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Love wins in Ethiopia

Love wins in Ethiopia – 14 Feb 2017

Ethiopia is a beautiful country steeped in culture and history, it is known as the cradle of civilisation. As you travel through it you can go from mountains that sit 4,300 metres above sea level where you lose your breadth not only from the thinning altitude but from the miles of magnificent beauty surrounding you. To the noise and bustle of 6 million people making their way around Addis Ababa, weaving in and out of outdoor markets and shops. It is formidable and somewhat unique in culture and history. But as with all countries it is not without its problems. Over 70% of the population live on less than $2 a day, it has recently suffered drought and famine as a result of the weather phenomenon El Nino, leaving 10 million people in desperate need of food security.

However in the midst of this and much like its beauty there are stories of transformation and change springing up all around. They are hard to ignore and in some cases even harder to believe. Families and communities are being lifted out of poverty, children who once went hungry are having three meals per day and attending school, relationships between husbands and wives are being restored. Communities and government representatives are coming together to work together for the good of the community.

Tearfund Ireland has been a part of these stories through supporting Self Help Groups and as we travelled through Ethiopia in October last year visiting with these self help groups we experienced all of this and more. The material and economic difference in the lives of the women and men involved in self help groups is nothing short of a miracle. But what stands out the most, what cannot be captured so easily is the restoration that is taking place. The change in relationships and marriages. The love and transformation that is so evident you can feel it deep within your soul.

On our last day in Ethiopia we met Woynishet. Woynishet has a remarkable story, a story of restoration and redemption, of a journey from isolation to partnership. Woynishet did not work, she raised her children and used the small amount of money her husband gave her to feed their family. Her children had never had breakfast before she joined her self help group. But joining the group required more than just turning up to meetings. Her husband was completely against it and Woynishet had no confidence or self-esteem. She felt powerless and useless but she knew she needed to do something to provide for her family. Ethiopia is a patriarchal society, gender inequality is widespread and domestic abuse can be common. So she and two other members began to meet in secret. All three of them had to hide what they were doing, one of them also experienced ongoing domestic violence and so they had to be particularly careful.

However as time passed and their income grew as a result of saving with their self help group so too did their confidence. They became stronger and more assertive, they realised their own potential and strengths. But they did not want to continue in this journey alone and separate to their husbands so they told them about the self help group and what they had been doing. All three of their husbands were furious and barred them from going to their group. However, the women courageously carried on. And as time went by their husbands began to notice that their economic situation was improving, they noticed that there was now more food for the family, that the children were able to attend school. That there was a difference in their wives. They each individually asked how this had happened and so the women explained that it was a result of their self-help group.

Woynishet said that from that moment, their lives and relationships changed. Her husband began to look at her in a whole new light, he saw, for the first time her value and worth. That she could be an equal partner in their relationship and home. Each husband then insisted on the women always attending their self-help group and often took care of the children so the women could attend their meetings. They completely transformed, Woynishet went from being a woman, completely alone in her marriage, undervalued and powerless to being an equal, with a partner who respects her and consults her about everything in their life together. This is not a conventional love story but it is a story of how transformation can happen, of how love can grow from the most unusual and difficult of beginnings.

Woynishet and her self help group went on to hold a big ceremony in their community where they advertised the benefits of joining a self help group, using their own personal testimonies to encourage others to join. But she said that the most powerful testimony of all was when their three husbands stood up and with tears streaming down their faces, they told their community, their friends, their government representatives how they used to disrespect their wives, how they used to beat them and hurt them but how now they love and respect them. They spoke of how now they honour and support their wives, how their wives lifted their family out of poverty. How they love them, how they are partners in life and for life. Theirs is a story of true transformation, of the power of healing and forgiveness. And it is a story of hope, hope that change is possible, that all circumstances can be turned around for good. That love can in fact, win.

‘And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.’ 1 Corinthians 13:13

To support Self Help Groups in Ethiopia please follow this link.

Photo: Woynishet NIgussie, Nazret, Ethiopia. Credit: Gavin Leane, Tearfund Ireland

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Syria, a Christian Response

Syria, a Christian Response – 21 Dec 2016

The news coming from Syria is horrific. More and more stories of the horror people are facing in Aleppo are beginning to be told. As we know, Syria is one of the most complex and dynamic humanitarian crises in the world today.

This Christmas around 65.3 million people around the world will be far from home, living as refugees due to conflict or persecution.

