Articles on Orthodox Christian Charity
(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.
Baltimore, Md. (IOCC) — International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) will once again be calling on Orthodox volunteers from throughout the United States to build homes for families whose lives were devastated by Gulf Coast hurricanes.
The program will give teams the opportunity to serve one-week stints in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, an area that suffered the loss of more than 48,000 housing units in Hurricane Katrina according to estimates by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Opportunities to serve begin on May 2 and end on August 1.
"I came down with my 17-year-old son," said IOCC volunteer Jim Kostaras, an architect from Boston who served on a team in Louisiana during the summer of 2009. "It was a great opportunity for us to come to New Orleans and to meet great people from Orthodox communities from across the U.S. and to put our faith to work in a meaningful way," he continued.
Volunteers don't have to be skilled – just energetic. Activities include siding, roofing, framing, landscaping and support. Over 550 Orthodox volunteers have helped build 200 homes with IOCC since the program's inception in 2006. "We are at the vanguard of a national effort to engage Orthodox volunteers in a variety of opportunities right here in the U.S.," says Pascalis Papouras, IOCC's US Program Coordinator.
The Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC), located in St. Augustine, FL, is seeking 8 volunteers to join their Thank You Calling Team. Individuals on this team will make calls each month to OCMC donors thanking them for their gifts on behalf of OCMC. Solicitation is not a part of this program. Training and orientation will be provided, and calls can be made from the OCMC offices or from home if the volunteer has unlimited calling. The time commitment is 3-4 hours per month and volunteers don't have to reside in north Florida. Calling lists will be provided via email. To find out more information, or to volunteer to become a part of this team, contact Kenneth Kidd, OCMC Annual Gifts Officer, at 904-829-5132, Ext. 161 or at email@example.com.
On Wednesday April 14, 2010, His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP, on behalf of the faithful of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, presented a check for $150,000 to International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) Executive Director and CEO Constantine M. Triantafilou, in the presence of His Grace Bishop ANTOUN, Order of St Ignatius of Antioch chair Dan Abraham, and IOCC board members the Very Rev. Michael Ellias and Anne Glynn Mackoul at Antiochian Archdiocese headquarters in Englewood, N.J. The gift was a result of the generous response of the Antiochian Orthodox faithful to the appeal that was made by His Eminence immediately after the earthquake struck Haiti.
On May 22, 2010, the Antiochian Archdiocese will hold a Gala Dinner to benefit children with special needs at The Al-Kafaàt Foundation at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City (Park Avenue on Grand Central Station). Proceeds from the dinner will be used to complete construction of a new compound at Al-Kafaàt, in The Village Center of the Foundation. This new compound will host population of 250 children with mental challenges. Excavations have already started in Beirut and the project is expected to be completed by the end of 2011.