The CWS Blog

As Climate Change Summit Nears, the Chaco Offers Some Clues

Chris Herlinger  |  September 18, 2014

In the last three months, assignments have taken me to northeast Uganda and the Chaco region of Argentina and Bolivia. In both locales, change is afoot – those who have tilled the lands for decades and those who work with them say that conditions are different. Something is happening and it’s not good.

“Seco, seco, seco,” is one refrain I heard in Bolivia. Dry, dry, dry.

Sure, some of the change is due to specific practices that are endangering the land. In Bolivia, for example, roaming cattle are causing problems when they eat sparsely available vegetation. When combined with the changes in climate, the results are land erosion and less-than-optimal conditions for planting.

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14 Year-Old from Burma Reunited With His Parents

Rebecca Schaeffer  |  September 17, 2014

Saw Min with his family

When Saw Min Min Thu (pictured above, second from right) was three years old, his parents fled as refugees from Burma to neighboring Malaysia.  Unfortunately, due to the dangers involved in making this journey, they were unable to take Saw Min with them, so they made the difficult decision to leave their young son in the care of his grandparents.  Mother Nan Say Tha Hlar Aung and father Saw Ae Htee Kung Aung (pictured above) did not see him again for eleven years.

Earlier this year, the family was reunited at Raleigh-Durham International after a seemingly never-ending wait.  Saw Min – now 14 years old – has finally met his two younger siblings, ages 9 and 4 (pictured above) and is getting to know his mother and father again.

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Help for the Weary Traveler

Tolu Olubunmi   |  September 10, 2014

Last night, in the midst of mounting frustration over the foot dragging on immigration reform and executive action, I attended a fundraiser organized by National Justice For Our Neighbors (NJFON). The event was to raise money to support the incredibly important work of NJFON which is needed now more than ever. In the interest of full disclosure, I am on the Advisory Board of NJFON.

NJFON is a network of legal clinics based in United Methodist churches around the country. The network has 15 locally funded and managed sites that operate over 40 church-based immigration legal clinics serving more than 4,000 low-income clients a year. The organization has a volunteer-based model, with staff attorneys at each site working with volunteers to serve immigrants so that families can unite, women can escape domestic violence, and eligible individuals can attain work authorization.

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When a Training Workshop Becomes Something More

Isaree Khreusirikul  |  September 8, 2014

The new Country Representative of CWS Cambodia, Isaree Khreusirikul, writes about her experience during an environmental sanitation workshop carried out by the CWS WASH Training Resource Centre. WASH stands for water, sanitation and hygiene.

I assumed my position as Country Representative of CWS Cambodia in the beginning of July and since then, my schedule has been filled with introductions to the different offices and CWS staff as well as the work that CWS is carrying out in Cambodia. Last week, I had the pleasant opportunity to observe an environmental sanitation workshop in Kampong Chhnang conducted by our WASH Training Resource Centre. I must say that I was deeply impressed from what I observed.

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CWS Meets Needs Around the World - and Just Down the Highway

Larry Conover  |  September 4, 2014

I am so glad to know that Church World Service is there to meet needs around the world – and just down the highway from where I live and work, among households now cleaning up following flash floods August 11 in eastern Michigan.

That evening, I had a CROP Hunger Walk recruitment meeting in Grosse Ile, Mich.  When it finished and I headed back to the CWS office in Lansing, it was raining incredibly hard. 

If I had taken the highway I usually take, I would have gotten stranded.  As it was, I had a terrible time getting back to Lansing for all the flooded roads and detours.

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Church Members Assemble CWS School Kits During a "Participatory Sermon"

Abbie Watters  |  September 2, 2014

On a recent summer Sunday at worship at Bethany Presbyterian Church in Tacoma, Wash., we prayed with our hearts, minds and hands. We had our first-ever participatory sermon, during which we assembled kits of school supplies for distribution here in the United States and throughout the world in case of disaster or violence that leaves school children without access to school and school supplies.

These CWS School Kits – also known across the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. as Gift of the Heart School Kits – are provided collaboratively by Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and Church World Service. 

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Angels to Angels

Joya Colon-Berezin  |  August 27, 2014

Over the course of the summer many of us have had our hearts broken, over and over again, as we have witnessed the thousands of Central American refugee children crossing the southern border of the United States. This crisis certainly has caught the attention of the faith community and many have asked Church World Service the same question: How can we help? What can we do?

These children are angels. And, no, I am not talking about a supernatural creature with wings. These children are angels in the original sense of the Hebrew word mal’ākh, meaning ‘one who is sent,’ or simply ‘messenger.’ They have brought us an urgent and vitally important message about rising levels of violence, gang activity, drug cartels and life threatening circumstances in Central America. They have brought us a message about child trafficking and humanitarian protection. And they have brought us a message about our broken immigration system and the values we hold as a nation.

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