Ottawa, Ont. — Since Catholic Near East Welfare Association launched an emergency appeal to rush food to the drought-stricken Horn of Africa earlier in the spring, tens of thousands of hungry children and thousands of pregnant women, mothers with infant children, and the elderly have been saved from malnutrition, or worse. All have been impacted by severe drought in the Horn of Africa, where little to no rainfall, particularly in Ethiopia, has been recorded in the last year — resulting in parched soil and withered seeds.
Thanks to generous donations from its benefactors, CNEWA has rushed more than $450,000 CDN — with just over half coming from Canadian donors — to its church partners in the region, utilizing health stations, parishes and child care programs. The priests, sisters and lay people who serve these endeavors of the church help identify and feed the most vulnerable, regardless of religious or ethnic identity.
But more assistance is needed this fall to continue offering these much-needed services, especially as children begin the school year on Sept. 12.
“When schools offer food and water, children can stay healthy and stay in school despite the drought’s dire impact on the region,” says Carl Hétu, CNEWA Canada’s national director. “Kids shouldn’t have to miss school and compromise their education, particularly girls who are more vulnerable. We appeal to Canadians to help us minimize the suffering before the situation gets worse.”
Among those gravely afflicted by drought are subsistence farmers, men and women who have worked the land for generations, growing just enough to feed their families and, on occasion, to barter whatever surplus remains.
“People are hungry and have no more energy to do their work,” reported CNEWA’s regional director in Addis Ababa, Argaw Fantu. “Many elders can barely stand up anymore. But for me, it is most painful to see children listless and weary. The smallest are too weak to cry and the older ones have little or no energy.”
CNEWA’s president, Msgr. John E. Kozar, visited schools and parishes in the extreme northern reaches of Ethiopia, bordering Eritrea, in late spring. “After visiting with each of the classes, children would line up to receive their biscuits: a two-biscuit pack that would sustain them as the school day went on and would give them enough energy to walk home to their mountain dwellings. Most of the children walk over steep mountain trails for two or three hours each way to get to school.”
Canadians interested in making donations to help CNEWA and its partners are invited to do so by visiting www.cnewa.ca or writing a cheque to CNEWA Canada at 1247 Kilborn Place, Ottawa, Ontario, K1H 6K9 or by phone toll-free at 1-866-322-4441. As a registered charity, CNEWA will issue a tax receipt.