5 June 2012
Msgr. John Kozar completes morning exercises with students of Atse Tekle Ghiorgis School in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (photo: CNEWA)
Back in April, CNEWA President Msgr. John Kozar visited Ethiopia and had the opportunity to meet some of the people involved with CNEWA’s mission and spend time with those whose lives CNEWA has touched. In Addis Ababa, he visited Tekle Ghiorgis School and shared a moment of fun with the students there while learning about the history of the school:
Today, we returned to Addis Ababa. It was a very intense day of visiting, very poignant and emotionally very moving. Our first visit was to an impoverished area of this sprawling city, where we visited Atse Tekle Ghiorgis School. Talk about serving the poorest of the poor: this is it. These children, about 750 of them, come from the most abject of poverty and receive a completely subsidized education, plus a meal to sustain them. The school is situated on a precipice and the sisters there have creatively built classrooms from old shipping containers. Sister Bedainesh is the current director and does a superb job of making all these children feel so special. Her smile is infectious and radiates with all the beautiful children.
How about this for the background of this CNEWA-supported school: Forty years ago, the children of lepers lived in the local cemetery, as no one would let them live near to them. Two lay people decided to confront this gross injustice and actually began this school. They sought the help of a professional educator, a nun from Australia, who would assist them in establishing this marvelous outreach to the despised poor children. Today, it is a jewel and we at CNEWA are blessed to be sponsors of the children here. I did my best to share the love of all of you for these precious little ones. “Let the children come to me.”
Check out all of Msgr. Kozar’s blog posts from his visit to Ethiopia in his blog series, “An Ethiopian Odyssey ”.
4 June 2012
Tags: Ethiopia Children Africa Catholic Schools
In this unpublished photo from 2004, a Palestinian mother and child await passage through the Israeli security barrier near the Arab village of Bethany. (photo: Kevin Unger)
In the July 2004 issue of ONE, Marilyn Raschka reported on the then-new wall or security barrier separating Israel and the West Bank erected by the Israeli government:
Making life easy or difficult for the Palestinians trying to cross the wall falls to the discretion of the guards.
A French friend in Bethany called with the warning: “If you come to visit today, you will have to dirty your clothes.”
At the crossing point it was clear what she meant. The guards had obstructed the crossing with huge cement blocks.
No one could say why.
The guards stood on top of the blocks and watched as young males scampered their way up. The women struggled, hoisting themselves and their children, waving their identification cards in their hands, then swinging their legs over and descending to the other side. Everyone got their clothes dirty.
The next day the blocks were gone, as were the guards. People moved freely back and forth as if there were no wall at all.
For more from this story, check out Writing on the Wall. For a more recent look at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and its impact on the people, check out Living in Limbo from the November 2010 issue of ONE.
In March, Catholic News Service interviewed Joseph Hazboun from our Jerusalem office, who described his family’s life in a divided city.
1 June 2012
Tags: Middle East Palestine Israel West Bank
An Ethiopan woman works at a farmer’s market in Addis Ababa. (photo: Peter Lemieux)
In Ethiopia, opportunities for women are often limited, which leads some to seek a better life by migrating to the Middle East. Peter Lemieux explores that in the May issue of ONE:
Many experts do not believe poverty and lack of economic opportunity, alone, fully explain the root causes of migration to the Middle East.
“The main reason is economic, but I don’t think the economic need is greater now than before,” says Lettegebriel Hailu, executive director of the Family Service Association, which assists victims of domestic violence in Addis Ababa. “However, the information now is more accessible than before. I think they hear more about immigration.
“And the competition is not the same. When I was growing up, it was ‘go to church, serve your family, go to school, be good and disciplined, respect your neighbor.’ Today, youngsters want to become rich first of all. They want to dress up. They want a beautiful house. They want to earn a good salary and enjoy the good life. There’s no patience like before. They just want to be independent.”
Ms. Lettegebriel is currently designing a program that will help prepare migrants before they leave. It will provide information about life in the Middle East and the perils migrants may encounter. It will also offer training in basic skills required of domestic workers.
“They have to know what they will face there,” explains Ms. Lettegebriel. “Some don’t know how to wash a glass, make a bed, operate modern kitchen appliances, cook or speak English, let alone Arabic. They have no idea. For those who are sensible, they might change their mind. For those who still want to go, at least they’ll have skills and a sense of the consequences, and know how to seek help if they find trouble.“
Read more in the article The High Stakes of Leaving.
