The CWS Blog

Strengthening Welcome for Immigrants Means Getting Out the Vote

Rev. Noel Andersen  |  October 30, 2014

It’s election season once again and while I am no fan of the partisan bickering or political pundits, this moment is an exciting opportunity to engage new people in the voting process. At CWS, we believe that voting is a critical component to building welcoming communities – particularly as we accompany new citizens and new voters in voter registration, education and turnout.

One of the reasons I am so passionate about helping refugees become naturalized citizens and register to vote is because so many of our new neighbors come from heart-breaking circumstances of persecution. Corrupt governments have been able to instill fear in people and keep them from participating in civic society. As refugees begin new lives in the U.S., we have an incredible opportunity to help them learn about our civic system and embrace their right to vote as they become new citizens.

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Where Life Will Take Them

Katherine Rehberg  |  October 29, 2014

Outskirts of Shire town in Ethiopia

Children and young adults leave Eritrea for a myriad of reasons: to avoid forced indefinite military service, escape early arranged marriages, or flee domestic and family violence.  Many decide to cross the border into neighboring Ethiopia; however, this act of fleeing to Ethiopia leaves them branded as traitors, unable to then return to their home country without facing certain imprisonment or worse.

Upon arrival in Ethiopia, they are then placed in one of several refugee camps outside of Shire, Ethiopia – a small town about 40 km from the Eritrean border. Many minors arrive without any family or friends in Ethiopia and are placed in shared accommodation with 8-10 other children and assisted by a group of social workers. The children cook, eat, play and even clean their houses together, forming a small community in the camp. They attend a nearby school and have opportunities for fun and play.

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Advocating for the Cuba 5

Martin Coria  |  October 28, 2014

At a time where CWS leadership begins a new journey in favor of friendship between the U.S. and Cuba, I am convinced God is touching minds and hearts in both countries, right now.   As an agency with more than 65 years of experience forging transformative partnerships around the world including Latin America, CWS believes it is time for the U.S. and Cuban governments to maintain normal, mutually respectful and beneficial relations.

Church World Service´s patience and humble involvement trying to create the conditions that will assist the governments of Cuba and the United States to find a mutually acceptable solution to the cases of the so-called “Cuban 5” and U.S.-contractor detained in Cuba Alan Gross represents another chapter in the long list of cases where representatives of the American faith community decided to speak out and do something in favor of peace, human rights and normal relations between the U.S. and one of its Latin American and Caribbean neighbors.

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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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