Francis Affirms CRS Work With Families

Dear Friend,

In a few weeks, Pope Francis will be in the United States, focusing the attention of so many Americans on the beliefs and works of our wonderful Church. This Pope has garnered admiration from all segments of our society by steadfastly proclaiming the eternal verities of Catholicism while projecting the caring, warmth and love that Christ asks from all of us.

Francis will meet with the powerful—the President, Congress, the United Nations—and the poor. He will obey a command of Matthew 25 and visit prisoners at a jail in Philadelphia. He will also address the World Meeting of Families—the triennial gathering begun by Saint John Paul in 1994 to celebrate, examine and strengthen this essential of our society.

When we think of the Church as the bride of Christ, we realize that the family is the building block of our faith. We are all brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of these parents. And then we come to understand that all of us are God’s children—part of the family that is mankind.

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Prayer for Taiwan

God of all creation,

Out of darkness you brought beauty and goodness as you created the world.

Even before day and night, you created the sea and the earth out of chaos and called them good.

Today, we come to you as people in need of that life-giving goodness. As you once created order and goodness out of chaos,
Do so so again in Taiwan.

Be with your people as they rebuild their lives.
Fill them with faith to trust in you, knowing that you are present in the calmness of the whispering wind.
Surround them with your love as they try to make sense of this act of nature.

May our hearts remain open to our brothers and sisters as we respond in faith to their need.

We ask this in the name of Jesus.

Amen


Better Than Disney World

By Michael Trujillo

CRS Fair Trade benefactor Adonis Santiago, 5, with his mother Maria Escalante.

CRS Fair Trade benefactor Adonis Santiago, 5, with his mother Maria Escalante. Photo by Alex Núñez. Used with permission.

Last month, Stephanie Bossee, CRS program coordinator for the Diocese of Orlando, spoke to students at St. Francis of Assisi’s Vacation Bible School. She talked about CRS’s commitment to fair trade and our partnership with companies to ensure livable wages and better lives for those we serve overseas. St. Francis of Assisi’s Children’s Faith Formation Coordinator Yahaira Olmeda and her students were inspired and decided to collect funds to help their brothers and sisters in other countries.

Adonis Santiago, 5, came in one day with a bag full of coins to put in the collection jar. Because other kids in the crew did not have anything to put in the jar that day, Yahaira’s sister, a Vacation Bible School teacher, asked the boy if he would be willing to have the other kids put some of his money into the jar. Adonis agreed and started handing coins to the other kids. Expecting Adonis to give maybe a coin or two to each kid, Yahira’s sister was surprised and delighted when he stuck his hand in the bag and started handing out coins by the fistful.

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A Stronghold in Times of Trouble

Dear Friend,

Catholic Relief Services was founded as War Relief Services in 1943 initially to help refugees from the cataclysm that was World War II. The unprecedented devastation of that war left tens of millions dead and even more homeless and seeking shelter and safety. The relief and recovery efforts supported by the Catholic community in the United States lasted for years.

World War II lived up to its name as its devastation was genuinely worldwide. It affected my parents who fled Japanese-occupied Hong Kong where I grew up. Perhaps it affected your family as well. When it ended with nuclear horror, there was a firm commitment to ensure that the world would never see anything like it again.

Out of that came the United Nations, a forum built on the hope that words would be an alternative to weapons. In recognition of the tens of millions who had become war refugees, this new body included the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees to help protect the rights of people forced from their homelands, giving them aid and upholding their dignity. In the decades since World War II, CRS has often worked with UNHCR to help refugee populations.

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‘Laudato Si’ ’ Echoes Centuries of Church Teaching

Dear Friend,

I was honored to be asked to the Vatican last month to be one of the speakers at the press conference announcing Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment. It was an honor that really goes to Catholic Relief Services—including all of you who support CRS—because it was a recognition of the important work we do to help the poor around the world.

Because of my background in business education, I was asked to address the issues the encyclical raises with the business community. I have always felt that the true purpose of business is to contribute to the common good by harnessing its power and importance with appropriate ethics. The environmental issues that our world faces as we contemplate the fate of God’s creation give business just such an opportunity. Read the rest of this entry »


Climate Change in Ethiopia: Six Personal Perspectives

Scratching out a living in a homeland once hospitable to farming and grazing, Ethiopians say climate change is real. Their searing question: How will we feed our children?

Rain has all but ceased. When it does come, it’s often too little, too late, too early, or too much too soon. Generations of knowledge about when and what to plant no longer applies.

In Ethiopia, communities are learning ways to cope through a CRS-led project working with the Hararghe Catholic Secretariat in Oromia State. It’s funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

In the following posts, six people living under these harsh conditions discuss their hopes and expectations for the future. They represent millions of people around the world whose lives and livelihoods are threatened by climate change.

Akuri Worku: “We have to teach the next generation—my child—the knowledge of how we can address climate change.”
 
 
Fatuma Ali Sali: “We’ve seen the impact of climate change harm our lives time and time again. The problem of drought has been getting more and more serious over the last 20 years.” Alemayehn Ayele: “I hope the project will result in greater awareness of climate change, and that there will be no more dependency on external support.”
Serif Lulseged: “Climate change has changed the way we’re cultivating our crops. It’s different now. For example, this month we’re going to plant because of the early rain. But it suddenly stopped, so our crop may fail.” Martha Simon: “We lack productivity because of the shortage of rainfall.”
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Idris Tuna: “We depend on a single source of water: rain. If there’s no rain, there’s no hope. I’m very worried. It worries me more than anything else.”
 
 
 

All photos by Kim Pozniak/CRS

Kim Pozniak is a CRS communications officer covering sub-Saharan Africa and global emergencies. She is based in Baltimore, Maryland.


