Where we work
› Where we work
  • Argentina
    Photo: Fionuala Cregan

    Children play in the Wichi indigenous community Wayayuk in the Chaco region of Argentina. CWS Chaco program works with communities such as Wayayuk in securing legal title to their ancestral territory and using the land in ways that are economically, socially and culturally sustainable.

    Our work in Argentina focuses primarily on the South American Chaco of this country 46 per cent of the entire Chaco is found within the borders of Argentina. A region of great cultural diversity the Chaco is home to some 25 indigenous ethnic groups whose ancestral territories span more than one country and, for many indigenous groups, centuries-old international borders are often irrelevant in comparison to their thousand year-old tribal borders. In the Argentinean Chaco the predominant indigenous groups are the Qom, Wichi, Guarani and Pilaga. Today they live alongside non-indigenous small farmers known as criollos who are of European descent, and many of whom also live in conditions of poverty and social exclusion.

     

    Indigenous communities are often located in very remote areas with extremely poor roads. Some have access to basic services such as a school, a small health clinic running water and electricity, cell phone signals -while others have none or almost none of these services. In some cases, the elders in the community retain knowledge of natural medicine involving plants and herbs. What these communities have in common is that their physical and cultural survival depends on their access to their land and territory—vast amounts of which have been taken from them already.

     

    The CWS Chaco Program is strengthening the organizational capacity of groups of indigenous men and women in the Gran Chaco to secure legal title to their ancestral territory and to use the land in ways that are economically, socially and culturally sustainable.

     

    In Argentina, the members of the program are:

     

    FUNDAPAZ: Foundation for Development in Justice and Peace

    The Foundation for Development in Justice and Peace, a secular organization founded by Catholic activists, is dedicated to the development of poor rural communities in the Argentine Northwest. It works with Wichi indigenous communities and criollos in the province of Salta. More info: www.fundapaz.org.ar

     

    JUM: United Board of Missions

    The United Board of Missions is an ecumenical group dedicated to promoting respect for the rights of the indigenous peoples of the Chaco region. It is based in the town of Castelli in the Province of Chaco and works with both Qom and Wichi indigenous communities. More info: www.federacionjum.org.ar

     

    Through our Small Projects Fund we also support community based initiatives by both indigenous, criollo and inter-cultural groups in both the rural and urban Argentinean Chaco. You can read more about these initiatives here.

     

    In our work to promote peace and justice, we also support the following strategic partners in Argentina:

     

    Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo

    Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo is dedicated to finding the missing sons and daughters of people disappeared during the last dictatorship in Argentina. More info: www.abuelas.org.ar

     

    ACIFAD: Civil Association of Relatives of Detainees of Federal Prisons in Argentina

    Within the framework of our work on Children of Incarcerated parents, CWS is providing core support to the Civil Association of Relatives of Detainees of Federal Prisons in Argentina (ACIFAD) which seeks to promote and defend the rights of inmates and their children and families and create a space for dialogue, support and advocacy.

     

    CWS support is aimed at strengthening its capacity and ability to respond to the increasing number of families seeking their support.

     


  • Bolivia
    Photo: Paul Jeffrey

    A Weenhayek fisherman in Villamontes in the Chaco region of Bolivia who along with other fishing communities faced a major crisis in 2011 when the Pilcomayo River on which they depend for their livelihood suffered a serious sedimentation problem and the fish population drastically depleted. CWS Chaco Program accompanied communities in adapting to the crisis through the development of experimental kitchen gardens.

