Building a world where there is enough for all

Photo: CWS

“Water is life.” It’s a common saying in the humanitarian community, and you’ve probably heard it before. I certainly have. But even after a long career in community development and emergency response organizations, I didn’t really understand what it meant. Not until I visited Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, earlier this month. Central Sulawesi was hit by an earthquake in September of 2018. That earthquake then triggered a tsunami followed by liquefaction of the earth. This is when saturated soil loses strength and essentially turns to a liquid. Houses, roads and buildings were swallowed up, leaving almost nothing behind. What I learned was how horrifying it was for the families in Central Sulawesi to be hit by one disaster after another. You survive the first one, and before you can catch your breath another one is striking. People are just glad to be alive! Read more

A boy gets water from a CWS truck. He is one of more than 13,000 people who CWS delivers water to each day. Link here to read about a recent donor visit to Palu, Indonesia. Photo: CWS

Recently, two CWS team members, Ek Sothea from Cambodia and Boba Juanda from Indonesia, joined a workshop to increase their understanding of the Building a Better Response project, which aims to strengthen humanitarian workers ability to engage effectively within the international humanitarian coordination system, especially for large, complex emergencies. The BBR project’s main goal is to improve coordination and response to affected populations. Funded by the US Agency for International Development, Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance, the project is implemented through a consortium that brings together operational and technical expertise, and it is led by International Medical Corps, Concern Worldwide and the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. Before joining the workshop both Sothea and Boba completed the BBR e-learning course, which gave them, a solid foundation – alongside their own experience in responding to disasters in their countries – from which to accelerate their learning.

Sothea and Boba at BBR workshop in Bangkok. Photo: CWS

March 11th to 13th the CWS Vietnam team in proud and energized in joining a Sphere standards workshop that they took the lead in organizing for the humanitarian response community in Vietnam. In considering the week, CWS Emergency Response Focal Point, Mai Thi Quynh Giao shares these thoughts, “The gathering to update ourselves on the 2018 edition of the Sphere handbook is well under way in Hanoi, and all participants are especially glad that we are using our national language for all workshop sessions. Using Vietnamese makes the workshop more useful to most of us, especially our colleagues who have not heard much about or used the Sphere standards before. Read more

Dung and Ty are giving presentation after the group discussion (Sphere standards workshop, Hanoi-Vietnam). Photo: CWS

In Asia, Church World Service (CWS) works with families, communities, governments, ecumenical and technical partners and other non-government organizations to help some of the region’s most vulnerable people. Most often we partner in support of long-term socioeconomic development and, when needed, we help people cope with the effects and aftermath of increasingly frequent natural and manmade crises across the region.

Sand water filter in Yae Le Gyi school (Myanmar). Photo: CWS

CWS works in partnership with communities and families in six Southeast Asian countries – Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam – to help them improve their lives. We do this by enhancing access to information, education and hands-on training for development and disaster preparedness. National teams and local partners follow up with individuals and communities with coaching and monitoring to help ensure quality, accountability and sustainability. In Japan, CWS supports the work of CWS Japan: its advocacy and humanitarian initiatives in Japan as well as its development outreach and emergency response in other countries.

Mateos collecting water for his family at the Oe Susanta spring (Indonesia). Photo: CWS

Testing filtering speed of a biosand water filter made by Kansas City students (in Vietnam). Photo: CWS

Mr. Boris, Ang Primary School (Cambodia) Headmaster, showing us the well and explain how it is important for them. Photo: CWS

Hanh (far right girl) cleaning hands with her friends at Khuon Pong kindergarten (Vietnam). Photo: CWS

Student wash their hand after toilet (in Cambodia). Photo: CWS

Community members line up to receive their daily water rations (in Timor-Leste). Photo: CWS

Latest News

A Savings and Loan Group Leader Takes Pride in the Group’s Success

CWS Indonesia | March 29, 2019

Bilau is like many rural communities in West Timor. Here, families have simple lives. They make do by farming, for subsistence and income, as their families have done for generations. They do so even though their land is arid and there is no reliable water supply. This makes growing enough extra vegetables to sell for […]

Limited Access to Water Is a Challenge We Face: Always

CWS Timor-Leste |

Maumetalau, a small mountain village in northwest Timor-Leste is like many rural communities in the country where people rely on farming for their income, and they have little access to services. Markets at which to sell vegetables, and safe road conditions and reliable water systems, are things to which most rural people have little or […]

“Lessons from Mabi” Report Related: Following Up on 2018 Western Japan Flood Response

CWS Japan |

In July 2018, western Japan experienced once-in-decades torrential rains, which led to widespread flooding and landslides. Eight months on from CWS intense engagement in immediate response activities, many families have yet to fully recover from the disaster, and no families will ever be the same after the devastation. So, while follow-up with families through partner […]

Laila’s Journey Toward Freedom Continues

CWS Indonesia |

Laila (not her real name) is an 18-year-old girl who lives in a CWS-sponsored group home in Jakarta, Indonesia. In early December, Laila joined the 16 Days of Activism international campaign against gender-based violence by drawing pictures and writing poems to raise her voice against such violence. Since the end of the official 2018 campaign, […]

Child-friendly Libraries: Inside and Out

CWS Vietnam |

By Nguyen Thi Hai Yen, Program Officer. With 296 students, Muong Kim #1 primary school is considered a large school with its commune. Yet, about 18 months ago, when I visited the school and asked to visit the library, I was taken to such a small room that was full of books and supplies – […]

