16 August 2011
Details at Vatican Radio:
Another church has been attacked in the Iraqi city of Kirkuk. The bombing comes less than two weeks after a Catholic and an evangelical church were targeted. This latest attack on St. Ephrem’s Syriac Orthodox Church happened yesterday while security staff spotted a vehicle carrying suspicious devices.
The parish priest escaped without injury. ...
Speaking to Lydia O’Kane, [John Pontifex, Head of Press and Information at Aid to the Church in Need, says] that the government authorities have promised to increase police protection around churches and will fund a rebuilding project around the latest church to be attacked. But John Pontifex says that the real question about “long term” reassurance of protection is not being answered.
The article can be viewed at Vatican Radio, complete with the recording of the full broadcast audio.
Rev. Dr. Elias Mallon, S.A., CNEWA’s Education and Interreligious Affairs Officer, reflects upon this event, as well as the larger trend of violence pervading the region:
Violence against Christians and the bombing of Christian Churches in certain Muslim countries is cowardly and criminal activity which must be stopped immediately.
However, we Christians are challenged by Paul’s command “Never repay evil with evil, but let everyone see that you are concerned only with that which is good” (Romans 12:17). In suffering persecution we must never lose sight of the sufferings of others. Christians who live in the Middle East remind us that it is not only Christians who suffer from the violence of extremism. In fact, the majority of victims of Islamic extremism are other Muslims. On the same day that the Church of Mar Ephraim was bombed over three dozen Iraqis were killed by a terrorist bomb in a market in Kut, Iraq; six were killed by a suicide bomber in Tikrit, Iraq; and seven Shi’ites were killed in the Shi’ite holy city of Najaf in Iraq.
These terrorist attacks against Muslims took place during Ramadan, the holiest month of the Muslim calendar. All attacks against innocent lives are an abomination against God. Attacks against innocent people during holy times such as Ramadan, Christmas and Easter is a “spreading of evil in the land” which the Qur’an condemns and which every person of good will considers an offense against God and humanity, regardless of the faith of the victim.
16 August 2011
Tags: Iraq Middle East Christians Middle East Violence against Christians
Sister Kirti Lawrence tutors children at the Anugraha home with a battery–powered floodlight.
(photo: Peter Lemieux)
In this audio clip from my interview with writer Peter Lemieux for the July edition of ONE, he discusses Sister Kirti Lawrence and her dedication to the
children of Mumbai’s slums.
Check out the multimedia feature “A
Quick Walk With Sister Leema Rose” and the story by Peter Lemieux, ‘Slumdog’
Sisters in the July edition of ONE.
12 August 2011
Tags: India Children Sisters Women in India
Yesterday, an explosion shook the streets of Beirut, Lebanon, near CNEWA's local office. BBC reports:
Two people have been killed after a bomb exploded in a car park in the Lebanese capital Beirut, police say.
A third person, a passerby, was injured in the blast, which happened in the busy northern suburb of Antelias.
A car used by the son of a judge was in the car park at the time, but they do not believe it was the target.
Police said the two people killed had been handling the explosives, but it is not clear if they were placing the bomb or trying to get rid of it.
The blast happened at around 11.30 local time and security forces quickly sealed the area and brought in bomb-sniffing dogs, reports say.
The article goes on to note that one MP "described the blast as an act of terrorism and said security forces are investigating the incident." However, a message received early today from Issam Bishara, CNEWA's Regional Director for Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt and Vice President of the Pontifical Mission, contradicts this:
It turned out to be a dispute between two second hand car dealers. One dealer decided to put a bomb (hand grenade) in the car of the other, but the bomb exploded in the hands of the two guys planting it and who obviously mishandled it. Those two died and one passerby was slightly injured. Three or four cars were damaged.
The bomb exploded in the parking lot of one of the banks that we deal with for our micro-credit program.
While our program director visits that institution on a near-daily basis, Issam concludes: "Everyone is safe. Thanks be to God."
3 August 2011
Tags: Lebanon CNEWA Beirut
Plants need water; its a fundamental truth, an observation stretching back to the earliest days of human civilization. Nowadays, however, we often see its converse: a case of water needing plants. Water purification is critical to human infrastructure, and effective sewage treatment plants are, in many regions, virtually necessary to sustain a settlement urban or rural.
As part of its mission to improve human welfare, CNEWA is actively involved in the construction of treatment plants in underserved regions. Engineer Imad Abou Jaoude, of CNEWA's Beirut office, recently visited one such plant in Lebanon, and had this to say:
On Wednesday, 27 July 2011, we took a group of students from the Environmental Health Department, part of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the American University of Beirut, to one of the environmental projects (the Maaser el Shouf Plant) that CNEWA executed in the Upper Shouf region five years ago through funding from USAID. The Maaser el Shouf Plant is one of the seven plants that were constructed in the Upper Shouf Region to serve 12 villages with a total population of 24,200 persons. These projects are considered vital, especially in the rural areas where the government doesn't yet have any national plan regarding the treatment of wastewater. CNEWA's intervention in this domain occurred after receiving requests from the inhabitants of many regions who are suffering from the pollution of their underground water and springs that form the main source of irrigation water, and in some cases even potable water.
It is worth mentioning that AUB is using our projects as exemplars, to demonstrate to their students both the newest techniques applied in this domain and the fruits of a successfully executed sewage plant project.
The students and their professor were impressed by the system used and by the quality of effluent produced, especially after they compared it to other similar projects they have visited. Our system is a user-friendly system that is easily operated and utilizes low energy while maintaining maximum efficiency. A well-trained team of local technicians is responsible for the plants' operation, under the supervision of two engineers. To ensure the sustainability of these projects, we undertook two operations, both successful: first, launching intensive training and awareness campaigns that accompanied the project execution; second, fostering an agreement between the Union of Municipalities and the Water Committee in the region, giving this committee (which is considered professional) the responsibility to maintain these plants.
From the outset, the goal was to improve health and welfare in the Upper Shouf region. However, if a side effect is that we've given further resources to educators, so much the better!
3 August 2011
Tags: Lebanon Education Beirut Water Waste
M.L. Thomas, CNEWA's Regional Director for India, brings us a success story:
Shoney was a handicapped child in one of CNEWA’s sponsored institutions: Home of Faith, an orphanage in Ernakulam. Through the organization, he was able to undergo an operation to straighten his deformed leg, a handicap that he had been born with.
He received an education and from there he joined the seminary in 1997. His father and mother died while he was in seminary studies.
Despite enduring numerous tragic events and conditions, he has nonetheless striven ever forward. His efforts were not in vain; he was ordained into the priesthood on 20 April 2010. Now known as Father George Shoney Kandathinkara, he works for the mission diocese of Ujjain. Father Kandathinkara contacted us to offer his thanks to CNEWA for the support that enabled him to transform his life, and rise from a poor, handicapped boy to a Catholic priest. He especially thanks Mr. James Y. Rahm, of Huntington Beach, CA, a benefactor of CNEWA who sponsored him as a needy child.