    Our work in Bolivia focuses primarily on the South American Chaco region of this country. 20 per cent of the entire Chaco region is found within the borders of Bolivia. A region of great cultural diversity the Chaco is home to some 25 indigenous ethnic groups whose ancestral territories span more than one country and, for many indigenous groups, centuries-old international borders are often irrelevant in comparison to their thousand year-old tribal borders. In the Bolivian Chaco the predominant indigenous groups are the Guarani. Weenhayek and Tapiete who each have their own umbrella organizations including The Guarani People´s Assembly (APG) and the Organization of Weenhayek and Tapiete leaders of Tarija (ORCAWETA). Oil reserves were discovered in the Bolivian Chaco during the last decade leading to a strong presence of international oil companies. This has in many cases affected communities access to clean water and the process of financial compensation by these companies has often created internal conflicts in communities and in the local indigenous organizations.

     

    The CWS Chaco Program is strengthening the organizational capacity of groups of indigenous men and women in the Gran Chaco to secure legal title to their ancestral territory and to use the land in ways that are economically, socially and culturally sustainable. In Bolivia there is a particular focus on improving food security and nutrition through the development of experimental kitchen gardens, technology for water systems and training on nutrition. A baseline study on food security carried out in these communities in 2010 found that in some cases 3 out of every 4 children suffered from chronic malnutrition.

     

    In Bolivia the member of our Indigenous rights in the Chaco region program is:

     

    CER-DET: Center for Regional Studies of Tarija

    The Center for Regional Studies of Tarija is a research and action group dedicated to the economic and political empowerment of indigenous families and organizations in the Bolivian Chaco region. More info: www.cerdet.org.bo

     


  • Brazil
    Photo: Alan B. T. Silva

    Each year hundreds of children in São Bernardo do Campo, greater São Paulo, participate in an event during carnival called "Eureca". With samba drumming, dancing and colorful costumes they take to the streets to convey messages to the general public regarding children´s rights. While the event does not have the glamour or fame of the carnival taking place in nearby Rio De Janeiro, it is an important moment in the lives of participating children, many of whom live on the streets or in areas with high levels of community violence. Translated from Portuguese, "Eureca" is an acronym for “I recognize the statute for children and youth” and is organized by CWS partner Projeto Meninos e Meninas de Rúa.

    With half of South America´s surface, two hundred million inhabitants and one of the most unequal societies of the world, Brazil is a country with an immensely rich and diverse cultural, spiritual and political heritage. Despite impressive economic growth in recent years, high levels of inequality and social exclusion persist, and in some cases have even grown in Afro-Brazilian and indigenous communities as well as in a number of rural and urban areas.

     

    CWS supports local efforts to organize and empower those living in poverty to demand their rights locally and nationally with a special focus on Afro-Brazilian communities, children and youth and women and their rights to live free from violence and discrimination, access land, quality education and health.

     

    We also support efforts to build the capacity of Brazilian churches and religious communities, ecumenical networks and social movements in the areas of dialogue, leadership formation and non-discrimination.

     

    CESE: Ecumenical Coordination for Services

    The Ecumenical Coordination for Services is an NGO organized by churches committed to the struggle to guarantee respect for rights in Brazil. More info: www.cese.org.br

     

    CESEP: Ecumenical Center for Mission and Popular Education

    The Ecumenical Center for Mission and Popular Education is a popular education training center that offers services to social movement leaders and Christian churches to strengthen their ministry work. More info: www.cesep.org.br

     

    KOINONIA

    KOINONIA works in ecumenical partnership in favour of the culturally and historically vulnerable people of northern Brazil. More info: www.koinonia.org.br

     

    Projeto Meninos e Meninas de Rúa

    The Street Kids Project is a program founded by Catholic, Methodist and Presbyterian activists that works with street children in the city and suburbs of Sao Paolo. They work to build a sense of citizenship for these children and youth who live in situations of social exclusion by developing and implementing cultural and educational activities aimed at stimulating their reintegration with their families, schools and communities. More info: www.pmmr.org.br

     


  • Cuba
    Photo: Paul Jeffrey

    A woman raises her arms while praying at a Methodist church in Havana. Public expression of religious faith has steadily increased since the early 1990s when the government ended Cuba´s status as an officially atheist state. Today there are thriving communities of both Catholic and Protestant churches as well as smaller communities of Jews, Muslims and Orthodox Christians. Many Protestant churches participate in the Cuban Council of Churches (CCC) including the Presbyterian, Episcopal and Methodist and some Baptist conventions. Following the Haiti earthquake in 2010 CWS and CCC collaborated on an emergency response program for people with disabilities.

