Grants Awarded for Work in Ukraine
In October, the Canadian government’s Office for Religious Freedom awarded grants totaling $226,630 for CNEWA-sponsored initiatives in Ukraine that promote religious freedom and other democratic values. The projects — which run until November 2015 — include short-term student exchanges, summer classes, public panel discussions and lectures for university students.
“The initiatives,” said Carl Hétu, CNEWA’s national director in Canada, “will help enhance the culture of dialogue among future Ukrainian leaders of the western and eastern regions of different cultural and religious backgrounds.” More than 1,000 Ukrainians will benefit from these activities.
CNEWA’s outreach to Ukraine — spearheaded by Mr. Hétu and his Ottawa-based team — has been assisting the churches in Ukraine in a variety of ways, including support for the poor, the elderly and people with special needs, as well as assistance for the formation of seminarians.
To support these and other efforts, and to learn more about these projects, visit cnewa.org.
Aid Rushed to Syria
In October, CNEWA’s Beirut-based regional director, Michel Constantin, published a detailed report highlighting CNEWA’s efforts to help those displaced by the civil war in Syria. Through the local churches — CNEWA’s primary partners — a number of unmet needs were addressed, including the provision of milk and diapers for newborn infants, daily breakfast and school kits for 5,000 displaced students, and winter clothing and blankets to some 2,500 displaced families around Damascus, Homs, Latakia and Tartous.
To read the full report, visit CNEWA.ORG/WEB/REPORTONSYRIA.
Clinics to Open in Kurdistan
An independent Catholic family foundation, Raskob, has awarded CNEWA an emergency grant to help open two additional clinics serving Iraqi Christian refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan. According to CNEWA’s partners on the ground, the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena and Syriac Catholic Archbishop Boutros Moshe of Mosul, there are pressing health concerns for the 4,530 Iraqi Christian refugee families living temporarily in the cities of Dohuk and Zahko.
For a full report of CNEWA’s relief work in Iraq, visit CNEWA.ORG/WEB/REPORTONIRAQ.
“Desperate” in Gaza
“The situation in Gaza continues to be very desperate,” said Sami El-Yousef, CNEWA’s Jerusalem-based regional director. Mr. El-Yousef has made multiple visits to the embattled region since war in Gaza broke out on 7 July, launching an emergency appeal that, thanks to our generous benefactors in Europe and North America, quickly raised more than $1.2 million. A massive coordinated intervention was implemented among Catholic aid agencies to support Christian medical facilities purchase fuel to keep generators operating and to fund medical care aiding thousands of the injured.
Though hostilities ceased 16 August, the situation remains grim. Reconstruction efforts have been spotty, and electrical outages continue, averaging 18 hours a day. Unemployment among the young hovers at more than 70 percent. Some 110,000 people have been displaced and with winter approaching, Mr. El-Yousef fears the humanitarian crisis will only worsen.
To read more about the war’s impact on children in Gaza, see “Shell-shocked: Growing Up in Gaza.”.
And to support CNEWA’s efforts to help the people of Gaza, please visit cnewa.org.
Farewell to a Friend
In September, longtime friend and supporter of CNEWA, Catherine Walsh of Brooklyn, entered into eternal life.
Ms. Walsh supported the agency for many years, touching many lives by her love of the church, her commitment to the poor and her generous heart. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and all those who loved her.
Thanks to her generosity, the legacy of Ms. Walsh will live on, enabling the priests and sisters she loved to continue their service to God and his people.
Requiscat in pace.
Spotlight: The Middle East
It is no secret: This has been a time of tremendous turmoil for so many in the Middle East. War this summer in Gaza left thousands dead, an overwhelming majority of them civilians.
At the same time, violence exploded in Iraq, as radical Islamic jihadists — from their base in Syria — began their assault of Iraq, targeting Christians and other minorities. Hundreds of thousands of people found themselves literally running for their lives, fleeing to mountain refuges, or to better secured cities, such as Erbil, Baghdad, Amman and Beirut.
This edition of the magazine brings vividly to life the hardship and the hope of so many who live in the land where Christianity first began.
Pope Francis expressed the fervent hopes of all of us in July, when he said of those suffering in the Middle East, “May the God of peace arouse in all an authentic desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence cannot be overcome with violence. Violence is overcome with peace!”