Partnership for Improved Hygiene and Sanitation

CWS Cambodia |

Recently, CWS Cambodia staff worked with administrators, teachers and parents of students at Rumdoah Srae Primary School in north central Cambodia to improve water access and build hand-washing stations in support of better hygiene at the school. As always, CWS included teaching-learning opportunities for the students and staff while the material improvements were being made. […]

Rethinking Rations for Refugees Along the Thailand-Myanmar Border

CWS Thailand |

Sher Ka Myee’s shop looks like many grocery shops or convenience stores around the world. She sells lots of different foods, including eggs, oil, chicken, pork, fish, vegetables and several types of rice. She sells bottled water and other drinks, as well household items like shampoo and soap. She has owned this shop for a […]

Ma Zaw Works to Improve Her Family’s Wellbeing One Step at a Time

CWS Myanmar |

“My name is Ei Moor Zaw. I am 24 years old and I live in Sit Kone village, which is a few hours’ drive west of our commercial and historical capital, Yangon. My husband, Pyone Min Paing, and I have a 4-year-old son, Mg Hla Yaung Lin. We own and work 1.5 acres of corn […]

Women in Central Sulawesi Keep Organizing as Change Agents for Improved Hygiene

CWS Indonesia |

Six months after the deadly earthquake and tsunami that hit Palu, thousands of people, like 42-year-old Juarni, continue working day in and day out to cope with displacement. When the late September 2018 disaster hit, Juarni was an active health post worker who loved her job. After the crisis’ early days, and as life settled […]

Using Local Resources to Improve Livelihoods and Build Resilience and Diversification

CWS Indonesia | March 28, 2019

Buttu Tasik, his wife and four children live in a village in South Sulawesi. They, like many rural Indonesian families, raise pigs for income while continuing to learn how to adapt their farming for climate change. “Changes in the weather here are quite extreme and we have not yet been able to [fully cope] with […]

Changing Habits for Better Health and Nutrition

CWS Timor-Leste |

Garianah and Lebucaileti are two small villages high in the mountains of northwest Timor-Leste. Most families in these villages have two homes. One “house”, which is more of a shack, is near the family fields outside of the village. It is where they live during corn-growing season from December to May. The other house is […]

CWS Support for Proper Sanitation in Challenging Environment Is Paying Off in Maubin, Myanmar

CWS Myanmar |

Following months of especially severe flooding in late 2015, CWS has supported 15 Ayeyawaddy River delta communities to keep making changes, slowly but surely, to build their resilience and continue their development, despite their perennial vulnerability. During the past three years, there has been progress; there have been setbacks, and there has been hope. One […]

Sphere info-sharing workshop has inspired me!

CWS Vietnam |

By Do Van Khai, Muong Te District Red Cross Chapter. In mid-March 2019, a workshop about Sphere project minimum standards for humanitarian response was hosted by Vietnam’s NGO Disaster Management working group (DMWG), its Disaster Management Policy and Technology Center (DMPTC) and the CWS team in Hanoi. The aim of the gathering was helping participants […]

Learning what “water is life” REALLY means in Central Sulawesi

Josephine Oguta | March 22, 2019

“Water is life.” It’s a common saying in the humanitarian community, and you’ve probably heard it before. I certainly have. But even after a long career in community development and emergency response organizations, I didn’t really understand what it meant. Not until I visited Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, earlier this month. Central Sulawesi was hit by […]

Kansas City Students Visit Vietnam to Learn and Serve

CWS Vietnam | March 7, 2019

In early January our CWS team in Vietnam hosted CWS Board of Directors member, Dr. Paul Chan, and 11 Kansas City Pembroke High School students and their teacher Mr. Samuel Knopik, for a service-learning opportunity of a lifetime. The trip succeeded beyond Paul’s and Sam’s wildest dreams for the students, who all agreed that the […]

Seeds of Hope in Rural Timor-Leste

CWS Timor-Leste |

Paulinho Martinez, like most of his neighbors in Gariana, makes a living from the land by farming and raising animals. For the past year, Paulinho and CWS have been working together to help families within his community to work smarter in order to improve the quality of their lives. In talking to CWS team members […]

With my producer group’s support, I can grow even more vegetables to sell in the future

CWS Cambodia |

Chum Khoeun, who is 55, live with his wife Neang Nim, 59, and their three children in Boeng Popoul village in Battambang province, western Cambodia. His family’s main income is from the rice they grow on their 3 hectare (7-acre) farm. However, the lack of water means the family can never plant and harvest enough […]

Alternative Idea for Raising Awareness About Reducing Disaster Risks

CWS Myanmar | March 6, 2019

In working in hard-to-reach areas of Myanmar’s Ayeyawaddy River delta region, where many disaster risks from seasonal flooding, riverbank erosion and cyclones affect many vulnerable families, CWS works to help these families, their community leaders and the local government, building both resilience and response capacity. In the past year, in the face of continuing out-migration […]

The Resilience of Suriati Roro

CWS Indonesia |

In villages throughout rural Indonesia, starting and maintain a family business, even if it’s a small or micro one, is a challenge. One reason for this is that loans for start-up or expansion, come at quite a hefty cost. In talking to CWS staff about her benefits from joining neighbors and friends in the DREAM […]

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