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Food, education, hope

Supporting children impacted by crisis in Ethiopia and Somalia


In late 2022, Baal Dan, a U.S. public charity, launched an emergency appeal for famine relief to address the crisis in Ethiopia and Somalia. With the support of our donors, MREF was able to grant $15,300 to Baal Dan, which sought to save children impacted by famine through food supplies for children and equal access to safe and inclusive primary education for conflict-induced internally displaced (IDP) girls and boys.


To learn more about the impact of the 2022 appeal, as well as Baal Dan’s ongoing work to support the children impacted by the crisis in Ethiopia and Somalia, we checked in with the organization’s founder Tanya Pinto.

What is the mission of Baal Dan Charities?

Baal Dan Charities was founded in 2006 with the mission of helping orphans and vulnerable children as effectively and efficiently as possible. Since its formation, the charity has provided aid in the form of small grants to grassroots organizations in 14 countries to help more than 12,000 children. The team is made up entirely of volunteers and the charity ensures that almost 100% of all donations go directly to help children in need by keeping administrative costs to a minimum.


[Editor’s note: To learn more about Baal Dan’s history, we encourage you to read our 2022 conversation with Pinto, “Charity provides critical aid to children in need.”]


When did you decide you wanted to support the emergency famine appeal?

I came across a BBC article about the drought in East Africa and the story focused on the suffering and malnutrition of a child whose family had been displaced by both drought and conflict.


I could not get the story out of my mind for a few reasons, one of which went back to a promise I made when I was a little girl. It was in the 1980s and I distinctly remember the images of the famine in Ethiopia. Children with distended bellies, beautiful big brown eyes and their mother’s looking so sad and helpless. It was the famine that ended up taking an estimated 1 million lives. While I did not really understand what was happening, I do remember making a promise: “One day I would go to Ethiopia to help feed hungry children.


After doing some research and leveraging my connections in the NGO world, I was able to identify some trustworthy partners on the ground in Ethiopia and Somalia that were providing essential services to children in need including emergency schooling and health clinic services, providing in-patient and out-patient nutritional support.

How quickly were you able to mobilize aid?

Baal Dan launched an emergency donation appeal. I reached out to friends and my network and tried to mobilize as many funds as possible.

MREF supported the appeal and I presented to its board. This support boosted my fundraising immediately in less than two weeks Baal Dan donors and MREF together raised over $60,000, with MREF contributing $15,300! I was truly amazed by the outpouring of support.

Tell us about how the funds were used.

The funds raised went to two organizations.

One grant provided emergency school supplies to children displaced by the war and famine. The school supplies included scholastic materials, books, and school supplies that the children need to receive education in the refugee schools that had been set up. When children are displaced one of the most important stabilizing actions is ensuring they get enrolled in school that gives them structure, socialization, and protection. Having visited some of the emergency refugee emergency schools in my time consulting for World Vision, I saw first-hand the impact programs have on children’s psycho-social and mental health. After fleeing their homes under duress, attending school and getting the continuity of an education provides some solace and stability. In total, 1,400 exercise books, 800 pens, 600 pencils, 600 rubber erasers, and 600 sharpeners were distributed to 200 targeted beneficiary IDP children who are at risk of drop out.

The other grant went to an organization deploying emergency nutritional intervention for children and babies who have acute malnutrition, starvation or “wasting.” In short, these children would not survive without receiving emergency medical care, being admitted into a clinic, and receiving nutrition via IV or RUTF. This is a type of high-protein medicinal “peanut paste” that I gave a TEDx talk about many years ago. For this grant, Baal Dan funding went to provide nutrient rations for children once they got transferred to out-patient care.

After receiving the emergency medical attention and RUTF for about 6-18 weeks, if the clinic sends children back to a home where there is no food, they will quickly regress and lose weight. The ration kits provide six weeks’ worth of high-protein foods and other supplies. This continuity of nutrition helps to stabilize the children and put them out of danger.


Describe the impact of this appeal so far?

There is truly nothing more powerful than hearing the mothers of the little ones at the clinic say, “We are so grateful.” But I’d also love to share some quotes from Baal Dan’s partners:

“Whether it is $1 or $1 million, we are committed to the partnership with Baal Dan to do our best.”– NGO Partner

“We did whatever was needed to ensure that 100% of the Baal Dan funds went to cover food and supplies – covering expenses we normally could not cover.” – NGO Partner

“They are working in areas that are so hard to reach, passing through a conflict zone and ensuring the aid gets to the children.” – Baal Dan Advisor/Auditor on a recent visit to Ethiopia to meet with the grantees.

“The community formed a committee to help select the children and deal with any disputes and a teacher guardian was appointed to help oversee the distribution of the supplies.” – NGO Partner


What comes next?

Let’s do more! The conflict continues. This summer is hotter than ever. There is still a need. And now that Baal Dan has a proven and effective partnership model that works on the ground in such a complex situation, we can make an even greater impact in 2023.


What do you want to say to the market research community and MREF supporters?

Thank you for your support! Baal Dan is a very small charity compared to some of the massive organizations working in East Africa. And yes, the needs are great. However, I can assure you with my whole heart that small donations really do make a difference. I have the stories, reports, photos, and the receipts to prove it!

How can people get involved?

We welcome your direct financial contribution to the 2023 fundraising appeal. To donate or learn more, visit http://www.baaldan.com/donate.html.


What can MREF’s community do to support Baal Dan?

Please add Baal Dan on social media, share and repost our content, host a fundraiser, and tell a friend about our work. The more people we can get giving, the more children we can help.


Baal Dan has worked on many incredible projects for children all over the world. But the famine appeal has created some of the most significant impact we have ever had as an organization. Thank you for helping me make good on the promise I made when I was just a little girl. It really means more to me than you will ever know.

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