Articles on Orthodox Christian Charity
Report on Syrian Aid and Needs from Patriarchate of Antioch Dept. of Ecumenical Relations and Development
Samer Laham, Director of the Department of Ecumenical Relations and Development (DERD) of the Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, has released the latest report on ongoing relief work in Syria, and asks for continued prayers for all Syrian people.
The full report is available in PDF format. The report opens:
"The humanitarian situation within Syria continues to deteriorate as the violence spreads and displacement continues. According to SARC estimates, some 2.5 – 3 million people are in need of support, of which children represent a substantial proportion. By the end of September, the Syrian Government officially reported that the number of displaced persons was then more than 3 million. In response to meet the increasing needs at different levels DERD continues its historic and strategic partnership with International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC). Through this tight partnership and direct assistance and support of IOCC, DERD has been able to assist thousands of displaced Syrians, as well as those affected by the crisis."
On a sunny February afternoon in the Gerritson Beach section of Brooklyn, NY, the Vicar–General of the Antiochian Archdiocese The Very Rev. Thomas Zain and Mrs. Aida Nicolaou, a parish council member of St. Nicholas Cathedral, joined State Senator Martin Golden in one of the neighborhoods devastated by Hurricane Sandy. There, on behalf of His Eminence, Metropolitan Philip, Fr. Thomas distributed $5000.00 worth of Home Depot gift cards to several families who sustained major damage to their homes and are trying to rebuild.
"Many people are still facing difficulties as they try to rebuild their homes and lives after the devastation wrought by Sandy last October, 2012," noted Fr. Tom. In addition to the financial distress and cold weather, many are facing bureaucracy from insurance companies, the government and private institutions. People in the community eventually requested help directly from Senator Golden, who has been working tirelessly as an advocate for his constituents, including the Gerritson Beach neighborhood.
On June 1, 2012, a tornado traveled eight miles down Highway 711 through the townships of Ligonier and Bolivar in Western Pennsylvania. At 5:20 p.m., the tornado stuck the Antiochian Village with winds of 110 miles per hour. In a matter of seconds, the tornado damaged or destroyed 50 acres at the Village, including 22 buildings and hundreds of trees. Of these buildings, six were girls’ cabins which were completely destroyed. The remaining buildings have required varying degrees of repair – from new roofs to collapsed walls.
The appraisers have determined the monetary cost of the damage to the Antiochian Village at well over one million dollars. While insurance paid for a portion, the Archdiocese has been required to cover the remainder. There were also many areas that were not covered by insurance, including the removal of downed trees and replacement of these trees for privacy purposes that surround the girls’ cabins.
The Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve (FOCUS) has announced that St. Herman's Orthodox House of Hospitality, a shelter for homeless men in Cleveland, OH managed by newly appointed Director Paul Finley, is now part of FOCUS North America. In addition to providing housing, jobs and support services to homeless men, St. Herman's House offers three free meals a day, year-round.
Accommodations for up to 25 men to stay overnight are available; guests are accepted after completing an intake process and agreeing to abide by the Rules of Conduct. While staying at St. Herman's, guests are assigned responsibilities in the house to aid the house in running smoothly. These include cleaning the house, preparing, serving and cleaning up after meals, maintaining the flower garden and completing projects within the Ohio City community.
Since 1998, International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) has offered an internship program to undergraduates and recent college graduates interested in careers in international relief and development. The IOCC Internship Program provides a unique opportunity to gain firsthand exposure to the operations of an Orthodox Christian international humanitarian aid and development organization.
The deadline for the 2013 Internship Program applications is February 28, 2013.
IOCC internships typically require a 10 to 12 week full-time commitment during the months of May – September. In 2013 IOCC is currently offering 2-3 opportunities for US-based interns, but there is a possibility for an overseas internship that would be posted by the end of February. Current US Internship possibilities are:
- Finance intern at our Baltimore headquarters;
- Communications intern at our Baltimore headquarters;
- US Program intern at our Minneapolis field office with travel to home build sites in New Orleans, Houston, Minot, ND, and NY/NJ area.
