Ethiopia: Christmas joy for Tigrayan family

5 Jan 2024

For the first time in three years, Abrehet Kalayu looks forward to a joyous and bountiful Christmas with family, friends and neighbors on 7 January, the Eastern Orthodox Christmas in Ethiopia. A project supported by the LWF helped the family secure a good harvest after years of dependency on food aid. 

Ethiopia Christmas

Abrehet Kalayu preparing food, holding her daughter. Photo: LWF/ S. Gebreyes 

LWF livelihood support gifts a family with the first carefree Christmas in years 

(LWI) - Christmas preparations are well under way in the home of Abrehet Kalayu, a 21-year-old mother. It will be their first Christmas as a family – daughter Roman is five months old. And for the first time in years, the young mother looks forward to a Christmas feast. “We will celebrate with family, friends and neighbors. I will bake the traditional wheat ambasha bread, titiko (boiled wheat and maize) and even prepare meat dishes,” she says. 

Past years have not been as bountiful. Kalayu and her husband Endeshaw live in Southern Tigray. They met and married in Endamehoni, close to the Amhara border. The region has been affected by the Tigray conflict spillover, as parties to the conflict committed atrocities and targeted civilians and infrastructure. Originally from Tigray himself, Endeshaw had to flee a second time from his new home in Debark-Kerakir.   

Harvest instead of food aid 

Like millions in the war-torn region, Kalayu’s family was dependent on food aid. After an increase in the cost of living and grain prices, that aid was suspended from April to December 2023, following allegations of theft and diversion. The family suffered even more.   

It was at this time that The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) started a livelihoods project in Endamehoni. Kalayu received 70kg of wheat seeds. In the last months of her first pregnancy, she sowed the new grain. In the meher harvest season (September – February), her fields produced a total of 8 quintals (800 kg) of wheat. With this harvest, she has enough food for the months to come and surplus to sell.  

Resilient families 

The “'Protection, WASH and Shelter and Increased Resilience for IDPs, Returnees, and host community members in Tigray, Ethiopia” project is supported by the LWF and Canadian Lutheran World Relief (CLWR). It combines humanitarian and development assistance to communities affected by the conflict in the Tigray region – displaced people, returnees and their host communities.  

The support includes water supply, hygiene and sanitation, shelter and other relief goods, multi-purpose cash and support in the agricultural field, such as seeds, tools, modern beehives and bee colonies, goats, sheep, veterinary vaccines and other animal medication. “We aim to support 55,630 people, making them resilient and independent of food aid,” says Sophia Gebreyes, LWF Country Representative in Ethiopia. “We hope that the bountiful Christmas in Abrehet Kalayu’s family is just the first of many to come.” 

You can support our work. For about USD 90, a family like Kalayu’s can receive a 70 kg package of wheat seeds.

LWF/C. Kästner-Meyer