    CWS believes in the full normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba and an end to the US embargo against this country. We celebrate the lift of restrictions for religious and academic travel to Cuba, and the increased opportunities for licensed people-to-people cultural travel. This has enabled us strengthen our relationships with the Cuban Council of Churches and other partners in Cuba. We have accompanied and supported them during this time of robust growth for Cuban churches, which has occurred alongside movement within Cuba to increase economic prosperity and political rights.

     

    Through our advoacy work, CWS and partners work in the US to urge the Obama Administration to take the following actions:

    • Initiate direct, high-level dialogue with the Cuban government.
    • Exercise executive authority to remove Cuba from the United States' list of state sponsors of terrorism.
    • Exercise executive authority to lift all restrictions on people-to-people travel between the United States and Cuba.

     

    A country prone to natural disasters, CWS also provides emergency relief when hurricanes and related disasters hit the island.

     


  • Dominican Republic
    Photo: Victor Nolasco

    This group of adolescents are part of a skills training program for vulnerable youth run by Caminante Education Program in Boca Chica. The centre trains on average 1,130 people (887 women) a year of which 110 begin working or start up their own businesses.

    Our work in the Dominican Republic focuses on the protection of vulnerable children and on initiatives to promote food security and nutrition in Bateye communities. We also carry out advocacy work on the issue of statelessness of persons of Haitian descent, particularly people born in Dominican Republic who have Haitian parents and for this reason are denied Dominican citizenship and legal documents.

     

    In the wake of the devastating 2010 earthquake, hundreds of Haitian children made their way to the Dominican Republic, often without their families. Many of them ended up in Boca Chica, a resort town just a half hour from the nation's capital Santo Domingo, where commercial sexual exploitation of youth is rampant. Many of these Haitian youth suffered post-traumatic stress and in addition were unfamiliar with the language or culture of the Dominican Republic and were at great risk of sexual exploitation, drug use, and other situations of violence. CWS supports an integral rescue program that focused on removing these young people from the streets and from situations of risk, reconnecting them to schools, and where possible, reuniting them with their families in Haiti.

     

    Through our Children´s Rights Program we work with:

     

    Caminante Proyecto Educativo

    Caminante it's a non-governmental and non-profit organization, with a Christian orientation based in the city of Boca Chica which works with children, adolescents and youth to develop leadership skills and increase their level of participation in the local, national and regional levels so they can contribute to building societies that respect their rights. More info: www.caminanteproyectoeducativo.org

     

    Through our Food Security Program and our Haiti program we work with:

     

    SSID: Social Service of Dominican Churches

    The Social Service of Dominican Churches is an inter-denominational Christian organization that aims to facilitate and promote self-management and communitarian development. SSID is a key partner in our work to establish food and nutritional security in Central America and the Caribbean. SSID is also a member of Act Alliance and following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, played a key role in coordinating the emergency response efforts. More info: www.ssid.org.do

     


  • Guatemala
    Photo: Sean Hawkey

    A Maya Quiché indigenous women in a greenhouse in Nebaj in the highlands of Guatemala. This region was one of the worst affected by the violence of the country´s 36 year armed conflict 1960–1996. CWS works with indigenous communities in this region to realize their right to food while also supporting survivors of the violence in their quest for justice.

    Our work in Guatemala focuses primarily on food security and nutrition. The highest levels of malnutrition in all of Latin America can be found in Guatemala. The baseline food security study carried out by the CWS Growing Healthier program found that 80 percent of children under five suffered chronic malnutrition in the highland region of Nebaj where 94 per cent of families also reported 5-6 months of food shortage when they have little access at all to food. With support from the program indigenous communities have increased their food production by using greenhouses and improving their irrigation systems. These provide families with a wide variety of vegetables that the communities previously either did not have or had to travel long distances to purchase.

