Posted by: rbustin | November 27, 2008

Make the Journey!

Recently I’ve traveled to Sasiga with several visiting groups.  FH-Ethiopia has at least seven groups come per year to visit our project sites.  I traveled there with two within two weeks.  It is always great to be with the FH-Ethiopia Sasiga staff and visit the place that was my home for two years

The first group was a photography and documentary film group sent by the FH-Global office to create short film stories about individuals that are being impacted by FH.  The team’s work can be found at FHglobal.org when they have it completed over the next few months.  This site places a special focus upon stories.

We started down in southern Ethiopia in the Zeway area and traveled to an emergency relief project that we are implementing in a district that was hit hard by the recent lack of rain.  We then interviewed some of our Child Development Project (sponsored) children and FH-Ethiopia staff.

After a night back in Addis Ababa we traveled 10 hours west to Sasiga.  We interviewed a family that was impacted by the ethnic conflict (see previous blogs) and discussed how FH had helped with material relief and counseling.  We also visited some of the regular Sasiga development activities.

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The second team was sent from Canadian Food for the Hungry (CFH).  One of CFH’s partnering donors was here visiting from the Fifth Avenue Club in Calgary, Alberta.  They support the work in Sasiga and even held a “Run for Belo” (Belo is an area within the Sasiga district) fund raiser in downtown Calgary. a few months ago.  You can find pictures of this event at their website.  A big part of their trip, aside from visiting the communities that they are impacting,  was to hold another “Run for Belo”, this time in Belo.  It was an exciting event where hundreds of community members came out to run with the visiting club members.  There were children, adults and grandmothers running side by side.

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Posted by: rbustin | August 28, 2008

News – Update to the Conflict in the West

This blog is called a journey for good reason.  It is hard to believe what we will find.  So foreign.  Insecure.  But always remember, no matter how foreign it may seem to us this is no journey for those that make their home there.  This is their rugged reality.

Since the conflict in May there has been a great deal of progress within the impacted communities and also through FH’s emergency programming.  The two FH-Ethiopia projects, a mere 40 km from each other, work among two very different people groups.  Many heavily armed men from the one group entered the Sasiga area and looted, burned and terrorized the unprepared population.  There were many deaths (100+).  There are currently no clear or official motives behind the attacks.  There are several rumors, so I will repeat none of them.

After the initial attack the people in the affected area retaliated, causing more chaos and casualties. After a few days the federal police entered the area and forcibly brought about an awkward peace to the affected areas.  This is the current status within the broader areas where the two FH-Ethiopia projects work.

There have been several appeals for funds to bring about some relief for the impacted populations.  There were many people who deserted their homes and fled to towns or into the forest for protection.  Many returned to a looted home and their animals taken.  It is also currently the rainy season, so many are exposed to very cold nights and wet days.

There were emergency funds raised from within FH-International and there was also a proposal approved by a UN agency which will provide relief within the two impacted regions.  This was very positive news (as of this past week).  There have been emergency supplies distributed, including blankets and cooking utensils.  A big thank-you goes out to CFH C2C (Community to Community) partners in Canada that donated special funds for this great need.

Blankets and basic survival tools distributed to affected community members

The two FH projects each have a child sponsorship component to them.  In Sasiga (the Canadian funded project) all of the children have been accounted for and are safe, however, within the other project area several children  succumbed to the elements when they fled into the forest and several who’s location is still unknown.

Family of an FH CDP child (2nd from left) living in a temporary shelter

This family lost their fifth grade daughter, an FH CDP child

The FH staff have returned to the project sites and are working again at their initially mandated projects.  However, there will now be a whole new dimension to their job description.  They will be interacting with people who were not impacted, but also with those who are more broken and more vulnerable to poverty.  Let us pray for the communities to come together for healing and not for tearing down.

Also, pray for this area as reconciliation between the two groups seems a long way off (some communities  have again started the weekly market together).  Pray also, for the many families that have lost loved ones and are still in shock from the trauma of seeking survival and experiencing great loss.

Posted by: rbustin | May 30, 2008

Prayer – Strife in the West

Please pray for the Sasiga and Belo-Jegonfoy project sites. Over the past few weeks there has been a lot of ethnic tension from groups within and outside the project location.

We have many children in the Child Development Program in those areas. Pray also for the local church’s response to any pressure placed on them from outside groups.

It has been very disruptive. I will report more when more news arrives.

Posted by: rbustin | May 14, 2008

News/Prayer – Dereje and Family

It is my joy to announce that Dereje (Sasiga Education Manager) and his wife are the happy parents of a little girl. She was born Tuesday morning at 8:30 in Addis Ababa at the Myungsung Christian Medical Center. She is their second child. They came to Addis due to some complications that arose during their first delivery and their doctor’s recommendation .

Please pray for their new little gift from God. Although it is not serious, she has not been feeling too well. Mom is doing great.

I had the pleasure of visiting them yesterday in the hospital.

Joyous Dereje and family

Welcome to the world!

Posted by: rbustin | April 21, 2008

04 – Water

Health problems and diseases flourish without access to clean water. Until recently, this connection was not seen in the Sasiga area. Water has been gathered from rivers and uncapped springs and is used for washing, food preparation, animal watering and also for drinking. There have been government sponsored education promoting clean water use, but that has not increased the peoples’ access to it.

Woman collecting water from an uncapped spring

A boy doing his laundry

Children and mothers will collect water at least once per day, depending on the family size

A big part of FH’s focus in Sasiga is to increase access to clean and stable water sources. This means facilitating community construction of either a hand-dug well or a capped spring. There has been much work in this area since FH has been involved. The work includes discussion with the local government officials and village elders to determine the most appropriate local for each community. Following that there is the local community’s contribution of a small work-force, consisting of members from the families that will be utilizing the new water source. The work is overseen by FH’s local water technician (Desta). Wells are constructed in the dry season so that the water table is at its lowest level of the year.

Community members during hand-dug well construction

Uncapped hand-dug well

After the water source is constructed a local water committee is formed and maintenance workers are hired from within the community (the salary is paid for by the local community) and they are then trained. These workers ensure that the well or spring is not miss-used and that any repairs are made.

A typical hand-pump installed at this hand-dug well

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