Author: Salesian Missions

Publication Date: May 31, 2024

Overcoming Humanitarian Crises

Across Ethiopia, clean water for drinking, cooking and crops is so scarce that it drives people to desperate measures just to get their hands on a small jug of it. It’s a disaster of poverty so large that it should register as a humanitarian crisis but instead, it’s an unfortunate reality of everyday life.

“For nearly a decade, widespread drought has been baked into Ethiopia’s collective experience just like the crops left to wither in the dry, cracked ground,” explains Father Michael Conway, director of Salesian Missions. “The rest of the world has mostly become desensitized to the struggle. But for the millions of people whose very survival depends on finding clean water, this crisis is front and center.”

The drought leads to a cascading series of daily emergencies including hunger, illness and the inability to attend school or earn money. It’s no wonder that the country’s average life expectancy is under 50 years!

And it’s not just in Ethiopia, either. In nearly every single one of the 130+ countries where our missionaries serve, desperately impoverished children and their families face heartbreaking personal catastrophes that should garner global attention—but don’t. As a result, their very lives and futures are at stake.

“It’s human nature to gravitate toward the sensational,” Fr. Mike says, “and unfortunately there’s no shortage of that in today’s headlines. But people’s need for compassion and material help is no less dire—or deserving—just because their suffering doesn’t make the news.”

And that’s where our missionaries shine—stepping in to lead measurable change. In Gambella, Ethiopia, for example, one dedicated Salesian missionary has quietly raised money for, and helped oversee, the construction of 30 wells. Fr. Filippo Perin has been helping to bring water to this community since 2008 and has no intention of slowing down.

“Living here, I touched with my own hands the suffering, the critically challenging aspects of this beautiful land,” he recently explained to the Vatican News. “Just think, life expectancy here is below 50 years. There is a lack of food; people have only one meal a day. There are no hospitals, and the local clinics only distribute two medicines—paracetamol and amoxicillin, a broad-spectrum antibiotic for various types of infections. Nothing else. Young people and children fall ill and die from diseases that are curable in other parts of the world. There are no schools; education is not even a priority for governments, so it is often entrusted to the Church or humanitarian organizations that perform this important task as best they can.”

To outsiders, the situation may seem hopeless. But not so for Fr. Filippo, who witnesses the profound difference that one single well can make for an entire village.

“When the water first comes out, the whole village erupts in celebration,” he said in the article. “People arrive to fill up jugs, they drink the clean water, they wash their hands and faces, and they dance with joy! They all stand around the well for hours and realize what a great gift they have received!”

Generous supporters like you make miracles like these possible around the world. Together with our dedicated missionaries, you help provide safe water, clean clothes, basic medicine, and temporary shelter for children and families with nowhere else to turn. At the same time, you support comprehensive programs that address the root causes of poverty-driven emergencies for so many people. And we are tremendously grateful.

Learn more about our work in Ethiopia.

Our mission addresses the many crises of poverty by offering compassion and material support for children and families in need. What’s your mission?

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*Any goods, services or funds provided by Salesian Missions to programs located in this country were administered in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including sanctions administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control.