Chairperson of Hope Enterprises Minas Hiruy has sent us this message direct from Ethiopia…
Greetings at this time of global hardship caused by the unexpected but horrendous pandemic.
On account of the pandemic a state of emergency was declared by the federal government lasting for five months. All precautions are being taken. Schools and universities have been closed. Non essential government officials at all levels have been instructed to work from home. All open markets and religious activities and meetings of any sort have been suspended. Hand wash is becoming a frequent routine and social distancing has been ordered.
As threadbare as the country’s health services have been, the emergence of the pandemic has just compounded the problem. The Chinese have airlifted some testing equipment and protective supplies. But considering the magnitude of what may come, what we have on hand is not going to be enough to attend to the efforts of testing, quarantine, care, rescue and safety.
Our country’s economy, which showed signs of recovery following the series of ethnic conflicts, is beginning to be in tatters again. The hospitality industry has been hit the hardest and exports like flowers and certain agricultural products have nose-dived. The flow of investment has significantly slowed down and our banks have very little to do. As connected as Ethiopia has been to the global economy, the slowdown elsewhere is showing up almost immediately here. What we can sense is that the economy will be worse before it can get better. At the same time, the cost of living keeps rising as has particularly youth unemployment. Our streets are hosting an unusual number of the hungry and the homeless despite the safety net program that was started few years back. Crime in our city has increased as employment possibilities narrow. The country’s election, which was set to happen by the end of August, has been indefinitely postponed.
As an organisation Hope Enterprises support almost 5,000 children. We are praying for continued support of the children despite the dire economic circumstances. Indeed the world has suddenly become a different place and the longer it continues under such deteriorating conditions, the harder it becomes for the poor to manage their fragile livelihoods.
Given school closures and the lockdown protocol, we have let all the children under our care go home by supplying each with staple food rations to last them for two months. We have had to close the feeding centre for street children and the destitute, afraid that it will be a risky place for everyone. We are working on ways to assist the hungry by providing packs of dry food. We are also planning to assist many of the street children in Addis Ababa by aligning our efforts with the city government.
As important as protective supplies have been, we intend to have our garment departments in Addis Ababa and in Dessie prepare face masks of the N95 type to distribute to street children, our 5,000 pupils and their siblings. We will also distribute soap for the frequent hand wash necessary.
We do not know when all activities will be restored to their usual routines. In the meantime life will not be easy for the poor that we have been assisting. We thank you for your openness to assist us under these difficult circumstances and we have hope for a better day.
Chairperson of the Board