31 May 2012
Tags: Ethiopia Africa ONE magazine
Workers at Orient Spice Company clean raw turmeric before processing. (photo: Peter Lemieux)
Trading in spices helped bring Christianity to India nearly two millennia ago, and the country continues to depend on spices for much of its livelihood. Many of the workers in processing plants are women, such as those shown above, who do the hard work of cleaning raw turmeric. Photojournalist Peter Lemieux looks at the spice trade in the May issue of ONE:
Since the 14th century, Cochin has served as the hub of the coast’s spice trade.
At first glance, the city’s spice industry today resembles that of a bygone era. A large safe harbor dominates the cityscape. A dense concentration of processing and warehousing facilities crowds the waterfront. Countless traders and middlemen walk the streets, going about their day-to-day business.
A timeworn port city, Cochin also represents Kerala’s melting pot, with its diverse religious communities, global marketplace and world-class tourist attractions. As always, its spices reach markets all over the world. In the past 20 years, exports to the United States in particular have doubled and now constitute the largest share leaving Cochin’s port.
But on closer look, it becomes clear how much the business has adapted to the modern world. Traders now sit in offices glued to their computer screens, monitoring up-to-the-second fluctuations in global prices. The ticker list of spices is lengthy and includes many new hybrid varieties, each offering something special — brighter color, greater flavor, a longer shelf life. Advanced technologies in processing, packaging and shipping have also transformed the business.
“Fifteen years ago, there were no quality standards in India for spice export. Any low quality item could be shipped,” explains Bobby Jacob Markose, owner of Orient Spice Company, over the hum of his spice grinders pulverizing raw turmeric. “But that phase is out. Technology is here now. ’Food Safe’ is the motto. Cleaning, grinding and steam sterilization are the facilities that can be sustained now.”
You can read more in the article Kerala’s Spice Coast.
30 May 2012
Tags: India Kerala Indian Christians Thomas Christians
Msgr. John E. Kozar, CNEWA president, Archbishop George Bakhouny and Father Guido Gockel, vice president for the Middle East and Europe, visit with CNEWA staff in New York.
(photo: Erin Edwards)
With the crisis in Syria escalating by the day, a leading religious figure from the region paid us a visit today at our New York office.
He’s Melkite Greek Catholic Archbishop George Bakhouny of Tyre, Lebanon, who is making his first visit to the United States. Msgr. John Kozar, CNEWA’s president,met the archbishop during his visit to the Holy Land last year.
The archbishop described the situation in his homeland as “stressful” — the stream of refugees arriving from Syria is becoming a flood—but he repeatedly expressed the hope that a peaceful end to the crisis in Syria can be found. “We don’t want a military solution,” he said. “We want reconciliation.”
He said he sees the church’s role as being a “mediator,” to help facilitate “conversations” between factions.
Before departing, he wanted in a special way to express his gratitude, especially to the benefactors of CNEWA, for their prayers and generous support.
29 May 2012
Tags: Syria Lebanon Refugees Melkite Greek Catholic Church
A Rosary sister greets a Bedouin child in the abandoned ruins of old Smakieh.
(photo: Tanya Habjouqa)
In the current edition of ONE, journalist Nicholas Seeley reports on life for Bedouins in Jordan’s last Christian villages:
The local church has played a central role in transforming life on the Kerak plateau and ensuring its residents had the education and values to thrive in the modern world. Since the early 20th century, residents have enrolled their children in local Latin Catholic schools, where they received a well-rounded education. The schools have always included the study of foreign language as an integral component of the curriculum, which has helped younger generations succeed in the global job market.
In the early days, priests helped the tribes establish permanent settlements. And nuns taught women to read and write and encouraged them to pursue education.
Father Tarek Abu Hanna, Smakieh’s Latin parish priest, points out that the church not only ran the school, but helped families in other material ways. For example, the school provided meals to the children during the day. Indeed, Teresa Ghasan says that as a child, the only time she ate well was at school.
For more, check out A Bridge to Modern Life in the May edition of ONE.
25 May 2012
Tags: Children Jordan ONE magazine Bedouin
In this photo taken in 2003, a woman eats at a soup kitchen run by Caritas Georgia, a social service agency of the Catholic Church in Tbilisi, Georgia. (photo: Dima Chikvaidze)
CNEWA serves the elderly in all of its regions, including Georgia:
“About a year ago, a young man came up to me,” Ms. Rodnova explained.
