God’s Grace Is in Your Gift

Dear Friend,

Thanksgiving is a time to take stock of our many blessings: our families, friends, health, freedom—and the remarkable bounty that provides for our needs.

Certainly there are needs, wants and injustices in this country that prompt our concern and action, but consider that at the very least our well-developed food supply chain ensures that there will be plenty to eat.

Even if there is a drought that disrupts the harvest we celebrate every autumn, we won’t go hungry. Millions of small-scale farmers and poor urban dwellers wish that they could enjoy that kind of resilience. Catholic Relief Services works alongside them every day to make their resilience a reality.

But as we contemplate a table groaning under the weight of the food we will soon put on it—and the friends and family we will share it with—I want to draw your attention to an even more fundamental gift from our generous God.

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Pope Francis Calls for ‘Change of Paradigm’ in Ending World Hunger

VATICAN CITY, October 17, 2014 (Zenit.org)

Bor County (Kondai Village - Makuach Payam), South Sudan - Beneficiaries Ayak Wal Garang, 14, and her father, Wal Garang Dhiek, 42, remove weeds from the family's groundnut field. The tools they're using and seeds for the groundnuts were provided by Catholic Relief Services. Ric Francis for CRS

Bor County (Kondai Village – Makuach Payam), South Sudan – Beneficiaries Ayak Wal Garang, 14, and her father, Wal Garang Dhiek, 42, remove weeds from the family’s groundnut field. The tools they’re using and seeds for the groundnuts were provided by Catholic Relief Services. Ric Francis for CRS

Pope Francis says that defeating world hunger will require more than aid and donations. Instead, we must “change the paradigm of aid and development policies” and change “how we understand work, economic aims and activity, food production and the protection of the environment.”

The Pope said this in a message to the director general of the FAO, Jose Graziano da Silva, to mark World Food Day, held Thursday.

World Food Day was instituted in 1979 by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in order to raise public awareness and strengthen solidarity in the fight against hunger, malnutrition and poverty.

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CRS Offers Five Fixes for Youth in Central America

Claudia, pictured here with her daughter and cousin, lives in a small town in Honduras. With the highest homicide rate in the world and few economic opportunities, many young people like Claudia feel compelled to migrate. She tried to reunite with her mother, who lives and works in the United States, but the journey was too dangerous, and she was eventually sent back to Honduras. (Photo by Silverlight for CRS.)

Claudia, pictured here with her daughter and cousin, lives in a small town in Honduras. With the highest homicide rate in the world and few economic opportunities, many young people like Claudia feel compelled to migrate. She tried to reunite with her mother, who lives and works in the United States, but the journey was too dangerous, and she was eventually sent back to Honduras. (Photo by Silverlight for CRS.)

Sean Callahan, chief operating officer for Catholic Relief Services, recently traveled to Central America to meet with government officials, members of marginalized communities and Church partners to discuss real solutions to the realities children face.

 

“I not only heard of, but witnessed the increasing desperation of families due to inescapable violence for many children, degrading poverty and family separation,” Callahan said. “In the long run, we must help to provide security and opportunity in their home communities to stem this migration.”

 

As part of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s annual conference, Callahan participated on the panel Unaccompanied Central American Minors: Long-Term Solutions. He presented five fixes to help youth in the region:

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Web Chat: Providing Assistance for Refugees and Vulnerable Populations in Iraq and Syria

On September 30, 2014, Catholic Relief Services and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops hosted an online Catholics Confront Global Poverty discussion: Crisis in Iraq and Syria: Providing Assistance for Refugees and Vulnerable Populations. Below is a transcript of that conversation.

Live Blog Crisis in Iraq and Syria: Providing Assistance for Refugees and Vulnerable Populations
 

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God’s Fields Are Never Fallow

Dear Friend,

There is no time like fall to appreciate the magnificent generosity of God. The fields that a few weeks ago were filled with plants reaching for the sky—full of grain and corn and beans and all sorts of other crops—have yielded their bounty.

In orchards’ tidy rows, the branches of trees that were dipping toward the ground as they tried to support the burden of their heavy fruits, have done the same.

In so many ways, the earth lets us know once again that its promise has been fulfilled as God intended. With fields harvested and those orchards picked, their abundance is now available to us, whether in farm markets or roadside stands or at your local supermarket. This is the time of year when we can see and smell and taste how good God is to us. There is no doubt. But when we think of the fruits of the harvest, let us not limit ourselves to this familiar yearly cycle. There are many seeds that are planted which do not bear their fruit according to that calendar. Some take years to mature.

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Learning Support and Solidarity During Crises

Dear Friend,

As our children go back to school this month, it’s a good time to educate ourselves about a world in need.

Everywhere, people are crying out for help. Together we show them God’s care and grace. As children open their new textbooks, I urge you to read and learn about how you can build solidarity with our suffering brothers and sisters overseas. The Gospel asks us to hear their cries, and to respond to them, because no matter where people live, they are our neighbors. When we help them, we become God’s helping hands.

In Iraq, adherents to minority religions—including Christian faiths that have been there since Christianity began—have been uprooted by militant fighters. People are fleeing their homes to escape persecution, violence and death. Their future, and that of the entire region, is precarious.

