Christian World Service began in December 1945 when the National Council of Churches made its first Christmas Appeal for overseas relief for post-war Europe. Known as Inter-Church Aid (ICA) it evolved to become Christian World Service (CWS), New Zealand’s longest serving home-grown development and aid agency.
CWS was soon responding to need across the world and in 1952 launched its first emergency appeals for hurricane damaged Vanuatu and Fiji. In the 1960s the focus expanded to include Africa. Supporting the development of newly independent countries was an important focus of CWS’s work. As CWS funded community development initiatives in post-colonial states, it became impossible to separate aid from the political and social context. Increasing emphasis on action against the root causes of inequality and poverty and more support for justice struggles developed. Education and advocacy became core values for CWS. With communication advances, relationships with partners have become closer and have enabled us to exchange ideas and develop our knowledge. Visits to partners in Brazil, Haiti, Zimbabwe, Timor Leste and many others have been a chance to hear first hand how much gifts to CWS change lives.
In recent years CWS has developed its campaigning arm and worked hard on issues that make people poor. In 1997 CWS initiated collective action on cancelling developing countries’ unpayable debt. Jubilee Aotearoa ensures debt related issues remain on the government’s agenda. The focus in the new millennium has gone back to basics. People are struggling to have enough food and water. Unfair trade rules and climate change worsen the problems. Natural disasters and conflicts are devastating poor communities. CWS is proud of all we have achieved with our partners, but there is still much more to do. Our emergency relief, campaigns and community development focus is on ensuring people have the basics of life, while protecting their environment and community services for future generations. Poverty and injustice must be overcome.