An Update on the KAIROS situation to All Pastoral Charges.
All My Relations:
From the numerous e-mails and phone calls I've received, I know that many people are concerned about the fate of KAIROS. The United Church of Canada has had a long and proud tradition of partnership with KAIROS, and it is extremely worrying to hear some of the falsehoods and slanders that are currently floating about. The following article from EMBASSY Magazine I think should go along way toward addressing these deliberate lies, and so I urge you to take the time to read it.
We need to keep the pressure up on the government to reverse these funding cuts from CIDA. Collective action is required from every Presbytery to meet with all the sitting Members of Parliament and let them know just what an outrage we feel to this sort of high-handed action. If you require additional information on the United Church's response regarding this matter, please go directly to: http://www.united-church.ca/getinvolved/takeaction/091203 where you'll also find a copy of the Moderator's letter about KAIROS funding to the Hon. Bev Oda along with a link to the online petition and a sample letter that you can use. You might also want to check the KAIROS website for the most recent information at: http://www.kairoscanada.org/en/who-we-are/cida-funding-cuts/
On an individual basis, we should never loose sight of the fact that our letters to Members of Parliament also convey a lot of impact. E-mails may be quicker and easier to send, but they simply don't convey the same sense of outrage that a carefully composed letter does. Remember that letters sent to a sitting Member of Parliament do not require a postage stamp, so please set aside a few minutes today to let your feelings be known. Please also ensure that this information finds its way into your worship bulletin, and that those in attendance at Sunday worship are urged to lend their support through letter writing.
With the economic restraint that all denominations are currently experiencing, we simply cannot afford to have our ecumenical voice for social justice silenced by the government. Thank you in advance for your support
Miigwech & zhawendaagozi.
Rev. R. Matthew Stevens
London Conference, United Church of Canada,
The truth about KAIROS, NGO Monitor
By Mary Corkery Published January 20, 2010
In an article in Embassy last week, Gerald Steinberg criticizes the work of NGOs like KAIROS that confront poverty by addressing its root causes. He claims this approach leads many such NGOs to send support to "fringe opposition leaders, rebels and anti-government insurgents." His accusations and name-calling ("radical," "strident" and "leftist") reveal his tactics.
When did seeking positive change become strident or radical?
Gerald Steinberg is chair of political studies at Bar Ilan University in Israel. He is president of NGO Monitor, an Israeli organization that monitors NGOs, the UN, and other organizations around the world that critique actions of the Israeli government. The list of organizations that NGO Monitor criticizes is a long one and includes Amnesty International, Doctors without Borders, Save the Children, World Vision Canada, Oxfam Canada, Oxfam Quebec, Christian Aid in the UK, Human Rights Watch in the US, and France's Fédération Internationale des Ligues des Droits de l'Homme, among many others.
NGO Monitor made a submission to Canada's Parliament in August 2009 in which it lists over 35 Canadian NGOs and community organizations it claims are, in one way or another, part of the "global movement of anti-Semitism." Interestingly, KAIROS was not among them.
KAIROS has always supported the legitimate right of the Israeli people to a safe and secure state. To label any criticism of Israeli government actions as anti-Semitic is an attempt to silence dissent and honours no one
KAIROS builds relationships with organizations in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza that work to construct a just peace. Mr. Steinberg claims that this work is done "at the expense of building another school, operating a health clinic to immunize the population against disease, or creating jobs."
As with most of what Mr. Steinberg writes about KAIROS, this is wrong.
With CIDA's help, KAIROS financed construction of a health clinic that served thousands of families in a very poor area of Gaza City. I have visited this clinic and seen the great crowd of families waiting for tests for malnutrition and anemia, pre- and post-natal care and the pharmacy. I saw the mobile dental clinic. In 2009, the Israeli Defense Force bombed the clinic-destroying it completely along with all its medical supplies and equipment. If we don't challenge the bombing of this clinic, what would justify building another?
KAIROS, like other agencies funded by CIDA, supports local groups working for a decent future in some of the poorest, most conflicted of regions of the world. We partner, for example, with Colombia's Organización Femenina Popular, a group of remarkably courageous women whose principal campaign is "las mujeres no parimos hijos para la guerra" or "women will not raise children for war." They are committed to keeping their children and youth from entering the war in Colombia, on either side.
KAIROS also partners with the Sudan Council of Churches, an agency working to construct peace in Sudan and to defend the rights of people of all faiths from military or paramilitary assault.
Mr. Steinberg questions the nature of development assistance, along with Canada's role in it, and argues for a return to the "well-intentioned" practices of the 1960s to help millions "pull themselves up by their bootstraps." In June 2008, however, Canada passed into legislation the Official Development Assistance Accountability Act, a clear framework for Canada's overseas assistance. The ODA Accountability Act sets out the purpose of Canadian overseas aid: "To ensure that all of Canada's official development assistance abroad is provided with a central focus on poverty reduction, as well as in a manner that is consistent with Canadian values, Canada's foreign policy, the principles of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness of 2 March 2005, sustainable development and democracy promotion and in a manner that promotes international human rights standards."
The work of KAIROS fits well the newly legislated purpose of Canadian aid. KAIROS would never refer to helping people "pull themselves up by their bootstraps," but rather works to build lasting partnerships with people who are working for self-sufficiency and democratic participation.
It is this "partnership" model of development that is the vision behind CIDA's Partnership Branch, which has funded excellent work, including that of KAIROS, for many decades. If such partnership is no longer the vision of CIDA, then the Canadian people need to know it and be invited into a public debate about how we can best fulfil Canada's new mandate for foreign aid.
People in communities and churches across the country are asking about CIDA's abrupt end to its relationship with KAIROS, and what it means for the future direction of Canadian aid.
Canadians are responding with enormous generosity to help the people of Haiti face terrible disaster. Many are discussing the ongoing disaster of poverty in Haiti. The immediate crisis requires both food aid and humanitarian relief. The long-term crisis needs partnerships that will continue to help—more fully, more deeply—for generations to come.
Mary Corkery is executive director of KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives.