The CWS Blog

Caring for Unaccompanied Children: Lessons From My Native Country of Zambia

Kelvin Kings Mulembe  |  October 24, 2014

As I have witnessed the plight of Central American children fleeing violence to the U.S. and throughout the region, it has brought up painful memories in my own life. The issue feels like déjà vu, because it reminds me of my own personal encounters with unaccompanied children fleeing to my home country of Zambia. I witnessed children fleeing the Rwandan genocide, and escaping violence and hunger in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea.

When I lived in Zambia, I met children as young as 4-years-old who were forced to make treacherous journeys through militia and gang controlled territories. They risked their lives to find safety by crossing through national parks filled with wild animals to escape the horrors in their home countries.

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Racing for Refugees

Kelly Cohen-Mazurowski  |  October 23, 2014

The Race Home is amazing. I’ve been walking around saying that for the last two months now—to runners at local running groups, to church groups, to teenagers studying for their bar mitzvahs, to anybody who will listen. The Race Home is CWS's third annual 5K in Durham, North Carolina, that brings together community members and refugees from Burma, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo to run for refugee family reunification.  

Often when refugees flee their homes they’re separated from their spouses and small children. Some families are separated when a parent flees to a neighboring country, not wanting to risk bringing a spouse or children into a potentially dangerous future. Other times, very young or sick individuals are unable to make the journey.  In many cases separation is not a choice: the family’s village is attacked, and everyone scatters.  

In these situations and many others, CWS is able to provide assistance in restoring what has been torn apart –by helping refugees and asylees to bring family members to join them in the United States.  Whereas a private attorney might charge clients $2,000 or more to apply to bring their family members to the U.S., CWS is able to ask only $100 and sometimes waives this minimal fee. The Race Home makes this low-cost option for family reunification possible.

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Zero Hunger: It is Possible...

Lesvi Roselim  |  October 17, 2014

Yance Banunaek

World Food Day 2014 lifts up family farming – the way of life for most people in West Timor. People like Yance Banunaek, a mother of three from EnoNabuasa village in Timor Tengah Selatan District. However, water is scarce on this small island in eastern Indonesia, and Yance and her fellow villagers struggled to access water for agriculture.

“Most of the time, there was only enough water for our community’s consumption. In the dry season, the situation was worse, as the water from the spring was barely enough for all in the community, let alone for agriculture. Therefore we used to go to the District capital to buy food, including vegetables, as we could not produce enough food for our families,” said Yance.

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World Food Day: You Too Walk On, Because ZERO is the Hero

Maurice Bloem  |  October 16, 2014

“Home... hard to know what it is if you've never had one
Home... I can't say where it is but I know I'm going home
That's where the heart is.”

Lisa Rothenberger, a former CWS board member, sent me U2’s “Walk On” to listen to during my first 100 Mile Hunger Walk three years ago. She said, “if you feel tired and need a push, just listen to that song and you will be fine.”

She was right.

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Family Farming in the Bolivian Chaco on the eve of World Food Day

Fionuala Cregan  |  October 15, 2014

“When my grandfather was a child he did not go hungry. There were fish in the river and honey and fruits in the forest all year round. The land was for everyone. It pains me today to see our children go hungry, to see a river with so few fish, the forest without fruit,” says Nestor Nacub, a Weenhayek indigenous leader in the Chaco region of Bolivia.

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Two months ago, Nestor and his family took matters into their own hands and moved to a piece of vacant land 30 miles from urban indigenous settlement Caipirendita. “The town has become overcrowded. People are becoming dependant on outside help and every day we are losing more and more of our ancestral knowledge. Instead of cultivating the land, people buy food. When they have no money, they go hungry,” he says. “Meanwhile cattle ranchers and oil and gas companies cut down the forest and mining companies pollute the river.”

Students Growing in Greensboro Refugee Garden

Margaret Evans  |  October 14, 2014

The CWS Refugee Community Garden project in Greensboro, North Carolina, provides spaces which offer serenity and foster opportunity for refugees.

Shortly following the conclusion of the summer season in the United States, CWS’s community garden project shifted towards a new approach, involving collaboration with the 4-H Youth Development section of CWS partner, the NC State University and NC Agricultural and Technical State University Guilford County Cooperative Extension.

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Columbus Day: For Indigenous People, a Time to Mourn

Chris Herlinger  |  October 13, 2014

Griselda Arias and her husband David Palacios

A few days back, Fionuala Cregan, one of our colleagues based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, wrote this on Facebook:

“October 12 will be a national holiday in Argentina. Once called ‘Columbus Day’ it is now denominated ‘Day of Cultural Diversity.’ For indigenous people this day represents the death of 60 million of their ancestors across Latin America and the pillaging of their lands. Today the majority live in conditions of poverty and social exclusion. They will not be celebrating cultural diversity nor taking a long weekend tourist break.”

Her remarks were particularly poignant for me because Fionuala, photographer Paul Jeffrey and I spent two weeks recently in the Gran Chaco region of Argentina and Bolivia, talking to members of indigenous communities about their lives and seeing the impact CWS-supported programs have had on the communities.

It was one of the best experiences I have had traveling on assignment for CWS. Why? CWS work and support are really doing right by people. It is in Chaco that a visitor gets a real sense that CWS truly is “accompanying” communities in their struggles against hunger, poverty and marginalization.

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