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Volume 8, No. 1SPRING 2005

Message from the Executive Director

Photo: Paul Jeffrey-ACT

“The waters stood above the mountains.
At your rebuke they flee.”

— Psalm verse read at Orthodox vespers

In the Orthodox Church, we celebrate the transforming power of water in many ways — at baptisms, when our homes are blessed, during vespers, and so on. Water is the source of life, but it can also bring destruction.

The world witnessed this destructive power recently in the tsunami that struck 13 Asian and African nations bordering the Indian Ocean, particularly Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India. As I write this letter, 40 days have passed since the tsunami hit, and still it seems that we have hardly been able to mourn because all we can feel is shock — at the power of nature, at the number of lives lost, at the communities literally washed away. Were it not for the “before” and “after” pictures, it would be hard to believe that devastation of this magnitude is even possible.

Less than 24 hours after the tsunami hit, IOCC and its ecumenical partners responded by airlifting shelter and sanitation kits, blankets and emergency foodstuffs to some of the hardest-hit areas. With your generous support, IOCC also is delivering multi-vitamins to tsunami survivors in Sri Lanka; fresh fruits and vegetables to people left homeless by the tsunami on the east coast of Sumatra; and medicine boxes with enough medical supplies for 1,000 adults and children for three months.

You have responded by assembling thousands of health kits, which are being delivered to tsunami-affected areas right now. As children in the tsunami-affected countries return to school, school kits also are urgently needed. Going back to class with basic school supplies will help the children, many of them now orphaned, feel that their lives are returning to normal.

So it is appropriate that this issue of News & Needs be devoted to the theme of education. Whether providing school supplies, supporting drug abuse awareness, repairing decrepit school buildings, encouraging computer literacy, or offering vocational training, IOCC has always sought to put education at the center of its humanitarian outreach. As an Arabic sign recently seen at the dedication of a West Bank kindergarten read, “Education is light.”

Water and light — both are basic elements necessary for human survival. But in a symbolic sense, both define the humanitarian mission of IOCC: Water brings life when used for irrigation, sanitation and human consumption; light illumines the path of those lost in the darkness of despair and brings hope for the future. Thank you for being such a critical part of this mission of light and life.

Yours In Christ,

Constantine M. Triantafilou
Executive Director

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