Ethiopian Individuals Are Doing About the Hunger Crisis:
Call for More Participants, Stories, Videos and Pictures
October 21, 2008
We want to update you on the very positive response
we are continuing to receive from Ethiopians who want
to help their fellow Ethiopians who are in greatest
need. We are also seeking personal stories as well as
pictures and videos that can tell the story of the devastating
starvation and need for help as well as other inspiring
stories telling or showing, how average Ethiopians are
helping in the lives of individual people through their
gifts of compassion.
Since we first made the call to individual Ethiopians
to take action by forming groups of five to help with
the hunger crisis in our country by pooling money ($20
each) together to send it home ($100) on a monthly basis
for their trusted relative or friend to distribute to
the neediest and most desperate of Ethiopians, we continue
to receive calls and emails from people who report that
they have started new groups.
At the time of our last update, twenty-three groups
had formed and committed to help. Now, we know of fifty-eight
groups—more than doubling that first number. This
means that 58 Ethiopian individuals or families every
month will receive help now from people they do not
know, who are not even their relatives.
This means nearly seven hundred individuals or families
in a year receiving a total of approximately $70,000
that would never have been otherwise sent! How many
lives will be saved or opportunities given through one
person at a time, giving only $20 a month when our individual
efforts are multiplied through the cooperative actions
of many Ethiopians?
This is such an encouragement! We would like to thank
the Ethiopians and non-Ethiopians who are participating
and continue to call for the formation of more groups.
We know that for every group that informs us of what
they are doing, there are others from whom we have not
heard. We thank all of you! During a time of difficulty,
there are those people who come out and share what they
have. These are the Good Samaritans of Ethiopia.
Their actions are in opposition to what the government
is doing. For instance, in order to hide the full extent
of the starvation crisis, you may have read the recent
reports coming out that allege that before western observers
could tour clinics treating the malnourished and starving,
those Ethiopians, in the worst condition—especially
malnourished children—disappeared from the clinics
with no explanation leaving workers concerned for their
well-being. These workers were certain they were taken
away so that the visiting western donor would not see
the manmade horror going on in Ethiopia.
Despite all the negative things we are hearing about
Ethiopia, this compassion towards the hurting is one
way to fight back and is something that brings new hope
to a society where the humanity of its people has been
devalued and forgotten by its leaders and by many of
its people—but not by God.
It is God who values each of us and wants us to see
that “our family” is bigger than only our
own—neither of which should be ignored. We have
now seen many Ethiopians with hearts of compassion step
up to do their best to help their “bigger family”
of fellow Ethiopians even when they, themselves, may
be having difficulty making financial ends meet. These
Ethiopians are our real heroes and heroines.
If we could, we would name all of you, but there are
too many of you out there. We really want you to know
how much you are appreciated. You have done a remarkable
thing. This includes individuals sending money to help
their own families, individuals helping a child to go
to school, individuals helping cover the costs at orphanages
and individuals who are sending money through their
newly formed groups or through their religious groups,
communities or through other organizations so that they
can help meet the growing needs for food and help. We
thank you and appreciate you. It is these kinds of actions
that make us to be human and affirm the humanity of
To be human is to love, to appreciate, to respect,
to care and to protect. This response shows that there
are many good Ethiopians out there who care more for
the people than about grabbing opportunities through
taking advantage of the dying, the weak and the forgotten.
God will judge those people who do; however, our concern
should be on what we can do to help right now and perhaps,
others will be encouraged and inspired to join us.
That is why we continue to appeal to more
Ethiopians who have not yet joined this effort to please
come out now and join this movement of helping one another.
Join this movement of loving one another. Join this
movement of respecting one another. Join this movement
of giving to others. Join this Good Samaritan movement
that can revive Ethiopia.
There are a million people needing help and while we
in the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia, along
with some others outside the movement, are working towards
finding a lasting solution, come out with the little
you have and share it, thereby saving the life of a
dying Ethiopian, until more substantial change can come
Consider all the Ethiopians who are suffering
as your family, because after all, they are your own.
We are from the same country. Our mother and our father
is our land that has bound us together as one family
and one people—the Ethiopian people. So, let us
rise up as a people who look after one another.
This is our call to you. Join the greater Ethiopians
who are already out helping the dying and also the non-Ethiopians
who are helping us despite differences, perhaps of skin
color, nationality, religion, culture, history or some
other distinguishing characteristic, but yet value the
humanity of the dying and suffering.
We need to appreciate these people because there are
many non-Ethiopians whose actions are saving Ethiopian
lives today, like religious groups and humanitarian
groups who are sending money, supplies and personnel
to help. What a model this is for us to care about those
across our borders as well—in Somalia, Eritrea,
Djibouti, Sudan and Kenya.
