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.
In Gaza, in the midst of the Holy Land, tens of thousands of people have fled after their homes were damaged, destroyed or endangered by fighting. Public infrastructure, such as water and sanitation systems, has been destroyed.
In Syria, a country where Paul once preached, an estimated 9.5 million people have been forced from their homes during the ongoing civil war. About 7 million are still displaced in Syria and the rest are refugees in neighboring countries.
In the Central African Republic, peace-loving people are working to reconstruct their society, which has been wracked by sectarian violence that has too often run along religious fault lines. Security is tenuous.
In South Sudan, continued fighting threatens to pull the world’s newest nation back into the decades-long civil war that devastated generations. The most recent fighting has kept farmers from planting their crops. With no food to harvest, people will not have enough to eat in the coming weeks and months.
And in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, the Ebola virus continues to spread despite efforts to contain it. More than 1,000 people have died. The disease is overwhelming health systems. Millions are threatened.
To all of these countries, Catholic Relief Services brings the compassion and commitment of Catholics in the United States to help the suffering. We’re caring for people in need, in danger, living with hunger, struggling with sickness and feeling scared.
You help deliver the Good News of the Gospel in a very real way. You bring God’s message of hope to those who might otherwise feel hopeless.
In Iraq, we have reached out to minorities fleeing persecution and provided 10,000 families with essential supplies.
In Gaza, CRS has distributed supplies to 10,000 families, and also provided shelter and employment, which is helping a damaged economy to function again.
In the countries around Syria, some 350,000 people have received assistance with a variety of needs, from food and shelter to jobs and rent assistance. Displaced children, who were forced to leave school as well as their homes, have been able to resume their education.
In Central African Republic, the Church’s cathedrals and compounds have been havens from the violence. People who had to flee their homes found food, water and hope because of your compassion. Thanks to your help, communities in conflict are learning how to bridge the gaps that separate them.
In South Sudan, rebuilding continues as CRS works with the Church to bring people together to resolve conflict peacefully. And even as we continue to feed people, we are sounding the alarm about looming food shortages, leading donors around the world to come to the aid of the South Sudanese.
In Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, your generosity has helped educate people about how to stop Ebola from spreading—the only way to contain the virus until there is a vaccine or a cure.
CRS is able to act immediately when confronted with suffering for one reason: our donors. We do not have to wait for governments or foundations or international agencies to act. Your donations—your commitment to the teachings of the Gospel—are the reason.
The generosity and commitment of those who feel solidarity with their brethren in God’s family, no matter where they live, continues to inspire and amaze me. I thank you for your inspiration and for helping CRS carry God’s light into the world.
May blessings overflow,
Dr. Carolyn Y. Woo
President & CEO
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