(Photos courtesy of Food For the Hungry)
Kenya (MNN) ― The United Nations has issued another warning about the famine across the Horn of Africa saying it's only set to worsen.
In the past few weeks, the number of refugees in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya has swelled from 400,000 to more than 470,000, and desperate families are still streaming across the border from war-ravaged Somalia. Alex Muara with Food for the Hungry says, "There's a huge exodus from Somalia into Kenya. The main reason for people moving is basically three things: the war, drought or famine."
Without the enormous efforts of relief workers, governments, and organizations like Food for the Hungry, these people--still flowing into the region at 1,400 per day--are at extreme risk for starvation. Muara notes, "The emotional and physical strain on families is evident. Some people we talked with have walked for 11 days. When they come into Kenya, they are neither sojourners nor have they reached home."
When they enter the camps, they take on a refugee status. The psychological toll of the instability of life is evident in the refugees' eyes. Muara says this crisis presents another opportunity for FH to share the love of Christ. Their help starts with the practical issue of survival. "It's the encounters that you have day by day that help you share love. In practical ways like giving food, clean drinking water, just helping a child come out from under nutrition, those are very practical ways of showing God's love."
Food for the Hungry has been working in the region since the late 70s. In Kenya, "FH is working with close to 80% of the population of Marsabit, which is in northern Kenya, distributing food and also targeting nutrition for children under five and pregnant and lactating women." FH has also been working in Ethiopia since 1984. FH is providing emergency food to more than 91,000 people living in the Amhara region and South Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNPR) states.
Muara says their presence has enabled them to lay the groundwork for more assistance. "Right now FH is in discussions with various organizations trying to discuss the opportunities of implementing certain projects: nutrition and fuel efficient stoves."
FH has helped the people build sustainable approaches to survive seasonal challenges such as a drought. Due to their ongoing work in this region, the immediate crisis isn't starvation but rather emergency help to bridge them through the crisis.
Other responses include nutrition interventions of vitamin supplements, nutrition education and immunizations. These interventions are taking place at 34 health facilities and 102 outreach centers. FH is also working with partners in the region to bring emergency help to Somalian refugees entering Kenya.
Although the team meets physical needs, they don't neglect the spiritual and emotional needs. The tangible support allows their team to tell those they help that "Jesus would be in the midst of it all. The work we do, we do with compassion and love of the people. We love because God loves each and every one of us. No one is less or more."
Pray that God would continue to use Food for the Hungry's multiple outreaches to bring relief, hope and the right kind of help to vulnerable children, families and communities. Muara adds, "Safety and protection is one of the key things to pray for. The other is for wisdom and guidance, and I would mention that God would strengthen the staff."