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On a recent visit to the tiny, remote village of Chuticalbaj, Guatemala, our partners New Hope Ministries (NHM) were able to check in on Juana and her mother Manuela, who we first got to know a year ago!
It is a long, challenging drive on extremely rough terrain to make it to their village, but our partners are determined and will stop at nothing to get FMSC food into the hands of those who desperately need it. We are so grateful for the dedication of our amazing partners like NHM.
When we last we heard from Juana, she was growing stronger and her health was improving.
Now one year later she has gained 9 more pounds! She looks AMAZING!
Spunky Juana is approaching her 7th birthday! We love seeing the progress she has made.
Juana is doing very well. She likes to have fun, is very energetic and enjoys running around and playing with her siblings and friends in the village.
Thank you for the impact you’ve made on Juana’s life.
“But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish.” – Psalm 9:18
UPDATE: After publication of this post, the U.N. Refugee Agency announced that the number of forcibly displaced peoples has hit a record high of 65 million from 59.5 million just 12 months ago.
Close to 60 million people worldwide are forcibly displaced. Let that term sink in. Forcibly displaced.
“Forcibly displaced” is more than a term for refugees, internally displaced persons and stateless persons. “Forcibly displaced” is 60 million heart wrenching stories. When I hear the term, I feel a quickening in my pulse and a need to share the stories I’ve been told.
Here is one such story from James, a leader of a Sudanese church in Wheaton, Illinois:
“There was militia and they went to our village. They killed them all. They burned all houses in the area. They took all the cow we have. Everything we have they took it away from us.”
“We never been free. We NEVER been free. They say we lost 2 million, but it was more than 2 million. Who count them? Who see them? We never see the world to step in.”
What James and his family had been through is unimaginable, but sadly, millions of people around the world don’t have to imagine it. They lived it. Many are still living it.
Now, more than ever, children are being affected by the refugee crisis.
Last year, 51 percent of refugees were under 18 years old. This is the highest figure for child refugees in more than a decade, according to the UNHCR.
Feed My Starving Children meals reach many refugees worldwide. Our partners work tirelessly to bring nutritious meals and clean water to families and children in need.
The Worst Humanitarian Crisis of Our Time
Since the Syrian conflict began, more than 11 million people have been killed or forced to flee their homes, according to MercyCorps. It has been called the worst humanitarian crisis of our time.
The U.N. predicts there could be 4.7 million registered Syrian refugees by the end of this year.
Recently, we brought you a story about a group of students who brought MannaPack Rice™ to Syrian refugees in Macedonia. We are happy to report that Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Iraq are also benefiting from nutritious, life-saving meals.
In the past two years, FMSC has shipped more than 1 million meals to Iraq for Iraqi and Syrian refugees. These shipments have gone through two different partners, Reach Now International and World Help.
Our meals are primarily being used in refugee camps in Kurdistan and in villages in Iraq. We do have other direct partners working in the Middle East with refugees as well, but they have not sent our food as a part of their relief efforts.
While much of the attention in Iraq has been given to meeting the needs of refugees in easily accessible refugee camps, those outside of these camps have been overlooked despite their great need, FMSC partner World Help said.
A very long and harsh winter left rural, hard to reach mountain villages lacking basic necessities.
“Because of the generosity of FMSC, we were able to reach these villages for the first time, providing for a group of people that had been neglected for far too long,” World Help said.
One 31-year-old man expressed the timeliness of this donation.
“It helped us feed many handicap children, [and] old people [who] don’t receive the right care…God bless you all for helping us. It really came at the right time in such a harsh winter.”
Join us in a prayer from the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
Our Gracious Lord,
There are many in Your world today who have been forced from their homes by persecution and violence.
Keep them in your constant care, and bring them to a place of safety.
Be the Good Shepherd to refugees who are in flight. Guide them to the green pastures of safety.
Be the Everlasting Father to refugees who have lost home and loved ones. Lead, protect and provide for them.
Be the Great Physician to refugees who are suffering. Grant them healing and hope.
Be the Hiding Place to refugees who are languishing in camps. Shelter their souls as well as their bodies.
Be the Deliverer to refugees who have been able to return home. Restore their lives so that those who have sown in tears may reap in joy.
Be the Wonderful Counselor to refugees who have been resettled. Help them find their way in a new land.
Be the Giver of all good gifts to those who serve refugees. Empower them to do justice and love mercy and walk humbly with You.
Be the Lord of lords to all the earth, that those who rule would do so in justice and righteousness, and no one would have to become a refugee anymore.
We ask these things in the precious and powerful name of Jesus. Amen.
More Stories of Hope
Marco Antonio has four children ages three to 10. He provides for them by selling popcorn at bus stops.
The family lives in Honduras, the second poorest country in Central America. Honduras suffers from extraordinarily unequal distribution of income, as well as high underemployment, according to the CIA World Factbook.
