Training Ethiopias Clergy
To improve further the formation of its clergy, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church has released the Development Bible Manual, a set of educational tools church leaders intend to integrate into the curricula at the churchs clergy training centers.
The two-volume manual, which contains daily instructions for the entire liturgical year, is designed to inform church leaders about a wide range of social and development concerns and how to address them in accordance with church teachings.
The manual also provides essential knowledge about fertility awareness, H.I.V./AIDS prevention and treatment, best practices for child rearing, the importance of gender equality and the dangers of traditional practices, such as early marriage and female circumcision.
Iraqi Christians in Flight
The deadly attacks on Baghdads Christian community last autumn — especially the assault on Our Lady of Deliverance Syriac Catholic Church on 31 October — has prompted a new wave of Iraqi Christians to flee for safe havens in the Kurd-controlled portions of the country or to Jordan and Syria.
We need deeds, and not just promises, for our Christian faithful to feel really safe in their churches, houses and places of work, Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III told worshipers during a memorial liturgy in Baghdad on 10 December.
Reminding the Iraqi government of its responsibility to protect the nations minorities, the patriarch said Christians still living in the country, who once numbered more than a million, fear vengeance and harassment from many fundamentalist and self-proclaimed leaders. CNEWA continues its efforts to help meet the immediate needs of displaced Iraqi Christian families, providing men, women and children in Iraq, Jordan and Syria with basic necessities, medical care and counseling.
The Jerusalem office of CNEWA-Pontifical Mission concluded a two-year labor intensive program in December. Funded in part with grants from Misereor, Caritas Luxembourg and Caritas Switzerland, the program provided temporary employment for more than 1,000 Palestinian men and women in the districts of Bethlehem, Jericho, Jerusalem and Ramallah. In addition, the program improved the facilities of more than 70 Palestinian institutions, both church and secular, including community centers, health and child care facilities, schools and youth clubs.
CNEWA-Pontifical Mission began the program when about 45 percent of the West Banks population lived below the poverty line and the unemployment rate had soared to 24 percent — more than double the rate of unemployment in 2000. Despite the worldwide economic crisis, the West Banks economy has improved slightly, with unemployment falling to about 17 percent.
Microcredit Awards in Lebanon
Three recipients of microcredit loans from the Beirut office of CNEWA-Pontifical Mission received awards from the Citi Group Foundation in Lebanon in December. Anis Hoayek, Hanna Mouhanna and Claire Saleh received cash prizes from the foundation, which began its awards program in 2005 to promote the effectiveness of microfinance in alleviating poverty throughout the world.
Launched in 1997, CNEWA-Pontifical Missions microcredit program targets small businesses in Lebanons rural villages, where employment opportunities are few. Loans range from $4,000 to $10,000 and are arranged through three banks at a fixed interest rate of 6 percent. Since the programs inception, more than 360 people have received loans and 99 percent have successfully repaid them, making the program among the most successful in the region.
Loans are used for a wide range of commercial purposes, including family farms, small manufacturers, dress-making shops and grocery stores.
Kerala Housing Campaign
CNEWAs national office in the United States has renewed its campaign to build homes for the neediest families in the southwestern Indian state of Kerala. Launched in late 2010, the campaign is building homes for 30 families and plans to redouble construction in 2011.
Despite possessing the nations highest life expectancy and literacy rates, the per capita gross domestic product in Kerala still hovers around $3 per day. The poorest families live in substandard conditions, most often in fragile one– or two–room shacks, consisting of dirt floors, mud walls and a tin roof, without access to electricity or running water. It is common for three generations to be cramped in such houses, exposed to the elements and vulnerable to displacement during the monsoon season.
In conjunction with various eparchies of the Syro–Malabar and Syro–Malankara Catholic churches, CNEWA provides families with waterproof homes constructed with brick, cement and plaster. Designed to last at least 30 years, each house consists of a kitchen, living space, bathroom and two bedrooms and is equipped with electricity and running water.