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FFA and CWS: 60 Years and Going Strong

Andrew Gifford  |  March 2, 2015

What’s your longest friendship?

Maybe 10… 20… 30 years?

Can you imagine having a friendship for over 60 years?! I’m sure some of you can, but my guess is that most of you are like me. I’m literally just under halfway there myself as far as birthdays go so to think of having a friend for twice as long as I’ve been alive is a pretty incredible thing. The crazy thing is Church World Service in Ohio has that kind of friendship with FFA (formerly Future Farmers of America) for just that long!

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Foreign Assistance: Why It Works and Why We Gotta Do More

Rev. Noel Andersen  |  February 24, 2015

How much do you think the U.S. spends on ending poverty across the world?

The average American believes we spend a whopping 26 percent of the U.S. budget on foreign aid – but the fact is that we actually spend less than 1 percent. On top of that, the amount actually dedicated to humanitarian response and alleviating poverty, disease and hunger is only ½ of 1 percent.

Yet the best kept secret about U.S. relief and development aid is that it works.

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Refugee Children in Indonesia

Lisa Hayes  |  February 20, 2015

Arriving at the CWS unaccompanied minors shelters in Jakarta appears dorm-like. Perhaps like a fraternity house on a college campus, with many boys sharing rooms, about 10 bunking in each. They eat together, play sports, study English. But there are many differences between adolescences on a college campus and these young men.

They have fled their homes to save their lives.

Violence is commonplace in their home countries. For some, they have physically been attacked. For others, their homes and villages were terrorized. While still others simply ran away before something catastrophic could happen.

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5 Must Know Facts on the Texas Court Ruling on Immigration

Jen Smyers  |  February 18, 2015

As you may have heard, a Texas judge has issued a preliminary injunction that temporarily blocks the implementation of President Obama’s new DAPA and expanded DACA programs. Below are 5 important facts for you to know and share with your community, and attached are various resources, fact sheets and talking points.

1. Individuals who currently have DACA are not impacted.

They can, and should, still apply for DACA renewal. The 2012 executive action on DACA was not challenged by this lawsuit or impacted by the injunction.

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Land Rights Equal Justice

Paul Jeffrey  |  February 12, 2015

Ten years ago today, 73-year old Dorothy Stang was gunned down in the Brazilian Amazon as she read from the Beatitudes to her killers.

Dorothy was Catholic nun, a member of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, and she had spent almost forty years as a missionary in Brazil, accompanying rural families as they faced violence from cattle ranchers and loggers who assaulted the jungle and the people who lived there. Dorothy helped found a village in the jungle where residents would live in a sustainable manner, taking sustenance from the jungle without destroying it. They called the place “Esperança,” Portuguese for hope.

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A Roma Education in Belgrade

Brandon Gilvin  |  February 9, 2015

The cold war era high rises cast a long shadow behind us as we trudge along the muddy lane to the settlement.  It’s been an unseasonably warm winter, so the ground is still wet from the floods from several months ago.  It’s passable–if you dodge the puddles. Both sides of the lane are covered with so much trash.  Plastic recyclable bottles, computer parts, plumbing pieces. The dogs lead us around the bend in the lane, where the houses are.

We are in one of many informal settlements of Roma in Serbia.  This particular settlement sits on a swath of public land in New Belgrade, and the houses are ramshackle shacks made of wood, plastic, metal and other materials, gathered from God-knows-where and assembled God-knows-how.  It’s not unlike other informal settlements I’ve visited–Somali migrant workers in Soweto, South Africa, Kibera in Nairobi, earthquake survivors in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, casteless families in alleys in Kolkata, India or farmworkers in Central America.  The smell of burnt wood and garbage–a migrant’s central heat– is the same.

We are invited into one of the houses. The dogs, excited by the company, jump at us, the three-legged one cautiously.

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On the Border - from Fear to Hope

Rev. Noel Andersen  |  February 3, 2015

Over 500 people are estimated to die along the U.S.-Mexico border every year as they flee from poverty and extreme violence, searching for safe refuge. Many of those who perish on the treacherous journey are never found, their remains lost to the extreme conditions of the desert wilderness. A loss which never allows their family to truly let go, lacking the closure that comes with a burial.

A couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to hear the stories of families who have lost their loved ones. I met Robin Reineke, the founder of the Colibri Center, whose mission is to assist families in search of their missing mothers, fathers and children. I listened to Robin as I also prepared to speak at the Border Issues Fair in southern Arizona, reflecting on the ways in which a proposed border security bill H.R. 399, the Secure Our Borders First Act introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-10-TX), would increase the number of such deaths.

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