Marco has been unemployed for more than a year and brings in as much money as he can to feed his children rice or beans once or twice a day.
Last summer, he brought his children to one of the feeding centers run by our partner, Food For The Poor.
“This is the only balanced food my kids can get,” he said. “I am truly grateful to the people running this center for helping me during this difficult time of my life.”
Marco also volunteers at the feeding center. He helps clean and serve the meals, and our partner says he does an amazing job encouraging kids to eat their food.
On Children’s Day in Honduras, this very special dad brings joy and laughter to his town by dressing up as a clown for the celebration.
Read more about the special role of dads.
Support dads across the globe.
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” –1 Corinthians 15:58
Moriah Otto is an international programs representative at Feed My Starving Children. She spent four years as a team leader. Here she reflects on her first trip with FMSC to Liberia and Ghana. Read more reflections from this trip HERE.
Unshaken faithfulness and an undeniable servant’s heart.
If you asked me to describe our partners who have experienced more turmoil, despair, and adversity in their lifetimes than I can even comprehend, that is how I would sum it up. The leaders of these orphanages, schools, and clinics radiate an unshaken faithfulness paired with an undeniable servant’s heart.
When I asked partners why they do what they do, they explained it in the simplest terms, “I see a need in my community, and I am choosing to do something about it.”
They choose to act.
Having been a team leader for almost four years, I have shared the story of FMSC more times than I can count. But for the first time since I began working at FMSC, I had the opportunity to visit some of our partners in Liberia and Ghana, and the stories of our partners came to life in a whole new way.
Instead of organizations, they became individuals, each with a unique story. They became friends and family. With every interaction, I felt a permanent smile spread across my face and my heart being transformed.
While in Liberia, I observed the resilient response our partners had to the Ebola outbreak.
New Hope Clinic and Church, FMSC’s indirect partner through International Children’s Fund, shared their story of selfless and steadfast love. During the peak of the Ebola outbreak, schools were shut down. New Hope Church responded by serving three FMSC meals a day out of their church to more than 150 children in the surrounding community.
By offering these children food, they were able to keep them safe and confined in an environment otherwise chaotic and uncertain.
The inspirational testimonies only continued as we traveled to Obanda, a rural community in Eastern Ghana.
FMSC’s partnership with Ghana Christian Mission began more than a year ago as we began providing food to four rural schools.
Before FMSC started providing meals, students who could afford it would go out and buy their lunch and rarely return to school afterward. Those who didn’t have the means went hungry.
As we arrived at Obanda School, we were greeted with countless welcomes, a parade of running children, and a group of 25 community elders.
What struck me most was the community involvement that surrounded this feeding program. We listened to teachers and elders talk about the rising attendance in the primary school and the overwhelming ownership this community was taking. There are close to ten women from the community who volunteer every single day to cook for over 550 students — talk about selfless.
Each and every community, child, leader and elder has a story. FMSC food allows our partners to continue writing their stories — stories that spark inspiration and exemplify a servant’s heart.
More stories of HOPE:
“Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.” –Psalm 40:5
Rich Rosenberg’s is a story that winds through Illinois and Tanzania and back again with thousands of shoes and boxes of MannaPack Rice.™
He started Soles for Africa about 10 years ago. The organizations collects used shoes and soccer balls to distribute to children in Africa, Haiti, Dominican Republic and the United States. He’s provided almost 25,000 pairs of shoes to children in need over the years.
He ended up packing meals at our Schaumburg, Illinois location for his granddaughter’s birthday this past winter. She was turning nine and her mother organized for her Girl Scout Troop to pack for the occasion.
After the packing session, he looked up Feed My Starving Children to learn more, and that’s when the connections began:
“So now I’m back home and we have done those things and I have this warm, fuzzy in my heart for FMSC, and I’m looking online on your website and I see the SAME school we ship our shoes to,” he said.
Several months passed when Rich and his daughter were loading containers with shoes, tennis balls and desks, when all of a sudden they started seeing cases of FMSC food also getting packed.
“And I had a moment — oh my goodness gracious. It’s still those same wonderful boxes of high value, high protein foods.”
They sealed the containers and sent the supplies across the ocean to the port city in Tanzania.
“So we wait and we wait for the containers to get to the school and finally they arrive and these two trucks cross over the desert area. As they come in about eight miles to the school, the dust that they throw up in the sky is amazing.
I thought, ‘Well this must be trucks of stuff coming.’ So the village starts to get excited. Hundreds of people come to the school to celebrate the arrival of the shoes, food and desks.
Prayers are said and thank yous are given and we open the truck and right there at the back is all of the marvelous food from Feed My Starving Children.
We actually got to eat some of that. Everybody had a tin plate and loaded it with good nourishing food and ate as a community.”