CLWR weekly prayer

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A prayer from CLWR for the week of the thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost…

Gracious Gardener; who us planted in this world, who loves us and rejoices in us; may our tender shoots bear succulent fruit; may we nourish those around us with love and compassion. May justice flow like rich wine from us. This we pray, Amen.

With thanks to Rev. Lidvald Haugen Strand, Rector of St George’s Anglican Parish, New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, for writing prayers for August!

Joint advocacy for refugee rights at United Nations spurs new church partnership

By Kristine Greenaway

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Rudelmar Bueno de Faria (left) and Robert Granke (right). Photo: WCC/Peter Prove.

Canadian Lutheran World Relief and the World Council of Churches are planning joint action on refugee rights now that the Canadian church agency has been approved for WCC membership. Plans are for CLWR to collaborate with WCC on advocacy initiatives through the Ecumenical United Nations Office (EUNO) in New York.

 

“WCC’s link to the United Nations is unique,” says CLWR Executive Director, Robert Granke. “Through its New York office, we have entry into UN-related events on the refugee theme.”

CLWR, which is connected to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, was admitted to WCC as a “specialized ministry” at a meeting of the organization’s Central Committee in Trondheim, Norway in June. WCC membership rules allow admission of church-related agencies that specialize in development, relief, mission or advocacy work.

“CLWR has chosen to engage on the refugee theme and to speak out on issues related to this mandate. WCC is seen as key to this,” Granke says. “Engagement at the UN allows us to work on policies and support for refugees internationally.”

Rudelmar Bueno de Faria, WCC representative to the United Nations, welcomes the opportunity to work with the Canadian agency, noting that this will increase WCC’s capacity to engage with regional decision makers on advocacy issues. A key aspect of EUNO’s mandate is to encourage church leaders to engage in advocacy at the UN and in their own national contexts on issues such the refugee crisis.

“CLWR has a long trajectory working with refugees and resettlement. Their contribution will be key to catalyze personalized advocacy actions on issues where CLWR has experience and expertise, such as Syrian refugees in Jordan. This is especially important now when migration and refugees crises are arising,” says de Faria from his office at the EUNO in New York.

CLWR’s connection to Canadian policy makers has increased notably since the recent change in government. In 2015, Canada’s new government committed to bring 25,000 refugees from the Middle East for resettlement in Canada. Churches now are pressing for more refugees to be approved in 2016. This includes refugees from other parts of the world, including troubled regions of Africa.

CLWR’s reputation for refugee work means Granke often has opportunities to meet with elected members of parliament and with senior civil servants who are concerned with issues related to refugee resettlement. The objective is to advocate for increased support in the Canadian aid budget for refugee assistance.

“We are one of the few church-based organizations in Canada focussing on refugees, especially in terms of strategy,” Granke explains. “We are focussed on promoting the rights of refugees and on additional support nationally.”

CLWR was created in 1946 to help refugees coming to Canada from Europe. That history led to the agency’s recent decision to focus on current refugee concerns.

The strategy includes an “education in action” programme for Lutherans that aims to encourage individual engagement in welcoming refugees and in supporting CLWR advocacy initiatives.

The agency is a member of the Lutheran World Federation and of ACT Alliance, an international network of church-affiliated aid and development organizations. Both are based at the Ecumenical Center in Geneva. CLWR had no formal links to WCC prior to being accepted to membership as a specialized ministry.

Responding to the South Sudan refugee crisis

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Some 30,000 refugees fled South Sudan after a short but lethal outbreak of conflict, mainly in the capital, Juba, in July 2016. Thousands are crammed into this reception centre at Elegu, in northern Uganda. Photo: Samuel Okiror/IRIN  www.irinnews.org

A message from Robert Granke, CLWR’s Executive Director

On July 8, 2016 fighting erupted in Juba, South Sudan, between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and the SPLA-In Opposition. Over the course of four days, hundreds of people were killed, and tens of thousands were displaced. Approximately 40,000 people initially fled to churches, schools, and UN and NGO bases seeking protection. In the absence of food and other services, some of the displaced returned home while others moved towards the Ugandan border. Between July 7 and July 25, an estimated 37,491 South Sudanese refugees crossed into Uganda where CLWR partner’s Lutheran World Federation-Uganda (LWF-Uganda) has mobilized rapid crisis support at refugee reception centres.

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Refugees arrive at Elegu collection center at a rate of 41 a minute. The LWF is warning of an even greater influx in the coming weeks. Photo: LWF/ P. Kikomeko

Inside South Sudan, the degree of violence has subsided since early July, but the situation remains unpredictable. Refugees arriving in Uganda have provided reports of ongoing fighting, looting by armed militias, house burning, and civilian murders. Women and children have been separated from husbands or fathers by armed groups who have forcibly recruited them into their ranks.

