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Ethiopia school

The World is Failing the People of Tigray

It’s gone on too long, but it’s not too late.

Published on

There are children working all day in the hope they’ll earn a piece of bread, but it’s not guaranteed because the person they’re begging from is starving too. A pediatrician tells us the mortality rate from malnutrition in his hospital is five times higher than before. And this is without the officially recognized criteria for famine having been met.

Where are the universal headlines? Where is the Live Aid concert this time?

The horrors of the aftermath of war are still present. Services to help people deal with the trauma they have lived through are few and far between in a society where everything from homes to hospitals has been looted by soldiers. But now, in this third year of catastrophic drought, the horror of starvation has the potential to be even worse.

Hunger doesn’t kill you quickly. It saps you of everything you have first, slowly. And communities are enduring this right now.

At one of the internally displaced person (IDP) camps, a little boy tells our partner that his hunger pangs have stopped, but only because he doesn’t have the energy to feel pain anymore.

In Gendet Primary School, a little boy stretches, and as the bottom of his t-shirt rides up, it reveals his distended tummy beneath. We hear that 28 people have already died of hunger in his community and more than 30 children have been classed as "red" on the MUAC test – they are dangerously malnourished, but so far, no help has come.

Child in Ethiopia

And at Beati-Akor Primary School, four children and their mother turn up, dusty from begging at every door in the town, holding out their hands to the schoolchildren to ask them to share their school meals with them.

One pupil, 12-year-old Amlak, sees them and "feels sad" for their situation, so she shares some of her precious food from Mary’s Meals, even though this sacrifice means she won’t have all she needs to eat herself. She does it without question, knowing it might help them to keep going for one more day.

In September last year, our dear friend and partner asked, “If you don’t help people from starving – from dying – now, when are you going to do it? Tomorrow is too late.”

For some, it already is.

Another path is possible. Those of you who support Mary’s Meals have already helped to make it possible for thousands of children in Tigray to receive a daily meal in school. Amidst the tragedy in the region right now, these meals are beacons of hope.

After the war, 30,000 children began to receive Mary’s Meals in school once more. At Christmas, we reached another 15,000. We have already identified the next schools we would like to serve, which would allow us to help at least 10,000 more. We can continue to reach more children if funds allow.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing more from the people of Tigray. They have put their trust in us all, to wake the world up with their stories. Their hope – is simply that people might choose to offer whatever gifts they can in return.

For the children of Tigray, it doesn’t have to be too late.

Shona Shea
Senior Content Manager