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Do they know it's Christmas?

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24 years ago, Irish singer Bob Geldof co-wrote 'Do they know it's Christmas?' to raise money for those affected by the famine in Ethiopia.  The song has been re-released twice since then, each time with a new line-up of artists.

Kids who live next door to us

As a teenager in 1984, I bought the record and sang the lyrics with a hairbrush microphone in front of a mirror in my bedroom.  I also 'ran the world' two years later, to help raise funds for famine victims.

24 years on, I'm in Ethiopia, working to support development progress, and less often dancing in front of my bedroom mirror!  Do Ethiopians know it's Christmas? In a literal sense, the answer is a resounding yes.  According to the Julian calendar, Christmas will be celebrated across Ethiopia on 7 January.  And some of us will warm-up for this by also celebrating on 25 December, according to the Gregorian calendar.

A woman as we drove off-road about 90 mins outside of Addis Ababa a couple of weeks ago

And in the sense that Bob Geldof meant in 1984?  Development progress in Ethiopia has accelerated in recent years, but there is still a lot to do.  As I write, around 6 million Ethiopians are relying on emergency food aid, following a humanitarian crisis sparked by failed harvests and the dramatic increases in oil and food prices earlier this year.

None of these drivers of the current crisis were caused by Ethiopia, but Ethiopians have suffered nonetheless.  In our interconnected world, it's right that we should provide emergency food aid to help those in crisis - this is a responsibility, not a Christmas present.

But the best 'gift' of all would be supporting progress towards sustainable development and livelihoods for all Ethiopians.  Which is what we will continue to work towards in 2009 and beyond.

Happy Christmas - and a peaceful New Year.

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1 comment

  1. Comment by alex posted on

    hope you have a nice "second" christmas celebration today.
    I found this blog by accident and bookmarked it as I go to Ethiopia as well in a few days for a development cooperation project.

    Like to read more of your experiences!