Saturday, August 27, 2011

East Africa Drought

In the last couple of weeks I’ve mentioned two huge events. First, in our diocese, was , which brought over thirty thousand people together for a day of celebrating our faith. The second was World Youth Day in Madrid Spain. It’s estimated that between one and two million people were in attendance. 

There’s an event going on right now that is even bigger than that. In East Africa a drought has caused over two-million children to be malnourished and in need of “Life-Saving Action.” Over 10 million people are affected by the drought and the number is climbing by thousands every day.

As you know, East Africa is in the grip of a horrible drought. We have all seen images of the hungry and malnourished arriving in refugee camps, many after walking for weeks or months, surviving not only the bleak landscape but also bandits and even wild animals. The perseverance of these people, of mothers sacrificing to save their children, is a tribute to the human spirit

The crisis in the Horn of Africa is intensifying, and extreme hunger is a harsh daily reality for more than 12 million people in Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti. A famine has been declared in parts of Somalia for the first time in decades. Kenya and Ethiopia are further burdened by an influx of refugees from Somalia, many making the harrowing journey across the border and into camps like the one in Dadaab, Kenya.

This drought in East Africa in a very vivid and stark way brings to life today’s responsorial psalm:

R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
O God, you are my God whom I seek;
for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts
like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.

You can see in East Africa what “Parched, lifeless earth without water” looks like. News reports are warning that as Hurricane Irene hits our country people may be without water or electricity for a few days. The people in East Africa have gone for months without water. Not only are they thirsty, but their land is thirsty. The farms are destroyed, plants have completely dried out and their animals have withered and turned to dust and bones.

Maybe in your life you are experiencing some dryness. Maybe you too feel parched for thirst, lifeless without water… desiring for God in your life, but feeling nothing only more thirst. One of the ways to resist this dryness in prayer is to do some act of charity.

This weekend the Catholic Church is asking you to perform a specific act of Charity. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is asking that all Americans give in some way to Catholic Relief Services (CRS).

I have been blessed to be a member of CRS as one of their “Global Fellows.” I have witnessed the amazing work that they do in Africa.

How CRS is Helping?

For decades, CRS has actively worked in Kenya and Ethiopia through programs that address agricultural and water needs. Reports from the field indicate that CRS' efforts have helped ease the effects of drought in many communities.

In Ethiopia, CRS is leading a coalition of humanitarian groups that has more than doubled the size of its feeding program. It is now reaching more than 1 million people affected by the emergency.
In Kenya, Catholic Relief Services is working to get aid to many of the tens of thousands of famished Somalis who are pouring across the border. Through our many ongoing water, sanitation and agriculture projects, CRS is also responding to Kenyans’ needs during this crisis.
Working with partners, CRS has been able to get some aid into the stricken areas of Somalia and is assisting displaced families throughout the country with basic necessities.

How you can help:

Donate to the East Africa Emergency Fund online at or call 877‐Help‐CRS (877‐435‐7277). Mail donations to: Catholic Relief Services, Attn: East Africa Emergency Fund, P.O. Box 17090, Baltimore, MD 21203‐7090.

Advocate: Please contact President Obama and your members of Congress and remind them not to cut programs that allow the US to respond in times of great human suffering. Click on this link and it will automatically send your message to your appropriate representatives depending on where you live. It’s pretty cool:


Gracious and Loving God,
As witnesses to the drought in East Africa, continue to provide your people with hearts of service, compassion and solidarity.
Console our sisters and brothers living with uncertainty and the scarcity of food.
Guide our leaders that they might work together to offer solutions to the needs of the people in East Africa.
May your grace remind us that you are the source of justice; your mastery over all things makes you lenient to all.
Continue to gather us in your name so as your children we embrace our sisters and brothers as we respond to your call.
You call us your people. You taught us to be just and you gave us good ground for hope.
Lord, help us to respond to the needs of our brothers and sisters in the coming weeks.
Mold us in your will so that our brothers and sisters will see you reflected in our response.
We ask this through your son, Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.
All: Amen.

1 comment:

  1. Homily, Saturday's Mass

    Thank you for reminding us what the news tells us at a distance from the safety of our living room couches. This is real and urgent. May Jesus touch your hearts to give generously and continue to pray.


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