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Thursday, August 21, 2008

ETHIOPIA: ‘World citizen’ shares HOPE’s concern

We recently received a letter from a very thoughtful person who signed off simply as ‘a concerned world citizen.’

After reflecting upon the truly frustrating situation of extreme hunger in Ethiopia, the author urged us to ‘help the country stand on its own feet once and for all by building dams, roads, schools, and hospitals…otherwise you will be doing the same business forever with no end in sight. It is evident to all that dependency is a chronic illness with no cure.’

Although the author was taking us to task for what he or she presumed was our short-term ‘band-aid’ style of assistance in Ethiopia, this last statement (written as an admonishment) comes very close to distilling HOPE International Development Agency’s philosophy.

We might say it like this: if dependency is a chronic illness, then its cure is interdependency.

HOPE is aiding Ethiopians who are starving because HOPE people live in Ethiopia, and so those who are suffering are, quite literally, our neighbours. Our Ethiopian staff are busy with the work of helping the country to stand on its own feet each and every day.

They have been and will be partnering with their countrymen to build the kind of physical and social infrastructure that healthy and prosperous nations require: clean water, health care, sanitation, and education for all people. When a community builds a clean water system and their disease rates fall by 80%, then they are in a profoundly better position to ‘stand on their own feet.’ And this system is not built over and over again: when it is done, it is done, and the benefits last for generations.

When there is hunger, HOPE will help families to survive the bad times, because they are our friends, neighbours, and partners, and because there can and will be good times. Those good times are worth it. We will help to bridge that gap between utter vulnerability and true resiliency.

We will not leave Ethiopia more crippled, less capable, and increasingly dependent on the mercy of other nations. It’s impossible. HOPE lives in Ethiopia and is itself, Ethiopian. Ethiopians are finding a cure to that chronic illness of dependency, and they are finding it in one another and with you.

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