Community Building in Oitu

Let me just start by saying that I feel MUCH better today.  I think the jet lag has finally worn off.  I’m so thankful for that because now I can really focus on what we’re seeing and the people we’re meeting.

This morning we woke up to a fierce thunderstorm.  I immediately thought of the families we met yesterday and wondered if they were ok.  I remembered Meseret telling us that when it rains, she has to sleep in the back room because of the holes in the roof over her bed.

The rain presented a challenge in our trek to Oitu today.  We spent 9 miles in a Land Rover traversing a road filled with water.  At times it felt like we were on a boat, and there were a few moments where I thought we might tip over.  When FH tells you they go to the hard places, they mean it!

Once we arrived in Oitu, we were instantly surrounded by kids, kids, and more kids.  One of the hardest things for me on this trip so far is having to limit my time playing with the children in the communities.  I just want to settle in, play games, give hugs and make silly faces.  But we are on a schedule and have to move on after a few minutes.

As we made our way through the throngs of children, we came upon the area staked out for the new FH office and play area.  We learned that one of the priorities in the communities is to build a playground (or a play station as they call it), so that children can have fun and act like kids more often.  Many children who are not able to go to school end up working from a young age and miss out on the essentials of childhood.

Next, we sat down with 18 leaders of the Oitu community to dialogue about the challenges their community faces and their hope for the future.  The Oitu community is one of the newest to partner with Food for the Hungry.  In fact, FH has only been working with them for 3 months so far.

What struck me the most about our conversation with the community leaders was their passion, hope, and vision of the future.  I think some people have the misconception that all poor people are lazy or just want a handout.  This was not the case here.  These leaders spoke at length about the resources Oitu has and the potential that is there if they could just get a little help to utilize those resources.

And what’s so great about Food for the Hungry is that they don’t come into this community and create dependency.  After meeting  emergency needs, the focus switches from relief to rehabilitation and eventually to development.  With an end goal in mind, FH empowers community members to take responsibility for improving their quality of life.  After a time, when the community is ready, FH retreats.

I hope to be able to come back some day to see how the community of Oitu has transformed by partnering with Food for the Hungry.


I will look forward to seeing families like this one have a brighter future because the children are now able to go to school.

I can’t wait to see the the renovated school, children playing in the “play area”,  a local medical center, and thriving businesses.

I look forward to seeing smiles on the faces of sponsored children because they now have a tangible hope for what is to come.  Child sponsorship puts all of these things into action.  By sponsoring a child, you are helping an entire community.  The effects are far-reaching and benefit all who are involved, including you.

When Teresa (above) was asked what she would like to tell you who are reading this right now, she wanted you to know that her hope was for other kids to get the opportunities that she has now.  To go to school and plan for a bright future.  Read more about Teresa’s story here.

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