Dear Friends and Supporters of WIN,
I am writing from Ethiopia, the first of four locations that I am currently visiting.
I flew in on Saturday and have spent the last few days with the team, meeting sponsored children, auditing the finances and working on strategy for the future.
Ethiopia has not escaped the cost of living crisis that the world is experiencing. Prices for the basic food items have doubled or even tripled in some cases. Cooking oil was 400 birr (approx £6.50) for five litres is now around 1200 Birr (£18 for five litres) - grain has doubled in price, and rent for even a home made from sticks and cow dung has risen from £20 a month to nearly £40 a month.
It's amazing how, with so much pressure and struggle in their lives, these dear people are keeping going.
This afternoon we visited some of our sponsored children in the slums and sat with families and orphans, who despite their struggles, have worked hard at school and many are coming in top of their class due to the support they receive.
I met one mother with a son and daughter today whose father died four years ago. They have grown up without a father and think of their sponsors as their father. As I sat with them and the children asked if I could be their father. We prayed together and wept as the children came and hugged me; it was the first time they remember being hugged by someone apart from their mother. They live in a stick and cow-pat hut in the bottom of a ravine that is flooding due to the river rising during the rainy season.
Another young lad I met today was around 5 years old; he was HIV positive. We hugged, and again he was so grateful for the love he received from his sponsors when they wrote to him. Many had pictures of their sponsors that they carried with them and showed me.
WIN Ethiopia have also in faith, employed a social worker, a 23 year old man called 'Menty' - he has so much energy and passion for the children and is also an IT whizz and will be compiling a PowerPoint of each sponsored child which we hope to forward to you if you're currently sponsoring a child from Ethiopia.
The laws for charities in Ethiopia are stringent, and are designed to be 'fair' to all sponsored children so they all receive the same amount of funding from WIN.
I have to say that none of the families I met are making ends meet, they are grateful to eat just once a day and that is usually a mix of oil and grains with water.
It's tough out here for both the team and for all the children and families that we look after.
I also met with a lady called Hannah. If you remember back to a newsletter we sent in late 2019, Hannah was originally living alone in a slum and working by cleaning peoples houses to make ends meet. During this time she was raped multiple times and ended up with five children, all born of rape from five different men. In response to the newsletter, funds were gifted to Hannah that were enough to move her out of the slum, and we purchased a commercial washing machine and set her up in a safe home where she was able to start a laundry business. I visited their home and met with Hannah and her family. Her business is thriving and she has been self-sufficient since the business started. She manages around 25 loads of washing a week and this is enough to sustain them all. From memory, all this cost WIN was around £1,000.
Whilst we are feeling the pressure in the UK, these families are desperate for help, even just for food - but ideally we would support them to become self-sustaining. At the moment we do this through sponsorship, where we support the children to get a great education and thus enable them to get far better jobs when they graduate.
The team in Ethiopia are mainly two people, Meaza and Menty, with others helping. They are tired, close to burnout, and in need of help too due to the cost of living as well as living by faith. We are reshaping their work to help them recover but serving faithfully during the last two years of Covid has taken its toll on them. The great news is that Meaza is three months pregnant and so we're excited for a 'WIN baby' in six months time.
So I want to say thank you on their behalf for all that you do to support them in such difficult circumstances.
I know things are difficult at the moment, and I also plan to write and update you from Kenya and both projects in Uganda in the coming weeks as I travel to each WIN Global Family Member, but should you feel you would like to help then I will put the needs below.
The team need some encouragement and I would love to be able to bless them with some additional personal finances to sustain them through these difficult times.
Thank you so much and I will write again from Kenya, my next stop.
Please do pray for all of our Global Family, they serve on the front line both practically and missionally, in some of the worst conditions in the world.
In His service and with every blessing,
Rob Holmes | CEO | World In Need