Landing in West Africa was a welcome feeling! The warm air, dry as an oven, washed over their faces and Stan Doerr simply smiled. He and his wife Beth are not just visiting a continent they once called home, but rather are on an important mission.
Teaming up with the World Food Program (WFP) ECHO is working to help 140,000 refugees in western Algeria. They were displaced from their homes more than 25 years ago by fighting in Western Sahara, a coastal former Spanish colony. Since that time, the refugees have been living in four main camps surrounding the city of Tindouf, Algeria.
The WFP has been supplying the camps with staple foods for years, but when they realized that 30% of the children in the camps were malnourished because of lack of nutritous food, they contacted ECHO.
Stan and Beth are currently in Algeria, training, testing and experimenting to see if crops like Moringa and Chaya can bring an end ot this malnourishment. The exciting benefit of these trees is that when the refugees are able to return to their homes and villages, they can take seeds and cuttings with them and the benefit will continue.
This is an exciting project, but there were many unknowns when Stan and Beth left for Algeria. "We aren't sure that Moringa will even grow in their harsh climate." says Beth Doerr. But we see how God is preparing even the desert soil of Algeria because as you can see in the picture at righ, Moringa is already growing! "We were so excited when we walked toward one of the buildings and saw a moringa tree growing there! We asked our host if he knew what it was and he said no. The people simply hadn't heard that this tree could save lives."
Using what they now know, Beth, Stan and the ECHO staff will be coordinating training programs and educational programs for the camps as well as project planning to incorporate moringa and chaya plants into the camps.
We will know much more after Stan and Beth return from this trip, but right now, we know God has plans to use ECHO in a big way.