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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We have to remind ourselves of this truth every day lest we forget:

Our greatest calling as followers of Christ is to be faithful. Not spectacular. Not glamorous. Not popular. Not relevant.

Be faithful.

PS: Also, it helps to get some Vitamin D especially if you live in the rainy Northwest Thank you, Brooklyn, for the reminder. Umm, @jlin7 is a Christian but he wasn't very Christlike with me on the basketball court. He muscled me into the paint, dunked on me, mentioned my momma, and then said, "Stick with preaching." Just kidding. Kind of.

If you haven't heard, Jeremy Lin is donating his one games wages (approximately $140,000) and an additional $100 for every 3 pointer made to support Girls' Empowerment and Education through @onedayswages. That game is this Friday vs the Boston Celtics!

Join his campaign as he's inviting his fans to donate just $7. - http://onedayswages.org/jlin

Did you know that 32 million girls of lower secondary school age are not enrolled in school.

Did you know that every year of secondary school increases a girl’s future earning power by 20 percent.

Did you know that if all girls in Sub-Saharan Africa, South and West Asia had a secondary education, child marriage would fall by 64 percent.

We can't change the entire world but we can impact the lives of one, few, and in some cases...many.

#jeremylin #jlin #linsanity #onedayswages Don't be held captive to either praise or criticism.

Know who you are.
Know what you're about.
Know WHO you serve.

The answer to who you serve makes all the difference... It's the day after International Women's Day - and it's still important to celebrate the contribution of women in our lives, society, and world. As we honor women all around the world, I'm also reminded of how women and children are those who are most deeply impacted by injustice - especially poverty.

Sadly, I have witnessed this reality in too many places. ​In 2012, I traveled to a remote area in Eastern Kenya as part of a @onedayswages response to a famine that struck the Horn of Africa region. This famine impacted nearly 13 million people and according to some sources, took the lives of about 250,000 people. During my trip there, I had the chance of meeting many people but the person that still remains in my memory was a Muslim woman named Sahara.

She was so hospitable in inviting us to her small and temporary home. During our conversation, I learned that ​Sahara traveled 300 kilometers (a little under 200 miles) – some by cart and some by foot – as they sought to escape the worst drought that has impacted East Africa (Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia) in the past 60 years.

This is not a misprint.
200.

She traveled about 200 miles on cart and foot. ​And all along, she was ill. If you look closely ​at the photo, you might notice the large lump in her throat - likely a large cancerous tumor.​ She did not travel alone. She traveled with her husband who I was not able to meet because he was staying with one of his five other wives in this polygamist community.  She did not travel alone. She also traveled with her six children – the youngest being about 1 and the oldest being around 8. She had just given birth to her sixth child when they began her journey. Her youngest was severely malnourished when they arrived to this new settlement in a town called Benane. 
Sahara and her children all survived this journey. They survived because she persisted. 
In honor of Sahara...and so many other women who keep...keeping on. I have to remind myself of this every day...because I can forget every day:

Don't be lazy and make assumptions about people. Ask about their story. Then listen. Be humble. Be teachable. Be human. Be a good neighbor.

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