- US-based interns in 2013 will receive a stipend, BUT will need to find their own housing in the Baltimore area or Minneapolis area.
In the true spirit of Christmas giving, the community of St. George Cathedral in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and clergy from neighboring parishes gathered together on Saturday, December 22, 2012 with His Grace Bishop Thomas for Vespers followed by a Nativity dinner benefitting the Al-Kafaat Foundation in Lebanon. The cathedral’s parishioners and organizations collaborated and worked together to present a beautiful evening of good food and good fellowship. Full of good cheer, the church hall twinkled with Christmas lights and decorations. The Byzantine choir of the cathedral chanted liturgical hymns of the Nativity and the church school children’s choir sang Christmas carols. His Grace Bishop Thomas spoke of the importance of Al-Kafaat, service, and the blessing it is for each person to have the opportunity to support the Al-Kafaat project. Fr. Demetrios Makoul spoke briefly on the importance of supporting such causes and how they allow us to be a presence of light in the world. The proceeds of the evening were multiplied as parishioner-owned restaurants, as well as philanthropically-minded individuals, completely underwrote the cost of all the expenses for the event.
As reported in a series of recent press releases by the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), the partnership between the IOCC and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (GOPA) continues to minister to people within Syria as well as those displaced by the conflict there. The strife has severely crippled the country's power plants as well as damaged major roads needed to transport heating fuel during the coldest time of year, while instability in the region has led to critical fuel shortages.
"The deteriorating security climate in Syria creates delays in receiving and distributing humanitarian relief items," said IOCC Director of Programs Mark Ohanian. "An added challenge is finding adequate quantities and quality of supplies needed, but IOCC and GOPA are using their longstanding local and regional relationships to ensure uninterrupted delivery of humanitarian aid."
There is an urgent need to find a bone marrow donor for Karen Takla, who was recently diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia and must have a bone marrow transplant within the next 50 days. Karen is the great-granddaughter of Fr. Farid Farkouh and the granddaughter of Sally Farkouh Takla who, for many years, was a very active member of St. Nicholas Cathedral in Brooklyn, NY and, more recently, a parishioner of St. Mary's Orthodox Church in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Karen's mother and father are Kathy and Ronald Takla of Closter, New Jersey.
It has been strongly recommended that the Takla family reach out to the members of the Syrian/Lebanese community to be tested because a person's ethnicity is an important consideration when selecting a donor's bone marrow for transplantation. For those living in New Jersey, the Takla family has planned a bone marrow drive on Sunday, January 27 at the Westwood Community Center, 55 Jefferson Avenue, Westwood, NJ 07675 from 1 to 5 p.m. At the Center, donors will be swabbed and later tested to see whether their bone marrow is a match for Karen.
Additionally, for those unable to participate in the drive, they will still have the opportunity of being tested by following the instructions on the attached flyer. This allows for a national appeal to those living outside the immediate area of metropolitan New York. His Eminence Metropolitan Philip supports a wide-sweeping effort to aid Karen at this most critical time in her life.
Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — The conflict that rages on in Syria has severely crippled the country's power plants as well as damaged major roads needed to transport heating fuel during the coldest time of year, while violence, sanctions and instability in the region have led to critical fuel shortages. As thousands of displaced families and elderly throughout Syria struggle to stay warm on nights that dip below freezing, International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) is responding with winter relief to more than 30,000 Syrian families.
Through your generous support and support from the ACT Alliance, IOCC in partnership with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (GOPA) distributed diesel stoves and electric heaters to several areas in Syria. Families living in areas with access to fuel but no power received diesel stoves, while families facing fuel shortages but still have electricity received electric heaters.
Baltimore, MD (IOCC) — More than 80 representatives of the nation's Orthodox Christian service organizations joined together at the White House on December 14, 2012, to discuss strategic service alliances with the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The White House Conference on Orthodox Christian Engagement was hosted by the White House Office of Public Engagement in conjunction with the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and facilitated by International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC).
Present to discuss the role of Orthodox Christians in social outreach, disaster response, and community development in the United States were Archbishop Nicolae of the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in the Americas and liaison to IOCC from the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America.