It’s amazing, really, that people always show themselves to be so much more resilient than we think they will be. The child who has lost her parents and grown up in an orphanage who grows up with a desire to help people less fortunate than herself. The father whose children were stolen from him who never gave up hope that he would find them and reform his family. The boy growing up in prison because of his mother’s desperate actions who works so hard to try and top his grade at the school that he is permitted to attend through the day.
All of these are stories from our time in Ethiopia working with a people so proud of their heritage and so strong in their resolve. We have so many more, but these highlight the resilience of a people so consistently fighting for survival that they know nothing different. But the thing about Ethiopia, is that she will stand strong and stoic for only so long. The incredible history of this amazing land is full of people trying to take away from them. Over and over again, though, Ethiopia has risen.
And in 2015-16 she has risen once more. For 25 years there has been something not quite right going on. But 25 years ago was another time that Ethiopia had risen. So often, though, in a culture that has developed as a conglomeration of tribal cultures all so much older than we in our young countries can fathom, the idea of being the stronger tribe is rooted deep.
In 1991 something needed to change, and the change came in a wave of uprising that began with a smaller and more downtrodden tribe, but they held the ancient genes of a culture that at the time of Christ was the third largest on Earth. The culture that, if you ask any Ethiopian, was led at some time by the same Queen of Sheba who stood before Solomon. The culture that was known as such an important connector between the ancient east and west that there is evidence of trade between cultures as diverse as the Roman Empire’s British outposts and China in the same areas. The change came, but with it came a new form of oppression.
People of Ethiopia’s two largest people groups have suffered oppression in various ways for a quarter of a century. Some have missed job opportunities, others education or training opportunities or others may have even suffered racially motivated segregation. At its darkest however, there are many who have suffered at the hands of a violently oppressive regime bent on keeping itself in power. Journalists who have had their newspapers closed down on them, university students who have been beaten for nothing more than supporting opposing opinions, athletes who fear for their lives because they have supported change in the nation that they love.
As the people have risen, the government has tried to suppress them. We have heard that the streets of some regional centres, including Bahir Dar, are crowded with security personnel, people have been afraid to leave their homes and businesses are closed. In these same towns the people are rising, rising in silent protest. They are not going to work, they are not going to school, they are simply rising. There are reports that there are military personnel who are standing with the protestors as well as some of the most influential members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. This is an incredible thing, but… there are people who are in danger of starving in their homes and Grace is in a position to do something for some of them, and we are.
Last week Grace gave out supplies to many families that would be enough to last a couple of weeks. We know that these people will not starve. We have done what we can. Grace does not exist to voice political opinions; we exist to help those who need it. Simple. There is nothing complicated about that. There are masses of complications when it comes to how, but for now, we will just make sure that we are there to do.
I wrote this a week or so ago and it still stands, but there have been some changes since then. We have been told that there is peace for the moment. It is a time of celebration in Ethiopia at the moment with Enkutatash, Ethiopian New Year, and Eid Al-Adha, the Islamic Feast of Sacrifice both occurring on September 12 and then, the celebration of the Finding of The True Cross, a couple of weeks later. The government has reportedly released 1000 people as an act of “good faith”, to assuage the protesters, but there is an underlying concern that within a couple of months the tensions will once again bubble over and the people will once again rise.
There are three things that we ask you all to do to help.
Firstly, please pray. The people of Ethiopia need miraculous intervention for things to change peaceably.
Secondly, give. Global Development Group has started an emergency relief project for Ethiopia and so you can either give to Grace or to their new project. To give to Grace go to this link, alternatively, if you want to give to Global’s more general Ethiopian Relief project please click this link.
And the third thing we ask is for you to share this post. Please, let’s get the word out there that this is happening.
Thank you and God bless,