     

    Our partner in the regional Growing Healthier Program in Guatemala is:

     

    CIEDEG: Conference of Evangelical Churches of Guatemala

    The Conference of Evangelical Churches of Guatemala is a movement of Christian churches and communities that aims to strengthen its members’ theological reflection, advocacy and community-based work. CIEDEG is also a member of Act Alliance and convenes the national forum in Guatemala. More info: www.neuvociedeg.org

     

    We also support the following strategic partner in our work to promote peace and justice:

     

    CONAVIGUA: National Coordination of Widows of Guatemala

    The National Coordination of Widows of Guatemala is an organization formed by Mayan women victims of political violence and repression that provides training and support for the defense of human rights and in particular the continued quest for justice for the victims of human rights violations and crimes against humanity that took place during the country´s 36 year armed conflict. More info: www.conavigua.org.gt

     


  • Haiti
    Photo: Paul Jeffrey

    This girl works as a domestic servant but now for a few hours a day she is able to attend classes in the “House of Hope”: a community based education training program for Restavek children run by the Ecumenical Foundation for Peace and Justice (FOPJ) which offers access to accelerated primary education. Two thirds of restaveks are girls and are extremely vulnerable to rape and sexual abuse from the families who house them. CWS works in partnership with organizations in Haiti to end the Restavek system.

    Read the Haiti thematic section of our website to learn more about our work in this country.

     

    Our programs in Haiti are implemented by the following local partner organizations:

     

    SKDE: The Christian Center for Integrated Development

    The Christian Centre for Integrated Development (Sant Kretyen pou Devlopman Entegre) is a non-denominational organization whose goal is to promote sustainable development and empower communities. SKDE is our strategic partner in our food security program.

     

    ASR: Aba Sistèm Restavèk

    Aba Sistèm Restavèk (ASR) or "Down with the Restavèk System” is an alliance of 18 organizations and the only locally-led children's rights network in Haiti. ASR is our strategic partner in our work on the protection of children.

     

    Christian Service of Haiti (Service Chretien d’Haiti)

    SCH is an ecumenical foundation comprised of six Haitian churches. It works with farmers, women and young people in grassroots organizations in rural communities across the country to promote development and participation. SCH is a key partner in our work to strengthen disabled people´s organizations.

     

    FOPJ: Ecumenical Foundation for Peace and Justice

    FOPJ was founded in 1992, after the coup d’état and overthrow of the first government of Jean Bertrand Aristide to defend human rights during this period of oppression. Today the primary focus is on quality training and education including primary education, vocational training and targeted education for widows, the elderly and restavek children. FOPJ is our strategic partner in our work on the protection of children.

     


  • Honduras
    Photo: Sean Hawkey

    A villager helps with the construction of a system to bring clean drinking water to homes in the village of Buenos Aires located in the municipality of Nueva Frontera. Deforestation in this region has severely affected the amount and quality of water due to accelerated soil erosion and landslides which in turn generate sedimentation in rivers and streams. CWS is working with communities in Nueva Frontera to improve their food security and nutrition including through access to safe water.

    Our work in Honduras focuses on improving food security and nutrition in 14 communities in the municipality of Nueva Frontera, a region prone to flooding and landslides which directly affect hundreds of rural families. The baseline food security study carried out by the CWS Growing Healthier program found 81 per cent of families suffered severe food shortages for at least 3 to 4 months a year and that 92 percent could not guarantee that the water they drink comes from a safe source. The project has worked to build cement tanks in communities to capture rain water which is then piped into people´s homes.

