8.01.2011

Famine in East Africa


News of famine in East Africa overwhelms and offends the mind. How we get our heads around the fact that millions of children are at risk of death by starvation? What can we possibly do in response to so great a need at so great a distance? Given that some of the problem is structural - outside aid being kept away or siphoned off - what hope is there that our help will even make a difference?

May I offer two possible ways in. Both involve grassroots efforts that are small enough that our tiny contributions can make a big difference, but that are set up to take those tiny contributions and grow something sustainably impactful over time.

First, yesterday, I wrote about my friend Stella's ministry, Fruit of the Vine International, which supports orphanages in East Africa and focuses its giving on high-leverage sustainable projects like poultry farming and water well building. I encourage you to give through this entity.

I also commend to you Christian Aid Mission, which I have supported since the mid-1990's and which I have written about a fair amount in this space. About a year ago, I told you I was taking a yearlong break from contributing to this ministry, and a couple of weeks ago I called them up to resume supporting them. As before, they will deploy my money to an orphanage in Kenya, and my $100 monthly contribution will provide for four of the kids there. (As with Fruit of the Vine, Christian Aid Mission supports ministries run by the locals, which keeps costs down considerably.)

It doesn't take a long look at the expenditures in our own lives to find $300 a year to divert to relief and development in places of great need. Five years ago, I had written about some things we can go without to scrounge up the cash to support the orphaned of the world, and though we are all probably feeling the pinch more now than when I wrote that post, the need in the world is also far greater, due in part to rising food and energy prices and to more severe weather patterns.

The two most repeated commands in the Bible are to love God and to care for the poor. If, like me, you are following the situation in East Africa with a sense of bewilderment and powerlessness at the sheer size of the crisis, there are at least two good organizations out there, that are about loving God and caring for the poor, where you can get involved to help chip away at the problem. Do consider doing this.

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