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas as well as to families from New Orleans who were relocated to New Jersey. An additional $565,000 in help is planned by the end of 2006.

The ongoing assistance program includes grants to evacuees for return transportation back to their homes and communities, resettlement assistance for those unable to return, and social services and employment counseling for evacuated families. Families returning to Louisiana are also eligible for grants to assist with the purchase of appliances and other household items lost as a result of the hurricanes. Support is also being given to Orthodox parishes for youth initiatives and community programs.

The relief and recovery efforts have been supported through the efforts of parishes across the country and have also directly helped Orthodox Christians who required assistance following the disasters.

With the Atlantic Hurricane season less than one month away, IOCC is also considering plans to offer Community Emergency Response Training and other preparedness resources to at-risk communities.