     

    Our partner in the regional Growing Healthier Program in Honduras is:

     

    CASM: Mennonite Commission for Social Action

    The Mennonite Commission for Social Action seeks to promote sustainable development processes at a local and regional level. In 2013 they were the recipients of the prestigious National Honduran Environmental Prize for their work on community participation and conservation. More info: www.casm.hn

     


  • Nicaragua
    Photo: Sean Hawkey

    Juan Manuel Verroterán stands in front of sacks of rice that he produced. Some of it will be used for family consumption but most will be sold in the market to purchase other food stuffs and ensure that he and his family have a more balanced diet. The baseline food security study carried out by our Growing Healthier program found that one of the greatest causes of malnutrition in children in Nicaragua is lack of access to food rich in protein, vitamins and minerals. A nutritionist is working with families such as Juan’s on ways of improving nutrition.

    Our work in Nicaragua focuses on food security and nutrition as well as on children’s rights.

     

    32 communities on the Nicaraguan Pacific coast as well as the isolated North Atlantic coast, territory of the Miskito indigenous people, participate in the regional Growing Healthier Program where they have learnt new techniques for improved agricultural production, access to safe water and the prevention of infectious diseases. Initiatives include the construction of latrines by communities as well as training and tools for testing water quality.

     

    Our work on children´s rights focuses on the capital Managua and in particular on the prevention of child labour in the city´s many markets as well as the protection of girls from sexual abuse and violence.

     

    Our partners in the regional Growing Healthier Program in Nicaragua are:

     

    AMC: Christian Medical Action

    Christian Medical Action is an ecumenical organization that implements communitarian health actions and development in impoverished communities, focusing on women, children and adolescents. More info: www.amc.org.ni

     

    CIEETS: The Interchurch Center of Theological and Social Studies

    The Interchurch Center of Theological and Social Studies is an institution formed by protestant churches and ecumenical, social and agrarian organizations. CIEETS facilitates processes of theological, ministerial, social and agro-ecological education aimed at human development of vulnerable communities. More info: www.cieets.org.ni

     

    We support the following strategic partner in our work on children´s rights:

     

    INPRHU: The Institute for Human Promotion

    INPRHU works to promote equality of opportunities, participation and the exercise of fundamental human rights. Its program on the defense and promotion of rights works to prevent violence against youth who work in markets in Managua by training the children and involving community members in their protection. It also assists sexual abuse survivors with shelter, psychological attention, health care and vocational training.

     


  • Paraguay
    Photo: Paul Kelly

    The Community of Sawhoyamaxa who for 20 years lived in a camp by the side of road having been evicted from their land by a cattle rancher. Their case was heard by the Inter-American Court for Human Rights which in 2008 called on the Paraguayan State to return the land to Sawhoyamaxa. CWS Chaco Program has been accompanying the leaders of this community in its struggle through providing technical training and supporting the organisation of a wide range of advocacy actions including mass mobilisations to raise awareness of of their case.

    Our work in Paraguay focuses on the South American Chaco region of this country. 34 per cent of the entire Chaco region is found within the borders of Paraguay. A region of great cultural diversity the Chaco is home to some 25 indigenous ethnic groups whose ancestral territories span more than one country and, for many indigenous groups, centuries-old international borders are often irrelevant in comparison to their thousand year-old tribal borders. The Paraguayan Chaco is the most ethnically diverse part of the Chaco - it is home to over ten different indigenous ethnic groups including Exhlet Sur, Guarani, Nivacle, Sanapana, Manjul, Angaite and Ayoreo, small groups of whom live in voluntary isolation in the forest. It is also home to a large community of Mennonites who emigrated from Canada, Ukraine and Russia during the 1930s and founded the settlements of Filadelfia and Neuland amongst others. Today they manage and work in large dairy and meat agribusiness cooperatives.

     

    The CWS Chaco Program is strengthening the organizational capacity of groups of indigenous men and women in the Gran Chaco to secure legal title to their ancestral territory and to use the land in ways that are economically, socially and culturally sustainable.