The rapid influx of refugees into Uganda is straining the capacity of the existing settlements and service centers. At the peak of the inflow, more than 11,000 refugees were staying in Elegu reception centre, northern Uganda, in a compound equipped to shelter only 1,000 people. The UNHCR and its partners, including LWF-Uganda, are struggling to respond, but their resources are severely constrained.

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South Sudanese refugee women in Adjumani, Uganda tending their garden, irrigated as a result of CLWR/LWF-Uganda project activities. Photo: Darci Penrod

In response to these urgent needs, CLWR is providing an initial installment of $20,000 CAD to the ACT Alliance to meet the basic hygiene, shelter and education needs of new arrivals within Adjumani district, Uganda. CLWR will continue to monitor the evolving situation within the region and search for further opportunities to meet the needs of those displaced.

Supported by your donations and funding from Global Affairs Canada, CLWR has been actively providing support to South Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia and Uganda through joint projects with LWF since 2012. Working in refugee camps and host communities in Ethiopia, we have enabled the establishment of multi-story gardens, small-scale irrigation systems, increased access to clean water, the construction of an agricultural training center, support for livelihood generation, and environmental conservation and rehabilitation.

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Using an energy efficient stove provided by the CLWR/LWF-Uganda project. Photo: CLWR/H. Platt

Our programming in Adjumani District, Uganda, where thousands of new South Sudanese refugees are arriving daily, supports over 21,000 refugees and host community households. The project is improving living conditions through better access to clean water, latrines, shelter, and essential household items such as energy saving stoves. Young, often unaccompanied refugees are also receiving agricultural and vocational training to help them create income generating opportunities. In January 2016, CLWR’s Global Encounter participants had the opportunity to visit Adjumani and experience LWF and CLWR’s work in person.

Your donations to CLWR are helping to provide relief and hope to thousands of South Sudanese refugees. Working in partnership with LWF, CLWR will continue to respond to the needs of South Sudanese refugees wherever possible. If you would like to be a part of our work, please consider a contribution to our Seeds of Hope campaign. Thank you for your continued support.

Sincerely,
Robert Granke
Executive Director

CLWR weekly prayer

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A prayer for the 10th Sunday after Pentecost and the coming week

Loving one, you call us to you in prayer, in those quiet moments when we can listen for your still, small voice. May all our prayers come from pure hearts, open to you and ready to receive your grace, peace, and love. May we, as your children, be an example to others of how to pray rightly, never demanding, but simply asking for that which you already know we need. Together, or separate, may we pray for each other and for all those needing to know you. Amen.

With thanks to Rev. Dyanna Noble-Couture from Nazareth Lutheran Church in Standard, AB for writing!

Strengthening Canada’s international assistance

CLWR is seeking your support to better meet the needs of those who are displaced and food-insecure

A message from Robert Granke, CLWR’s Executive Director

The Government of Canada, through Global Affairs Canada (formerly CIDA) is undergoing a review of its international assistance programs. The aim of the review is to rethink Canada’s international assistance policies and programs to better respond to the challenges and opportunities of the new global context. As part of this review, Global Affairs Canada is soliciting feedback from Canadians­—including you!

As supporters of CLWR, we encourage you to submit your input into this process. CLWR is supportive of the Government of Canada’s efforts to review and renew its international assistance (IA) policy. In particular, we applaud the renewed focus on responding to the needs of displaced and vulnerable populations and how to best deliver results. Drawing on our organizational proficiency in the areas of sustainable development and humanitarian assistance, our submission focuses its feedback on three key areas:

  1. Responding to humanitarian crises and the needs of displaced populations,
  2. Clean economic growth and climate change, and
  3. Delivering results.

Click here to read a summary of our submission
Click here to read our full submission

In order to assist CLWR in meeting the needs of displaced and food insecure people, we are asking you to send a personal email to Global Affairs Canada outlining your support for the recommendations that CLWR has made. Submissions can be emailed to IAReview.ExamenAI@international.gc.ca. A suggested email template is provided below.

Thank you for your ongoing support of the work of CLWR.

Sincerely,
Robert Granke
Executive Director


Email Template

Please copy and paste the note below into your e-mail program, add your name/signature at the bottom, and send it to IAReview.ExamenAI@international.gc.ca. As time permits, you are encouraged to modify this email with your own comments. If you don’t mind, let us know you’ve sent a letter by including maryanne@clwr.mb.ca in the BCC line. All letters/emails need to be sent in by July 31, 2016.

The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development:

Thank you for providing the opportunity to provide feedback regarding Canada’s international assistance policy. As someone who cares about providing increased support and assistance to the world’s most vulnerable people, I encourage the Government of Canada to focus its support on improving the well-being of and self-reliance among displaced and food-insecure populations in the developing world.

