Friday, August 08, 2008


Since we've touched on hunger, I'll just add to it by saying that my friend Hanna has been under a lot of stress this week. One contributing factor involves the challenge of gathering food for the 44 orphaned and partially orphaned girls in her care. Each month, girls are given a ration of hair oil, soap, wheat, cooking oil and some basic other food supplies so that their extended families can afford to keep them in their homes.

In times past, food was purchased from the government, in bulk, at good prices. Now, the government is taking an anti-NGO (Non Gov't Organization) stance, and will no longer sell food to many organizations, including Hanna's. I remember seeing news stories about government “suspicions” regarding NGOs, and wished I'd paid more attention to them. Certainly, the on-the-street-changes, stemming from this new government profile, are hot conversation at the various NGOs I've visited the past few weeks.

The problem of procuring expensive food is compounded by fuel prices and draught. Many vendors simply refuse to make trips to the market because people can't pay enough to make it worth the expense.

This morning was food distribution out of Hanna's plastic house (she built it on family land when her rent doubled and she had to move out of her building). This mother (or aunt or grandma, I'm not sure) was so happy to get her daughter's food, but as she walked across the wet grass, she slipped and fell. It was then I noticed her foot - horribly misshapen, toes pointing up. She must walk on the end of her leg bone - no shoe in this cold weather! She, like the other women here, dressed up to receive the food ration. But, her normal job is as a beggar.

I have been told by many Ethiopians - actually, many people in all big cities around the world - that city beggars really have a lot of money. It is not the case for this woman. Hanna visits all her childrens' homes and checks them out, and talks to neighbors and local police and the local schools to confirm the stories they tell. This way, she is sure to only help the neediest children.

Yesterday, I met ten or so girls who are on Hanna's waiting list. It is heartbreaking to know how just a little money could change their lives and realize that it will take some time to spread the word and get the funds. Each day of waiting is too long here.

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