We met with two officials from the Irish Embassy in Addis Ababa today and had a very good meeting. Jennifer and Laura hold important positions here and they welcomed us very warmly. It was a lively conversation and we were able to discuss how the Irish Government supports both Christian Aid and Tearfund in their work here in Ethiopia. They were interested to hear of the concerns that Irish Presbyterians have in the area of development and support for the poorest people in our world.
Ireland has been a generous and consistent donor to the developing world in recent years and was one of the first European countries to commit to spending 0.7% of Gross National Income for development by 2012. However over the past year it has cut its overseas aid budget by a huge amount (195 million Euros) and both Christian Aid and Tearfund have had their funding from Irish Aid cut by 20%. Laura and Jennifer acknowledged that this was a serious and significant reduction but both expressed the hope that once the overall economic climate began to improve the funding would begin to rise again.
We recognised that if the issue of poverty is going to be addressed in the world then it will require co-operation and a big concerted effort on the part of governments, relief agencies and concerned people, including Christian churches. But significant advances can be made. As Francis Schaeffer reminded us many years ago, there can be “substantial healing” of the wounds caused by sin in our world. We appreciate the wisdom and the ability of women like Jennifer and Laura as, with them, we try to work for the healing of some of those wounds here in Ethiopia.