The Church’s Bounty

After harvests fail, Compassion’s church partners help feed Ethiopian families.

A drought has increased the needs of already struggling families in Ethiopia. But for sponsored children like 9-year-old Blen Ashenati, food scarcity in the region has not had devastating effects. That’s because the local church partners who run Compassion’s program in Ethiopia recognized the need and are responding by supplying extra food to families like Blen’s.

Childhood in the Rift Valley

Blen’s grandmother helps her prepare for a day at her Compassion child development center in Welenchiti, a hardscrabble town in the Rift Valley. Most people in Blen’s community work as day laborers, and the average family income is $25 a month. After Blen’s young parents divorced, they left her with her grandparents. Blen lives in a small home with them. Her grandmother stays home to raise her, and her grandfather is a farmer who doesn’t earn enough money to meet the family’s needs. Now, a drought in the valley has increased needs of families like Blen’s.

Spiritually Full

Blen and other sponsored children attend a Bible study and eat a meal at their Compassion center. In addition to providing sponsored children with tutoring, social activities, spiritual development, vocational training, and hygiene and health education, Compassion’s church partners work quickly to meet additional needs when disasters including droughts occur. The El Niño weather pattern triggered one of Ethiopia’s worst droughts in decades, according to a U.S. embassy report. A dry 2015 killed crops and exacerbated hunger throughout the country this year.

Hunger’s Toll

Mothers of Compassion-assisted children wait outside a child development center to receive food staples. Because Compassion’s church partners commit to know, love and protect each child in the program, church leaders in Blen’s village saw the strain the drought was placing on children’s families. So 74 church partners in the hardest-hit areas acted quickly to begin distributing food to these families. Tsehaywota Taddesse, Compassion Ethiopia’s country director, says hunger threatens to break up families, often forcing fathers to leave for jobs in different cities. “It shakes the whole family system. It’s not just the food provision. It affects relationships, affects school attendance, it affects attendance at our partner churches, and it affects [their] whole physical health.”

Piles of Provision

Women take turns filling sacks with sorghum, a sweet grain, at a Compassion center in Ethiopia. During this recent afternoon, workers distributed 17,840 pounds of sorghum to 266 families including Blen’s. Each family took home 67 pounds of sorghum and a liter of cooking oil. Over the year, Compassion partner churches affected by the drought will distribute food four or five times. Tsehaywota says the distribution sends a powerful message to the community that the church and Compassion are committed to children and the poor. Blen’s grandma says of the aid provided through Compassion: “[It] helps us for a long time, and I appreciate that.”

Contented Cooking

Thanks to Compassion sponsors and donors, Blen and her family have food at home during this difficult time. Blen watches her grandma pour batter onto the family’s stove to make injera, a spongy bread eaten with many meals in Ethiopia.

Family Style

Blen and her family sit down for a meal of lentils in a spicy red sauce served over the injera. In addition to her grandparents, a cousin and aunt also live with Blen in a small home made of mud and thatch. Although erratic weather patterns will continue to threaten the food supply for African families, children in Compassion’s program have the security of knowing their church leaders are there for them in times of increased need.

Be encouraged and reminded of the unique role you play in releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name. View all photos >

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