Supporting people affected by Ebola

On April 16, we sent a We Care aid shipment to Liberia to help survivors, healthcare workers and other people affected by the Ebola outbreak.

This is thanks to your support. Lutherans from across Canada donated all the items in the shipment, which included handmade quilts and blankets, clothing, school supplies, hygiene kits and baby supplies like diapers.

There is a great need for basic living items following the outbreak. Children have been orphaned and families have been left without breadwinners. Many survivors have been left with very little, and many are dealing with complications from the virus, including paralysis and vision and hearing loss, that have affected their ability to work. Many have been shunned by their communities and had their homes and belongings burned in attempts to prevent the spread of Ebola.

“The challenges Ebola survivors face are beyond what many of us can imagine. We knew we had to help,” says Patrick Stewart, CLWR’s We Care program coordinator. “Although there is a long road of recovery ahead, we hope that these items can meet some basic needs now as survivors work to rebuild their lives.”

The aid shipment will be received and distributed to those who need it by one of our partners: the Lutheran Development Service in Liberia. Through your financial donations, we’ve also supported the delivery of medicines and medical supplies to treat Ebola patients, and information sessions that educate affected communities about Ebola, proper treatment of the virus and how to prevent it from spreading.

The shipment got some coverage in the Winnipeg Free Press as well. Read it here: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/Local-volunteers-send-care-package-to-Liberia-in-wake-of-Ebola-outbreak-300203161.html?hc_location=ufi

Photo: Women show how they are educating people on preventing the spread of Ebola: a song with gestures that demonstrate good hand-washing technique. Photo by ACT Alliance/FinnChurchAid/Leena Lindqvist

Photo: Women show how they are educating people on preventing the spread of Ebola: a song with gestures that demonstrate good hand-washing technique. Photo by ACT Alliance/FinnChurchAid/Leena Lindqvist

My Dream of Peace

Although The Evangelical Lutheran School of Beit Sahour is one of the oldest institutions in the Bethlehem area, it is a modern school, with all the facilities to make it attractive to students in Beit Sahour and the surrounding area. It is a co-educational facility that respects the diversity of the local community.

While keeping excellent academic standards, the leadership believes in a holistic approach. Student activities cover a wide range of themes including music and choir, poetry, sports, dabkeh (a traditional Arab dance), manufacturing of candles and ceramics, olive wood carving, mosaic design and recycling paper and glass.

I had the opportunity to interview two students during a recent visit to ELS.

George Rawa

They were Rawa and George. Each had a similar history at the school. Both tenth-graders have attended the school since kindergarten despite it being a private Christian school with a tuition charge. They both participate in a wide range of school activities including the choir, dance group and athletics. Like any student they have favourite classes – mathematics for Rawa, English for George.

I would like to say the interviews were stimulating and informative. I can’t. For a variety of reasons each was very reticent to give much of an answer to my questions, except for one.

The one question that animated them both was the question: “What was their dream for the future?” In Canada, we can expect this question asked of a 16-year-old would bring a response directed to their own future post-secondary education, careers or getting stuff.

The message from these teenagers at Beit Sahour was the same: peace. Peace from the political realities on the ground, peace from occupation, peace to live a normal life and peace that comes from equal opportunity. Wow!!

– Tom Brook, CLWR Community Relations Director

A CLWR prayer for the Third Sunday in Easter

Third Sunday after Easter 2015

God with us, even when we do not recognize you in our midst, you walk with us. Thank you for your persistent love that never fails. Open our eyes, so you may use our foolishness and slow hearts for your service in feeding others. Amen

Many thanks to Rev. Margaret Propp, Lutheran campus chaplain at the University of Calgary, for contributing this week’s prayer.

Shukran, Canada!

Hyat Alawri is 76 and her husband Fouad is 80. Fouad is a cancer patient in the Elder Care wing of Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem. The wing is otherwise known as the “Canadian” wing for the funding it received from Canadian donors.

Hyat Alawri is grateful for the high-quality care her husband Fouad receives in the Elder Care unit at Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem (otherwise known as the Canadian wing for Canadian financial support). CLWR/T.Brook

Hyat Alawri is grateful for the high-quality care her husband Fouad receives in the Elder Care unit at Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem (otherwise known as the Canadian wing for the Canadian financial support it received). CLWR/T.Brook

When I began to interview Mrs. Alawri, one of the hospital staff members stepped in to translate but she protested strongly: “I can speak English!” She really did!

Mrs. Alawri gave great testimony to the level of care her husband receives. She would be unable to care for him at home herself. Both her sons are working and it would be impossible for her to move him and provide basic daily care.

Fouad had been in an Israeli hospital, but the level of care was not up to the standard of Augusta Victoria Hospital in the attention paid to patients. It also cost Mrs. Alawri a great deal extra to visit him each day.

She also had a strong message for Canada. “We have a great need for the new Elder Care Pavilion. There are many more like my husband who need this kind of care but cannot get it.”

