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Encountering Famine, Encountering Hope

May 18, 2016 No Comment

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by Emily Pritchard

“Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Romans 5:2-5

When I think of the people of Ethiopia there are no better words that come to my mind than those highlighted in Romans 5:2-5: faith, grace, joy, sufferings, endurance, character, hope, and love. Having the opportunity to travel to Ethiopia gave me a whole new outlook on what it means to suffer and yet find the endurance to push though the hard times long enough to find hope. For many communities all across Ethiopia this hope has come through the work and support of Canadian Lutheran World Relief (CLWR). Motivated by the love of Christ, Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC) and CLWR work together to improve lives in communities across the world in a way that promotes sustainability and preserves dignity for all.

Motivated by the love of Christ, LCC and CLWR work together to improve lives in communities across the world in a way that promotes sustainability and preserves dignity for all.

Every two years CLWR organizes a Global Encounter team of Lutherans across Canada, providing them with the opportunity to travel to the different countries they support through CLWR and learn about the different projects that have established. From January 16-30, 2016 I was blessed with the opportunity to serve as the youth delegate for Lutheran Church–Canada and experience the work of CLWR in Ethiopia first-hand. The theme this year for the Global Encounter trip was food security. As a university student currently studying human nutrition and specializing in food security, I couldn’t have been more excited to receive this call to be a part of this experience. Together with fellow LCC members Rev. Tom Kruesel, Rev. Jeremy Richert, Eunice Famme, and 23 other participants, we travelled to different project sites that CLWR funds and operates in partnership with the Ethiopian Lutheran World Federation (LWF).

Ethiopia is in the midst of the worst drought they have experienced in the past 50 years. With the projection of a major food crisis that will cause severe malnutrition for many, CLWR is providing some of the more vital resources people need. As you can imagine, something as simple as getting water can be a huge struggle when you are in the midst of a drought. CLWR and LWF have established many water diversion and irrigation sites to serve this need and they have several more still in different phases of construction. The opportunity to visit these sites gave me a much bigger picture of how projects like this not only provide water, but provide jobs for the community members. This promotes crucial, long-term sustainability for these people in the forms of incomes, community involvement, and hope.

CLWR and LWF’s work doesn’t stop there! Once community members have access to a reliable water source, opportunity arises for community members to grow their own food and raise their own animals. In order to do so, the people need to be educated on the best agricultural practices and have financial support. The Hetosa Value Chain project was another project we visited that is doing a great job at providing such education and support to community members living in the Hetosa district. The main objectives of this project are to support small-scale farmers so they can increase their dairy and vegetable production for consumption and marketing, improve use and availability of food in rural households, and facilitate the delivery of the quality demanded for local and national markets.

LWF is working towards achieving these objectives through the establishment of dairy and irrigation cooperative societies, and demonstration sites used to teach farmers how to grow different vegetables and fruits. They also support the construction of irrigation diversion weirs by community members, and seek out and provide input for improved seeds and training of community members. We visited many of the beneficiaries of the Value Chain project and heard how education about artificial insemination for livestock, the creation of several nurseries, and hands-on farming sites are all used to better the lives of the people. The unique Value Chain approach to food security takes into consideration all steps in the chain of events from production to consumption. It is a value adding process, which takes into account each different stage involved in the production of healthy nutritious food with the focus of satisfying the market demands.

Encountering-Famine-sidebarThe Value Chain project serves as a great example of the cooperative work between LCC and CLWR because it emphasizes the improvement of daily life and it focuses on sustainability in underdeveloped countries around the globe. I believe that Kati Casba (the Head of Aid at the Canadian Embassy in Ethiopia) said it best at our meeting with her at the Ethiopia-Canada Cooperation office: “Irrigation projects allow farmers to have crops turnover. Crop turnover results in families that now have a bed to sleep on at night and food to eat.”

I don’t think I could put it more eloquently than that. When LCC members support the work of CLWR through prayer and financial gifts we, through the power of Christ, are helping to change the lives of God’s people as we have been instructed: “You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land” (Deuteronomy 15:11b).

The work that God is enabling CLWR to do is amazing. The way in which they provide help to the people in Ethiopia through an avenue that screams sustainability and extrudes so much dignity and empowerment for the local people is something we should all be supporting. I have now seen first hand the work CLWR is doing in Ethiopia and it is a blessing for the people.

God has given us this amazing world in which we live, but much greater than that are the people and the cultures that dwell within it. Going on a Global Encounter like this has helped me to realize that the only way to truly experience another country is to become a part of their culture, participate in their traditions, learn their language, eat their food, become friends with their people, and share the love and joy God has given to you with them.

I thank CLWR for providing me the opportunity to travel to Ethiopia with the Global Encounter team. Thank you, as well, to my home congregation (Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Kitchener) for the tremendous support you all so willingly and continually pour upon me. Praise and thanksgiving to our Lord who called me to this mission and the safety that He provided along the way. I continue to stand in awe each day of the One who determines our steps according to His gracious will.

God is changing lives all across the world. How cool is it that we have the opportunity to be the paintbrush in His hand, painting a picture far more beautiful then we could ever imagine?

God is changing lives all across the world. How cool is it that we have the opportunity to be the paintbrush in His hand, painting a picture far more beautiful then we could ever imagine? I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty excited!

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Emily Pritchard is a student at the University of Guelph where she is studying Applied Human Nutrition. She is a member of Holy Cross Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kitchener, Ontario.

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