“He asked me if I lived alone or had any family.” As a lone pensioner, he told her, she was eligible for membership in a soup kitchen run by Caritas Georgia, a social service agency of the Catholic Church receiving support from CNEWA.
Since then, Ms. Rodnova’s entire pension has been spent on a daily subway ride that takes her across town to the large building that houses one of Caritas Georgia’s soup kitchens. The ride is worth it, she said.
“I am not hungry anymore. It’s a long ride across town, but without it I don’t know how I would survive,” she added.
To learn more about our efforts in conjunction with Caritas Georgia, read Human Touch Offers Pensioners Respite from the July 2003 issue of ONE.
24 May 2012
Tags: CNEWA Georgia Caring for the Elderly Caritas
A woman casts her vote at a polling station in Cairo on 23 May.
(photo: CNS/Ammar Awad, Reuters)
Today, Egyptians went to the polls for the second day in a row to vote for their first-ever, freely elected president. This comes on the heels of the extreme turmoil of the ‘Arab Spring,’ which has reverberated throughout the Middle East.
Today, The New York Times spoke with voters on this second day of historic elections:
Among the many aspects of the race still shrouded in suspense are the future powers and responsibilities of the next president. A political deadlock prevented the drafting of a new constitution, paving the way for a power struggle between the new president, the elected Parliament and the self-appointed military council. The military council has said it will unilaterally issue an interim constitution before leaving power, but it has not yet done so. It was unclear how elected leaders might respond.
For now, most Egyptians were thinking of simple hopes. “I just want a president,” said Ines Mohamed, 40, a housewife waiting to vote. “I want this to end well, to stop all the chaos, to end the bleeding of corruption.”
For some perspective on the situation in Egypt, read “Arab Spring or Arab Awakening?,” a blog post written by our Education and Interreligious Affairs Officer, Rev. Elias Mallon, back in February. Last month, our office in Canada launched a campaign to help support Egypt’s Christians during this rocky time. To learn more, visit our website.
23 May 2012
Tags: Egypt Africa Arab Spring/Awakening
In this undated photo from our archive, a group of children play in India.
(photo: Sister Christian Molidor, R.S.M.)
Through the local churches, CNEWA has played a major role in serving the needy in India for many years. To learn about the people and places we serve there, check out Msgr. Kozar’s blog series from his pastoral visit to India earlier this year. It made a powerful impression him.
As Msgr. Kozar put it:
We are privileged and have the honor of reaching out to the needs of so many in India. As much as we might do in helping them, we receive infinitely more as we experience their courage, their kindness, their patience, and especially their FAITH. Yes, above all they are filled with faith. Their trust in God watching over them, with a little help from our CNEWA family, is the great equalizer. It not only keeps them going, but it also brings joy and happiness to their lives…
… I would like to acknowledge our regional director, M.L. Thomas, for his exceptional work in coordinating all our CNEWA efforts in India. He, along with his very devoted staff, serves as the conduit for our charity. It is a huge operation: 349 institutions helped, 22,000 children under sponsorship, thousands of seminarians as adopted spiritual sons, 700 women novices being sponsored and countless projects and programs.
To learn how you can help support the work of CNEWA in India, visit our website.
22 May 2012
Tags: India Children
In this photo taken in 2008, students attend class at the school of St. Charles Orphanage in Beirut, Lebanon. (photo: Sarah Hunter )
In this month’s CNEWA Connections, Gabriel Delmonaco writes about an event he attended in Maryland that helped raise funds for Education and Opportunities for Lebanon (EOL). Through a partnership with CNEWA, EOL — “an all-volunteer board of dedicated individuals... with an interest in helping the children of Lebanon” — has been a lifeline of support for youngsters in that country. Below is some information about St. Charles Orphanage, which EOL has supported in the past:
The St. Charles Orphanage has been caring for neglected and needy children in Lebanon for over 125 years. Currently home to 75 orphaned children, the St. Charles Orphanage also has 500 primary students, 250 technical students, and 100 kindergarten children from very poor families. The small staff, run by Sister Josephine Haddad, cares for the areas neediest children, regardless of religious background, providing hot meals, education, shelter, healthcare and other community services.
Visit our website for more from this month’s CNEWA Connections.
Tags: Lebanon Children Middle East Catholic education Catholic Schools