News & Information – May 2009
IOCC is investing about $200,000 to improve schools and create better jobs in Kosovo. Above, school children in Banje and below, men working at an IOCC agricultural project in Velika Hoca. (photo credit: N. Prelevic/IOCC Serbia)
Good schools and good jobs. A community must have both to thrive. Many Americans are thinking about this now: finding work, or keeping a current job, that will secure their children’s future. Giving communities what they need to lift themselves out of poverty and into economic sustainability is at the heart of IOCC’s long-term educational and development programs for the Holy Land, Greece, Lebanon, Syria, Serbia, and the U.S.

As you know, IOCC holds a steady commitment to those who are most in need. We believe that isolated communities can overcome barriers and achieve real reconciliation and cooperation with their neighbors. How will that cooperation happen? Good schools and good jobs.

This month, IOCC is launching a special initiative for Kosovo with an investment of $190,000 to improve schools and create new jobs. In Serbian and Gorani villages in the northwest region of Kosovo, IOCC is repairing old school buildings and providing new computers and gym equipment. In Kos and Velika Hoca, IOCC is training farmers to make better use of their land and water, including the reclamation of old lands for larger harvests. About 100 families are also benefitting from training seminars in marketing, mechanization, and farming techniques.

All of this is possible because you helped us to achieve a matching grant program that was begun with generous challenge gifts made by the John G. Rangos, Sr. Foundation and His Grace Bishop Irinej of the Serbian Orthodox Church. We are also grateful to St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church in Broadview Heights, Ohio for their recent $30,000 gift to IOCC. St. Sava was one of the first churches to support IOCC’s work, and they have steadily supported us over these last 17 years.

IOCC has positioned itself strongly as a provider of educational and economic opportunities. In the coming months, I look forward to introducing you to the families that are benefitting from your generous support.

In Christ,

Constantine M. Triantafilou
Executive Director and CEO

Children play the “Parachute Game” to work through war trauma. IOCC plans to open a summer camp in Gaza that will provide therapeutic and recreational activities for about 200 children recovering from the recent armed conflict. (photo credit: Steve Weaver, CWS-ACT International)
Gaza: Healing Children of War Trauma
For thousands of Gaza’s children who endured last January’s 22-day air, ground, and sea assault, the real war now is dealing with the lasting effects of post-traumatic stress. Teachers and healthcare workers report many children suffering from classic PTSD symptoms such as insomnia, bed-wetting, and startle responses. “During the war, we were assisting people with food,” says a humanitarian worker. “People said ‘thank you for the food, but how do I get my child to stop crying?’” This summer, IOCC plans to open a summer camp in partnership with the Orthodox Church in Gaza and fellow Action by Churches Together (ACT) International-member, East Jerusalem YMCA. The camp will focus on psychosocial therapy and recreational activities for about 200 children aged 8 – 15. IOCC is also planning to reach an additional 2,000 children and youth through other forms of activities including school-based interventions. Since January, IOCC has provided blankets, food, and hygiene kits to thousands of families affected by the conflict.

Villagers who endured a long civil war in northern Uganda will now have a new school built by IOCC. (photo credit: J. Hanson/IOCC Baltimore)
Uganda: New School & Work Projects
Fifteen percent of Uganda’s children are orphans, the result of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and a long-running civil war. As part of the new Africa Initiative, IOCC is building a new school in Uganda and improving an orphanage, both of which are run by the Orthodox Church in Uganda. In Katente, IOCC is building a chicken farm on the grounds of an orphanage. Students will learn improved methods for greater chicken and egg production, and the support raised from the farm will help the Orthodox Church offset the expenses of the orphanage. IOCC is also installing a grain grinder for chicken feed that will also benefit nearby villagers who will not have to travel long distances to have their grain ground. In the northern town of Gulu, IOCC is constructing a high school. “Two years ago Gulu was deserted because of the civil war,” says IOCC Consultant Jim Hanson. “The new school will encourage more displaced families to return to their homes.”

IOCC is Going Green!
In 2008, IOCC mailed out over 50,000 acknowledgement/tax receipt letters. You can help us reduce that amount by signing up to receive acknowledgement/tax receipts by email. You will help IOCC save the environment as well as the cost of paper and postage, thereby enabling more resources to go to people in need. If you wish to receive your acknowledgement/tax receipts by email, please go to iocc.org/e-receipts and complete the form. Once you submit the completed form, you will be signed up for e-receipts!

This is the latest initiative by IOCC to reduce our organization’s carbon footprint. Our last green initiative gave supporters the option of receiving the newsletter by email only (go here to opt out of the paper newsletter for the e-newsletter). In addition, our corporate headquarters in Baltimore has been faithful over the past few years to a comprehensive recycling program. “We know that climate change is an emerging threat to the communities that IOCC serves,” says Executive Director & CEO Constantine M. Triantafilou. “We have a special responsibility to begin to address this issue by reducing our organization’s own effect on the environment.“


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