Articles on Orthodox Christian Charity
August 12, 2010 Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — Experiencing the worst heat wave in Russia since record-keeping began more than 130 years ago, the Russian people have been suffering from uninterrupted high temperatures for the past 50 days and deteriorating air quality as a result of more than 500 active fires burning nationwide. News agencies have reported that more than 50 people have died so far from the fires and an estimated 5,000 others have died as a result of the heat and poor air quality in Western Russia.
International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), in consultation with the Orthodox Church in America, is working with its partners in the Russian Orthodox Church to formulate an appropriate IOCC response to this latest humanitarian crisis.
Constantine M. Triantafilou, IOCC Executive Director, expressed his concern at the situation, stating, "We pray for those who have died. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those mourning the loss of loved ones. We are also steadfast in our prayers for all who have been affected by the wildfires."
In addition to the immediate concern for the loss of life, it is estimated that approximately one third of Russia's wheat crop has burned. One of the world's largest exporters of wheat, Russia has suspended its wheat exports.
FOCUS North America volunteers, through local affiliates, have been busy this summer! In Orange County, southern California Orthodox Christians bagged food for some of the 20,000 children that are homeless county-wide. In the meantime, thirty volunteers from the Kansas City area drove nearly one thousand miles to North Carolina to work for needy families in the Bakersville region. In San Diego, in the shadows of the wealthy community of Coronado at the Coronado Island Bridge, twenty eight people from six parishes served meals to the homeless in an effort that will be ongoing on Wednesday nights. In a sweltering midwestern heat wave, FOCUS Minnesota served a meal at the end of July as they looked forward to the launch of their new center on Lake Street in Minneapolis; their doors are slated for opening on August 14, the day before the Feast of the Dormition.
Click here to read all the news from FOCUS.
Project Mexico, the pan-Orthodox organization that has been ministering to the poor of Tijuana since 1988, reports, "After the past three weeks of hard work, both sessions of OBT (Orthodox Basic Training) have ended and 10 new homes are built in Mexico! Project Mexico and St. Innocent Orphanage hosted roughly 150 people for OBT's 1st session June 22-28, and 110 for the 2nd session July 6-12. Volunteers came from a variety of places including New York, Illinois, Ohio, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Indiana, Massachusetts, Canada and more! Each Orthodox Basic Training session gave participants a unique experience to build a home in an impoverished area of Mexico, and unite with other Orthodox Christians from across the country while doing so."
Read the rest of the report here.
July 16, 2010
Baltimore, MD — Looking for a great back-to-school service project that will provide kids around the world with supplies that they desperately need? International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) is challenging its supporters to assemble 10,000 school kits by September 2010 as part of its "Kits for Kids" campaign.
Parish youth leaders and Sunday School teachers can use "Kits for Kids" as a powerful way for children to learn how to serve others while providing supplies for some of the millions of children who lack items as basic as pencils and paper.
"The kits are so valuable, especially from the simple perspective of the kids getting something new and clean and useful that they could call their own," said an Orthodox priest in Haiti who works at a school that is supported by IOCC and who recently received a shipment of school kits.
IOCC, which has sent tens of thousands of school kits to children in need throughout Eastern Europe and the Middle East, through a partnership with Church World Service (CWS), is reporting very low supplies of school kits at the warehouse in Maryland where they are stored.
Become part of the "Kits for Kids" campaign today! Help IOCC get 10,000 school kits to 10,000 children who need them desperately all over the world! Click here for complete instructions.
(Port-au-Prince, Haiti) – Marie and her daughter, Lovely, make a 4-hour, round trip journey each day from their home in the Delmas 10 area of Port-au-Prince to reach Foyer d’Amour (“House of Love”), a school for the developmentally disabled operated by the Orthodox Church that Marie calls, “a gift from God.” It is one of only five such schools in a country of 10 million, and International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) is equipping it with everything it needs – from teacher’s salaries to basic school supplies – to stay open.
As Haitians pass the six-month mark since the earthquake that devastated their country, such support is crucial for children, allowing them to continue their education and regain some normalcy.
On January 12, when the earthquake struck, Foyer d’Amour’s teachers and parents streamed in all night to check on the school. “So many schools had been destroyed, but Foyer d’Amour was special,” says Roseline, a teacher who has been with the school for 10 years. “Here we not only teach students skills they need to survive in society, but we provide a safe place that they do not have anywhere else.”
The school was severely damaged by the quake, so teachers built a temporary facility across the street. One hundred of the school’s 150 students returned when the school reopened in April. The school completely waived the tuition fees and is committed to accepting any student who can benefit from its curriculum.
“My home was destroyed in the earthquake and I live in a tent in my old neighborhood, but Foyer d’Amour gives me motivation and hope,” says Rose, a teacher who instructs students in sewing. Students learn other occupational skills like cooking, and they can join a music band that plays for dignitaries and special events.