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Web Chat: Addressing the Humanitarian Emergency of Unaccompanied Children

Please join Catholic Relief Services and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for an online Catholics Confront Global Poverty discussion:

Addressing the Humanitarian Emergency of Unaccompanied Children

July 29, 2014

12 -1 P.M. EDT

Live Blog Addressing the Humanitarian Emergency of Unaccompanied Children
 

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Disasters Threaten South Sudan, Central African Republic

Dear Friend,
Responding to emergencies is one of the most important jobs we have at Catholic Relief Services. Many are high-profile events covered extensively in the media, like the tsunami in the Indian Ocean, the earthquake in Haiti or Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. But many are events you’ve likely never heard of—local flooding or storms or violence just as devastating as the ones that draw widespread attention.

Working with our local partners around the world—often Caritas and other Church organizations—CRS spreads the bounty of your generosity to those forced from their homes or in need of food, water and other necessities through no fault of their own.

The spotlight usually falls on disasters that happen suddenly—like an earthquake or a typhoon. The suddenness is part of the story, part of the drama, part of what makes it so compelling to news organizations and to viewers and readers.

What often receives far less attention, though, are what we call slow-onset emergencies. They don’t strike all at once like disasters that make the ground shake or the waters rise or the wind blow. But they are just as devastating.

I want to call your attention to two coming disasters. Both are man-made—caused by escalating conflict.

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Making a Difference

By Lisa M. Campion

Editor’s Note: This article is a contribution to a week-long blog carnival on USAID’s John Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) Program. From July 14-18, F2F program partners and American volunteers are sharing their knowledge and experience of providing technical assistance to farmers, farm groups, agribusinesses, service providers, and other agriculture sector institutions in developing and transitional countries. This blog carnival aims to capture and share this program experience. You can find all contributions on Agrilinks.

“What did you learn?”

Members of the Barr Orphans, Widowers, and Widows Cooperative Society (BOWW) in their store during a training session led by Farmer-to-Farmer Volunteer Lisa Campion. Copyright Lisa Campion 2014, used with permission.

Members of the Barr Orphans, Widowers, and Widows Cooperative Society (BOWW) in their store during a training session led by Farmer-to-Farmer Volunteer Lisa Campion. Copyright Lisa Campion 2014, used with permission.

This question was a main question I asked on a daily basis. Every day for 11 days, I worked with the Barr Orphans, Widowers, and Widows (BOWW) Cooperative Society to build their capacity in leadership and management training. Over 11 days, I trained almost 500 people, of which 350 were women, as a volunteer for the USAID Farmer to Farmer program. BOWW is located in the Lira District of Uganda Africa.

So what did BOWW learn?
“I learned not to be lazy and to work in my garden. That I am now part of a group and need to contribute.” Said one women in a session (Note: This was translated for me. A “garden” is their farm field). After attending a session and being educated about what a cooperative is, what the roles and responsibilities are of members, the board, the officers and the manager, and learning about how to be a leader in their homes, community and cooperative, this woman along with others learned the important lesson that if you want to be successful, you need to work hard towards your goals. The day after this session, I saw this woman everyday working in her garden tirelessly weeding and planting.

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20 Years, 11 Countries: Q&A with Farmer-to-Farmer Volunteer Tom Cadwallader

Editor’s Note: This article is a contribution to a week-long blog carnival on USAID’s John Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) Program. From July 14-18, F2F program partners and American volunteers are sharing their knowledge and experience of providing technical assistance to farmers, farm groups, agribusinesses, service providers, and other agriculture sector institutions in developing and transitional countries. This blog carnival aims to capture and share this program experience. You can find all contributions on Agrilinks.

Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer Tom Cadwallader poses for a picture with members of the Kitui Development Centre (KDC) in Kenya. Tom conducted a month-long assignment to build the capacity of the KDC by designing effective data collection tools and monitoring systems to ensure efficient poultry project management. Copyright Thomas Cadwallader, 2014

Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer Tom Cadwallader poses for a picture with members of the Kitui Development Centre (KDC) in Kenya. Tom conducted a month-long assignment to build the capacity of the KDC by designing effective data collection tools and monitoring systems to ensure efficient poultry project management. Copyright Thomas Cadwallader, 2014

Thomas Cadwallader is a seasoned Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer, having volunteered in over 20 countries around the world. This spring, he traveled to Kenya to work with the Kitui Development Centre. Read on to hear about his experiences in the field and the impact he made.

CRS: Tell us a little bit about your relationship with the Farmer-to-Farmer program?

Tom: In 2013 I celebrated 20 years of assignments through the Farmer-To-Farmer program. I was approached for my first assignment by a good friend who had taken the job of VOCA Country Director in Macedonia. My friend knew that I came from a fairly diverse farming background that provided me with lots of experience in everything from commercial production to direct marketing so I he thought I could draw from those experiences to customize the assignment as needed once I got on the ground.

After meeting with the brothers, I found that they had lots of great things going on and I was able to finish my assignment early. That allowed me the opportunity to take on another assignment in Slovakia with a gentleman who was putting a business plan together for a dairy goat operation. I was hooked. Although my career with the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension Service and helping my wife run our own farm were keeping me plenty busy, whenever I saw an opportunity to work on an interesting project and I could carve time out of my schedule I jumped on the chance. Over those 20 years, I’ve worked on about 25 individual assignments in 11 different countries around the globe; from the Gobi Desert in Mongolia to the rain forest of Guyana.

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