Global Encounter: one year later

03.24.2017 Global Encounter Review 2_lr

Photo provided by Isabel Hilgendag

From where I lay in my tent, I heard the chirps of the vibrantly blue-coloured birds, signaling that it was time to get up if I wanted to watch the sunrise. Never in my wildest dreams had I imagined I would be lucky enough to see the sunrise and sunset in Ethiopia and to have had a wealth of new experiences between those two spectacular moments each day.


It has been a year since I travelled to Ethiopia for two weeks as a youth delegate on Canadian Lutheran World Relief‘s Global Encounter. We visited a variety of places learning about how organizations such as Support for Sustainable Development, Lutheran World Federation and Canadian Lutheran World Relief work with communities to help improve their circumstances.

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Our hearts ache for our Alberta neighbours

When God lays the needs of people facing natural disaster and dislocation on the hearts of Canadian Lutherans, the response is immediate and full of compassion and generosity. The moment word of the destructive potential of the Fort McMurray Wildfire hit the news, Canadian Lutheran World Relief was flooded with support to provide relief.

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Five for Rio

Great story from LWF-Kenya provided by Lennart Hernander
Program Representative
LWF World Service Kenya – Djibouti Program

Often referred to as “The Five from Kakuma,” they are 5 of the total 10 athletes who will be representing Refugees at the 2016 Rio Olympics. It is still surreal to them how much attention they are getting. It all started when the Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation with support from the International Olympics Committee and UNHCR started an initiative to get refugee athletes from all over the world to participate in the Olympic Games to promote peace.

Their Journey to Rio started in October, 2015 when they were among a group of 36 refugees selected from both Kakuma and Dadaab Refugee Camps in Kenya. After a second selection process, 28 refugees were moved to the Anita Youth Center, in Ngong near Nairobi where they have been staying as they train and prepare for the Olympics.

“We didn’t know much about Rio, but we were happy to be selected to come and train to represent the youths in the Camps,” Anjeline, one of the 5 says.

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After a few months of training some of the selected athletes dropped out for various reasons. The training however continued for 22 athletes. In April 2016, another selection was done in Kakuma and Dadaab Camps and 14 more athletes were added to the group, now totaling 36. It is from this group of 36 that 5 were picked to go to the Rio games.

We started from scratch, all of them were new to running as a sport but they have adjusted fast and we are proud of how far they have come, “John Anzhar, one of their coaches, explains.

Rio has many Champions, we don’t have much experience like them but we will do our best to win, “James another of the 5 says when asked about his chances.

It takes more than 2 years of training for athletes to be confident to participate in the Olympics and we have had less time than that, so we won’t be disappointed if they don’t win,” John says, “But we will have accomplished our mission which is to show to the world that Refugees are people like us and we can promote peace by uniting through sports.

The Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation hopes to keep this initiative around for more years to come, hoping to involve more youths from the refugee camps after the Olympics, and to continue to work with the 5 for coming events.

The 5 athletes show that refugees have capacities and talents in many areas, and given the opportunity they can excel. On World Refugee Day 2016, we celebrate their ability and wish them success in Rio a few months from now!


LWF support sports development in Kakuma Refugee Camp, promoting both boys and girls in a variety of sports. Sport provides opportunities for people to develop various skills, relaxation, physical training and also provides psychosocial wellbeing. Sports activities is one way for people to engage in positive activities within and outside of school or work, and can be used as a tool for child and youth protection by having supervised and organized activities for children and youth in safe environments.

Tom Brook Community Relations Director – CLWR


The hidden drought

Famine in Ethiopia is real and the early signs are plain to see. Typical coping mechanisms of migration and reducing livestock holdings are already playing themselves out.

There has been an explosion of people migrating to the major centers, especially Addis Ababa, as people are looking for food and relief from conditions in the hardest hit regions. Farmers are selling livestock assets to buy food and many farmers find their livestock are in such bad shape that they cannot be sold.

From many of those living in the Afar region comes a common and ominous refrain: “The animals die first.” Those working for Canadian Lutheran World Relief’s partner in the area, Support for Sustainable Development, point out that historically the effects of a drought get worse from about January onwards, when people have used up all their reserve food stocks.