Mohammad Abu Asab and his sister Tahani had exactly the same to say about the care their father has been receiving since moving to Augusta Victoria Hospital. They told me that the attention to detail and personal kindness of the staff meant a great deal to them. They both work long hours and would not have time available to give that kind of care.

Mohammad Abu Asab and his sister Tahani say that the attention to detail and personal kindness of the staff to them and their father means a great deal to them. CLWR/T.Brook

Mohammad Abu Asab and his sister Tahani say that the attention to detail and personal kindness of the staff to them and their father means a great deal to them. CLWR/T.Brook

They were thankful that Canadian Lutherans are concerned about the health of the elderly and that there is a campaign underway to raise funds for a new 148-bed Elder Care Pavilion.

“Shukran, Canada!”

“Thank you, Canada!” That’s how they ended their interview with me.

“You’re welcome”.

– Tom Brook, Community Relations Director, Canadian Lutheran World Relief

A CLWR prayer for the Second Sunday after Easter

Second Sunday after Easter 2015

God of peace, we give thanks for your relentless love that never abandons us. In the face of doubt and uncertainty, may we see you present in our lives. In the face of loss and grief, give us hope. May we recognize your presence in our midst. Amen

Many thanks to Rev. Margaret Propp, Lutheran campus chaplain at the University of Calgary, for contributing this week’s prayer.

Your support for Yazidi Iraqis affected by ISIS

Elias Haji shows us the cradle he built for his newborn daughter, Averas, last month. It’s made from two-by-fours scavenged near the construction site where he lives with his wife, Shama Osma, and their nine children.

Elias Haji and two of his sons on the second floor of the unfinished building where they are living. CLWR/P.Maruschak

Elias Haji and three sons on the second floor of the unfinished building where they are living. CLWR/P.Maruschak

Shama gave birth to Averas there on February 21 because they couldn’t afford to pay for a hospital delivery.

They share the second floor of an unfinished building, and its single bathroom, with five other families. There are no walls in some sections, only concrete pillars holding up the floors above them. They are at the mercy of the weather—temperatures drop close to zero in northern Iraq in the winter—so the heater kerosene they received from CLWR is making a big difference. They are also thankful for the kits containing soap, toothpaste, towels, diapers and other hygiene items they received.

Baby Averas in her cradle, with an older sister. CLWR/H.Patterson

Baby Averas in her cradle, with an older sister. CLWR/H.Patterson

Elias and his family are Yazidi Iraqis. Elias holds his prayer beads as he tells us about fleeing their farm in Sinjar last August, to escape the horrific Islamic State (ISIS) attack that killed hundreds of Yazidis and trapped hundreds more on Sinjar mountain for months. Hundreds of women and girls were abducted and enslaved in the attack. Elias knows of more than 40 men, women and children from his community who were kidnapped and failed to escape. During our interview, he points out a child he says was held by ISIS and tortured by burning.

Elias and his wife Shama Osma. CLWR/H.Patterson

Elias and his wife Shama Osma. CLWR/H.Patterson

Elias and his family escaped through the Syrian border and then travelled back into northern Iraq to the Dohuk area, where they are now living. Elias is eager to work but there are few jobs. He is resourceful, though, and they are making do as best as they can. His baby daughter’s cradle, and their shelter in what should have been an uninhabitable building, is evidence of that.

The unfinished building where Elias and his family, as well as about 12 other families, are living in Dohuk, northern Iraq. CLWR/P.Maruschak

The unfinished building where Elias and his family, as well as about 12 other families, are living in Dohuk, northern Iraq. CLWR/P.Maruschak

Elias has no idea if his home back in Sinjar, where he farmed vegetables including tomatoes, ochre and eggplant, is still standing. He does hope to go back there soon. He just doesn’t know when that will be possible.

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The distribution of heaters, kerosene, hygiene kits and other essential non-food items to people displaced in northern Iraq was made possible by $1.8 million in funding from the Canadian government via the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development’s International Humanitarian Assistance Program, as well as through donations from Canadian Lutherans. Our partners the Lutheran World Federation and CAPNI (Christian Aid Program Northern Iraq) carry out the distributions on the ground. This story was composed by CLWR Communications Officer Jennifer Clark from interview notes by Heather Patterson, CLWR’s Development Manager for International Refugee Response. The interview notes were translated from Arabic by Lutheran World Federation staff. Heather Patterson met with Elias and his family during the week of March 23, 2015.

A CLWR prayer for Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday prayer 2015-2

Gracious and Holy God,

We give thanks for the hope we have in you through the death and resurrection of your Son. Open our hearts and minds so we may see resurrection in our lives. May our lives reflect the joy you have bestowed upon us through your grace. Amen

Many thanks to Rev. Margaret Propp, Lutheran campus chaplain at the University of Calgary, for contributing this week’s prayer.