UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
UOC of the USA Participates in IOCC Syrian Relief Fund Raising in Pittsburgh, PA
On Sunday, March 29, 2015 the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) Pittsburgh Metropolitan Committee held a Vespers prayer service and fund raising dinner benefitting Syrian brothers and sisters in Christ. This Syrian Relief gathering of about 500 people was held at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church in Pittsburgh, PA.
His Grace Bishop Daniel, the Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy and President of Consistory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA led the delegation of Ukrainian Orthodox clergy and faithful participating in the event. Speaking to the Orthodox hierarchs, clergy and faithful, Bishop Daniel mentioned that the Ukrainian worldwide community fully understands the horrific circumstances in which the Orthodox Christians of Middle East live and struggle daily. After all, the Ukrainians, especially in the Eastern part of Ukraine, live through their own set of political war and religious challenges.
This year, the Syrian Relief Fundraising event was sponsored by the local hierarchs of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America: His Eminence Metropolitan Savas (Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Pittsburgh, PA), His Grace Bishop Thomas (Diocese of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America), His Grace Bishop Daniel (Western Eparchy of the UOC of the USA), His Eminence Archbishop Melchisedek and Metropolitan-emeritus Theodosius (OCA), His Grace Bishop Mitrofan (Serbian Orthodox Church).
The recent conflict throughout the Middle East has been devastating. It has resulted in the displacement of numerous Orthodox Christians that are now hungry, homeless, and lacking essential items. The loss of human life cannot be described by any other word but “barbaric!”
International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) supports one of the largest established networks to deliver life-saving humanitarian aid inside Syria where more than 10.8 million people are currently in need of assistance, 6.5 million of which are internally displaced. In addition to its work inside Syria, IOCC staff is working regionally to address the growing needs of more than 3.2 million refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Armenia as well as people in need in those host countries.
Responding to one of the worst humanitarian and refugee crises in history, IOCC is one of the few international nongovernmental organizations working on the ground in 27 offices across Syria to provide aid to people who have been displaced inside the country by the civil war. In providing this aid, IOCC works in close partnership with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East.
Since February 2012, IOCC has provided relief to more than 2.5 million people inside Syria affected by the crisis through programs that include:
• EMERGENCY AID — Distribution of dry food parcels, infant care kits, clothing, mattresses, blankets, and bedding. • SHELTER — Rent assistance; repair/renovation of shelters for women and children – some of whom have been displaced several times as the conflict has escalated and expanded.
• HEALTH — Assisting families with unmet medical needs by covering their costs for essential medicine or minor surgical procedures; distributing family hygiene kits to help maintain health where crowded conditions and lack of water have led to a sharp rise in scabies and other public health problems.
• AID TO INFANTS & CHILDREN — Reducing maternal and newborn morbidity through pre-natal and post-natal care; access to care at health facilities or deliveries with a skilled birth attendant; and infant care and nutrition programs.
• EDUCATION — Enabling children to continue their education by providing school uniforms and supplies; access to remedial classes; and rehabilitating schools to improve the learning environment.
• PSYCHOSOCIAL SUPPORT — Helping displaced Syrians overcome their traumatic experiences through adult workshops on stress management and building self-esteem; art and music therapy to help traumatized children express their feelings.
• WATER, SANITATION, and HYGIENE (WASH) — Minimizing a public health threat from Syria’s severely damaged infrastructure by repairing wells and water systems to provide access to safe water; renovating sanitation facilities; installing water storage tanks and water filters; and conducting classes on good hygiene practices.
• ECONOMIC RECOVERY/LIVELIHOODS — Through Cash for Work programs, IOCC is addressing loss of jobs and family income with jobs for displaced Syrians on community projects such as repairing schools and shelters, cleaning up public spaces, and sewing uniforms for school children.
While the final financial figures are being calculated, the previous years, when such two similar Syrian Relief gatherings were held, they grossed $27,000 and $37,000, respectively. Speaking on behalf of IOCC, various representatives of the organization stated that “We are able to be extremely efficient with these gathering, because the community made/donated almost all of the food and supplies for the events. We were able to send $25,000 and $36,000, respectively, to IOCC from these events. Glory to God! (As a reminder IOCC is typically able to obtain $7 worth of grant/other money for each $1 we raise. So this is equivalent to approximately $427K of total aid in Syria from our community's efforts).”
Visit the web site of the International Orthodox Christian Charities to learn more about the crucial ministry in the life of the Orthodox Church in North America and throughout the world.