You are invited to help save the starving children of Ethiopia through donations to the ChurchHumanitarian Aid Fund, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 50 East North Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84150 (or call 801-240-1201).  

SALT LAKE CITY – Ethiopian government and United Nations (U.N.) officials have issued renewed appeals for food to save starving children and others suffering from hunger in that African nation of 67 million people. A severe, extended drought continues to threaten some areas of the country with famine. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which provided more than 3,000 tons of food to
Ethiopia in March, is responding to these new requests with an additional 2,000 tons of supplementary food for the elderly, for expectant and lactating mothers and for children. 

Twenty percent of Ethiopia’s 67
million people are at risk.

Harold C. Brown, managing director of Welfare Services for the Church, and Garry R. Flake, director of humanitarian emergency response, traveled to Ethiopia last week to see firsthand how Church food aid is being distributed by partner organizations to alleviate suffering.

“In a lot of locations where we’re giving food,” said Harold Brown, “if we didn’t give food there wouldn’t be any.  I mean it’s just that simple.  It isn’t like there is an overabundance of food sitting in storehouses that will just flow to wherever there’s a shortage.  They are short of food.”

The U.N. office responsible for coordinating humanitarian aid has reported that the food crisis in Ethiopia is deepening and has noted a dramatic deterioration in the situation over the past 6 to 8 weeks.

UNICEF, the U.N. arm for aid to children, reports that between 60,000 and 80,000 children are in urgent need of assistance. Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said early this month, “The time we have for responding to the needs of the children is a matter of weeks, two to three weeks at most.”

The Church is producing and shipping an additional 240 tons of Atmit, an Ethiopian porridge mix based on a centuries-old recipe. This supplemental food product is mixed and packaged in Salt Lake City at Welfare Square, a unique production and services facility that is a key element of the Church’s worldwide welfare and humanitarian program.

Malnourished children and the elderly cannot digest whole grains and foods made with coarse flour. To recover, their stressed and tender digestive systems require frequent feedings of easily digestible food in small amounts. Atmit, a bland but nutritious mixture of oat flour, powdered milk, sugar, salt and supplemental vitamins and minerals that is prepared with water and cooking oil, is a proven resource for supplemental feeding of severely malnourished children.

An Ethiopian brings her malnourished child to a Project Mercy food distribution.

In its emergency response work, the Church’s humanitarian service group always evaluates and assesses needs with local officials to ensure that the aid provided will be put to good use. Humanitarian Service representatives learned during an assessment visit in January that Atmit was used successfully during the 1984-85 famine in Ethiopia.

Working with Project Mercy, a nongovernmental relief agency with long experience in Ethiopia, Church representatives distributed an initial  shipment of Atmit to rural villages in mid-March. Doctors, nurses and trained volunteers from Project Mercy continue to oversee supplemental feeding programs using Atmit in Yetebon and nearby communities in south central Ethiopia.

Atmit is prepared to the consistency of a cream soup and is fed as a warm beverage.

The Church has contracted with an Ethiopian supplier to produce an additional 1,800 metric tons of Unimix, a corn-soya mixture with added sugar, salt and vitamins. Distribution of the Church-donated Unimix has been underway since March in cooperation with both Project Mercy and Catholic Relief Services, the overseas relief and development agency of the United States Catholic Conference. Catholic Relief Services is distributing Unimix to seven villages east of Addis Ababa, where an estimated 260,000 people are suffering. Unimix is another supplemental food product that meets the unique nutritional needs of pregnant and lactating mothers and children under 5 years of age.

The Church is providing nearly 500 tons of Atmit produced at Welfare Square in Salt Lake City.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints previously sent food aid to Ethiopia in 1985 and again in 2000 when grain from Church-owned farms in England was bagged by British Latter-day Saint volunteers and shipped by sea to relieve suffering from food shortages. In 2002, the Church donated food boxes and locally purchased cereal grain to assist famine victims in Malawi, Zimbabwe, Madagascar and other areas of east Africa. When floods struck Zimbabwe and Mozambique in early 2000, the Church sent nearly 2 million pounds of aid and chartered two helicopters to evacuate victims and deliver critical relief supplies.

Christian principles of compassion and caring for others have always been fundamental teachings of the Church. An organized humanitarian service was formed in 1985 when Church leaders asked Latter-day Saints in the United States and Canada to participate in two special fast days to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia, Chad and other sub-Saharan nations. By going without two meals on the designated days and contributing at least the value of the meals missed, Latter-day Saints donated in excess of $11 million, all of which went directly into relief efforts with the Church bearing all administrative expenses.

Since 1985, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has mounted more than 144 major disaster relief projects worldwide. Overall humanitarian assistance rendered since 1985 totals over $89 million in cash donations and more than $456 million in material assistance. All activities are supported largely by Church member donations of funds and volunteer labor.

Over 4 million Ethiopians are in need of emergency assitance due to a multi-year drought.

One reason for the continued expansion of the humanitarian work of the Church stems from an ongoing commitment to minimize overhead expenses. Church members and friends of the Church know that their humanitarian donations will be fully utilized to help people in need.

Those interested in helping with this and other Church humanitarian efforts may contribute to the Humanitarian Aid Fund, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 50 East North Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84150 (or call 801-240-1201).

To read the Deseret News article on Church aid to Ethiopia click here.


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