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What water and latrines mean in Nyarugusu Refugee Camp

Aaron Tate  |  July 20, 2015

The pump of the water truck rumbled, letting the camp know that the day’s water was coming. Two giant plastic water tanks installed by CWS and local partner Tanganyika Christian Refugee Service were being filled. The owners of the buckets that had been left in the queue since earlier today came to take their place in line. Patiently they waited, as each person came and filled their buckets and containers, placed them on heads and in hands, and walked back to their spot in the massive refugee camp.

Nyarugusu Refugee Camp, in Western Tanzania, continues to grow and currently over 80,000 Burundians have arrived, fleeing political violence. CWS is responding to this emergency by providing water and sanitation, with support from ACT Alliance.

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Celebrating Children in Haiti

Rodrigue Joseph  |  July 10, 2015

Haitian children look forward to the National Day of Children every year as their special day. Thirty-five percent of the Haitian population is less than 15 years old. The two main Haitian governmental institutions working on child protection, the National Institute of Social Wellbeing and Researches and the Brigade of Protection of Minors, hold in special activities to celebrate this day. CWS was there to support them and the children we all work so hard to protect.
In Mole Saint Nicolas, in the far Northwest of Haiti, more than 200 children gathered together to celebrate. Boys and little girls happy to be together, chatting, running, singing and eating. Little mouths (some of them lacking teeth) blossoming with innocent smiles, feet drawing invisible, heavenly geometrical figures on the floor, angelic voices humming joyful songs all around, firework of colors moving with no precise destination. What a moment it was to be so many at the same place talking about our own issues and having fun! It was their day. Everyone came with determination to enjoy it to the fullest.

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Clean Water for Kindergarten Children in Vietnam

Leslie Wilson, Nguyen Thi Huong and Quoc Dung  |  July 7, 2015

When given the chance to partner with CWS member the Disciples of Christ to work with a community with a clear and present need, our CWS team in Vietnam readily named the Thanh Cong commune. Not least because it is one of the poorest places in northern Vietnam, but also because we have a partnership with the community there already. Quickly the commune’s families and leaders told us Kindergarten No. 1, and especially clean water, was a priority.

For the 515 children, aged two to five years old, who attend Kindergarten No. 1 and have their meals there, there was great concern about the water. Not only was there not enough water, but it was not safe to drink and cook with. Proper hand washing with soap to prevent illness and ensuring that the children would have safely prepared food were also concerns.

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Our Churches Are Burning

Rev. Dr. Earl Trent, Jr.  |  July 1, 2015

Our churches are burning. In the two weeks since the massacre at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, fires at predominantly African-American churches are again terrorizing communities. Now is the time for the United States of America to confront this violence visited on houses of worship and the African-American community, directly and resolutely.

During the 1990s, CWS provided aid and comfort during a series of church arson attacks in the South. The fact that in 2015, with an African-American serving as president, when a black church burns our first thought immediately turns to arson is a haunting reminder that we still have far to go in achieving widespread tolerance and understanding.

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Bringing Water to Refugees

Aaron Tate  |  June 25, 2015

As I step on to the red dirt of Nyarugusu Refugee Camp in Western Tanzania, I am surrounded. Of course, the children come first, they greet the car as it rolls up and they follow us as we get out, laughing and joking as we go. We visit the mass shelters laid out in rows, plastic-wrapped buildings where 180 people sleep, no interior walls, no privacy. We see the crowded common spaces, full of people cooking, hanging clothes, doing daily chores.

I’m walking with staff from our partner agency, and we are greeted warmly by the Burundian refugees that we meet. “Ça va?” “Ça va bien.”

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Welcoming the Pope's Clear Message on Climate Change

Jasmine Huggins  |  June 23, 2015

Last week, Church World Service joyfully welcomed Pope Francis’s encyclical on climate change, Laudato Si (Be Praised). In it, he calls for a new relationship between humankind and the earth; reduced consumption; a renewed focus on people living in poverty and for justice in their access to and quality of natural resources; for greater investments in renewable energy and for urgent action on reduction of greenhouse gases. He applauds environmentalist and development groups around the world while expressing frustration at the failure of political leadership to put the common good over narrow interests.

This was the first papal encyclical of its kind and came almost one year after the climate change march in New York City, just weeks ahead an upcoming address to the UN General Assembly and to the U.S. Congress and a few months before the UN and world leaders prepare to meet in Paris to hammer out a binding international agreement on how to tackle climate change.

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World Refugee Day: Hard work pays off for family

Edwin Harris  |  June 19, 2015

Everything on the walls is crisp and unwrinkled. The white carpet is so clean that it almost shines. It’s not hard to see 41-year-old Nai Ponyar’s work ethic evidenced in every part of his two-bedroom apartment in Carrboro, North Carolina.  A calendar with two pens neatly tucked under the eight remaining months of 2015 sits alongside study material for the state driver’s license exam and several pictures of Buddha with prayers in Mon script.  Ever proud of his children, printouts of school photos cover the table.  His 10-year-old daughter, Mi Htaw Pakaw, smiles charmingly in one portrait while her brother Mehm Lwi Rot poses as begrudgingly as any 6-year-old boy for the camera.

As a young adult in his native Myanmar (Burma), Nai Ponyar farmed rubber to make ends meet. Rubber tapping begins at midnight, leaving Nai Ponyar working through the night till morning.  While rubber helped keep him fed, it didn’t allow him any time for other pursuits: “It was the only job. People didn’t improve their knowledge.” Looking for better pay, Nai Ponyar moved to Thailand to build toilets in 1992. He lived in Thailand for five years before he immigrated again; this time he crossed illegally into Malaysia.

Nai Ponyar and Family
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