March 23, 2023 // National

CRS Rice Bowl 2023 — A Journey to Three Countries

BALTIMORE — Since 1975, CRS Rice Bowl, the brightly colored cardboard almsgiving box that is a familiar annual Lenten sight in parishes across the country, has invited Catholics to pray, fast, and give in solidarity with the world’s poor.

This year, the CRS Rice Bowl Stories of Hope take us to Honduras, Kenya, and the Philippines, where we’ll learn how people are overcoming the causes of hunger and adapting to climate change. As you journey with us during Lent, remember that through prayer, God invites us to slow down in the silence and look for Him around us — in nature and in people who need us most. Our fasting is an act of solidarity with people who are hungry — and it helps us feel a small part of what they are living day by day. It is in this spirit that our almsgiving is an act of love for God and neighbor. Through giving, there is no limit to what we can achieve together to serve people impacted by climate.

Rebecca Etelej, 37, fetches water in Kaitese Center in Turkana, Kenya, on March 29, 2022. Rebecca and her husband Lotiang were practicing agropastoralism for several years, applying old farming practices. Through Kenya RAPID program in collaboration with the Diocese of Lodwar, livelihood project supported them with the construction of a shallow well and equipped it with a solar pumping unit.
Rebecca says “ Before we were pastoralists but through CRS we learnt new skills. Now when we’re carrying farming activities I can sell what we grow and use the money to buy basic need.
“These skills have allowed me to feed my family. We’re not depending on relief food anymore, we’re independent.”
Photo by Patrick Meinhardt/GGImages for Catholic Relief Services

A Story of Hope from Kenya

Turkana, Kenya is very hot and dry. Temperatures reach the mid-90s year-round. Most people in this area raise livestock such as goats and camels, and a few are farmers. But the climate makes this work difficult — and climate change is making it even harder.

Rebecca and her husband, Lotiang, have farmed and raised goats for years. They rely on rain and river water to irrigate their crops and feed their animals. But it is raining less and less in Turkana, and — when it does rain — it can be unpredictable and intense, leading to floods that wash away the seeds.

“We struggled to water our farms,” Rebecca says.

Rebecca and Lotiang have worked hard so their family can thrive. Their determination — and hope for their children’s futures — helped them overcome the challenges they faced.

They participated in a Catholic Relief Services program that installed a water well in their village and trained them in new farming techniques. With the well and solar-powered pump, they can irrigate their fields regularly and take care of their goats. Their children love to help with the goats!

Lotiang learned to grow kale, which provides nutrition for his family and can be sold for a high price at the market. Rebecca is grateful that her children can eat healthy food every day. She is also happy that she can send them to school using money from the produce Lotiang sells at the market.

Rebecca and Lotiang have become leaders in their community and teach others what they learned so that everyone can benefit.

“I learned much in CRS’ program,” Rebecca says. “It is a program that has changed my life. I am trying to show my community what I am able to do so that they can emulate it for a better future. Through that I will change my community.”

For more information about the Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl program and to donate, visit

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