Solutions to our bigger crisis will not come overnight,
but will take time, resources and planning. Those in
the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia are working
hard, but there is so much work to be done, we cannot
do it alone so we need all Ethiopians to step up.
Please join us in support and in prayer, asking God
to intervene and save those who are dying and suffering
in the Horn of Africa and to correct the broken system
that causes 17 million people in the Horn of Africa
to desperately need food.
We do not have to sit by—turning
our heads, closing our eyes and covering our ears to
the pain and suffering of Ethiopians—while this
tragedy unfolds, claiming countless new victims every
We do not have to sit by, watching as our country falls
apart and while mothers bury not one, but two or more
children. We have had enough! Ethiopia has had enough!
Together, we can take action and it can
begin in our homes and in our communities. No person
of compassion should miss this opportunity to act on
behalf of our fellow Ethiopians.
This is not a time to claim discouragement,
disinterest in politics, or a time to claim narrow loyalty
to one ethnic, religious, political or regional group.
This issue should be of importance to every Ethiopian
regardless of differences and preferences. It is time
for all Ethiopians of heart to come together to make
Don’t be a bystander during one of
the worst crises faced by Ethiopians. Encourage family
members and friends to join you for this grass-roots
action that can revitalize a nation, one person or one
family at a time.
Please read these stories of how the lives of some
Ethiopians were changed through the compassionate gifts
from Ethiopians they have never met and then please
be encouraged to follow their example.
A story of a young mother of two children,
begging on the streets of Addis Ababa, helped by a group
of Ethiopians from Toronto:
Meskerem, an Ethiopian woman from Toronto, called to
tell me that this call to help had inspired her to do
her part. She had recently returned from Ethiopia after
being there during the New Year and knew of the desperation
of the people. She immediately talked to five of her
friends about forming a giving group and her friends
She called her sister in Ethiopia and told her sister
about the idea, asking her to form her own committee
of three or four people there so that when the first
1000 birr was sent, they could identify an individual
or family that was among the poorest of the poor to
receive the money.
Her sister went into action and found three other people,
all of whom were better off, who could responsibly help
with the distribution of these monthly gifts. These
four people soon told the Toronto group that they had
found the right candidate.
They described a younger woman named Aster who was
in her early twenties and had two children, one about
five years of age and the other, about two years of
age. This woman lived as a beggar in their neighborhood
and was always sitting on a certain corner, begging
for her children, lovingly caring for them as best she
In the past, the sister had talked to Aster who had
shared with her how difficult life had become for her
because of the poverty of so many, reducing the number
of givers and increasing the numbers of those begging
for help. Aster told her that she might only receive
one or two birr a day and that it was not enough to
feed her children.
She used to live in the south and had moved to Addis
Ababa thinking she would find a better opportunity,
but had not. Yet, Meskerem’s sister could see
that Aster was a very caring and committed mother who
continued to struggle despite the difficulty and that
she was someone who, if given a boost, would do her
best to find new ways to sustain themselves.
After receiving the first money from the group in Toronto,
this committee decided to approach this young mother.
They sat down with Aster and told her that they had
received 1000 birr from five Ethiopians from Canada
who wanted their committee to look for the right person
to give it to, someone who would use this money effectively.
They told her that the money was not to be given back,
but was a one-time gift and that they had decided that
she was the right person to give it to because they
had seen how hard she was trying to care for her children.
They then pulled out the 1000 birr, counted it and
gave it to Aster. They told her she could do whatever
she wanted with it, including using part of it to start
a small business selling bread, onions or anything else
she could sell in the market. They told her that if
there was any help she needed, that they would be there,
but reminded her that it was a one-time gift.
The young mother began crying and could not believe
it. She said it was only God who could have done this.
She told them that she had been praying to God for help
because she no longer knew what she could do. She said
she had decided to leave it in the hands of God. Everyone
started crying with her. They told her that all they
needed from her was a picture and for her to write a
small thank you note so they could send it to the people
in Canada who had sent this money.
Meskerem’s sister and the rest of the committee
were so touched by this experience that it spurred them
on to identify potential receivers for the future, encouraging
the sister in Toronto to please send the next money
as soon as they have it. They are not only going to
those in their own neighborhoods, but are going to other
parts of Addis Ababa due to their commitment to identify
the most needy of people, regardless of their ethnicity.
They are inspired by this experience, believing that
they are really making a difference and contributing
to a better society.