The number of people suffering from forced displacement continues to reach unprecedented levels, with an estimated 65.3 million displaced by the end of 2015. As 51 percent of those displaced are children, there is an urgent need to find effective strategies to meeting immediate needs while also assisting them to gain the skills and tools they will need to build a sustainable future.

In light of this challenge, I encourage the Government of Canada to:

  • Respond to those emergencies—often protracted in nature—that are not in the news. As of 2015, it was estimated that some 6.7 million refugees (41 percent of refugees overall) had been displaced from their home community for over five years.
  • Make humanitarian assistance funding available for multi-year projects to allow for continuity, increased efficiency, and decreased overhead.
  • Broaden the range of International Humanitarian Assistance funding to include activities that will build long-term resilience among displaced populations. Activities could include vocational training, agricultural training, psychosocial support, legal support, and the provision of economic opportunities.

Increased public investment in sustainable agricultural development is the key to meeting the needs of food insecure populations while also addressing climate change concerns. Small-scale farmers make up over 70 percent of those who are poor and food insecure in the developing world; in Africa, many of these poor farmers are women. Thus, investment in the livelihoods of small-scale farmers can contribute to a triple win for food security, climate change adaption and, in some cases, greenhouse gas mitigation. For this reason, I urge Canada to invest more in agricultural aid and to restore agricultural funding to the 2008-2010 levels of $450 million.

In keeping with the Canadian government’s focus on promoting women’s economic and social empowerment, a strong commitment should be made to supporting female small-scale farmers through: 1) improving women’s access to necessary agricultural resources, 2) ensuring women’s consultation within farming decisions, and 3) supporting women’s collective action in agriculture (including producer organizations, co-operatives, or savings and credit groups).

To accomplish these and the many other important goals, I believe Canada should also increase its overall international assistance. With the increase in conflict and natural disasters, millions of people are at risk of hunger. Responding to these needs will require more resources for humanitarian aid.

Thank you again for providing this opportunity to share my thoughts with you.

Sincerely,

Ethiopia Drought Sit-Rep

While there are some encouraging signs that a break in the drought may be possible, the situation in Ethiopia is still critical in large portions of the country. Here is a sit-rep (situation report) from LWF-Ethiopia.

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The 2015 El Niño induced drought is unprecedented in scale and severity. 10.2  million people become food insecure and were forced to rely on relief assistance; 1.7 million farmers need emergency seed support to plant their plots in the upcoming 2016 rainy season;  and  654,000 livestock require emergency feed assistance[1]. The government of Ethiopia and the humanitarian actors are currently undertaking one of the biggest emergency response operations in the country.

The Lasta-Lalibela district has experienced series of drought over the years. The current drought triggered by El Niño weather phenomenon resulted in complete failure of Meher (main rainfall season) rains that followed the heels of poor Belg (short mid-year) rain. The predominantly subsistence agrarian based livelihoods of the communities has been seriously shattered by the prolonged drought that caused complete failure of crops and death of livestocks.

Agriculture in the area is almost entirely rain-fed, which increases its susceptibility to irregularities in the amount and distribution of rainfall. The Lasta-Lalibela district is categorized under priority one hotspot districts among the total 450 districts affected by drought in the country.

The 2016 Belg rain season has come and gone bearing no rain for this rain dependent Lasta district. The majority of the farmers in Lasta area have prepared and sown their farmlands in the current Belg season, but the rainfall distribution during the months of April to May was intermittent; and once again farmers are worried of whether they would be able to get a good harvest. The major type of crop farmers’ have sown was sorghum for its drought resistance.

CASH FOR WORK   

LWF Ethiopia launched an emergency response project since February 2016. Currently, the project is benefiting a total of 4,292 drought affected people (Male 2,488 and Female 1,804) through the cash for work and direct support mechanisms. From the total number of the beneficiaries 1,472 (Female 875) are direct support and the remaining 2,820 (Female 929) are cash for work participants. Each beneficiary (both direct support and cash for work) earns 35 ETB per day for a total of 40 days (i.e. 1,400 ETB per individual). While addressing the immediate needs of the affected communities, the project also strives to respond to the underlying causes of vulnerability by engaging beneficiaries in the conservation of the natural resource base of the area. Through the cash for work scheme, the following soil conservation activities have been undertaken so far: 76.79 km of stone bund; 117.69 km of soil bund; 5,055.3 m3 of stone check dam; 1,716 micro-basin (half-moon) structures; 8.8 km access road maintenance in 8 project intervention Kebeles. Furthermore, the cash for work participants have also carried out clearing of 134 hectares of farmland from dangerous exotic weeds and bushes for the coming cropping season, as well as maintained 4 community ponds. A total of 1,533 people on average (432 female) have participated in cash for activities and a total of 82,358 person-days (26,669 female) have been generated up to the end of this reporting month.

