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Pastors for Peace organizing grassroots emergency aid caravan to New Orleans
by p4p Monday, Sep. 05, 2005 at 12:23 PM
p4p@igc.org 201/768-5171 402 W. 145th Street, New York, NY 10031

WE ARE ANNOUNCING THAT PASTORS FOR PEACE IS NOW ORGANIZING AN EMERGENCY AID CARAVAN TO LOUISIANA AND MISSISSIPPI. We see an opportunity to do what our government has not done and does not intend to do: to reach out quickly to those who hunger and thirst. We cannot fail to respond to the needs of our sisters and brothers; neither can we remain silent in the face of our government's racism and callousness.

IFCO/PASTORS FOR PEACE ANNOUNCES EMERGENCY CARAVAN TO LOUISIANA AND MISSISSIPPI

In the book of Acts (16:9), the apostle Paul has a vision that the faraway people of Macedonia are calling for his help, and he responds by reaching out to help the people of that distant land. The "Macedonian call" of the churches in Cuba has driven Pastors for Peace to organize sixteen caravans of humanitarian aid and good will to our neighbors in Cuba. And we have continued, and will continue, to fight for the aid that was seized from us, and to fight for our right to visit, and to assist, and to learn from, and to be in fellowship with, our sisters and brothers in Cuba.

But today our Macedonian call comes from our own fellow citizens. The rising tide of tragedy in Louisiana and Mississippi has us heartbroken, shocked, and outraged. And we are responding with concrete action: WE ARE ANNOUNCING THAT PASTORS FOR PEACE IS NOW ORGANIZING AN EMERGENCY AID CARAVAN TO LOUISIANA AND MISSISSIPPI. We see an opportunity to do what our government has not done and does not intend to do: to reach out quickly to those who hunger and thirst. We cannot fail to respond to the needs of our sisters and brothers; neither can we remain silent in the face of our government's racism and callousness.

We already have a number of our Pastors for Peace box trucks and schoolbuses that we can fill with aid in the northeast and midwest. We also invite you to find vehicles in your communities that you can fill with aid and add to our caravan. We will be working out the logistics of schedules and drop-off points for the aid in the next few days. If you can organize a drop-off point for aid collections, call John Waller at 718/810-8426. For offers of aid donations, send us an email on p4p@igc.org and we will get back to you in a day or two with further information.

Your donations of funds will be used to purchase humanitarian aid and for gas and driver expenses. You can send your tax-deductible donations to IFCO/Pastors for Peace, 402 W. 145th Street, New York, NY 10031. Those wishing to make credit card donations can call 201/768-5171. (Because of the difficulties of the recent move of our office, our office phone connections are not yet up and running. But these numbers will work best for now.)

Please let us know how you can be involved in this urgent and heartrending effort. Email us at p4p@igc.org.

We remember a meeting in June 2000 between members of the Congressional Black Caucus and Cuban President Fidel Castro. President Castro remarked to Congressman Bennie Thompson (D-MS), who represents the Mississippi Delta, that he thought it was shameful that, even in the richest country in the history of the world, there are people living in "third world" conditions. It was this conversation that led to the enrollment of US students in the Latin American School of Medicine. The first of those US students graduated from the program on August 20, 2005. He comes from Slidell, LA. Thank God, he and his family are safe.

But Mississippi and Louisiana are devastated - and we are called to respond.

Cuba has already offered to send 1100 physicians, each with a backpack full of medicine, to the afflicted areas; but the US government has yet even to acknowledge the offer.

Our EMERGENCY CARAVAN TO LOUISIANA AND MISSISSIPPI is an urgent humanitarian response to an unprecedented crisis. We also want to make it very clear that we intend to return shortly to Washington to continue our struggle for release of the seized computer aid. Our vigils in front of the Commerce Department will continue every Wednesday, even as the aid is being sent to Mississippi and Louisiana. And we need all of you to keep making phone calls to the key people who can get the computers released:

Call Arthur Pitts at US Customs: 202/344-2752
Call the Cuba Desk of the US State Department: 202/647-9273
Call Michael Turner, Director of Export Enforcement, US Commerce Dept: 202/482-1208, x3
Call your members of Congress; ask them to appeal to Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez: 202/225-3121

Thank you for your compassion and your hard work; a luta continua!

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