This is not even the end of the impact of Aster’s
story. After Meskerem recently told me about it, I shared
it with friends from Saskatoon. These two non-Ethiopian
friends were so touched by it, that they also wanted
to do the same. They said it was an especially appealing
way to give because they could see there was no overhead
and that the gift was given person to person.
Both gave as they were able, the younger one in a one-time
gift of $100 and the other, a doctor, said he would
commit to sending $100 a month for one year as long
as Meskerem’s sister was able to find a needy
recipient whose life would be empowered by it.
I have already made the connection between him and
Meskerem’s sister and his first donation has been
sent. Someone will now have another story to tell.
An Ethiopian from Washington D.C. makes
a difference when he travels to Ethiopia.
An Ethiopian man, Tamrat, who lives in Washington
D.C. recently returned to Ethiopia on a visit. According
to him, before going, he had read the article calling
Ethiopians to form groups, helping one person at a time,
but had not yet done so himself.
When he was in Ethiopia, someone told him about some
people who lived in a certain neighborhood who were
so desperately poor that they were starving. These families
had become invisible to others in the area and were
no longer seen outside of their homes.
Apparently, some of the neighbors used to share their
food with them, but none of them had any resources anymore
to continue to do this. This man knew he did not have
the money to give, but took the initiative to tell the
owner of a local restaurant about this situation, encouraging
the owner to do something.
The restaurant owner went to the homes of these families
and was shocked beyond belief at what she saw. These
families were literally starving and had become so weak
that they could only lay in their homes, unable to walk
and ready to die.
Immediately, the owner went to get food from the restaurant
and brought it to the people in these homes, giving
them both food and water. Some of them threw up because
they had not eaten for so long. This restaurant owner
determined that she would continue to help them as able,
but did not know for how long it would be possible.
Tamrat then came back to Washington D.C. and shared
this story with family members of how this restaurant
owner was helping. His family members raised $3000 to
go to the restaurant owner so that she could continue
to distribute the money in the most effective way. It
was decided that she would give a thousand birr to each
of these families and then to continue to search for
others needing the same kind of help.
Tamrat’s family group has now split into three
separate groups, each of which is committed to sending
$100 every month, a total of $300 a month now going
to help. It is a win-win situation and everyone is inspired
by what is happening and feel that it is fulfilling
to be part of it.
The restaurant owner was originally doing it herself
because of her own willingness to help, but now these
three groups are expanding her efforts by providing
even greater means for her to continue on.
Many people can get sick from a virus spread by one
person. The reverse can be true also. How many Ethiopians
will catch the spirit of compassion from these inspiring
stories so that it spreads like a contagion of good
throughout our society!
Please join this effort! When you give,
you receive more back!
What can we learn from this is, when you give, you
receive more! These are just a few of the stories from
two of the 58 groups that have formed. There are certainly
many more inspiring stories and we will try to continue
sharing some of these stories with you as well as pictures
related to the people and this crisis as we receive
them from all of you.
I have one more story for you involving my good friend
Clay and what he has done. Clay is a Canadian man in
his mid-thirties, a devout Christian and a great family
man. He and his wife are the most wonderful of people
and recently adopted twin girls from Ethiopia. When
he went to pick up his two little girls, he took a substantial
amount of money along to contribute.
When he got there, he and his beautiful wife Cheryl
donated some of this money to two orphanage centers
and bought playground equipment and toys for a children’s
center for children infected with HIV. However, one
thing he and his wife wanted to do was to personally
help four of the most needy Ethiopian families.
With the help of his Ethiopian taxi driver, Clay and
his wife went to one of the most impoverished areas
of Addis Ababa and found four families in great need
and gave each of them a bag of teff and 1000 birr.
Each story of each family receiving these gifts is
incredibly touching, but the details will have to wait
until another time; however, you can see a picture of
Clay carrying a bag of teff to one of the needy families.
The main point is that these are human beings who want
to help other human beings. They have done something
that many of the Ethiopian government officials, including
the unelected Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi,
probably would never do for the very people he and they
are supposed to care about the most. Yet, this couple
is willing to share with people they had never met before.
May God bless these two wonderful people and their
new children who now have a wonderful home in Saskatoon
and have become part of a loving family, which also
includes their six-year-old biological daughter.
Many Ethiopians and non-Ethiopians are
standing up to help. Will you be next?
I hope these examples will inspire many more to help.
May God forgive us for our past and present failures
to Him and to others, but may He now inspire many more
to join in this work.
May He show himself and His faithfulness to us, not
because we deserve it, but because of His mercy and
love so that we may then pass on these blessings to
others in generous acts of kindness and mercy.
For more information please contact
me by email at: Obang@anuakjustice.org
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