ATLANTA (ABP) – Baptist groups in the United States have sent funds to provide food for drought victims in East Africa.
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship sent an initial $5,000 to aid programs for refugees pouring into Kenya from Somalia. Food will be distributed in the Garissa area by Sisters Maternity Health Outreach, a ministry partner of CBF field personnel Melody and Sam Harrell, who are currently in the U.S.
American Baptist Churches USA released an emergency relief grant of $20,000 in One Great Hour of Sharing funds to Church World Service to provide aid in several drought-ravaged countries in East Africa.
The United Nations recently declared two areas of southern Somalia a famine, a benchmark meaning acute malnutrition rates among children exceed 30 percent and more than two people out of 10,000 die per day due to lack of access to food and other basic necessities.
Officials say that in the wider Horn of Africa, which includes Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and Eritrea, more than 10 million need emergency rations to survive, and diseases like measles and cholera pose a risk.
“This is expected to be the worst famine in the last generation,” said David Harding, one of CBF’s field personnel in Ethiopia and the Atlanta-based Fellowship’s international disaster-response coordinator.
Jeff Palmer, executive director of Baptist Global Response, a non-profit ministry that works with Southern Baptist relief ministries and other worldwide partners, described a “red alert” regarding waning support for the Southern Baptist Convention’s World Hunger Fund.
Palmer said the fund, overseen by the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, is at its lowest level in 20 years and 40 percent of what Southern Baptists were giving to fight world hunger a decade ago.
Both the CBF and ABC/USA appealed for donations. The Fellowship asked that donors send a check with “#17007 – Sub-Saharan Africa Response” in the memo line to Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, P.O. Box 101699, Atlanta, Ga., 30392
American Baptist officials said donations can be made online on the International Ministries website or by checks payable to “One Great Hour of Sharing – East Africa Drought” and mailed to: International Ministries, P.O. Box 851, Valley Forge, Pa., 19482.
“Our churches have responded generously to disasters in Haiti, Chile and Japan in recent years and months,” commented Charles Jones, International Ministries area director for Africa, Europe and the Middle East. “The tragedy emerging right now on the Horn of Africa is different. It has been unfolding quietly over a longer period of time, yet it is no less destructive and painful. It is claiming its victims slowly and painfully, as they struggle to find sources of food and shelter.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of Associated Baptist Press.