Syria’s conflict has contributed to the worst refugee crisis the world has seen since the Second World War. The suffering of the most vulnerable, especially women and children experiencing war, poverty and injustice, is astounding. Over 250,000 people have been killed since 2011 and over 2.4 million Syrian children are out of school or at a risk of dropping out. 11.3 million Syrians have fled their homes and 9 children die every day in Syria. These numbers are overwhelming and the need is great.

Tearfund Ireland has been responding to this crisis since 2014. We been working through local partners with the aim of meeting the humanitarian needs of people affected by this conflict. Focus has been on: food assistance though cash, food parcels or vouchers; provision of essential non-food items (NFIs) such as cooking utensils, bedding, hygiene kits, blankets and heaters; formal and non-formal education as well as Child Friendly Spaces (CFSs); physical, mental, psychosocial and trauma care services; and support for housing as large numbers of refugees reside in urban areas, rather than camps.

We will continue our work in this area and in continue following Jesus right to the centre of the darkest places on earth, supporting people whose need is greatest.

‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’ John 1:5

Photo: A mother holds her baby at a 3 day trauma workshop in a church in Jordan. Image: Stella Chetham/Tearfund

References: UNHCR, UNICEF, UNOCHA, withsyria.com

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Yemen Appeal

Yemen Appeal – 21 Dec 2016

18.8 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in what has been assessed as the ‘the world’s worst humanitarian crisis’.

Conflict has devastated the nation leaving thousands of innocent civilians dead and three-quarters of Yemenis without access to safe water, food, healthcare or sanitation.

A situation of deadly airstrikes, destroyed infrastructure and a desperate lack of food and water has been worsened by flooding and landslides since July, with many people losing their homes.

Despite a very difficult operating environment, Tearfund Ireland have partners on the ground who are working to reach those suffering from the conflict.

Please give to help alleviate the suffering of innocent Yemenis caught in the crossfire of this conflict.

Prayer points:

  • Pray and petition God for peace in Yemen, so that those who are suffering can receive the help they need.
  • Pray for the safety of all our partners working in Yemen as they help with providing humanitarian assistance.
  • Pray for wisdom for the Irish government as it considers our response as a nation.

Click here to download a prayer power point for Yemen that can be used by churches, groups or individuals.

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A word from our CEO this Christmas..

A word from our CEO this Christmas.. – 21 Dec 2016

Christmas has always centred on families. Beginning with probably the most famous, sacred family, that very first Christmas. They faced danger on all sides, as so many families do today. The suffering we’ve seen this year has been heart breaking, especially for the most vulnerable families around the world who are experiencing persecution, conflict or natural disasters.

However, when Jesus was born he brought with him new hope, in the most inconceivable demonstration of the Father’s love. This Christmas a gift towards our work is an opportunity to express God’s love to families in desperate need.

My thoughts turn to the families in Ethiopia who are setting up self-help saving groups with our support. I also think of families in Haiti who suffered another blow this year when Hurricane Matthew struck.

For families forced to flee violence, in places like Syria, our work to help people to overcome the horror of their experience is just as important as the blankets, food and shelter that they desperately need. It encourages families not to give up and helps them move on, care and understanding is so important at this time.

With so many people experiencing such acute suffering we need to do so much more. Like setting up more self-help groups, expanding this work from Ethiopia into Malawi and Tanzania too.

Your gift this Christmas of €37, for example, could provide another self-help group facilitator in a remote area – opening up a route out of poverty for more families. No matter where your gift is used, you will be supporting projects aimed at long-term transformation.

With your help we can continue following Jesus right to the centre of the storm, supporting families whose need is greatest. A gift of €37 could pay for hygiene kits for two refugee families, providing essentials such as soap, shampoo, toothpaste, sanitary towels and nappies

This Christmas please join us as we pray for God to strengthen families around the world, that they would be united and able to remain standing, no matter what. Thank you so much for your support.

Bless you and your family this Christmas,

Sharan Kelly
Chief Executive, Tearfund Ireland

Click here to donate to the work of Tearfund Ireland

  • €37 could pay for hygiene kits for two refugee families, providing essentials such as soap, shampoo, toothpaste, sanitary towels and nappies.
  • €72 could give a family a source of nutritious food by providing them with tools and seeds to plant essential crops.
  • €93 could pay for a water tank, giving a whole community ongoing access to safe water.
  • €146 could provide three families with a heater to survive the biting cold in their makeshift shelters.
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Hurricane Matthew hits Haiti

Hurricane Matthew hits Haiti – 11 Oct 2016

Hurricane Matthew entered Haiti from the south-western coast, 230km southeast of the capital Port-au-Prince with violent winds near 220 km/h causing devastating impact, flash floods and mud slides. While all of Haiti’s 10 million people were affected by this storm, some 3-5 million are suffering while the most vulnerable are the 60,000 still living in camps set up for those displaced by the 2010 earthquake. 1,500 churches and schools opened their doors to provide shelter in preparation for the hurricane. Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. Before the earthquake in 2010, 77 per cent of the population were living in poverty.

