Food Shortages in Ethiopia and Travel Update

Many thanks to the Ewing family for sending food to the people of southern Ethiopia.

I’m not sure if I’m too relaxed or slightly in denial of what must be accomplished in the next 48 hours. If I were taking my lists seriously, I probably wouldn’t be posting this, but I also feel a need to keep you all “in the loop” of how things are going.

Russ is back from Boy Scout camp – yes, he actually had to go to camp despite our imminent departure. He is the Scoutmaster and this was our troop’s first year to go to camp, so he had to at least get them settled and set to work hard on merit badges and rank advancement. Sweet Pea and Mimi are both flying home from their travels and will arrive in two hours. Mimi has been gone for six weeks and Sweet Pea has been on a journey of great importance; I’m sure we’ll have hours of talking to do tonight.

The donations are gathered and heaped in a corner of our bedroom. We have beautiful clothes for girls at Hana’s House, fleece blankets, small toys, and famine relief food. Russ is an amazing packer, so although it looks impossible, we will probably get most of it in. The weight of our bags is limited to only 40 pounds each because our Ethiopian Air flights are originating in Rome rather than the US. That is such a small amount; I’m not sure what we are going to do. We may have to pay penalties to carry more.

It is sweet to think of Miss B. wearing the clothes I have packed for her. Two weeks ago I was wondering what color she liked best and had no idea. Then one day I laid out some pictures of her that I was preparing to put in a frame, and I realized that in all but one picture she was wearing pink. The one exception was the day she wore purple. In addition to pink clothes, I also ordered a pink backpack with her name on it – very cute.

I need to get back to work, but I want to share one more thing about the famine in Ethiopia. A friend offered to send 36 packages of famine relief food which provide 216 meals. Our bags were already full, but I figured I could fit some of it in. I emailed her that I could take some of the packages and if she wanted to send some money, I would give it to our mutual friend to buy food for people. She responded that from what she had heard, there was very little food available and what can be found in the market is far too expensive for most people to buy. Russ said, “Send it all; we’ll fit it in”. The box arrived today filled with food packages from Kids Against Hunger that we plan to take to Soddo.

I read a great explanation of the famine in Ethiopia, which I share here with the permission of the author:

Since we are living and working in Ethiopia we can confirm that things are getting very tough. The government just released June ’07-June ’08 inflation figures with overall inflation at 55%, food inflation at 78%, and grain/cereals inflation at 132%. The short rains failed (those that come in February – May) which combined with rising world food prices has been the real culprit of the difficult times Ethiopia now faces. The short rains usually provide enough crops that get people through the “hungry season” generally May to August. This is when people are planting and are waiting for the harvest from the longer rains.

Unfortunately, due to the failure of the short rains, and the delay of the longer rains, most of the current harvests are about two months behind. Most families dependent on agriculture will not see a harvest until mid-to-late September at the earliest. What I have heard in my travels and in meetings is that there is food in most markets, however the prices are so high that people cannot afford to purchase it. This is especially true for the small holder farmer and the very poor, who are most severely affected. The most deceiving part is that the fields are planted and the countryside looks green and beautiful, however these farmers (especially in the south where I recently traveled) will not receive their first crop (green maize) until at least Sept or Oct. This is why people are referring to this as a green famine – beautiful, plenty growing right now, but there is no access to food for a large number of people.

On the ration side – the government and donors are trying to meet food needs for the 4.6 million people at risk, but due to the inadequate food stocks in country for July, they have decided to reduce the normal ration of 15 KG per person to 10KG per person. It’s a tough decision, give some of the people in need a full ration and nothing to the rest, or spread the in-country food stock among all who need it at a reduced ration. There is a lot of food coming into the country in late July and August and will be available to distribute quickly. All that said, the government is in the process of buying 150,000 tons of wheat to sell at a subsidized rate in 12 urban centers around the country to reduce the food inflation impacts on the urban poor who do not have land and are solely dependent on purchased food to survive.

Please pray that our packing will go well and that our time with our children will be precious. We are going to miss them terribly.


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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. Munchkins
    July 23, 2008

    Lisa, We are praying for your trip to B.! Wow! You will be with her in no time! God bless you and Russ for all you do.

  2. MLB
    July 23, 2008

    I’m so excited for your family and so admire your commitment to these kids.

    I’m going to miss you! 🙂

  3. small world
    July 23, 2008

    Our family is praying for your safe and successful trip to pick up your daughter. We also pray that you will be effective ministers as you distribute the donations that God has allowed you to take with you. Our continued prayers will be with you as you travel.
    Love,The VanWetten Family

  4. Sherry
    July 25, 2008

    The time is almost here and we will be praying that everything goes perfectly. I am sure B will love all her new clothes. 🙂

    We will also continue praying for the situation in Africa…Ethiopia is only one of many countries that has been affected. 🙁


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