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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As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it. I don't care if it sounds mushy but sunsets are one of my love languages. Seoul, Korea was amazing but WOW...what a breathtaking welcome back sunset by Seattle. Not ready to let go of summer.

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