As winter approaches, CNEWA’s president, Msgr. John E. Kozar, has just authorized the release of another $300,000 to aid Christians in the Middle East. These funds represent the third portion of CNEWA’s allocation from a collection authorized by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops — totaling $1,835,200 — taken up last autumn in parishes across the country. The funds will be disbursed in early January 2016.
“The funds,” said Msgr. Kozar, “are part of CNEWA’s ongoing commitment to the region’s churches and their humanitarian and pastoral activities, which address a broad spectrum of needs in a theater that remains fluid.”
As always, programs are administered by CNEWA’s personnel in the region, who partner with the local churches and their priests, sisters and lay professionals. Support includes:
$25,000 to support Christian safe houses for impoverished Christian children in Egypt. Some of Egypt’s poorest citizens are Christians from the rural south. Unable to care for their families, or simply broken by their poverty, some parents place their children in orphanages. State-sponsored institutions impose Muslim identities.
$20,000 to help the Daughters of the Sacred Heart care for the elderly and infirmed in Iraqi Kurdistan. A Chaldean Catholic community, the sisters administer in Erbil a home for the care of elderly and disabled women, many displaced by ISIS. Funds help the sisters maintain a warm and caring home.
$20,000 to support Holy Family Home in Erbil. A safe house for displaced girls in the Christian neighborhood of Ain Kawa, Holy Family is administered by the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, CNEWA’s primary partners in Iraqi Kurdistan.
$50,000 to supply winter kits, milk and diapers for displaced Iraqi Christian children. The Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, and other church partners in Iraqi Kurdistan, know well the needs of young families exiled by ISIS. Funds will provide coats, blankets, milk and diapers for the healthy development of children.
$55,000 to provide food and milk for exiled Iraqi Christian families in Jordan. The Franciscan Missionaries of Mary have been earmarked monies for food coupons for displaced families ($35K) and for nursing formula and milk for children up to 3 years of age ($20K).
$40,000 to assist the Italian Hospital’s clinic for refugees in Amman. Administered by the Dominican Sisters of the Presentation of Mary, the hospital is known for its outreach to the poor. Funds support a clinic offering Iraqi and Syrian refugees free medical care.
$10,000 to host Bible camps for impoverished children. Run by parishes and religious communities in Jordan, Bible camps offer refugee children (Syrian and Iraqi) as well as impoverished Jordanian Christian children a respite from the drudgery of poverty. Camps, which will be held in the summer, provide counseling, catechesis, formation and fun.
$30,000 to assist the Good Shepherd Sisters’ St. Anthony Clinic in Jdeideh, Lebanon. The influx of more than a million Syrian and Iraqi refugees is crushing the country’s health care network. Many Christian refugees are seeking medical assistance for not just chronic illnesses, but other conditions brought about by their violent displacement from their homes.
$25,000 to launch the Cremisan Family Fund in the West Bank of Palestine. Some 59 families, almost all Christian, have had their very livelihoods uprooted. Last September, Israeli bulldozers uprooted their olive trees for the construction of the separation border that will be built through their olive groves in the Cremisan Valley near Bethlehem. Use of this seed money will be coordinated with the parishes ministering there to benefit the affected families.
$25,000 to provide medical care for internally displaced Christians in Syria. Funds will help the Good Shepherd Sisters, the Sisters of Charity of Besançon and other religious communities in their health care initiatives for those families hunkered down within Syria.
CNEWA has made an initial commitment of $4.7 million in support of the peoples and churches of the Middle East for 2016. This program includes basic support for displaced Iraqi and Syrian families; formation programs for seminarians in Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon; youth formation initiatives in Egypt, Jordan, Palestine and Syria; health care support across the region, especially pre- and post-natal care; and various social service efforts for the poor and the indigent.