Eugene Cho

We can’t do everything but we have to do something. Why I’m in the Horn of Africa.

Dear Friends, Supporters, Readers, and Encouragers:

I hope you’re doing well.

I’m writing to you from Kenya. Yes, you read that correctly. Kenya as in Kenya, Africa.

I just recently arrived and depending on circumstances, may also visit Somalia and South Sudan. Over the next week or so, I’m privileged to be a guest of World Concern (one of our main partners). We’re also joined by a representative from  ONE. Together, we’ll have the opportunity to personally assess the progress and the arduous work ahead. Just this week, I read reports that the current situation in Somalia – while it improved last year – may be entering into another dire situation.

The Context

In 2011, the Horn of Africa experienced the worst drought in its region in 60 years. This drought in combination with rising food prices, extreme insecurity, and violence led to famine conditions that affected over 13 million people in the Horn of Africa. The Horn of Africa is the “horn” shaped portion of northeastern Africa that includes the countries of Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti.

In fact, the UN declared famine in six regions in Somalia. Tragically, hundreds of thousands of people were forced to flee their homes in search of food, water, and safety. Many of them walked for weeks, trying to reach refugee camps in Kenya. And sadly, many died along the way, including more than 30,000 children.

When tragedy strikes – whether it be in Aurora, Colorado or through a famine or drought in the Horn of Africa (and another current one in the Sahel region of Africa)…we are reminded of our finitude. 

We can’t do everything…

As much as we want, we can’t fix everything.

We can’t change everything. We can’t make everything better but…

We can’t do nothing. We have do something.

We have to act.

This is part of why we started One Day’s Wages in 2009 – to enable and empower ‘the everyday person’ to do something. We can pray. We can raise awareness. We can contact our legislators and civic leaders. We can educate ourselves.

We can also gather resources to partner with organizations that are vetted, respected, and have a strategic plan for both short term relief and long term solutions – not just in response to crises but the ongoing fight to eradicate extreme poverty. It’s for these reasons that we partnered with World Concern, Adeso, and Concern Worldwide. In addition, we’ve been trying to plant 200,000 trees in Ethiopia with Eden Reforestation.

And you responded.

In fact, many responded and acted. From around the world. Many gave a few dollars. Some their one day’s wages. Numerous gave up their birthdays for the Horn of Africa Fund.  Couple churches partnered with us. Several companies partnered with us. There were benefits and parties. Some cycled. Some ran. And umm, some cut their hair.

One of the more amazing stories was a woman named Anji who decided to shave her head…and raised over $18,000!

$171,347.87

In total (thus far), we’ve raised $171,347.87. Amazing.

How have these funds been used?

Food, water, and food vouchers. Providing essential resources like cooking pots, blankets, spoons, sleeping mats, and mosquito nets for those that have left their homes with practically nothing; Rainwater catchment systems (see picture below), latrines, and training. And the list goes on.

Thank you.

Thank you for doing your part. When a crisis impact over 13 million people, it doesn’t just require a village, it requires the entire world.

We covet your thoughts and prayers. 

In fact, we’ve had to change our itinerary recently as two churches were recently bombed and attacked nearby the Dadaab refugee camp we were intended to visit. These attacks killed 15 people and wounded 40.  In addition, 4 relief workers were recently kidnapped. Thankfully, all have since been freed.

In short, safety is the most important priority so we’ll have to altogether avoid some places in our initial itinerary.

I’m humbled and grateful for your support and prayers. I want you to know that I’m not here to be a part of “Humanitarian Tourism.” ODW is committed to the fight against extreme poverty for the long haul. Thus far, we’ve raised over $1.25 million dollars and 100% (minus credit card fees) are invested in projects around the world.

I’m humbled by your support, trust, and partnership. You’re still welcome to give the Horn of Africa Relief Fund because the need is still real and I also hope that you’ll consider donating your upcoming birthday to support the ODW project of your choosing.

Here, there, or everywhere, may we all be convicted to love God and love our neighbors. Amen.

*As I’m not able to have regular internet access, I’ll likely not be able to blog frequently. I’ll try to stay connected with micro-updates on my Twitter account or my FB page.

* Long term solution – ‘water catchment’ – implemented by World Concern through the support of ODW.

* These Somali refugees are lined up to be registered at the world’s largest refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya — “home” to more than 400,000 people.

* This Somali refugee walked with her family for one month to escape the famine.

All photos courtesy of World Concern.

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13 Responses

  1. Dennis says:

    Thanks for this, Eugene. We believe in you and appreciate your leadership. Be safe!

