Learning more about each other

August 30, 2018

Travel anywhere exciting this summer?
Maybe California?
Or New Jersey?
…Ohio?
How about Michigan?

A handful of the CWS overseas team took a detour this summer to travel to each of those states. And for them – and those they had the opportunity to meet – it certainly was exciting! Here’s why:

(left to right) Jovana Savic and Jovana Kokir present a note from kids in Serbia to volunteers in Ohio.

Columbus, Ohio keeps kids safe and warm in Eastern Europe
Jovana Savic and Jovana Kokir see extreme poverty on a daily basis in their work with CWS. They know families who pay over 30 percent of their income just to keep their houses warm and the lights on…which can definitely put a strain on household finances. And they know the worried faces of kids work on the streets because they’re concerned their family won’t have enough to live on each day.

Now, Jovana and Jovana also know the faces of families in Ohio who provide hope for these kids through solar power, through school and through safe drop-in shelters where they can play, learn and just be kids. And that’s exciting.

“After helping out with the Columbus CROP Hunger Walk for three years, it was great to meet two CWS staff members from CWS Eastern Europe… In my day job, I work at a nonprofit in Columbus that does community development and it was really cool to see that type of work in Serbia.” – Ashley Montana, Event Coordinator for the Columbus CROP Hunger Walk

Leslie Wilson (left) meets hunger-fighting heroes in Monmouth County, NJ

Monmouth County, New Jersey offers healthier futures to families in Asia
Leslie Wilson of CWS Asia believes that no child should go hungry. But moving towards that reality takes work – especially in rural communities that can’t just go to a grocery store for their daily food needs.

Leslie’s trip is a reminder that these communities don’t have to move forward alone. They have friends and neighbors in New Jersey who are working hard with them to make sure they have gardens, chickens and hope for their children!

(Pssst: If you’re walking in a fall CROP Hunger Walk, this year’s theme is “Veggies, Eggs & a Side of Hope in Indonesia.” Learn more here: crophungerwalk.org/indonesia)

“It was exciting to meet Leslie and know personally just what excellence of expertise our Church World Service global executives have to help local staff bring improvements to our neighbors around the world, teaching and implementing public health and farming initiatives, compassionately helping communities recover from disasters, giving microloans and things like three hens and a rooster…It’s great that CWS has the respectful and lasting relationships that make sure that what we do is what people value and can learn to use, share and maintain.” – Pastor Pat Medley, Event Coordinator of the Freehold Area CROP Hunger Walk

Martin Coria speaks to members of the United Methodist Church of Thousand Oaks, CA.

Conejo Valley, California connects to families in Latin America & the Caribbean
Through his work with CWS, Martin Coria knows that hunger is connected to other vulnerabilities. Hunger hits when a parent struggles to support their children because their partner is incarcerated. Or when disaster and climate change strike, wiping out a family’s livestock, crops and supply of clean water. Or when people are pushed off their land without other options for livelihood.

But positive connections can also have an effect on hunger. And that’s exactly who the congregations and leaders Martin met in California are: positive connections that link tightly to families so they can launch themselves into better situations.

“Personally, hearing Martin talk about some projects in Latin American and the Caribbean gave me a better appreciation for the way CWS understands sustainability in its programs, something that’s a very important issue for me.” – Jason Welle, CWS Congregational & Community Event Specialist

Okemos, Michigan makes precious time for girls and women in Sub-Saharan Africa

Mary Obiero spends time with volunteers in Okemos, MI.

Working for CWS in some dry climates in Africa, Mary Obiero knows that water means life. So when water shortages occur, it affects life…especially for women. It means women and girls must walk farther to find water. That’s time they would have been in school, training for a job, preparing or growing food. And for women – who already face discrimination – that lost time is a huge setback when it comes to building a more just and equal future for their girls.

Mary’s time with CROP Hunger Walk volunteers in Michigan is just one way to thank them for making time for others. By supporting community water and education projects, these volunteers bring added meaning to life!

“Today I went to a program in Okemos and learned how CWS is working in many African countries. …Some areas go more than 3 YEARS without water. Having to spend 6-8 hours per day just to walk for water takes a big dent out of a day for women and girls. CWS works with communities to determine the best way to provide water. …CWS works for home-grown solutions. They value community investment. Communities have ownership, and a voice.” – Barbara Locks, Co-Coordinator of the Chelsea/Dexter Area CROP Hunger Walk


Needless to say, it’s been an exciting (and powerful!) summer for staff and volunteers alike. We truly are one human family, and opportunities like these keep us connected to one another. So wherever this season takes you, please know that your CROP Hunger Walks and donations build a world where there can be enough for all..