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Ethiopia is a really cool country with lots to offer.  When I researched the country, I saw a lot of information about tourist attractions.  What I failed to see publicized was the amount of hunger and starvation that this nation has.  Studying Salgado's book, An Uncertain Grace, I saw a different side of Ethiopia.  Through the pictures published in this collection, the world can see the hurt, pain, and hunger, in Ethiopia.  

Following a civil war in the 1960s and 1970s, Ethiopia was left on the brink of starvation. Although most of the country has recovered, with the help of tourism, some parts still remain in the same sickening conditions that prevailed after the war.

Courtesy of: http://www.flags.net/ETHP.htm

A little on the flag!  The flag of Ethiopia was slightly changed from its original form in 1996.  In 1996, a blue disc was placed in the center of the flag with an interlaced star.  The original flag was designed in 1897 with three rows of colors--green, yellow, and red.  Red was chosen for power and faith.  Yellow stands for the church, peace, natural wealth, and love.  Green stands for the land and hope that the people of the region hold for the future.  Even after the change in 1996, many places throughout Ethiopia still use the original flag today.

For more than two years now, Ethiopia has been at war with Eritrea, a neighboring country.  As the war draws to a close, headlines are filled with visions of treaties being signed and thoughts and dreams of peace.  One headline from the USA Today states, "Peace is Finally Coming."  But ask yourself, is peace really coming? As stated before, one of the many things often overlooked by our society are the people in need, the people dying of disease and famine, in Ethiopia and around the world.  As of 12 Apr 01, according to CNN, Ethiopia has sent out a plea for 800,000 tons of food to feed over 8 million people.  These 8 million people are starving, dying because they don't have food to eat.  Should we send over food?  Should we reach out a helping hand to countries in need like Ethiopia?

I feel that one of the reasons the recent war in Somalia broke out, was the free food aid that we offered to their country.  I heard an example in a lecture once that really got me thinking, and I would like to share it with you.  Say, for example, the United States sends free food aid to Ethiopia. What's to keep warlords in Ethiopia from taking the food for themselves?  How do we keep people who don't need the free food from taking what's free?  It's human nature to take what's free instead of buying it.  Ok, so some of the people who don't necessarily need the food decide to take some.  Well, now there are still people starving so we decide to send more aid.  Now we are sending obsessive amounts of food over to this country and those make their living through farming in Ethiopia are starting to become poor.  No one is buying the farmers' food because there is free food being provided to them.  Because of this there are more people now becoming poor and on the verge of losing everything.  Soon riots start and these farmers decide to start a revolution on the government, the government they blame for losing everything.  Warlords decide they want to take sides and side with the farmers.  Now a Civil War breaks out and the whole country is in turmoil.  

Some say this couldn't happen but look at Somalia.  If you trace it back to the beginning, you will find that a process very similar to this one took place and today the country is in turmoil.  Before the food aid and relief was provided to this country, even though people were starving the country was stable.  Now after the relief has been provided and assistance has been offered, the country lies in a state of terror not knowing what will happen next or where fighting will pick up again.  Because of the fighting that has broken out, aid and relief has ceased.  The people of this country are going back to the same state they were in before everything started, but because of the war, the country will be worse off than before.  What's to say this won't happen again in Ethiopia.  The truth of the matter is, it is easier to send food aid to countries that are more stable and not really in need of it.  Sad, isn't it?