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CWS Hotline - 06 Oct 2008: USA, Georgia, Kenya

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- U.S. hurricane recovery underway

- Relief and recovery continues in Georgia

- Massai communities working toward food security in Kenya

U.S. hurricane recovery

"When I walked in I felt like somebody ransacked our house," says Jim Aubel, standing in his driveway in Galveston, TX. "I walked in and I was devastated."

Hurricane Ike struck Galveston September 13 with 110-mph winds and a wall of sea water. As the ocean surge rose, it carried toxic chemicals, effluent and debris into thousands of homes. Their home destroyed like so many others, Aubel and his wife, Lisa, are now sleeping in a tent in their backyard and plan to stay no matter what is offered in the way of assistance.

CWS is supporting local organizations along the Gulf Coast as they help their communities recover from the hurricanes and flooding of recent weeks. CWS provides emergency response resources and guidance to these groups, and trains and supports them where needed.

Elsewhere, the hurricane season continues. As many as six people were killed in Puerto Rico by Hurricane Kyle, which flooded homes and businesses before heading north and dissipating. Remote communities are coping with flooding and landslides. At least 7,000 families have been affected and some 3,000 homes damaged. Some of the most vulnerable lower-income communities are affected.

CWS Emergency Response Specialist Heriberto Martinez, who lives in Puerto Rico, is in contact with faith-based and other community groups in 18 communities where long-term recovery needs are evident but which have limited resources. Martinez will provide CWS training, project development support, and mentoring to nascent recovery groups, and CWS will provide emergency responses grants as appropriate.

Hurricane response this summer and fall has depleted our inventory of CWS Emergency Clean-up Buckets, Hygiene Kits, and Baby Kits, even as requests for these vital supplies continue. Learn how to make these Kits and where to send them at www.churchworldservice.org/kits. Your congregation or group's help is urgently needed!

Georgia

Church World Service-supported emergency assistance, including food, CWS Kits, and other basic non-food items, has been delivered to people affected by the violence in Georgia that erupted in August. Working in coalition with members of Action by Churches Together (ACT), CWS is helping partners the Russian Orthodox Church, International Orthodox Christian Charities, and others respond to the needs of some of the most vulnerable of the displaced.

Food security and shelter are major concerns as winter approaches. Affected families also need water, sanitation and hygiene, and psychosocial support. Women's full participation and the prevention of gender-based violence are also priorities.

Contributions may be made online to this relief effort.

Kenya

Church World Service is committed to helping vulnerable communities empower themselves to combat the global food crisis. In Kenya, some 1,050 Massai households (about 6,300 people) are making their community less vulnerable to food insecurity through increased income, with the support of CWS and partner Farming Systems Kenya.

The families taking part in the program live in Mau Division, a region prone to drought. Poverty levels there are some of the highest in Kenya, and the Massai people's pastoral and nomadic lifestyle makes them particularly vulnerable to slight fluctuations in climate.

In the past, the community has sold their livestock at low prices through middleman, sometimes more than 100 km away. Now, community leaders are being assisted in establishing and strengthening a livestock marketing federation. With more power and voice in how their livestock is sold and for what price, people are improving their livelihoods and gaining a more reliable form of income for their families.

Through literacy classes women are gaining knowledge and skills, and a revolving fund is enabling them to start small businesses. With the livestock and small business initiatives, the Massai are earning more income and improving the social and economic well-being of their families and communities.