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CWS Hotline - 07 Sep 2009: Indonesia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Mexico

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- Assisting quake survivors in Indonesia

- Working toward food security in southern Pakistan; meeting needs of displaced families in northwest Pakistan

- Families in Afghanistan affected by severe flooding

- Communities in Baja peninsula, Mexico, suffer hurricane damage

Indonesia - A magnitude 7 earthquake hit the island of Java on Sept. 2, killing at least 64 people. An estimated 28,000 people need shelter.

CWS Indonesia dispatched an assessment team to Tasikmalaya and Garut Districts to determine needs of displaced families. South Garut is the area hardest hit by the quake. The team distributed an initial truckload of tarpaulins, mosquito nets, blankets, mats and large ropes, and is working with partners to meet additional needs.

Pakistan: food security -- 750 women in Mirpurkhas District, Sindh Province, are participating in a CWS-supported project to grow nutritious vegetables in local gardens, manage their money through a savings and loan program, and gain basic literacy. They are also taking part in a "goat loan" program. The goats provide milk and income for the women's families. A year after receiving a goat, the women repay the loan program so other families can receive goats.

The project, begun in 2007, has recently expanded to include families in neighboring Umerkot District. Farming communities there are gaining greater access to food through seed distribution, construction of irrigation ponds, skills training, and self-help savings groups. Families are raising enough food to feed themselves.

In the first six months of the project in Umerkot, irrigation ponds for five villages were constructed. The ponds store water so farmers are able to irrigate their crops during the long intervals when water does not flow to their villages naturally.

"This is the first time something like this pond has been made for the benefit of farmers," says a member of the development committee of Ghumano village. "I hope I will be able to increase my cultivated land with the availability of water."

Meanwhile in northwest Pakistan, hundreds of thousands of people remain displaced from the Swat Valley because of violence between government forces and the Taliban.

"It has been a long and tiring journey, and the aftereffects have taken their toll, especially on the children, who have been sick with diarrhea, sunburn, and skin allergies," says Fatima Bibi. "At this point," she continues, "we don't have cash in hand to buy medicines or pay doctor fees. Church World Service's health team and mobile unit are visiting regularly in our area, and they provide us free medication.

"At first, Afshan [a CWS female health worker] took the medical history of all the women. She also did our checkups and provided medicines to the women and children. The men meet with Abid sahib [a CWS male medical worker] and were assisted. In desperate times such as these, it is indeed Allah's doing that they are providing us medical assistance.

"We are staying here for now," Bibi explains. "Some men have returned to Buner, and we are expecting news about the situation there. We might stay here, try to rebuild our lives. Also, here in Mansehra, we have access to education, health facilities, and other opportunities. Perhaps we might put our children in school here and bid farewell to our homeland, although I miss it and so do my children."

Along with providing health care to displaced people in the Mansehra area, CWS has distributed food packages to 4,500 families displaced by the violence. CWS is also distributing kitchen sets, plastic mats, mosquito nets and other basics.

Afghanistan -- A flash flood on Sept. 1 in Jalalabad killed 10 people and injured 20, reports CWS Pakistan/Afghanistan staff. The floods, in the Base Ekmallati district, destroyed the homes of some 1,000 families, and destroyed or damaged farm fields, livestock, roads and bridges. CWS, which has long had operations in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, has identified the need for food, shelter and other provisions for some 500 families. Further information will be forthcoming.

Mexico - On Sept. 2, Hurricane Jimena battered Mexico's Baja California peninsula with high winds and heavy rains that caused flooding. One person was killed. Of particular concern are hard-to-reach rural areas. CWS partner Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is contacting its network in Mexico and Latin America about possible needs and any response required.

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