As a young boy, I recall my mother telling me about her childhood in post-revolutionary Russia. “We didn’t starve but we didn’t have enough to eat.” I wondered then, and wonder now, about the difference between starvation and not having sufficient food. I’ve fasted for a 30-hour period to focus on food issues and experienced hunger pangs—but never real hunger.

This issue of A Common Place focuses on chronic food shortages and MCC’s response to them. In the area surrounding Debre Markos, Ethiopia, residents call periods of chronic food shortages the hunger season. We know the four seasons in Canada and the rainy and dry seasons in the South. In this part of Ethiopia, the dry season and the hunger season coincide.

The idea of a hunger season, applied to many readers of A Common Place, is beyond the reach of our imagination.

I travelled to Ethiopia in 2012 and visited storage depots for seed and grain for such seasons as this. I saw terraced hillsides reclaimed for agricultural production, MCC’s effort to shorten, reduce the impact of, or even eliminate the hunger season.

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat” (Matthew 25:35, NIV). Jesus expects his disciples to respond to humankind’s basic needs. There is little more basic than hunger.

Don Peters
MCC Canada Executive Director

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