Currently the death toll is estimated at 900 lives and there are fears of a cholera epidemic. 

In the image above there is a cross still standing in the centre and it reminds us of what we do at Tearfund Ireland - bring good news to the poor, material help and spiritual hope in some of the world’s most challenging situations.​ While this week Haiti is ​predominately on our minds and the suffering caused by the hurricane, we are reminded that it is one of many challenging situations​.​ The list is long and we are ​acutely aware of the great need of refugees spilling into ​countries ​surrounding​ Syria and the drought impacting ​​parts of Ethiopia​ putting millions of people at risk of severe malnutrition and famine​

We are receiving regular updates on the situation. In the meantime Tearfund Ireland and our Integral* partners are providing food and essential items on the ground in Haiti. The priority is to identify, together with community leaders, the most vulnerable households affected by this hurricane and to respond appropriately.

We would ask that you please pray for the people of Haiti and their needs right now which are:​

Safe access to food and fresh water with flooding and food stocks destroyed. 
Assistance with hygiene and sanitation, especially while there is serious risk of a cholera outbreak.
Shelter, with thousands of homes either destroyed or seriously damaged.
Agriculture and livestock. Crops have been destroyed and many cattle have been washed away.

Click here to download a prayer resource for your church, prayer group or Bible study.

If you would like to help Tearfund Ireland respond to challenging situations like Hurricane Matthew in Haiti​ the Refugee Crisis in the Middle East, and food crisis in Ethiopia,​ please consider giving a gift to our ongoing work.

*Integral Alliance are a global network of 23 Christian relief and development agencies from around the world, working together in 85 counties with 600 local partners

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A harvest of the heart can help put a stop to hunger

A harvest of the heart can help put a stop to hunger – 23 Sep 2016

It is frightening to think that Ethiopia and its surrounding countries are facing a food crisis as devastating as the one that made the headlines in the 1980s. While we celebrate the blessing of harvest time, countless people are suffering – so we are asking you to stand with our brothers and sisters in need and join us in making a real difference.

The situation in Ethiopia has tragically deteriorated in recent months. UN Special Envoy for Climate Change, Mary Robinson, visited recently. ‘This is an extraordinarily serious crisis and it is much worse than people realise.’ she said. ‘The impacts of climate change have weakened people’s ability to cope.’

Jesus calls us to where suffering and despair are greatest, to show people they are not forgotten, to support them and restore their sense of hope. With the threat of famine growing in Ethiopia and across the Sahel – huge numbers of people – women and children and whole families, are at risk of extreme hunger – this is a place where our response will be critical.

An estimated 10.2 million people need help, urgently.

In Ethiopia alone over two million children and mothers are already suffering from severe acute malnutrition. Triggered by El Niño, the drought is having a significant impact by limiting agricultural production, straining livelihoods, and intensifying food insecurity – especially for the poorest and most vulnerable people.

This is a place where your prayers and donations can make a life saving difference. We have already begun work in Wolaita and Sidama in the south-west of Ethiopia, areas which are priority hotspots in this current crisis – but we are depending on all of our supporters to be effective in our response.

If you can search your heart and consider supporting our harvest appeal, the change in someone’s life could be truly amazing. Tearfund has set up a system of self-help groups in Ethiopia where small groups of people, each one living in desperate poverty, are able to start making a living which puts their family on a far more hopeful course. Right now a gift of €35 can help provide a new self-help group with a facilitator to ensure the group is successful.

These incredibly vulnerable people are able to support each other financially and with mutual encouragement.

Members of existing groups have been more resilient to drought than some of their neighbours – but the size of the current emergency means that even they are in danger of losing everything they have worked so tirelessly for.

A harvest of the heart can help put a stop to hunger.

Please support our harvest appeal and support people to not only survive the famine, but also start to thrive. However you decide to give, through your prayers, a gift or a regular donation please know that you will be helping give families a way to transform their lives and escape hunger.

This harvest let us unite in prayer and ask God to impact the lives of people in Ethiopia and around the world – that they would have deep in their hearts, despite their suffering, a real sense of hope for the future.

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