CWS Hotline - Week of 31/01/2000: CWS assists victims of floods and mudslides in Venezuela

VENEZUELA - Relief continues in Venezuela for victims of the flash floods and mudslides that devastated the country last month. Some 400,000 people are homeless and 25,000 dead.
Despite the tragedy, life has begun again in the community of Naiguatá, thanks to effective community organization, which allowed neighbors to warn each other quickly, reports Paul Jeffrey, who is in Venezuela on behalf of CWS and Action by Churches Together (ACT). Hope also abounds thanks to cooperation between churches, non-governmental organizations, governmental agencies, and the military. "This tragedy is bigger than any single institution can manage, and we work well together," says Felipe Colmenares, a pastor in Naiguatá. "There may be political problems at times between some bishops and the president, but when the words end, we extend the hand again." For more on this story, please see "Cooperation Lends Hope in a Devastated Land."

CWS has provided Health Kits and Baby Kits, along with $20,000 for blankets and mattresses for evacuees being assisted by our partners, Centro de Educación Popular Exeario Sosa Lujan (CEPEXSOL), in Barquisimeto, and Caracas-based Asociación Civil Paz y Vida.

Rev. José Rodas and Mainor Cerron, representatives of CWS and our Honduras-partner, the Christian Commission for Development (CCD), are in Venezuela, providing materials, pastoral care, and assisting in the development of an ecumenical disaster response committee with our partners in Venezuela.

(For more stories about Venezuela see: "Lives Saved in Caracas Slum," "The Controversy Surrounding Government Relocation Plans for Venezuelan Flood Victims," and "How the disaster is challenging the government.")