HOPE AMID HUNGER
East Africa is in crisis with 16 million people facing desperate food shortages. As is so often the case, it is women and children who suffer the most; more than 800,000 children under five are severely malnourished.
Famine was declared in parts of South Sudan in February and the situation is worsening as food stocks are being depleted. In the midst of this, Tearfund are providing food assistance for over 17,000 people who have been displaced as well as clean water and sanitation to around 65,000 people who don’t have access to these basic needs. They are also providing malnutrition treatment for approximately 50,000 children and pregnant mothers.
In need of a miracle
In one community in Uror County they run a feeding programme, established by funding from the Office of US Disaster Assistance (OFDA). They provide preventive and treatment services for children and pregnant and breastfeeding women suffering from malnutrition. In the year to the end of August 2016 this centre alone saw more than 1,100 cases – more than twice as many as the previous year.
Baby Amira* had been ill since birth, with a combination of vomiting, diarrhoea, fever and skin rashes. Her mother, Najiyya*, was unable to access health services for her child. The already limited health services in the area had been overloaded by an influx of people fleeing violence in other parts of the country.
‘I felt there was nothing to be done,’ recalls Najiyya. ‘I was so hopeless, her condition was out of control. God was the only way to help my child.’
But then Najiyya was referred to the feeding centre. She dared to hope that her child might get well. The treatment Amira received had an immediate impact and her health was soon restored.
‘I am happy and so excited with my child being rescued,’ Najiyya exclaims. ‘She is the fourth child and youngest in the family – the eldest is not able to walk since childhood. I thought that Amira would have also been like her.’
The project also addresses other needs, such as education in health and hygiene and the rehabilitation of boreholes to ensure safe water supplies. As a result, we see children like Amira saved from death and disability. We see families like Najiyya’s able to cope better with the challenges they’re facing.
But with the escalating food crisis there are many more that need immediate help. Somalia is also on the brink of famine and parts of Kenya and Ethiopia are in desperate need. Please pray with us and consider giving to our East Africa Crisis Appeal. Thank you.
*Names changed to protect identity
- PLEASE PRAY
- Give thanks for the work that Tearfund and our partners have been doing for many years in communities in these countries, for the relationships they have and the help they are already bringing to people.
- Lift up those across East Africa who are facing critical food shortages; pray that the Lord will comfort them and provide for them through the generous giving of his people.
- Pray for those on the ground responding to the crisis – ask God to give them wisdom and protection as they reach out to those in great need.
A HEALING OF THE HEART
For several years, the Central African Republic has been torn apart by conflict. A conflict that resulted in the killing of civilians, and the burning and looting of houses.
But amid the conflict, there is hope. The church is very much alive and active in its local community and for people like Suzanne, the church has been the lifeline she needed.
In the 1950s, Suzanne married Antoine, a man from a different village, and they lived together just outside Bangui, the capital city. Following her husband’s death, Suzanne was sharing her home with her daughter and her three grandchildren. When the conflict erupted, they thought they would be safe in the family home.
Before long, however, Antoine’s family came to Suzanne’s home. They blamed her for his death, saying that she was an ‘outsider’ who had caused problems by marrying someone from a different village. They chased away Suzanne, her daughter and the grandchildren, threatening to kill them if they returned.
Suzanne’s daughter and the children were able to find shelter with a family in the local area, but there was no room for Suzanne, who had to sleep in the bush or on the floor of the local church.
Tearfund has been working with the local church in CAR through a process called Church and Community Mobilisation (CCM). Tearfund organised several training sessions to inspire, and equip the church to reach out to the vulnerable in their communities; to rescue the lost and to heal broken hearts.
Following CCM training, the church in Suzanne’s community was deeply moved by Suzanne’s story and wanted to help. Brick by brick, the church was able to provide a new home for Suzanne. The pastor raised funds, and the church members brought in bricks or lent tools. The church worked for three months to raise the walls with some of the more wealthy members financing the roof.
Together, they were able to be a new family for Suzanne – and helped heal her broken heart. She says, ‘seeing what my brothers and sisters have done for me has healed me. I have felt their love, their compassion. I am grateful to Tearfund who made it happen. I praise the Lord for now being in my own house, I can move on, and feel that the future is brighter than ever.’
- PLEASE PRAY
- Praise God for the churches that have attended Tearfund’s CCM training and for the desire they have to see change in their local communities.
- Lift up Suzanne and her family as she settles into her new home.
- Pray that the church in CAR can continue to be salt and light even in a very difficult context.
HOPE FOR HONDURAS
With an average of 20 murders committed every day, Honduras is one of the world’s most violent countries. Living in a crime-riddled riverbank slum in San Pedro Sula, Honduras second largest city, it’s no wonder families like Angela’s go to bed frightened.
River of death
Angela, her husband and five children live in a two-room hut made of salvaged wood and plastic sheeting, perched precariously above the river. It gives little protection when it rains. In the last rainy season, the family’s latrine was washed into the river.
Gang violence and drug trafficking regularly take a terrible toll. The river that runs beside the slum and through San Pedro Sula is used as a dumping site for bodies. This is the same river that Angela’s children must wade through to reach school since the bridge was damaged.
Desperate circumstances There is no school in the slum, the government won’t provide any services as the people aren’t legally settled. Angela and her family are one of 40,000 families living in the riverbank slum, without access to any facilities.
These are the very places where Jesus calls us to make the most profound difference. This Lent, the cross reminds us that redemption is a gift for everyone, no matter how desperate the circumstances.
Finding her voice Tearfund’s partner, Comisión de Acción Social Menonita (CASM), is helping women like Angela set up committees to be a voice for their community. CASM helps the community come together, support one another and create a better life, despite the dangers.
Today, with training from CASM, Angela and others on the committee are calling for changes that will give the riverbank slum families a safe place to live.
- PLEASE PRAY
- Dear Heavenly Father, we pray that the violence and corruption that characterises Honduras will give way to a peaceful and just society for all. We pray for a dignifying relocation process for the riverbank community and that they may be able to live in safety. Please may joy overflow where it seems impossible right now. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
John Gravett – Tearfund Representative