Water
gene

An early picture of my father at one of our first water wells on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

March 22nd is the United Nation’s World Water Day. Read this message from our Executive Director, Paul Krizek, to hear how water initiated our first partnerships and was one of Christian Relief Services’ primary focuses when it was founded 28 years ago.

Dear Friends,

Nowadays I am sure you hear regularly about so many different days of commemoration or celebration – I do believe March 20th is commemorated as Extraterrestrial Abductions Day while March 21st is reserved for celebrating Fragrance Day – and maybe World Water Day would have passed you by. But for me, World Water Day is just one day out of 365 days that should be dedicated to this resource that is so necessary to every aspect of human life. In fact, the very first project that Christian Relief Services dedicated itself to was the construction of a water well on an American Indian reservation. Back then, my father, Gene Krizek, had just founded Christian Relief Services and traveled out to the reservation to talk about the most pressing need. He received a one-word response: “Water.”Access to water has been a challenge in nearly all the communities we have worked with. From American Indian reservations in the northern Midwest of the United States to the remotely located villages of Bo in the Bumpe Ngao Chiefdom of Sierra Leone – water is the key to life.

And as always, thank you for your ongoing support and compassion for the issues that affect so many struggling communities worldwide. I can truly say that you are our rock when times test our resolve against these critical issues. 

Thank you,
Paul Krizek

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Bread and Water for Africa

Orphan Care:

  • 220 orphaned children at Lewa Children’s Home were provided with food, health care and education. (Kenya)
  • Over 650 people have benefited from Shinga’s orphan feeding, education, and vocational training programs. (Zimbabwe)
  • Over 400 children and workers benefited annually from the income generated by the Lewa Children’s Home Guest House, started in Fiscal Year 2012. (Kenya)

Heath Care:

  • Over 37,000 patients benefitted from 201,610 Rehydration Salt Packets, which were sent to the Faith Healing Development Organization for their five clinics in response to the Sierra Leone cholera epidemic. (Sierra Leone)
  • Over 25,000 patients received quality medical treatment as well as educational services at the Haramaya University Hospital. (Ethiopia)
  • Over 3,200 Cameroonians benefitted from donations of medical supplies, hygiene items, and school materials to the Hope Services International Program. (Cameroon)

Education:

  • 720 Students are receiving primary and secondary school education through grants provided to the Faith Healing Development Organization, with the first class set to graduate in 2016! (Sierra Leone)
  • 389 children from the Lewa Children’s Home and the surrounding area received primary education and quality nursery care through the Kipkeino Primary School. (Kenya)
  • 159 vulnerable, local Eldoret children received financial aid for school tuition, uniforms, supplies, and other basic needs. (Kenya)

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Eugene Krizek

geneGene Krizek, the charismatic founder of Americans Helping Americans®, has earned a place in the hearts of thousands of Americans in need. We celebrate his 85th year by sharing with you a glimpse into his amazing life.

Growing up as a child of the Great Depression and witnessing the hardship all around him helped spur Gene on to a lifelong path of helping those less fortunate.

A former Congressional Administrative Assistant and a retired Foreign Service Officer, he began his distinguished career serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II. After the war he distinguished himself in the USAF reserves for 39 more years.

In turn he worked with both President Kennedy and Attorney General Robert Kennedy in the early 1960’s, first as the Director of White House Liaison with the State Department, then administering the 1962 National Conference on Bail and Criminal Justice.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGene went on to earn a special commendation from President Gerald R. Ford in 1976 for his efforts in South East Asia. His work helped 130,000 refugees fleeing the communist regime make a new beginning in America. These refugees, known as boat people, risked drowning in the South China Sea in their attempts to escape to freedom in the West.

Ending his military service in 1985 with the rank of Colonel and earning the Legion of Merit award, Gene continued to give back even after retirement. Through Georgetown University, he joined efforts with Bob Geldof, the British musician behind the Band-Aid Trust concerts for African famine relief. His expertise helped ensure the best distribution of funds raised to help feed the millions of starving people in Ethiopia.

Always ready to do more and help more people, Gene went on to found Christian Relief Services Charities, with his wife Adeline as his first volunteer co-founder and board member, in 1985. Since founding its offshoot, Americans Helping Americans® in 1990, he has been honored in Appalachia for his work with the disadvantaged, and was named a “Guardian Angel of West Virginia”.

