CLWR Community Relations Director Tom Brook is reporting from Ethiopia.
I have to say that the reality of Ethiopia was entirely different than what I had thought would be the case. I have described earlier the many things that we have in common and they really extend beyond the agricultural background and the values that flow from that common experience.
I visited communities which have specific visions for their future and a plan of how to achieve them. People have great initiative and work hard for what they have. There is an overall sense of harmony and relative peace here.
On every border of Ethiopia, refugees fleeing war, famine, drought or economic persecution find a sincere welcome and the government in concert with aid agencies take care of as many people as possible. It is as if the border doesn’t really exist or does so at least as an artificial human creation. North America could learn from this attitude.
I think the reason I had a false notion of conditions in this country and Africa in general was because we constantly see images of starving and disadvantaged children and other people which form part of the advertising campaign of some relief agencies.
Of course there is poverty here as much as any place in the world and there are refugees and displaced persons with tremendous needs, but that is not the whole story. Agencies that dwell on the negative for maximum fund raising impact do a tremendous disservice to people who are working hard with the resources they have to build a life of hope and a future of prosperity.
So when you see those ads on TV, posters in your church, or appeals in your mail; please remember there is a completely different world that is reaching out to you not just for assistance but welcoming you to be a partner in their vision that will save and change lives.
– Tom Brook