We first heard about the covid crisis in Lalibela, Ethiopia 5 months ago--not just a health emergency, but a severe economic crisis in a town whose economy is totally dependent on visitors to the historic churches hewn from stone. We heard of a few children whose parents could not afford to feed them, let alone send them to school. Of course we had to help. Then more arrived, as we expected. Last month we supported 255 families, surely unsustainable, but absolutely necessary. We decided to do what we could for as long as we were able. An unexpected & generous donation from relative Wendy was doubled by her employer (Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco) & kept us in business another month.
Then this week we heard of the refugees from nearby war-torn Tigray. As always, the politicians begin the war and innocent people suffer. 3,000 refugees have poured into Lalibela. All have lost property, land, and many, family members. They have nothing and have fled to a place that has almost nothing to offer them for help. Above is a photo of a familiar airport at Axum--one we passed through twice on our last visit to Lalibela. This brings it all even closer to home. How could we not do whatever we could do?! The other 2 pictures are of refugee families found begging on the street. One man, with 3 small children, had his wife shot & killed before his eyes. The other, a prosperous farmer, now has only his family and the clothes on his back. Yes, they are smiling. They have just received funds from Project Harambee to feed their families for a week.
This is after we heard from our helpers Desiye & Abebe:
"Our first job this morning was to find the father of those three children. And as we went to find him, we encountered something similar. What makes them special is that they are a family of 9. And for that matter, they have very little children's. So we sat down to find out the history of these families and tried to interview. And when we asked him and peoples like that, it was very, very sad. I was very sad and cried when we heard that their children were starving when they wanted something to eat.
And it is easy to imagine how horrible it would be to suffer the cold on the porch and on the porch.
And when I finally gave them the money you ordered me, they were very grateful to you.
And when we gave $25 each to the two families, they were very happy. And both families are promised to us will renting houses and their children are out of the cold.
They promise to us to protect their childrens."
On a page we posted yesterday there's more information. After a search, we found that there's no outside help or any agency assisting the residents of Lalibela or the refugees. They are on their own. I put myself in their shoes. What on earth to do? Of course the answer is easy. We do as much as we can for as long as we can. Considering our limited resources, that won't be for very long. So I had a little talk with God yesterday morning. This is not a time to mince words & I said "Look, I didn't ask for this. It was dropped in my lap & I'm doing the best I can. If you want me to continue this work & help your people, you've got to do your part. I'm not looking for a sign, I'm looking for cold hard cash. So...?"
I went out to check the mail. An envelope in the box was addressed to HARAMBEE & contained a check for $5,000.
Need I say more? The generous donors, who wish to remain anonymous, have hearts bigger than Texas. People like them keep me going. Our brothers and sisters in Africa also keep me going and they keep me begging. So I'm asking you to forego one trip to Burger King or Starbucks. Donate $5. It will feed a family in Ethiopia for several days. We need you. They need you.
Hope.... that is what has been distributed to refugees in Lalibela, Ethiopia because of your giving. It may look like soap or masks or even money to supply the needs of a family, but in the end, it is simply hope. Hope that the family can survive, hope for a brighter tomorrow, hope that all will remain healthy & safe. That’s what your support & donations have sent today to so many in the midst of economic, health & safety crises. Thank you for demonstrating what compassion, caring, concern & kindness look like today..... they look like hope.
EQUALLY IMPORTANT, come with us when it's again safe to travel. It's easier & less expensive than you might think. It will forever change you & your outlook on life. Meet face to face the people whose lives you literally have saved.