Gene Krizek speaks with cadets

Christian Relief Services’ founder, Eugene L. Krizek, USAF Colonel (Ret.) talks with Army ROTC cadets.

Gene’s zest for philanthropy has seen him support schools, hospitals, orphanages and self-help programs in Africa, Lithuania, and Haiti. And of course, right here at home Gene has contributed so much to breaking the cycle of poverty, including establishing affordable housing for the homeless and safe shelters for survivors of domestic violence.

Eighty-six years old and Gene is still going strong, a real inspiration for all of us!

Backpack Food Programs

backpacksAs we approach the school year, children living on reservations face rumbling bellies that can interfere with their education.Children attending the Takini School on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation face 30 mile bus rides to and from school and 3-day weekends (the Takini School has a four-day school week) without enough provisions to last each meal, much less any snacks.These rural communities stretching on the miles of reservation in Ziebach County, Wyoming sadly boasts the highest child poverty rate in the United States.

Without your support and the backpack food program supported by Christian Relief Services, these impoverished children would face no reprieve on the weekends or long bus rides from their hunger pangs.School is such a gift – and truly a necessity in the world today – but how can children study if they are distracted by their empty tummies?To keep these children fed and healthy, it only takes a small gift – or a commitment to supporting a child through our Running Strong for American Indian Youth® program all year round by becoming a monthly giver online through our secure server.

Stories like Nadine’s (told below) are not unique – they are the tragic stories of communities embedded in cycles of harsh poverty with no accessible stores or resources to help them.Except for Christian Relief Service’s backpack food program.

My name is Nadine.I’m the parent of six children who are enrolled at Takini School from kindergarten to the sophomore class.Since its inception, the backpack program has really helped a lot of us parents in providing snacks for our kids.A lot of us are low income, considered poverty-level.For me as a parent trying to make my food dollars stretch, it’s pretty tough.The kids really do watch their backpacks and keep an eye on each other’s stuff.Mostly it’s nutritious for them too and they can heat up things in the microwave.It’s really helped me as a parent because I’ve had hard times living out here in a rural area.Our nearest store is 27-30 miles away, just to go there for a loaf of bread and peanut butter and jelly is really a trip—almost40 dollars in gas.For these kids to take this stuff home on weekends really helps.I know a lot of the kids depend on the program and they look forward to it.It’s something that they cherish because some of them drive from here to Eagle Butte to get home.On that bus ride home I know they are hungry and tired.This backpack helps us make due for our kids.It has really helped the families a lot.We really are grateful.I know a lot of parents are.It’s a gift for us because we have it hard you know, so thank you very much. – Takini School Mother

Toys for Tribes

Every year Running Strong strives to bring comfort and joy to Native families on reservations. Thanks to your generosity, we were able to make the holidays very special for thousands of American Indian children. The 2013 Toys for Tribes program was an even bigger success than in 2012. Thanks to your support, Running Strong was able to provide 2,400 toys to about 2,000  American Indian youngsters on the Cheyenne River and Pine Ridge reservations this past Christmas! Thank you for helping us spread joy to these little boys and girls.

You Helped Us Provide:

❆ 1,500 food boxes
❆ 1,950 blankets
❆ 5,500 coats with hoods
❆ 2,675 hats
❆ 2,675 scarves
❆ 2,675 hats

Northern Virginia

Housing ProgramsVirginia the 9th most expensive state in the nation for rental housing costs.

According to Out of Reach 2013, “housing costs vary across the nation, but the lack of affordable housing affects low-wage workers in all corners of the country. In order to close the gap between the demand for affordable housing and the supply, we would need to add 4.5 million units affordable to ELI households. This is not an unattainable goal.

The 2013 Housing Wage is $18.79, exceeding the $14.32 hourly wage earned by the average renter by almost $4.50 an hour, and greatly exceeding wages earned by low income renter households.”

Out of Reach 2013, was released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), a Washington, DC-based housing advocacy group. To access the entire report, click on the link http://nlihc.org/oor/2013

Click for more information on Christian Relief Services’ Housing Programs.

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Safe Places

safeAlice* had been waiting for months for the perfect moment for her to escape her abuser. She had her car packed ahead of time with as many clothing items as she could fit. When her husband left for work she gathered her four young children and headed north from Georgia to Virginia.

