CWS Continues Effort in Iraq Despite Dangers

“I know they are all there because they are committed to the work. Everybody there certainly knows it is a dangerous area but they are qualified.”
( [email protected] ) Mar 18, 2004 06:36 PM EST

Despite the recent terrorist shootings that claimed the lives of 4 American missionaries and 2 European humanitarian agents in Iraq, relief workers of the Church World Service and its consortium partners reaffirmed their dedication to serving Iraqi children, the CWS reported, March 16.

Under the “All Our Children” Campaign, the CWS affirmed the creation of new projects and confirmed the continuation of several efforts that were successful.

One such effort was the All Our Children theatre project, which provides live theater to traumatized Iraqi children in hospitals, orphanages, clinics and poor neighborhoods. According to the Institution managers’ reports, children who were previously unresponsive became “animated and interacted with the play’s characters.”

Because of the program’s great success, CWS has pledge to continue the project beyond the original June 2004 target date; the theatre is currently running on its third-three month series.

"All Our Children fills a niche for helping small, highly effective projects," said CWS Executive Director and CEO the Rev. John L. McCullough. "In the midst of all the bad news, on all sides, the projects serve as valuable communication about how help can be given. What we see is human need, and we can help. With support, we hope to

continue the All Our Children efforts through the end of this year."

Ann Walle, the director of communications for CWS expressed similar thoughts on the project.

“This “All our Children Campaign” fills the need of helping human need. We try to help specifically for these children,” said Walle. “The children have lived through many dangerous times, and they are highly traumatized and affected.”

Walle also mentioned that CWS workers and affiliates remain in Iraq despite the dangers because of their commitment to these children.

“I know they are all there because they are committed to the work,” said Walle. “CWS has been in Iraq for 10 years. Everybody there certainly knows it is a dangerous area but they are qualified.”

Other projects currently supported by the campaign include “Gift of the Heart” school kits and health kits. Some 15,000 of each kit were collected, heavily from the San Francisco Bay area, and have been packed for distribution this spring.

A newly added project includes the repair effort to the Bait al Tuful social institution, which provides shelter and care for street children. The institution also serves as a transitional place where children have access to education, hygiene and protection.

All Our Children is a coalition campaign co-founded by Church World Service and other faith-based humanitarian agencies, dedicated to serving Iraqi children. To date, the overall campaign has raised $841,748, with $410,000 of that amount provided through CWS.

The funds supported 14 projects in by the end of 2003, including the purchase of 100 beds for the Ibn Al-Aheer and Al Khassa Pediatric Hospitals in Mosul; purchase and distribution of fresh foods for 37 hospitals in Baghdad and Basra -- enough for three meals a day for 5,000 children over a 10-day period.

Additionally, the CWS provided 400 cartons of surgical equipment with a total value of $1.2 million. The items have been distributed to the following hospitals in Baghdad: the Al Kadhemia General Teaching Hospital; the Ibn Al Bittar Cardiac Surgery Hospital; the Al Samera'e Gynaecology Hospital; and the Al Wasiti SurgicalHospital.

Several churches help fund the campaign through the CWS, including: the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) / Week of Compassion; the Church of the Brethren; Episcopal Relief and Development; the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA); Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA); Reformed Church in America; United Church of Christ Wider Church Ministries; United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).

Other supporters include: the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation; Trull Foundation; Shield-Ayres Foundation; The H.C. Gemmer Family Christian Foundation; C.E. & S Foundation; Bobolink Foundation; Central Alabama Community Foundation; Rose C. Stone Foundation; Tides Foundation; Laney-Vuaghan Family Foundation; and the Pascall International Foundation.

According to Walle, continued support is needed for the effort. Contributions and donations can be sent to:

Church World Service,

P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN, 46515.