The Face of Hunger: Reflections On a Famine in Ethiopia

Byron Conner, MD

Publisher: Readers Magnet Pages: 138 Price: (paperback) $9.39 ISBN: 9781948864558 Reviewed: August, 2018

In The Face of Hunger, Dr. Byron Conner recounts his experiences helping famine victims in Ethiopia during the 1980s and calls for more effective methods of relief for those suffering in the world today.

In 1984, a late-night infomercial portraying images of starving Ethiopian children caught Conner’s attention, altering the course of his life. Determined to help, he joined with the Seventh Day Adventist Church, packed up his family and moved to Addis Ababa to be the Health and Temperance Director of the Ethiopian Mission. Conner’s servant heart is evident throughout this intriguing and educational firsthand look at the challenges of being a medical missionary.

Conner states that nothing had prepared him for what they were “to actually experience in Ethiopia” caring for hundreds of malnourished, displaced people. His life would never be the same; he notes repeatedly that the faces of the emaciated, helpless children still haunt his mind.

The three years Conner spent among the poorest of the poor in Ethiopia were traumatic, rewarding, and ultimately defined his later work with HIV patients in the US. He parallels “treating a severely malnourished child in Africa” with treating “a thin wasted individual with advanced AIDS.”  His compassion for suffering people infuses every page of this book and spurs readers to support relief efforts in their own community, drawing awareness to those suffering worldwide from hunger and disease.

The author admits in his introductory comments that “This book should have been written, and perhaps published [sic] years ago.” Many times, readers will wonder how protocol has changed regarding how to address medical issues noted in the book, given the significant time lapse since the author’s experiences. This, and copyediting and formatting errors, are the book’s main drawbacks.

Still, the narrative is compelling, and those researching famines and relief work, as well as readers interested in medical missionary work at home and abroad, will find helpful information in these pages.

Also available in hardcover and ebook.