Melissa Wheeler
Catholic Relief Services: Rice Bowl
March 28, 2017 // Special

Drought in Ethiopia, the stewardship of creation

Melissa Wheeler
Catholic Relief Services: Rice Bowl

Each week of Lent, this reflection series will provide ways to incorporate global solidarity and the struggles of our brothers and sisters throughout the world into your Lenten journey.

Nation focus: Ethiopia

Catholic social teaching principle: Care for creation

Question: How do you care for God’s creation?

Scripture quote: “How varied are your works, Lord! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.” Psalm 104:24

Prayer intention: For all those affected by drought or lack of clean water, that life-giving rain may revitalize their fields and their spirits

Almsgiving challenge: Give $.50 to the CRS Rice Bowl each time you throw food away this week.

Catholic Relief Services has been responding to natural and manmade disasters in Ethiopia since 1958. Ethiopia is an eastern African nation that is slightly smaller than twice the size of Texas. This nation of around 99 million people has been devastated by drought. Most recent estimates show that about 10 million of them are struggling with hunger. This week I invite you to encounter one of these people, Dita Abdo.

Abdo is a married mother of seven children. This family depends on their small farm for income. They grow crops that are sold in their local market. With the drastic drought, these crops are dwindling. Abdo has been able to be involved with a CRS business program that has allowed her to build a new house and open a small store to support her family. She now earns a steady monthly income with which she provides food for her family. She has been able to buy hens she can raise for eggs. She was even able to put a metal roof on her house, thanks to the microfinance project.

This drought crisis in Ethiopia calls to mind the stewardship of creation that was given to man by God. All of creation was given to man, out of love, from God. Therefore, we must take care of creation both for ourselves and for all of humanity for generations to come. St. Kateri Tekakwitha is venerated as the patron of ecology. She is the first Native American saint from the United States and Canada. Being a part of the Mohawk community, Kateri had a close connection to the land. She would often go into the forest alone to pray. Keeping in mind care for creation and St. Kateri Tekakwitha, perhaps you could pray this prayer this week as part of your Lenten practice.

“Blessed Kateri, you are revered as the mystic of the American wilderness. Though orphaned at the age of four, and left with a scarred face and damaged eyesight from illness, you were esteemed among the Mohawk tribe. When you asked to be baptized a Christian you subjected yourself to abuse by your people and were forced to run away. You endured may trials but still flowered in prayer and holiness, dedicating yourself totally to Christ. I ask you to be my spiritual guide along my journey through life.

Through your intercession, I pray that I may always be loyal to my faith in all things. Amen.”

The five-year Development Food Assistance Program aims to increase the resiliency of Ethiopians in Oromia region and Dire Dawa Administration facing chronic food insecurity. A key program goal is to improve the health, nutrition and sanitation of mothers and children. Integrated services help families earn more money, increase food supplies and grow their household assets, like purchasing livestock. Health, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene initiatives also bring positive change, and public works, paid in food or cash, increase and improve available social infrastructure and protect natural resources through community participation.

Melissa Wheeler is the diocesan director for Catholic Relief Services.



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