Alice arrived at a domestic violence shelter in Fairfax County where she spent about two months. After being controlled by her abuser for over seven years, she decided it was time for her and her children to be free. While in the shelter, Tammy secured full-time employment, worked with the Office for Children to secure child-care for her children, and enrolled her oldest child in the local elementary school.

safe-places
© Kathe Kollwitz

She was then referred to Christian Relief Services’ Safe Places Residential Program and worked with them to find an apartment with her children and get back on her feet. Alice and her children moved into the apartment without any furniture, and although her budget is tight, Alice has learned that all she needs is her children. Alice and her former abuser lived in a 6-bedroom house and owned luxurious cars, but Alice soon realized these things meant nothing to her compared to her happiness, safety, and the love she has for her children.

Since entering the Safe Places program, Alice has been able to secure a new full-time position to receive her pharmacy technician certification that is much closer to her apartment. She began working towards her certification while living in Georgia, but soon discovered that her abuser was not going to allow her to work; he demanded that she stay home with the children and take care of them along with the house.

Alice is very excited about where her life is taking her and recently won full custody of her children along with monthly child support. Within the next few weeks she will begin to complete the remaining hours of her externship and she will then receive her pharmacy technician certification. She is fully aware of all that she has overcome, and knows it will not always be easy in the future, but Alice is willing to give all she has in order to provide for her children and give them the life that they deserve.

*Names have been changes per our privacy policy.

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Water is Life

waterwell
Our philosophy here at Christian Relief Services emphasizes connecting resources around the world in order to support communities as they struggle to help themselves. This is especially exemplified by the work of our project, Bread and Water for Africa, which builds partnerships with grassroots efforts throughout Africa to create sustainable and deep-rooted change.

If you’ve been a long time supporter of our organization, you know we regularly send medical supplies to our partners in Sierra Leone, but our partnership dates back many years to their initial efforts at rebuilding the infrastructure of their country through skills training, education, and healthcare projects. Read a firsthand testimonial from one of the beneficiaries of the Ndegbormei Development Organisation’s skills training program. He is a true example of a life transformation and the benefits of ‘teaching one to fish’.

I was pleased when our project coordinator asked me to give my first hand impression of the Bread and Water for Africa funded Training Center in Bumpe.

I am twenty-six years of age, a drop-out from Bumpe High School, a former rebel (Revolutionary United Front) activist, now a returnee and apparent misfit and drifter until James Ganda, Mama Decker, and Ndegbormei Development Organisation started to invest in my life with the Training programme at the medical site in Bumpe.

You know, life as drifter has its ups and downs. And in a typical rural setting like Bumpe, life could be more down than up. My situation as a former rebel is not only repulsive to my family and close relatives, but is barely painfully acceptable to our community as a necessary evil with regard to our Truth and Reconciliation Committee recommendations.”

Before I join the rebel movement, I was a “Pupil Teacher”, an “unqualified, untrained” (UU) teacher in one of the many rural primary schools (No District Education Primary School, Bumpe Ngao Chiefdom). Within a few short months and after killings began, I became a self-proclaimed Captain.

When the war ended officially in January 2002, I had sneaked back in to my village Mowoto, after helping my RUF friends start fires in Freetown – the capital of Sierra Leone. Do I now regret the act? YES, I do on hindsight because at the time I was living on drugs and with bad influences.

This is all history now, as I have been enrolled in the Ndegbormei Development Organisation Skills Training programme at Bumpe. It is a slow beginning but I can look forward to being a carpenter soon, building houses, instead of burning them down; providing a job for others my age instead of causing havoc.

NDO and Bread and Water for Africa are teaching me to fish, and I am determined to apply myself wholeheartedly.

Sincerely,
Amadu

Supportive Housing

Transitional Housing

Affordable Housing
Christian Relief Services works to address the need for affordable housing by operating affordable housing units where individuals and families can live in a place within their means as well as within commuting distance from their workplace.

Supportive Housing
Supportive HousingHomes for the Homeless,” operates in partnership sponsoring agencies to include local private non-profits, and public agencies providing case management and specialized support services. We conduct housing counseling, property maintenance, and oversee the case management services provided by our sponsoring agencies. Sponsoring agencies provide direct rehabilitation, vocational services and health care.
Christian Relief Services’ affiliate, Christian Relief Services of Virginia, maintains and operates 10 of our units for their Safe Places Residential Program which provides direct case management and family therapy to victims of domestic violence. Furthermore, Safe Places runs weekly support groups for women and their children who have fled domestic violence.