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."