A Matter of Survival

A Matter of Survival

By: Kebebew Daka, Compassion Ethiopia Communications Specialist, and Chuck Bigger, Compassion Photographer   |   Posted: July 07, 2004

A Compassion Ethiopia Drought Relief Update
Under the watchful eye of his father, Beza, 12-year-old Yitbarek carefully gathers each grain of maize (corn) that has fallen to the dirt floor of their home. The seventh grader's meals at home consist of one small handful of maize twice a day.

A hot blast of wind whips up one more dust devil and carries it down the road past a row of crumbling mud huts. It swirls past the open door of 12-year-old Yitbarek's home where under the watchful eye of his father, Beza, the thin boy scurries to collect a few precious grains of maize (corn) that have fallen to the dirt floor.

A Thirsty Community With No Water

Time moves slowly in Addis Hiwot, Ethiopia. Located in the Rift Valley near the center of a country long synonymous with drought and famine, this community of 3,000 has faced hardship since its founding as a leper colony in the early 1960s. Endemic drought has caused four failed collaborative agricultural projects here.

Addis Hiwot is one of 22 Compassion-assisted communities still suffering the effects of a nearly two-year long drought. Today, this isolated village has no jobs, no resources and no opportunities. Yet, something even more important is missing here: water.

Two banks of waterless spigots stand on a dusty path that winds through Addis Hiwot and leads to the nearest water source  the muddy Awash River, a two-hour journey on foot. Just outside the village is a recently dug, fresh-water well and a nearby pump house. Both sit idle.

Compassion Ethiopia has proposed an initiative to connect the well and the spigots but at least for now the proposal is on hold. Complications at the factory, which manufactures the pipes that will connect the well to the spigot stations, have forced a stop in production. Tariff duties make it cost-prohibitive to import the pipe from outside of the country.

Compassion's Presence Still Makes a Difference

While the community waits for a long-term solution to its water woes, Compassion is making sure families receive the help they need.

"We could not have survived. Everything you see we owe to Compassion," says Beza, waving his hand around his single-room hut. Home to three, the hut contains a small bed, blanket and two partially filled grain sacks that lean against the mud wall.   

"I am physically and emotionally exhausted," says Beza, a leper whose health has deteriorated over the past several years. "However, I have one comfort. People who don't know us have sponsored our child and have sacrificially assisted us. I am immensely thankful!"

Yitbarek's sponsorship allows him to attend Addis Hiwot Yehiwot Birhan Church Student Center (ET-702). He and the other Compassion-assisted children receive Bible teaching, medical exams, clothing, medicine, nutritious meals and participate in recreational activities at the center. "Yitbarek is doing fine," his father continues. "He is now teaching all of us the Bible and he is urging me to turn to God."

Please continue to pray for the millions of Ethiopians who must endure the effects of the severe drought, especially for families like Yitbarek's who are among Ethiopia's poorest.

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