Baltimore, MD — International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) received strong support on Tuesday from the Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society, which presented IOCC with an $80,000 check for its aid to earthquake-ravaged Haiti, and another gift of $40,000 for IOCC projects around the world. The presentation was made at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Clergy-Laity Congress in Atlanta, Georgia. "From wheelchairs distributed to the disabled of Zimbabwe and support to fight the dreaded disease of podoconiosis in Ethiopia, Philoptochos has been one of the strongest partners for IOCC," said IOCC Development Director Daniel G. Christopulos who accepted the gifts on behalf of IOCC. Philoptochos was one of the first Orthodox supporters of IOCC's relief work in Haiti, providing an emergency grant for an airlift of water purification equipment and tents (shown here) for families in the days just after the earthquake. The check presented on Tuesday brings Philoptochos's total aid for Haiti to $100,000.
June 25, 2010
Baltimore, MD — International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) is delivering medical supplies to assist refugee families who have fled ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan this month. Tens of thousands of ethnic Uzbeks fled the violence and crossed the border into Uzbekistan to seek safety while others remain displaced within Kyrgyzstan. Read about the IOCC response here.
IOCC is providing medical care for the refugees and displaced – mostly women, children and the elderly – in the form of an Emergency Health Kit with enough medicine and supplies to treat 10,000 people. The kit, valued at $421,000, is being provided in cooperation with Medical Teams International (MTI) and will arrive at Tashkent today. MTI staff will then immediately transport the kit to the eastern Uzbek city of Andijan and along the Uzbekistan/Kyrgyzstan border.
Help the victims of disasters around the world, like the refugee crisis in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, by making a financial gift to the IOCC International Emergency Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief as well as long-term support through the provision of emergency aid, recovery assistance and other support to help those in need. To make a gift, please visit www.iocc.org, call toll free at 1-877-803-IOCC (4622), or mail a check or money order payable to IOCC, P.O. Box 630225, Baltimore, Md. 21263-0225.
The founder of the Al-Kafaat Foundation, Mr. Nadim Shwayri, with his wife Lily and daughter Myriam, visited His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP on Monday, May 24th for dinner. The Al-Kafaat Foundation in Lebanon provides services and housing for people with disabilities from all backgrounds; the word Al-Kafaat itself means "abilities." Mr, Shwayri has dedicated most of his life and finances to establishing the foundation that cares for these "least of my brethren" free of charge, from the cradle to the grave.
By Sara Tomczyk/IOCC Ethiopia
Addis Ababa — Lidya grew up on a small farm in southern Ethiopia and spent sunny afternoons playing barefoot in the fields. At 13, she began noticing a slight swelling in her feet. For a year Lidya hid this swelling from her family and school friends under long skirts. However, the swelling continued and a painful oozing wound appeared between her toes.
Lydia was afflicted by a debilitating disease called podoconiosis, a condition caused by the exposure of bare feet to alkalic clay soil that causes open sores and ulcers, infection, and burning, itching, or swelling of the feet and lower legs.
Like so many who suffer from her affliction and the misconceptions that surround her disease, Lidya's mother reacted harshly and blamed Lydia for bringing a curse upon their family. Yet, for Lidya and approximately one million people who are affected by podoconiosis in Ethiopia, a simple pair of shoes and daily foot treatments can change all of this.
Lydia fell into despair after realizing she must stop going to school and would never marry. Her mother forced her to stay inside the house and hide from the community. Then Lidya's father heard about a relative who also suffered from the condition and arranged for this relative to show Lydia how to wash her feet with soap and water and taught her the importance of shoes and socks. Within four months, the oozing stopped, and the outgrowths on her feet disappeared. She returned to school and raised awareness about the condition and its treatment among her classmates.
"So many Ethiopians, especially the children, face a host of dreadful diseases," said IOCC Ethiopia Country Representative Sigurd Hanson. "The numbers are brutal and stark, but most of these diseases are preventable."
FOCUS North America Executive Director and CEO Fr. Justin Mathewes has released the first annual report for the year 2009. As he said in a letter to ministry friends and supporters, "We are excited to share with you our 2009 Annual Report. We have had an amazing and blessed first year. Thank you so much for making FOCUS North America a living reality.
In the annual report, you will find updates on our programs such as the Youth Equipped to Serve Program and our Parish Education Program, our FOCUS Centers, and our Partner Ministries. Also in the annual report, you will find reports from our chairman and founder, Mr. Charles Ajalat, and me about our hope and aspirations for the future and our 2009 financial report.
Thank you again for helping the poor and needy here in North America. Your gifts are helping to restore the living icons all around us."
The report can be viewed here.