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PROVISION OF SEEDS

In order to minimize long-term vulnerability of farmers, the project supported the affected households with improved seeds for the upcoming growing season. A total of 186 quintals of improved seeds (Teff 56 Qtl, wheat 80 Qtl, and maize 50 Qtl) has been so far distributed to 3,360 households (504 women headed). Additional 100 quintal lentil seed is procured, and will be distributed to 500 beneficiaries in the month of July. The seed support, on top of addressing prolonged vulnerability, minimized the risk of negative coping strategies such as disposal of productive assets, and temporary migration as it creates hope and sense of confidence among the affected communities.

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HUMAN INTEREST STORIES

Ato Abebe Desale from Nakutole’ab Kebele is one of the cash for work beneficiaries in the ongoing emergency response project. He is 46 years old and supports 7 family members. He explained that, he doesn’t have enough farmland, and has been struggling even during normal times as he had to rent-in land from labor poor households through sharecropping arrangement. His situation worsened in 2015 as his crops failed and livestock productivity declined due to lack of feed. The situation created frustration and apathy among the family members as life become extremely difficult. It was during this grim situation that LWF Ethiopia launched its emergency response operation in his area. Currently, Ato Abebe is one of the CFW program beneficiaries and also benefited from the seed support. Working as foreman for the physical soil and water conservation activities, he earned 3,400 ETB with which he bought food items for the family and fertilizer. He also received 25 kg of wheat seed to plant his plot in the coming growing season. In addition to meeting his family’s immediate needs, the support will minimize his continued vulnerability as he will be able to plant his farmland. In his own words, Ato Abebe explained that the support not only prevented family disintegration, but also creates hope and stability so far.

On the other hand, he also expressed concerns over the poor Belg rain distribution accompanied by heavy winds and high temperature that would potentially affect the ongoing agricultural practices in the area.

Thanks for the report LWF-Ethiopia,

Tom Brook, Community Relations Director

 

Open Ourselves to What God is Doing Next

If you are a pastor or congregational leader and have been concerned that if your congregation became involved in receiving a refugee family that all the work would fall on you, then I invite you to read this ecellent article from Pastor Carol Janke of Messiah Lutheran Church.

“I wasn’t at Messiah very long before some of the members told me about sponsoring a refugee family from Laos.  For many it was a wondrous experience of the living of God’s call on their lives —  to welcome the stranger, feed the hungry, and intentionally be present with people who need a helping hand on the journey of life.

Long before the Syrian refugee crisis there were people who would say we should do this again. So when the opportunity came to partner with NEST(a Winnipeg resettlement group)  it didn’t take very long to begin the work.

Here’s the wonderful part.  I cannot tell you the details of how a family was chosen, how needs were assessed, what the timeline of preparation was for getting goods, the apartment – things like that.  It is because my task as the pastor of Messiah was to prepare people’s minds and heart for this wondrous journey.  For as much as we wish that all our members were in one mind about important things such as this, it is not the case.  Not everyone felt we should spend time or money doing any of this.  Also there were some who felt that Canada should not have been so welcoming nor should the numbers of refugees increase.  Some believed that our tax dollars are for us, that our medical system can barely look after those of us already here.  That’s why when the text allowed for it, the call to care for others, particularly refugees showed up in my preaching.  If asked for my opinion about the Christian response to the refugee crisis, I gave it.  You would think that God’s preferential option for the poor and marginalized would be well known and lived in the church community, bud sadly it is not the case.

Here’s the thing.  If I would have spearheaded this project, and asked the congregation to be involved, there would be many that would say, “Well of course she wants to do it.  It’s her job to care for others.”

But when lay people are the ones doing so, it is a wonderful Christian witness.  They are not doing it because they have to.  They are doing it because they know that is what God has called us to, and it is important work.

Here are some of the things I said in sermons:

God has asked us to be part of the work of loving the world, and although it is the hardest thing we will ever do, we are to resist being cautious about it.  And we are to give up on worry.

That Jesus is not an insurance policy against suffering, betrayal and death, for we live in a broken world.  Instead with God’s help we can face what happens and act.

That the worst thing that could happen to us is to hold perfectly still and not change a thing until we turn into Christian fossils unable to be God’s people for the world.

That we often base what we believe on an understanding of scripture learned as a youth in confirmation class and that understanding has never been revisited in light of all the other knowledge and experience we have acquired.

That change is inevitable, and we are invited to grieve what has been and then open ourselves to what God is doing next.”

 

Carol Janke,  Pastor

Messiah Lutheran Church