The CWS Blog

Climate Change is Fact. Now is the Time to Act

Jasmine Huggins  |  January 28, 2015

I thought that my father was joking when he told me this story years ago, but it turns out that he was right. Roast pork was not invented by a creative cook, but by a hapless peasant who inadvertently one day burnt his hut down with all his pigs in it. Upon entering the smoldering embers of his former home, he was greeted by an apparently glorious odor (with apologies to those who, like me, don’t eat pork) and, tentatively, put out his fingers to taste.   Crackling had been introduced to the world!

Delighted, our farmer secretly burnt down his house again and again, until the neighbors, tired of being assailed by wonderful smells of unknown provenance, demanded that he divulge his culinary secret. Legend has it that all the villagers soon started to burn down everything and this went on for years until a village sage suggested that the smell was caused by roasting the pig, and not the entire house.

Little did I know it, but this was my introduction to the powerful difference between folklore and reason.

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The Essentials

Matt Hackworth  |  January 26, 2015

The roads have been salted. My driveway has been, too. The i-things have all been charged. We have plenty of food. Toilet paper. Oreos and popcorn. The fireplace is even operational, with plenty of blankets to go ‘round.

All life’s essentials, right?

Essentials. It’s funny how that definition is so fluid when someone like me, who lives in the wealthiest nation on the planet, takes stock in a time of crisis.

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When Disaster Strikes, a Need to Organize Recovery Quickly

Carol Fouke-Mpoyo  |  January 22, 2015

Karen C. and Martin K*. are among more than 10,000 southeastern Michigan residents whose homes suffered damage and loss last August from devastating flash flooding.

Both are trying to do what they can on their own to clean up. And despite their own best efforts, both find themselves coming up short. Government aid, insurance payments and their own resources and know-how aren’t enough to complete their recovery.

I spoke with these and other flooded householders in December in conjunction with a workshop in Warren, Mich. The workshop was organized by Church World Service for people in southeastern Michigan interested in forming a long-term recovery group to help their flood-affected neighbors recover.

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Together, a Uganda Community Feels Empowered, Organized

Chris Herlinger  |  January 20, 2015

I recently heard from a Roman Catholic priest I interviewed last year during an assignment in South Sudan. He told me that some of those he knew who had fled during political violence had died of hunger.

My heart sunk when I heard this. Though crises like those in South Sudan often cause food, and food assistance, to be cut off, it is still unconscionable, even during war and conflict, that people can die of hunger. It shows a lack of moral imagination in so many ways, but is particularly damning of the forces that unleash war.

When I heard the news I thought about my time early in 2014 in South Sudan. But I also flashed to my time later in the year in Uganda.

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Defending our Victories for Immigrant Families and Children

Jenny Siegel  |  January 16, 2015

Together the CWS Network has been part of huge victories for immigrant families in 2014. We fought to keep protections and humanitarian screenings for Central American children fleeing violence while the House of Representatives wanted to take it away. We assured ample funding for refugee resettlement when they tried to repurpose it. We won executive action and temporary relief from deportation for 5-million undocumented people. And now the House of Representatives wants to go back in time, and ignore the power we have built. Congress passed a budget last December that funded the government through the 2015 fiscal year. However, it only funded the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) until February 28th.  In efforts to address a longer term funding solution for DHS Congress needs to pass another budget. The House of Representatives wants to stop our movement by attaching legislative riders to the DHS funding bill that take away the President’s executive action. The Homeland Security Appropriations Bill H.R. 240 was proposed in the House with five amendments that are harmful to immigrant families—it passed the House yesterday with a vote of 236-191.

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Here's the Honest Truth about Haiti

Martin Coria  |  January 12, 2015

I honestly believe five years after the January 2010 earthquake that hundreds of thousands of lives have changed for the good in Haiti. At the same time, I think one of the wisest and responsible things foreign and local humanitarian agencies can do the next five years is to remind ourselves and others of the fundamental fact that all we do is profoundly human and thus limited and imperfect.

The reality of CWS and many other foreign humanitarian agencies partnering with Haitian nonprofit organizations, civil society coalitions and communities for a Haiti with social justice, democracy and sustainable development, is that progress takes time, programmatic approaches are multi-sectorial and multi-disciplinary and program costs considerable. There are so many natural, political and socio-cultural forces and dynamics at play, both within and outside Haiti, that explain our collective and individual success and failure as individual agencies and “as a sector” (some call it the humanitarian sector, others the aid industry).

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Dreaming of Citizenship

Zana Devlin  |  January 9, 2015

A long time ago, before I even started high school, my dream in life was to study and work in a country where I was free and could pursue any kind of studies that I wanted to.  To be exact, I wanted to study and work in the United States.

Growing up in Prishtina, Kosovo’s capital, at the height of the clashes between the province’s ethnic Albanians and Serbs was challenging, horrifying, and very painful.   Not quite the type of crisis anyone would ever imagine growing up in.  It is said that one’s home is the safest refuge, but for Kosovar Albanians this was not the case during the late 1990’s.  After several failed attempts to flee the country, my family and I decided that we were going to remain in Kosovo no matter what happened in our war-torn country.

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