Men and women run for cover in central Gaza City during aerial attacks. IOCC is coordinating shipments of desperately needed medicines and supplies for Gaza hospitals that are stretched to capacity. (Photo credit: Mohammed Saber/epa/Corbis)
December 2008
From the Executive Director
It was Christmas week and I had just advised one of our young staff members to expect the unexpected. Hurricanes and wars don’t pause for a break because it’s the holidays. We learned that lesson back in 2004 when the South Asia tsunami arrived the day after Christmas. This time, it was war in Gaza.

Within hours of its start, we began receiving updates from our IOCC Jerusalem-based staff. IOCC, which has been fixing schools and community centers, and providing employment, medical aid and food supplies to vulnerable families in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza since 1997, released emergency funds within the first few days of the crisis. Our Jerusalem staff continues to keep us updated and to prepare for getting relief supplies into Gaza once the border crossings are opened.

Whether you call it “emergency preparedness”, “response protocols” or “back-up systems,” being prepared for an emergency situation has been a special focus for IOCC over the last five years. We continue to refine our response to natural disasters and conflicts so that IOCC not only reacts quickly and effectively, but also builds the capacity of communities so that emergency relief becomes the bridge to long term development.

IOCC has also placed an emphasis on building the capacity of the Orthodox Church to become an effective responder to emergencies. One example is our “Frontline” volunteers, a group of Orthodox clergy and lay people who have been trained by IOCC in crisis counseling and critical incident stress management. Over the last year, they have been deployed to a number of emergencies including the Iowa floods and the Texas hurricanes.

As you prepare for the New Year, we hope your family has its own emergency response protocol. The likelihood of surviving a house fire depends as much on having a working smoke detector and an exit strategy as on a well-trained fire department. We have included this Emergency Preparedness Kit with practical steps for you to work through in order to be prepared for the unexpected.

I wish you and your family a safe and productive New Year.

In Christ,

Constantine M. Triantafilou
Executive Director and CEO

(Photo credit: Paul Jeffrey/ACT International)
Gaza Emergency Response
IOCC has released emergency funds and is working to deliver high protein biscuits, fortified milk, hygiene kits and blankets into Gaza. “All commodities are in scarce supply,” reports Dirk Lackovic-van Gorp, IOCC’s Representative for Jerusalem/West Bank. “Gaza was already in a desperate situation with a significant lack of food, medicine, fuel and electricity.” Although it remains difficult to get into Gaza, IOCC is working on delivering supplies to the southern areas of Rafah and Khan Yunis. DONATE NOW: Help us speed relief to Gaza today.

(Photo credit: IOCC Ethiopia)
Food Security for Ethiopia
Tara Gadam, a rural community in northern Ethiopia will be able to irrigate their land even during the dry season thanks to a new grant from IOCC Ethiopia. The community and the nearby monastery used the funds to set up a micro-irrigation farm and a spring capping system. Farmers are now in the process of planting fruit tree seedlings and vegetables. About 500 individuals will benefit from this new program. IOCC Ethiopia has also launched a new program that will allow pregnant women to be tested for HIV in order to prevent transmission to their children. The program, implemented in cooperation with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church Inter Church Aid Commission (EOC-DICAC), will create awareness in communities for getting pregnant mothers tested for HIV/AIDS through clergy and women’s groups. If they have tested positive for the disease, mothers will then be enrolled into programs that will enable them to have healthy babies.

(Photo credit: J. Myers)
Loaves & Fishes for Atlanta Homeless
“Loaves & Fishes”, a cooperative program between several Orthodox parishes in Atlanta, has been providing hot meals on a daily basis to thousands of homeless men and women. A new $10,000 grant from IOCC’s US Program will allow the ministry to replenish its food supply, expand its kitchen facilities at St. John the Wonderworker and provide more social services to the homeless. “It’s an excellent respite for men and women who otherwise wouldn’t have any place to get a hot meal and necessary medical services,” said IOCC Development Officer Nick Chakos. Through IOCC’s previous involvement, Loaves & Fishes expanded its services to provide referrals for housing, jobs, medical attention and drug rehabilitation.

(Photo credit: D. Djukic/IOCC Greece)
Helping Greece Recover
IOCC Greece will construct a soil laboratory in the Peloponnese region that will help farmers analyze the condition of their soil and water in order to determine what crops to cultivate and what kinds of fertilizers to use. The soil lab will help increase the yield of farmers in an area that was severely damaged by the 2007 wildfires. Previously, farmers willing and able to test their soil had to send samples to Athens and wait an average of three weeks for the results. Farmers often think of testing their soil very close to the agricultural season and the three week waiting period is impractical. The soil lab was made possible through a $1.3 million grant from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. This latest grant from the Archdiocese will also provide a two month supply of animal feed benefitting 1,000 farming families. The Pancretan Association of America has also provided a $75,000 grant towards the soil lab’s construction.
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