Already people are cutting back on food. For some a meal consists of coffee and bread, or injera — a spongy pancake-shaped bread — with a little salt, the usual accompanying vegetables and meat sauces are becoming less evident.

Medical clinics are receiving children suffering from malnutrition. 400,000 children are already in immediate risk.

In the Afar region, health officials are talking about a catastrophe if aid does not arrive soon. Kedir Abate, a medical director at the Megenta Clinic in Afar, said 20 to 30 severely malnourished children are brought to the facility each week, with the number of moderately malnourished children rising so fast he fears they could slip into the severely malnourished category soon.

The first short rainy season of the year did not appear and the fear is the effect of El Niño and changes in weather patterns will quash the next rainy season which is the critical one. The United Nations estimates such a situation could result in more than 15 million Ethiopians suffering food shortages, acute malnutrition or worse by mid-2016.

The U.N. said that El Niño conditions reduced crop yields by 50 to 90 per cent in Ethiopia.

This drought could impact Ethiopia’s long-term prospects, with significant gains made over the years in food security, education and health are now in jeopardy in parts of Ethiopia. “Consequences could ripple through generations,” says the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund.

Help CLWR respond to the Ethiopian Drought

Tom Brook

Community Relations Director

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Photo by Rev, Gerry Borkowsky

Kids helping kids at Messiah Lutheran, Camrose

What an inspiring group of kids. Last spring, the Sunday School at Messiah Lutheran Church in Camrose honoured one of their fellow students, Shelby Hasselbohm, by raising $250 to help sick children. Eight-year-old Shelby is in treatment for leukemia. The funds they raised went to help children needing dialysis treatment for kidney disease at the Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem.

Marlys Sorenson, Children’s Ministry Coordinator, explains how they did it:

In April and May 2015, our Sunday School (called KidFEST – FEST stands for Faith Education and Son [or Servant] Training) decided to participate in an offering project to support CLWR’s Care for a Child gift in the Gifts from the Heart catalogue. This gift supports a child needing dialysis treatment for kidney disease at the Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem. Our KidFEST did this in honour of one of our own students, Shelby Hasselbohm, age 8, who was diagnosed with leukemia in December and has been going to the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton for regular treatments since then.


Members of KidFEST with their quarter folders. Shelby is in the black hat. Photo by Marlys Sorenson

We collected money by putting quarters on “quarter folders” (similar to the dime folders we used to use in Lent many years ago). Folders were given out to each family, or individuals, each month, and when they were full they were brought to church and placed in our offering basket. Each one is $10 when filled up. Shelby, her older sister Hannah, her younger brother Jakob, her mom and I took all the quarters off at the Hasselbohm home!


Removing all the quarters at the Hasselbohm house!


A completed quarter folder.

We are pleased to send you our donation of $250 to help one child receive dialysis treatment. I am enclosing a cheque in that amount (not the bag of quarters!). May God bless that dear child.

-Marlys Sorenson

God bless Shelby and her family and everyone at KidFEST. Thank you for making a difference for children in need of life-saving health care.

Our Advent calendar launches today


Celebrate the deep hope of Advent with us. We’re sharing stories about the people and projects you support around the world. Beginning today and each day after, click on the image shown in the calendar to discover a new story.

Click here to visit the calendar.

Giving School-Day supports Syrian students

GSD boys classroom Nov 18

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are all about shopping. That’s why there’s Giving Tuesday. It’s all about sharing! At Canadian Lutheran World Relief (CLWR) we’re focusing the day on Syrian refugee kids and their education—a Giving School-Day!


Working with our partner organizations, Canadian Lutheran World Relief (CLWR) is planning to makeover over a number of schools—inside and out—including safe, hygienic washrooms.

The makeovers will install or upgrade electrical, windows, plumbing, doors, floors, stairs, school yards…all the things that create a positive learning environment.

Your gift of $20 toward a school makeover, on Giving Tuesday, December 1 will help CLWR reach its $20,000 goal. And the Canadian government will match each donation dollar-for-dollar!

Give these kids a good education for a brighter future!

CLWR Giving Tuesday 2015 donate size reduced