IMM REL-- Arizona Residents Leave Sonoran Desert for Sahara this Week

From Beth Degraff <>
Date Thu, 5 Apr 2012 14:07:28 -0400


Vanessa Mathews, Project Manager, 1-800-730-3490, ext.
Beth DeGraff, Media Contact, cell 616-648-7821 or 1-800-55-CRWRC (EST)

*Arizona Residents Leave Sonoran Desert for the Sahara*

*April 5, 2012*—Arizona residents Pete and Ila Diepersloot leave from Gra nd
Rapids, Michigan, for Niamey, Niger, on Monday to spend three months
providing food assistance to West Africans struggling to survive chronic
drought and food shortages. The couple is volunteering their time and
experience to the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (
as International Relief Managers in six communities, reaching more than
28,000 people with food and work that will sustain them until the next

“It’s a privilege to spend some of our retirement years doing disaster
response work with CRWRC,” Ila Diepersloot says. “We’re excited to go  to
Niger because we love doing this kind of work: we always get back more than
we give.”

By collaborating with CRWRC’s Nigerien partners, with funding from the
Canadian Foodgrains Bank, the Diepersloots will manage the distribution of
six-month food supplies to 4,000 families in urban and rural communities.
The provision ensures that at-risk families will have enough to eat through
the harvest in late in 2012.

The Diepersloots say that the program involves layers of intervention.
“Food for work” activities provide food to participants in exchange for
work on community projects such as repairing roads, clearing communal land,
or easing access to local markets. Residents whose health is too fragile
for work can purchase food at subsidized prices, and those who are unable
to afford the subsidized food price receive free rations.

“We will also distribute improved seed varieties to help families increase
crop development and diversity,” Pete Diepersloot says. “It’s a chall enge
to confront and analyze a broad spectrum of issues that need to be resolved
in order to provide real assistance and services among a diverse group of

Poor harvests resulting from chronic drought over the last three decades
have left half of Niger’s population vulnerable to food crises and
insecurity. In addition, regional instability is causing hundreds of
thousands of refugees to cross the borders from Libya and Mali, putting
additional strain on families who are trying to support even more people
with less food than usual. In Niger, where 63% live below the poverty line
and 34% are below the threshold for extreme poverty, an increasing demand
for supplies also increases food prices—making it even more difficult for
 many families already living in poverty to purchase food.

*Pete and Ila Diepersloot are available for media interview*. They can be
reached at 616-551-9654 or by cell phone at 831-234-9292 through Monday,
April 9, 2012. For more information about this or other CRWRC programs,
call Beth DeGraff at 1-800-55-CRWRC (EST) or cell 616-648-7821.

*Audience members who wish to contribute financially* to CRWRC’s drought
response in West Africa, call 1-800-55-CRWRC or donate online a To give by mail, designate your check, “CRWRC West
Africa Drought Response,” and mail to CRWRC, 2850 Kalamazoo Avenue SE,
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49560-0600. Your support is urgently needed.

*For more information about CRWRC*, visit or call

*CRWRC is a non-profit agency of the Christian Reformed Church in North
America ministering to **people in need around the world with disaster
response, development, and justice since 1962.*
* *
*All donations are tax deductible. Member of InterAction, the Evangelical
Council of Financial **Accountability (ECFA), and the BBB Wise Giving
Alliance. Give with confidence.*

># # #

>Beth DeGraff
>CRWRC Media and Justice Contact
>2850 Kalamazoo Avenue SE
>Grand Rapids, MI 49560-0600

"Poverty represents a double violation of justice -- the poor are unjustly
downtrodden, and our failure to alleviate their condition is, in turn,
unjust." NW