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COVID-19, armed conflict, flooding and a locust outbreak have created a humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia. Fighting began in the Tigray region in early November, causing thousands of people to seek safety as refugees in Sudan. Some 2.3 million children in Tigray need humanitarian assistance and cannot be reached due to restricted access and the current breakdown in communications. Nationwide, families are struggling to earn a wage and obtain food because of the instability, the economic slowdown and the destruction of crops. Some areas are recording a 50 per cent increase in hospitalisations due to severe acute malnutrition.

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COVID-19 in Ethiopia

How is Compassion currently operating in Ethiopia?

  • Are Compassion centres open?

    Centres are operating at a variety of capacities depending on their region.

    Some centres remain closed to group programs but staff members are making home visits and phone calls to children and caregivers. Other centres have been able to allow small group classes and activities.

    They are diligently checking on children, looking for signs of abuse and providing trauma counselling as needed. Partner church staff members in Ethiopia have distributed over 621,000 food packs and 379,000 hygiene kits and have provided medical support to more than 26,000 individuals.

  • Are children receiving letters?

    The majority of letters are delayed in Ethiopia, which means it may take longer for you to receive letters from your sponsored child. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write! We encourage you to continue sending your sponsored child letters of encouragement and hope. What a joyful day it will be when those letters are delivered!

  • Are gifts being delivered?

    Gifts continue to be distributed in Ethiopia. Staff members have been given the option to disburse monetary gifts to caregivers, where appropriate. This applies to family gifts and child gifts (including birthday and final gifts). Families may spend the gift on whatever they consider most important to meet family needs. The caregiver will decide the best use of the money, recognising that sometimes purchasing food or paying rent is in the best interest of a child.

How you can pray

Thank you for praying for children and families in Ethiopia who have been impacted by COVID-19—and the local staff and churches who continue to serve them in difficult circumstances.

Please join us in praying for the following:

  • God would ease Eyob's pain and completely heal him from his liver disease.
  • The treatment that Matiwos is receiving for his throat cancer would be successful, and he would have no lasting complications.
  • Continued peace, comfort and strength for James as he receives treatment for his cardiac cancer.
  • Discernment and wisdom for the local church partners as they continue to discuss how to safely reopen centres.
  • Safety and protection of the pastors, staff, caregivers, families and children.
  • God would provide financially for caregivers and parents as they seek to provide for their families.
  • Wisdom for the National Leadership team as they make decisions to keep the children, caregivers, pastors and staff safe and healthy.
  • Healing and recovery for those who have tested positive for COVID-19 and continued protection against any additional cases.
  • God’s peace and provision would bring unity and economic stability throughout the country.
Newborn support in Ethiopia

Newborn support in Ethiopia

The excitement and anticipation of having a second baby was slowly deflated and replaced by fear for Aynalem and Tadesse. When COVID-19 caused both Aynalem and Tadesse to lose their income as quarantine was put in place in Ethiopia, they were terrified they wouldn’t be able to provide for their child.   Read more open_in_new

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Please note: Due to the current pandemic, most child development centres in Ethiopia are temporarily closed. Our local church partners continue to meet the urgent needs of the children through home-based care.

A snapshot of Compassion's Child Sponsorship Program in Ethiopia

Compassion’s program is contextualised across countries and communities, as well as age groups.

  • Children aged 1 to 3 receive home-based care.
  • Children aged 3 to 11 visit the Compassion centre for eight hours on Saturdays.
  • Students aged 12 and older attend for eight hours every Saturday. They visit three to five days a week during school breaks.
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Compassion Program Activities in Ethiopia

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Compassion assisted children in Ethiopia typically attend program activities at their local child development centre on Saturdays. Here is an example of what a typical program day looks like for children in Ethiopia.

9:00am - A time of prayer and devotion.

9:30am - Spiritual lessons in which children sing songs and learn Bible stories.

10:30am - Break time, when children can play in a safe environment and develop friendships.

11:00am - Social-emotional lessons ranging from conflict resolution to developing healthy self-esteem and a godly character. Children often come from challenging home environments and are taught social and personal skills.

12:00pm - Snack and social time. Light snacks are usually provided at the centre, including bread, tea and crackers. Every three months, supplementary grain and cooking oil is provided to families. If a child shows evidence of malnutrition, centre staff will seek the advice of a doctor and provide additional food and nutritional support accordingly.

1:00pm - Health lessons, in which children learn practical health and hygiene tips. Example topics include how to prevent malaria and HIV transmission.

2:00pm - Letter writing and career planning. Older children work with local staff to identify their strengths and interests and set goals for their future.

Students can elect vocational training skills depending on their area of interest, and often receive professional certification in the skill they are learning. Children in Ethiopia are offered additional classes in topics such as work ethics, study skills and entrepreneurship.

The greatest needs impacting children living in poverty in Ethiopia

401

mothers die from pregnancy related causes per 100,000 births

Ethiopia is one of the oldest nations in the world, with a rich and proud history. It is the largest and most populated nation in the Horn of Africa.

Ethiopia has played a key role in Africa’s development. It was one of the first to sign the Charter of the United Nations and was a powerful symbol of African freedom and sovereignty during an era of widespread colonisation.

Yet millions of Ethiopians still live in grinding poverty.

Decades of political instability, ongoing conflict with Eritrea, and devastating famines in the late 20th century severely curtailed its progress.

Much of Ethiopia’s economy is based on agriculture, yet deforestation and changing climate factors leave it vulnerable to drought.

Diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis continue to claim thousands of lives every year, and the most vulnerable are the youngest children.

Ethiopia is also home to a large population of displaced people, many from farming towns whose crops have failed in recent years, as well as refugees from surrounding nations, including South Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea.

More than one in three children across the country suffer from malnutrition, which affects every part of life and makes them more vulnerable to other diseases. The nation still has one of the world’s highest mortality rates for children under the age of five.

Christianity became Ethiopia’s state religion in the fourth century, and the Church remains a beacon of hope in local communities across the country.

In the midst of difficult circumstances, local churches are giving the children the practical, spiritual and emotional support they need to thrive.

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