  2. […] blog from one of my amazing team members. Blessed to work with and learn from people such as him. https://eugenecho.com/2012/07/21/we-cant-do-everything-but-we-have-to-do-something-why-im-in-the-horn… This entry was posted in Uncategorized by Kelly. Bookmark the […]

  3. Julianna says:

    Thanks for your inspiring words. Will be praying for your safe travels!

  4. daniel so says:

    Eugene — Thank you, even after the headlines have “moved on,” for your steadfast compassion and leadership. May we not allow the overwhelming brokenness of the world to paralyze us. As you said, we can’t do everything but we can each do *something*.

    Praying for you and your team.

  5. Jason says:

    Wow, stories worth hearing. Thanks for the update.

  6. matrixlajon says:

    Praying….

  7. silver account says:

    While Getting Better does not reconstruct development, its realistically grounded optimism provides what I see as a potential foundation for a productive rethinking of efforts to help the global poor. Kenny chooses to begin from a realistic grounding, where Chapters 2 and 3 of the book present us with the bad news (global incomes are diverging) and the worse news (nobody is really sure how to raise growth rates). But, Kenny answers these challenges in three chapters that illustrate ways in which things have been improving over the past several decades, from sticking a fork in the often-overused idea of poverty traps to the recognition that quality of life measures appear to be converging globally. This is more than a counterweight to the literature of failure – this book is a counterweight to the literature of development that all-too-blindly worships growth as its engine. In this book, Kenny clearly argues that growth-centric approaches to development don’t seem to be having the intended results, and growth itself is extraordinarily difficult to stimulate . . . and despite these facts, things are improving in many, many places around the world. This opens the door to question the directionality of causality in the development and growth relationship: is growth the cause of development, or its effect?

  8. […] had intended to write my reflections from my Horn of Africa assessment trip immediately after I […]

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One Day’s Wages

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Collaboration.

col·lab·o·ra·tion
kəˌlabəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun

the action of working with someone or a group of others  to produce or create something.

May we hold our logos, egos, and tribalism have their place. May we hold them loosely for they too shall pass. May we collaborate for the sake of the greater Kingdom of God ... which endures forever. As we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., don't forget the God behind the man. The one true God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today. Are we listening?

Be courageous. Be brave.

Being invited by the King Family to speak at the MLK worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2016 remains one of the most unexpected honors of my life. On the right is his daughter, Dr. Bernice King and his sister, Dr. Christine King Farris. Walking throughstreet markets in different parts of the world is the best. Soaking in the culture. Listening to the local language and music. Enjoying the amazing cuisine. Meeting new friends. Praying for the Gospel to penetrate. #ChiangRai Blessed be the local, indigenous leaders for it is they who live in the very communities they seek to love. For it is they who understand their context and culture...better than a Westerner ever will. For it is they who will continue to tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love when visitors like me leave.

Yes, blessed be the local, indigenous leaders. What an honor and privilege to celebrate with the on-the-ground local @thefreedomstory team to celebrate the recent opening of their Education and Resource Center for the local youth in Chiang Rai, Thailanf. This was made possible through a partnership and matching grant by @onedayswages and The Freedom Story.

While it was an honor to be there to cut the cord and say a few words, this is an example of collaboration. Much love to the Freedom Story team including their co-founders Tawee Donchai and @Rachel Goble, to their staff who live in the community, who understand their context and culture, and who tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love. And of course, much love to the students themselves for they each matter. Finally, to each person that donated to @onedayswages to make this grant possible.

May hundreds and even thousands of youth be impacted, encouraged, and mentored. May they capture a glimpse of God's love for them.

Photo: @benjaminedwards Part 2 on my wrestling with the complex issue of human trafficking. In part, documenting my trip to Thailand for @onedayswages...to listen, learn, and visit one of our partner orgs @thefreedomstory. More to come.

There's such painful and poignant irony in pursuing justice...unjustly. One way we do this is when we reduce people into projects...and thus, propagating the dangerous power dynamic of US as heroes and THEM as helpless and exclusively as victims. So dangerous.

Human trafficking is not just an issue. It’s ultimately, about people. Depending on the sources of statistics, there are anywhere from 29-40 million people in some form of forced labor and slavery, including sex trafficking.

And one thing I’ve learned, personally, is how easy it is easy to reduce people into projects which is why mutuality, reciprocity, and dignity are so vital. These are critical because God never intended people to be reduced into projects.

We forget this and we indirectly foster a culture and system of victimization or worse, the pornification of the poor or in this case, "the trafficked." And when you start dehumanizing the poor or trafficked, you have no genuine desire to build relationships with them. You believe or build stereotypes in broad strokes, singular, black and white narratives that have been told about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.

Lord, break our hearts for the things that break your heart. Give us eyes to see others through your eyes. Give us humility so that we acknowledge our own need to learn and grow. (Photo via @thefreedomstory)

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