     

    In Paraguay there is also a particular focus on improving food security and nutrition in 6 indigenous communities through small livestock management and the marketing of honey and handicrafts. A baseline study on food security carried out in in 2010 found that in some communities in the Paraguayan Chaco 95 per cent of children under five were suffering from chronic malnutrition.

     

    In Paraguay the members of the program are:

     

    CIPAE: Committee of Churches for Emergency Assistance

    The Committee of Churches for Emergency Assistance is an ecumenical group of both Catholic and protestant churches which works to defend and promote human rights. CIPAE is a member of our tri-national land rights program as well as our bi-national food security and nutrition program. More info: www.cipae.org.py

     

    Mingara: Association for Sustainable Development

    Is an non-governmental organization that focuses on community empowerment, and sustainable rural development. Mingara is a member of our bi-national food security and nutrition program. More info: www.ongmingara.org

     


  • Uruguay
    Photo: Gurises Unidos

    Many children from impoverished families in Uruguay are forced to work as trash collectors from a young age. CWS strategic partner in Uruguay works to raise the self-esteem of these children including through recreational activities such as the one photographed here on a beach on the Uruguayan coast. Work is also carried out with the children's families on access to public services as well as on issues related to health and environmental protection.

    While levels of inequality in Uruguay are comparatively lower than in other parts of Latin America and the Caribbean, many people continue to live in conditions of poverty, vulnerability and social exclusion. Some children have no choice but to work as trash collectors to support family income. Thanks to the advocacy work of CWS partner in Uruguay, the government of this country has now included sorting trash in its official definition of the worst forms of child labor, opening the door for relevant public policies.

     

    We support the following strategic partner in our work on children's rights:

     

    Gurises Unidos

    Gurises Unidos is a civil society organization that has been working on the defense of the rights of children, adolescents and youth since 1989. Their mission is to strengthen democratic processes that enable the comprehensive development of children and adolescents within the framework of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Gurises Unidos is co-leading the Children of Incarcerated Parents Initiative with CWS. More info: www.gurisesunidos.org.uy

     


  • Regional
    Photo: LAWG

    Members of the Latin American Working Group (LAWG) demonstrate outside the White House in Washington as part of a campaign calling on the US Government to do more to protect and support victims of violence in Colombia, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico and to promote polices of peace and justice as opposed to military action. “Support Human Rights not Abusive Militaries: We must ensure our tax dollars aren´t used to violate human rights or line the pockets of corrupt officials”, say campaigners. LAWG is one of five organizations with a broad regional focus supported by CWS.

    We support the following strategic regional organizations in our quest to promote peace and justice across Latin America and the Caribbean:

     

    CCC: Caribbean Conference of Churches

    The Caribbean Conference of Churches is the recognized regional ecumenical organization of the Caribbean and one of the major development agencies working in the Caribbean today. CCC is comprised of 33 member churches in 34 territories across the Dutch, English, French and Spanish speaking territories of the region. More info: www.ccc-caribe.org

     

    CLAI: Latin American Council of Churches

    The Latin American Council of Churches is an ecumenical organization of churches and Christian movements created to promote unity, reflection and theological and pastoral dialogue among Christians throughout the continent. More info: www.claiweb.org

     

    CREAS: Regional Center for Advice and Service

    The Regional Center for Advice and Service is an interdisciplinary network of Christian professionals. Its aim is to empower the ecumenical movement, local churches and grassroots organizations in their work to promote human rights. CREAS is also our partner in the South American Chaco Small Projects Fund. More info: www.creas.org

     

    LAWG: Latin America Working Group

    The Latin America Working Group advocates for U.S. policies towards Latin America that promote human rights, justice, peace and sustainable development. More info: www.lawg.org

     

    WOLA: Washington Office for Latin America

    The Washington Office for Latin America promotes human rights, democracy and social justice by working with partners in Latin America and the Caribbean to shape policies in the United States and abroad. More info: www.wola.org