Drought has oppressed the Turkana people of Northwest Kenya for the past four years. It has left the oldest and youngest most vulnerable to malnutrition and death. The written reports we received in 2017 along with pictures of cracked earth and livestock carcasses have been heart wrenching.
Throughout the last few years, IDES has provided funding for emergency food distributions and clean water wells. The drought has been so severe, that immediate relief for the sake of survival was the necessary route of response.
One of IDES' mission partners, Christian Missionary Fellowship International (CMFI) , has spent these years developing and mastering a model for irrigation farms that can provide a sustainable source of food and income to multiple families per plot. At the end of 2017, IDES asked for your help to provide funding to establish more of these farms as a long-term solution to the hunger crisis caused by the drought.
IDES was committed to raising funds to create at least 10 irrigation farms, but thanks to your generosity we have already surpassed this goal with enough funds to create at least 14 farms! (*NOTE: At the time of Rick and Nancy's filming the message below, we had enough to create 13 farms, but now we are up to enough for 14 farms! Praise God.)
Recently, two staff members from CMFI sat down with us to share about this project in more detail.
In several previous articles, we have shared about the devastating effects that chronic hunger and food insecurity have on students regularly attending school. The teachers of impoverished students can attest that a student's ability to focus and retain information is severely diminished when his or her body is pained with hunger pangs.
Thanks to your generous participation in IDES' Harvest of Talents (HOT) program, thousands of students, orphaned children, widows, and families receive nutritious food in the name of Jesus over long-periods of time (usually 12-months). For many of the students that are recipients of the HOT program food, their meal at school may be the only meal they have each day. Having the guarantee of a nutritious meal each day at school allows a student to spend less time thinking about where his or her next meal may come from, and spend more time thinking about his or her studies.
This phenomenon is beautifully illustrated in a letter that we recently received from one of our faithful mission partners in Myanmar that hosts a school for needy children.
"Timoun grangou pa tande ou.”
In Haitian Creole, this phrases means, “A hungry child cannot hear what you are saying." IDES' partners in Haiti know this to be true first hand. Children who are fortunate enough to be able to attend school often must attend without knowing if they will eat anything that day. As hunger pangs growl in their tummies, it becomes increasingly difficult to pay attention to the teacher. The students' hunger leads to a chronic inability to focus, and subsequently, to learn.
"They are grateful to be there but their bodies are weak and tired from not getting the nutrition that they need," one principal in Haiti lamented. Thankfully, this does not have to be the end of these students' story.
At the end of the summer, political divisions deepened in the Bengal region of India.
Tensions rose as a fundamental political faction began campaigning to prevent and remove the teaching of another, less indigenous language in public schools. What started as a political divide quickly devolved into personal attacks and vicious nationalism. The tensions climaxed with a region-wide general strike in the midst of violent clashes between opposing sides. Bengali government forces moved in to contain the clashing, effectively shutting down the regional marketplaces and halting the local economy.
This left thousands of tea-farming families without a way to buy, sell, and trade their goods leading to a hunger crisis of severe proportions. The strike officially lasted 104 days, leaving many people in the grips of starvation. It remains true that not all disasters are natural -- many are man-caused.
Here in the United States, we recently celebrated Thanksgiving. Turkeys were roasted, plates were shared, and homes were full of fellowship.
Whether celebrating with family or reconnecting with friends, sharing a meal together provides a unique opportunity. While gathered around a table, conversation happens. People feel welcomed, like they belong. This often leads to a more open posture towards sharing one's stories and thoughts. It's part of what makes Thanksgiving so important to us. For those who know Jesus, sharing a meal together can be one of the most effective and sincere ways to invite people in who do not yet know Him.
In Brazil, one of IDES' partner missions takes this opportunity seriously in spreading the love of Christ in their local community.
We are thrilled to announce that during the food-packing events this coming weekend on Saturday, November 4th, 2017, volunteers from Agape Christian Church in Terre Haute, IN and from New Hope Christian Church in Whitestown, IN will be packing our ONE MILLIONTH MEAL for the year of 2017!
IDES has never packed 1,000,000 meals in a single calendar year before, so we are excited to set this new record and pass this milestone! In order to celebrate this moment in IDES history, we produced a brand new promo video for our Food-Packing Program in order to highlight just how special it is for us and for our volunteers.
Thank you to each of you who have made this moment possible for IDES this year, whether through your hard-work in volunteering at a food-packing event or through your generous financial contribution. You are making hope possible!
During the autumn months in the U.S., local churches in multiple states host Harvest of Talents events to raise money for world hunger relief through IDES.
Countless individuals donate their time, talent, and creativity in order to produce and sell hand-crafted items and services. All of the funds that are raised, 100%, go towards feeding hungry families in Jesus' name. Throughout the year, these funds provide nutritious food on a monthly basis, as IDES' mission partners build relationships to share the Gospel.
IDES recently received two heart-warming letters of thanksgiving from two mission partners working in Kenya, which has suffered under severe drought for several months this year.
Thanks to your generosity, families in rural Tanzania received nutritious food during the recent drought which has severely affected these communities. We were blessed to receive this report from our mission partners there who work with CMFI, a long-time partnering organization with IDES. Their mission workers articulated this report beautifully, so we wanted to share it in their own words.
"How do I know my money is going to actually help people?"
As an international nonprofit organization, we get asked this question often. Integrity is one of IDES' Core Values, and we seek to handle the generosity of our faithful supporters with honesty and trustworthiness, down to the last penny. You matter to us, and your questions of concern matter to us. When it comes to working in the mission field, there are many legitimate worries that arise in certain countries. "What if inflation spikes in the country and the money doesn't go as far?" or "What if a corrupt local government attempts to steal the aid?" are both sincere questions.
By working with local mission partners who are members of the very communities they serve, IDES seeks to answer your hard questions by using local strategies and wise approaches to avoid corruption and to prevent interruption of the projects. Recently, IDES' mission partner in Niger shared their story about the strategy they used to distribute emergency food that you lovingly provided to nearly 5,000 hungry people in 14 separate villages.
Since the news cycle is not reporting on this, you might not know:
As you are reading this post, there are families in Africa who do not know where they may find their next meal. Grandparents, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters are all currently experiencing the pangs of hunger due to ongoing drought and in some areas, violent conflict. Cattle have died, water has dried up, and crops have failed. Outside assistance is absolutely necessary in these countries, and lives are literally at stake.
In order to provide emergency food, we need you. You can make hope possible for these families right now by donating online here, and choosing "Africa Famine Relief 2017" as your designation.