ONE Magazine

The official publication of
Catholic Near East Welfare Association

Celebrating 50 years | God • World • Human Family • Church


to CNEWA’s world

CNEWA Rushes Aid to Syria

With the onslaught of winter in the Middle East, CNEWA has stepped up its program to care for Syrian families displaced in Syria and those seeking refuge in Lebanon and Jordan. In December alone, funding partners in Europe — including Kindermissionswerk — awarded CNEWA grants in the amount of $222,972 to provide Syrian infants and school-age children with milk, diapers, winter clothing and school supplies.

CNEWA’s assistance coincided with the United Nations World Food Program announcing the suspension of its voucher program, which fed more than 1.7 million Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt, because of funding shortfalls.

“For refugees already struggling to survive the harsh winter,” cites a World Food Program statement, “the consequences of halting this assistance will be devastating.”

Syrian refugees living in camps and informal settlements depend on the assistance, as the host countries are overwhelmed by the enormity of need and lack the necessary resources. The living conditions of the refugees are extremely precarious. Refugees lack proper housing, clothing and health care.

To learn how you can help, visit

A Visit to Long Island

In December, Curé of Ars Catholic Church in Merrick, New York, invited CNEWA to better acquaint parishioners with the plight of Christians in the Middle East, and how they can help, particularly communities in Iraq and Syria. Hosted by the Rev. Charles Mangano, pastor of the Long Island parish, CNEWA’s Deacon Greg Kandra, who serves as multimedia editor, served and preached at that weekend’s Masses, inviting those in the pews to learn more about CNEWA’s work. The response was heartfelt and enthusiastic. If you would like CNEWA to visit your parish, please contact Development Director Norma Intriago at

CNEWA Microcredit Program Honored

In December, CNEWA was honored by the Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards Program as the “Most Innovative Microfinance Institution” in Lebanon. Four people who received microcredit loans through CNEWA won awards of excellence for their business enterprises, which stabilized their communities by offering employment. CNEWA is one of the leading organizations in microfinance in the region with more than $6 million in loans to more than 1,000 recipients through its 14 years of implementation. CNEWA’s program, with an overall 99 percent return on all loans, is among the highest anywhere.

To read more about the program and the awards, visit our blog ONE-TO-ONE at

Update from Gaza

To help children in Gaza cope with the effects of last summer’s war between Hamas and Israel, CNEWA has launched a series of programs that will aid some 10,000 children through Catholic schools, the Ahli Arab Hospital, the Y.M.C.A., and the clinics and vocational training centers of the Near East Council of Churches. The programs target children in areas of Gaza severely impacted by the violence, including Shajaia and Beit Hanoun.

A team from CNEWA’s Jerusalem office has made three monitoring visits since the end of hostilities last summer. The team reports children are slowly trying to pick up the pieces and return to some normal life. As CNEWA’s regional director for Palestine and Israel, Sami El-Yousef, puts it, “it is much easier to fix the stones and the infrastructure, but not the psychological damage of trauma,” especially among the children.

Most of the programs will run through the end of the current school year. This involvement was made possible through a number of generous donors, including Kindermissionswerk, Misereor, Missio and the Raskob Foundation, which has made available some $500,000 to help children cope with the aftermath of war.

Support for Dalits

Some 195 youth from Dalit families — India’s so-called “untouchables” — are enrolled in an educational program in southern India supported by CNEWA. The project funds coaching classes and schooling to help those involved become eligible for jobs. Local bishops have all expressed deep appreciation of and support for this unique project, which is helping to improve the quality of life for families in some of the poorest parts of India.

The Tsunami, 10 Years Later

In December, the world marked the 10-year anniversary of the devastating tsunami that swept over India and Indonesia on 26 December 2004. In a matter of minutes, more than 100,000 people died as waters flooded the shores of southern Asia, killing more than 15,000 in southern India alone.

Sustained by the prayers and generous support of thousands of donors, CNEWA responded within days, providing housing, replacing lost fishing boats, reequipping an orphanage and providing school supplies and bicycles for hundreds of children. CNEWA’s programs director, Thomas Varghese, spearheaded the response from India and describes the aftermath in a video on our website at

A Friend from the 50’s

Not long ago, CNEWA’s development staff had the opportunity to meet Thomas Straczynski, a Brooklyn-born retired teacher, who first learned about CNEWA in the 1950’s. “When I was teaching,” he said, “I had CNEWA send me 30 or 40 copies of its magazine, which I’d give to my students. I got many kids interested that way.

“When it came time to update my will, one of the first organizations that came to mind was CNEWA.

“Would I encourage others to remember CNEWA in their will? Absolutely. It’s a no-brainer. It gives me a good feeling to know it will be used well.

“I don’t want to be forgotten,” he added. “I don’t necessarily want to be remembered by name or reputation. But I want someone down the line, when I’m gone, to think ‘There’s someone who cared.’ There’s so much hope for Christianity, and we have to spread that hope to places where we can make a difference.”

If you’d like to include CNEWA in your will, contact Norma Intriago for a consultation.

Children in Need

In his Christmas message to the world in 2014, Pope Francis spoke poignantly about the plight of the world’s children.

He turned his thoughts toward “all those children who are killed and ill-treated,” and asked for prayers for those who are victims of violence or persecution.

In this edition of ONE, we also turn our attention to the children of CNEWA’s world, turning a light on those often hidden in the shadows — the smallest, weakest, poorest, most vulnerable. Thanks to the generosity of CNEWA’s benefactors and the prayerful good works of our partners in the field — priests, religious and lay people — children who once would have been considered helpless and hopeless are receiving help, and discovering hope. It is the hope of children with special needs in Egypt, who are experiencing love and learning skills at homes aptly named for the Good Samaritan; it is the hope of the victims of poverty and devastation in Georgia, who are finding a promising future in a craft from the past; and it is the hope of girls in India, who are receiving the priceless gift of education and, with it, dignity.

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