The CWS Blog

Championing the Cause of the Hungry Can Exact an Ultimate Price

Chris Herlinger  |  November 20, 2014

This week the world commemorates the killings, 25 years ago, of six Jesuit priests (five of them from Spain), the clerics’ housekeeper and her teen-age daughter. All were killed on the grounds of Central American University, a Jesuit institution in the capital of San Salvador.

For many of us who remember, this and other tragedies during the 1980s wars in Central America were defining events. They colored how we saw (and still see) issues of poverty and hunger, military intervention and non-intervention, and the role of theology and faith communities in public life.

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Laid-Off Executive Finds Joy in Service with Disaster Survivors, Others in Need

Ron Turney  |  November 17, 2014

In this journey of life, it’s great when a wide, well-marked road stretches as far as we can see in front of us. It’s another matter when that road abruptly ends and there are no clear signposts toward the future.

Almost six years ago, my wide, clearly marked road ran out. After a 38-year professional career in the technology sector, culminating in a high-responsibility position with a prominent computer services corporation, I was laid off.

In my entire working life, I had never been laid off.  My career moves had always been my choice, not my employer’s.

It was a shock.

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It’s More Than Raising Money

Andrew Gifford  |  November 14, 2014

I’m going to be honest, before a few months ago I had never actually walked in a CROP Hunger Walk before in my life. My involvement with CWS was through the CWS Blanket Sunday my church did every Mothers’ Day. But what an experience it has been to see communities come together to raise funds and build awareness towards hunger needs both in their local communities as well as all around the world!

It may sound cheesy, but it really was encouraging to me to see faith communities and groups who otherwise would disagree on a great number of things willingly come together as a unified body to really make a significant impact toward this very great need.

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Establishing Community for Refugees in Cairo

Beth Frank  |  November 11, 2014

When I walk into St. Andrew’s Refugee Services (StARS) in Cairo each morning, I feel myself perk up a little bit. The guards smile and say good morning, students are laughing and jumping rope or kicking around a soccer ball in the courtyard, and people are genuinely happy to be there. I am not alone in recognizing it. StARS has created a safe and inviting space for refugees and vulnerable migrants in Cairo.

Cairo is a challenging place for refugees. After having fled war or persecution in countries like South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia and Syria, they face very restrictive policies on livelihoods and schooling, with little financial assistance or other aid. Refugees often face prejudice and general harassment. To make ends meet, people often take jobs in the informal sector with low pay, such as cleaning houses, that can expose them to exploitation or abuse. When people first approach the psychosocial program, they are often stressed, feeling alone, and thinking they have no one to share their problems with or who can relate to their situation. Some students in the education activities start off shy and lacking confidence. Through education, legal services and psychosocial support, StARS works with refugees and vulnerable migrants in Cairo to increase their ability to meet their basic needs.

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Giving From the Heart

Joya Colon-Berezin  |  November 10, 2014

Each year, as late November rolls around and Thanksgiving and Christmas appear around the corner, we experience being truly thankful for all that we have received. We also have the opportunity to recognize what it means to give generously, and from the heart.

Recently I learned about one such act of generous giving.

Ray and Linda Miller first heard about the ministry of welcoming refugees during a class on Immigration and Refugees held at their church, sponsored by the United Methodist Women. They were deeply inspired by what they learned about the plight of displaced people around the world fleeing war and coming to the U.S. with so little. So, they reached out to CWS partner Community Refugee and Immigration Services, or CRIS, to see how they could help. Soon after, their church, Scioto Ridge UMC, began partnering with CRIS in refugee resettlement ministry.

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Another Way of Looking at 'Development' – the Need to Train Leaders

Chris Herlinger  |  November 7, 2014

A Wichi woman collects firewood.

In working through my notes from a recent visit to the Chaco region of Argentina and Bolivia, I’ve had some good back and forth with my CWS colleagues in Buenos Aires.

One of the things we’ve discussed is what “development” means. The term has come to mean different things to different people. Some do not like the word when it implies economic development along the lines of the United States. (Personally, I think the term is most useful when it means, in the most generous and broadest sense, improving the quality of life for those who are poor.)

Talking about development in the United States is often tricky because we North Americans perhaps pay too much emphasis on the concrete – in other words, getting things done. As my CWS colleague Fionuala Cregan notes, for many of us development means “building a school, providing seeds and tools, wells for water.” We wouldn’t be CWS if we didn’t lift these things up -- the concrete is something to cherish. It’s also part of our DNA as North Americans, and a cornerstone of what humanitarian groups do.

But there is another way of looking at development – the need to invest in training for leaders and other community members. That is a more subtle and quiet approach to development but it deserves attention and praise.

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The Power of Welcome

Erika Iverson  |  November 6, 2014

By the time I started college, I’d lived in six different cities and towns. My tendency for transience followed me into adulthood. While I like to think that I’m pretty good at moving now, I didn’t always feel that way. When I was young and moving around the Midwest, adjusting to each new place was a challenge. It turns out that new places can be pretty unwelcoming at times.

My familiarity with the loneliness that comes from being new to a place is part of what drew me to working with refugees. While I don’t know what it feels like to live in fear of persecution, I do know what it’s like to try and make a home while feeling unnoticed at best and unwanted at worst.

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