Climate Change in Ethopia: Martha Simon

Martha Simon, 25, a small-scale coffee farmer in Ethiopia, is one of hundreds of thousands of people faced with the effects of climate change.

Martha Simon, 25, a small-scale coffee farmer in Ethiopia, is one of hundreds of thousands of people faced with the effects of climate change. Photo by Kim Pozniak/CRS

Martha Simon, a small-scale farmer who grows coffee and chat, a plant used as a stimulant and cultivated as a cash crop in Ethiopia’s Oromia State, is optimistic about the future. The mother of a 10-year-old boy and an 8-year-old girl has seen the benefits of long-term development support in the region but is adamant that people have to be able to stand on their own two feet.

“I don’t believe that as part of the community, the external support should continue.,” she says. “I want to be self-reliant. I would like to build a home in a bigger town. If I save enough money, I can buy land and a home there.”

She’s been able to accumulate some savings through a CRS microfinance program called SILC, which also allows her to borrow money. The program is part of a safety net that also provides emergency assistance like food, but it emphasizes self-sufficiency through better farming techniques and business ownership.

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Climate Change in Ethiopia: Fatuma Ali Sali

Fatuma Ali Sali, 50, and her eight children, who live in Belina Arba, Ethiopia, are some of the hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians faced with the effects of climate change.

Fatuma Ali Sali, 50, and her eight children, who live in Belina Arba, Ethiopia, are some of the hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians faced with the effects of climate change. Photo by Kim Pozniak/CRS

Hoisting a large yellow canister onto her head, Fatuma Ali Sali, who estimates she’s about 50 years old, demonstrates how she transports drinking water for her family on days when her donkey is put to work in the field.

Fatuma’s bright yellow scarf glows in the late afternoon sun. Her silver bracelets jingle as she points toward her village’s water point—a large, blue tank several hours away by foot—where dozens of women and girls gather every day to fill their water cans, then load them onto their donkeys to make the hours-long trek back home.

Fatuma and her eight children live in Belina Arba, a district of 20 small villages where most raise small livestock and farm sorghum, maize, groundnuts or chat, a plant commonly used as a stimulant and farmed as a cash crop.

Her small plot of sorghum has been taken over by a persistent weed. “The weed is one problem leading to low productivity, and the long droughts are a big challenge that we’re facing,” she says. “By the time the rain comes, the weed overgrows our sorghum and results in low productivity.”

The problem of drought has intensified in the past 20 years, Fatima says. And she’s seen the impact of climate change. “In 2010 we were better off. We continuously got good rain, and we didn’t have any weeds on our land. We produced much more during that time,” she says.
“Even last year, we could [collect] water. But this year, we don’t know when it will rain or if we can collect water. Read the rest of this entry »


Climate Change in Ethiopia: Serif Lulseged

Serif Lulseged, 37, a father of four and a small scale farmer who cultivates sorghum, is also the Chairman for of the Hake village cluster, a community of 7 villages where most people depend on subsistence farming.

Serif Lulseged, 37, a father of four and a small scale farmer who cultivates sorghum, is also the Chairman for of the Hake village cluster, a community of 7 villages where most people depend on subsistence farming. Photo by Kim Pozniak/CRS

“We got rain a week ago, but before then, it’s been a long time. That’s why our crops are failing and our productivity is low.”

Serif Lulseged, a father of four and a small-scale farmer, cultivates sorghum, soybeans and maize on a small plot in Metta district in eastern Ethiopia. He also chairs the Hake village cluster, a community of 7 villages where most people depend on subsistence farming. He represents his community—about 900 families,—advocating for them with local government. Recurring drought, and shortages of drinking water and food are among their challenges.

“There is climate change,” he says. “Earlier in our lives, especially during the dry season, there was no rain [in May] but these days, after planting trees, we unexpectedly received rain. Our weather predictions aren’t as good as our forefathers’. It’s difficult to predict.”

To help address these issues, Serif’s community was selected to benefit from a CRS project called REAAP—which stands for Resilience through Enhanced Adaptation, Action-learning and Partnershi pproject and is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. The project will help nearly half a million people mitigate the devastating effects of climate change, adapt new farming techniques, like using hillside terraces, and create action plans to decrease the risk of climate-related disaster.

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Climate Change in Ethiopia: Alemayehn Ayele

Alemayehn is one of 50 facilitators hired locally by CRS and its partner, the Hararghe Catholic Secretariat, to be trained on climate change mitigation strategies for their communities.

Alemayehn is one of 50 facilitators hired locally by CRS and its partner, the Hararghe Catholic Secretariat, to be trained on climate change mitigation strategies for their communities. Photo by Kim Pozniak/CRS

Alemayehn Ayele’s hand quickly glides over his notebook, the white paper glowing in the relentless midday sun. He has to move quickly as the instructor changes positions to point out the different markers and lines drawn in the sand, all part of a village mapping exercise.
Alemayehn moves around the village taking shape in the sand while about two dozen other students vie to get a good look at the map, constructed with white chalk, rocks and sticks. All the while, his hand never stops taking notes.

Alemayehn is one of 50 facilitators hired locally by CRS and its partner, the Hararghe Catholic Secretariat, to be trained on climate change mitigation strategies for their communities. They’ve all experienced the dramatic consequences of changing weather patterns in eastern Ethiopia. The training is part of a 3-year CRS project called REAAP—or Resilience through Enhanced Adaptation, Action-learning and Partnership—funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development to reduce the effects of climate change.

On the second day of the weeklong training, Alemayehn has learned how to be a liaison for his community, and about its resources and ability to cope with climate change.

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