Last Updated: 03/23/2021

As of March 3, there were 22,346 active cases of COVID-19 and 2,386 related deaths recorded in Ethiopia. The government has received 9 million doses of vaccine and intends to vaccinate at least 20% of the population by the end of 2021. Along with the pandemic, armed conflict, flooding and multiple locust invasions have created an extreme humanitarian crisis. Fighting began in the Tigray region in November 2020, blocking humanitarian aid and causing thousands of people to seek safety as refugees in Sudan.

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% increase in hospitalizations due to severe acute malnutrition. The International Rescue Committee reported a forecast that 11 million Ethiopians will go hungry in the first half of 2021. But there is hope: According to the United Nations, the World Food Program will provide up to 1 million people with emergency food aid.

Child development centers in some regions are allowing children to return in small groups for activities and classes. In other regions, centers remain closed for safety. Staff members continue to make home visits and phone calls to families. They are diligently checking on children, looking for signs of abuse and providing trauma counseling as needed. Partner church staff members have distributed almost 886,000 food packs, over 511,000 hygiene kits and have provided medical support to more than 40,000 individuals.

How is Compassion Currently Operating in Ethiopia?

Below, you will find the latest information on how Compassion is currently operating in Ethiopia, including status updates on center openings, letter delivery and gift delivery. This is the most current information we have, though it can change quickly. Please know that all children and their families are being checked in on regularly by staff, either in person or by phone, even if the Compassion center is not open for programming.

Are Compassion Centers Open?

Centers are operating at a variety of capacities depending on their region. Some centers remain closed to group programs but staff members are making home visits and phone calls to children and caregivers. Other centers have been able to allow small group classes and activities. Because of the generous support of sponsors and donors, they have been able to distribute nearly 886,000 food packs and over 511,000 hygiene kits to children and their families!

Are Children Receiving Letters?

Letters are currently being delivered in Ethiopia, although delivery to and from your child may take a bit longer than normal. We encourage you to continue writing your child, as all children need words of hope and encouragement now more than ever before. Thank you for your ministry!

Are Gifts Being Delivered?

Gifts continue to be distributed in Ethiopia. Staff members have been given the option to disburse monetary gifts to an appropriate, verified caregiver, if necessary. 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 be notified whether a gift has been designated as a child gift or family gift. The caregiver will decide the best use of the money, recognizing that sometimes purchasing food or paying rent is in the best interest of a child.

Story From the Field

When staff from Kidist’s Compassion center came to visit her, she was confused when they handed her a list of radio stations. With no internet, television or radio in her home, Kidist had been cut off from the outside world since the pandemic forced everyone home.

The 17-year-old had no idea that the government was transmitting daily school lessons over radio and television while schools were closed. She felt discouraged that she had no way of keeping up. And while some of her neighbors had radios, Kidist knew staying at home was the safest option.

When he heard of her plight, Dejene, the director of Kidist’s Compassion center, sprang to action to help her and seven other children in the program who lacked the technology to do their lessons. He used Compassion funds to purchase radios for each of them.

“The number might seem small, but for me even one child with no access to education is significant,” Dejene says. “More than the provision, I wanted them to understand that they are our priority and that we care. I wanted to take away the feeling of inadequacy. … I wanted them to really understand that they are not alone.”

“The only gateway for us out of poverty is our education,” says Kidist. “If that is compromised, then our dream also vanishes. When I brought the radio home from the center, my mother was as excited as I was. I felt like there was nothing the church won’t do to help me realize my dream.”

How can I pray for Ethiopia?

Please continue to pray for discernment and wisdom for the frontline church partners as they discuss how to safely reopen Compassion centers throughout the country.

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