Saturday, March 28, 2009

Teff: Bread for Ethiopia

We are created in the image of God. If I invest myself in those who suffer in the world, those who are so different from me, I learn more about this God that I love.
Rev. Dee Ivy and Charles Ivy,
explaining their mission in Ethiopia
(Note: This article is reprinted from the March 24 issue of a newsletter published by First United Methodist Church in Albuquerque. This is the first of three articles about bread in the world and Bread for the World ahead of FUMC's Offering of Letters on May 10 and 17).

By Rev. Dee Ivy

Have you ever heard of teff? Well, we hadn’t either until coming to Ethiopia in May 2008. Teff is the tiniest of grains and THE staple for every Ethiopian family. Teff is to Ethiopians as flour is to Americans or rice to Japanese. When mixed with water and left to ferment for three or four days, teff is used to make a spongy huge round bread that looks like a dirty dish towel to those of us unenlighted about Ethiopian cuisine.

HOPEFULLY, injera is made every day; the first food eaten in the morning and the last food eaten before going to bed. We were blessed to deliver 300 kilos of teff to an orphanage last December thanks to a gift of money from Los Compadres Sunday School class. They trusted us to invest in the community and provide food for orphans.

The key word in my first paragraph is HOPEFULLY.

Millions of Ethiopians are starving to death while they continue to hope. For a year, the cost of teff has steadily risen and is now at a point where millions cannot afford this simple daily staple. Without money to purchase their daily bread, what do the hungry hope for? Generosity? Charity?

During the past few years we have listened first hand to the hopes and dreams of the world’s poor. We have heard them cry for PEACE AND JUSTICE: fair wages for their labor, reasonable food prices in order to feed their children, schools to educate their children, and peace.

They long for peace---peace that means the absence of war. Without peace, all their efforts are futile. I grew up with the mantra “Work hard and you can accomplish your dreams.”

My experiences at home and abroad have shown me that this mantra does not ring true for the millions who will go to bed hungry tonight. The poor are some of the hardest working people we have ever met, but their labor is often unrewarded and they must rely on assistance.
We believe that when one suffers, we all suffer.

When one rejoices, we all rejoice. Let us rejoice as we work together for PEACE AND JUSTICE so that none will hunger or suffer tonight, not even you and me.


A Short Note about Charlie and Dee Ivy

Having served in United Methodist Missions in Liberia and the Philippines for three years, they returned to Albuquerque to be with family and participate in the spiritual life of First United Methodist Church in Albuquerque for four years. But Africa called.

While poverty and suffering are everywhere in the world, I believe the most vulnerable people in our world are in Africa. Living in Bahir Dar, Charlie mentors a regional health director and Dee is an educator in a local secondary school. God participates in work and relationships that are mutually beneficial. The more we give, the more we receive. When you wonder if God is in the midst of something, just look at who is benefiting!

Our cyberspace conversation was “mutually benefiting” across the miles. All will benefit in reading Dee’s article about teff. Estella Gahala-Lange

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