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Return to Ethiopia

Dear friends,

Peace be with you! You remain in my prayers even though I am far away. May the grace of God be with each of you! And may He bring peace to our troubled world. Here in Ethiopia troubles abound with fighting and hunger in the North, South, East and West.

Greetings from the capital, Addis Ababa! It was a whirlwind entry! First we spent 24 hours traveling to arrive to arrive in a time zone 11 hours ahead of our normal to discover they didn’t put my luggage on the plane (nor 100 other passengers). Luckily Pooydukes takes the whole thing in stride (see her under the seat in front of me photo).

Returning for luggage a few days later, Sr Celestine accompanied me and sprained her ankle. She is still limping much to my horror (Sr. is 76 and Nigerian but has been in Ethiopia 36 years and has more energy than the younger sisters!)

The good thing is a lot of the items in my luggage were for her - 475 donated rosaries for her to send to the rural areas (thank you Philip and Holy Cross Family Ministries), beads for her to make more rosaries , candle molds, mayonnaise, chocolate and pudding. And a new phone. She was still using a phone so old the back came off to change the SIM and battery! There was a variety of gifts for the other sisters as well.

At our Christmas party fundraiser we had a Giving Tree where attendees purchased specific items for our people! I am not always certain who donated which items but big thanks to the Garcia family, Wordel family and Hughes family (Diedre and Meredith) who made so many people happy here with their gifts!

A bulk of items in my luggage were for Alemanchan Rehab center- a Catholic home where deformed and injured children from the rural area can reside while getting medical care at Cure Hospital run by one of my other Ethiopian heroes Abba Germe. You can see Abba and Sister in the photo taken when he came to pick up the donated items. Thanks to those who donated 3 boxes of casting tape- the outer layer of a cast that makes it waterproof. It cannot be bought in Ethiopia so we bring as much as we can every time we travel.

Thanks also to Leanne and Kirsten who donated their used children’s clothing. The children of the home are very poor and upon arrival their clothes are burned so as to not bring disease into the home. They are then given new clothes that they can take home with them when they return so donated clothing is an essential need at Alemanchan.

Then we were off to visit our blind students and elderly. One student, Tekle, the first blind boy I pulled off the streets, fled the city when he heard I was coming as he was ashamed he failed his class but the others called him back when I asked them to convey that I was onboard with him changing course. To start school later in life not having attended as a young child is difficult, even more so being blind.

Tekle was very brave to try! Next we will look for work that he is capable of doing to support himself. Our other blind students are well. Ubale placed first in his class- even though all the other students are seeing! He and 2 other students will receive voice recorders so they can record their lessons and study in the evenings and new backpacks. They are so excited! Again thanks to Debbie’s family and others for the recorders and blind canes. So many of the blind canes get destroyed by cars running them over its a bit hard to choose who gets a new one but we are trying to give to the most needy!

As for the elderly blind we provide housing, Gashilo looked amazing! He is no longer dirty or hunched over but happy going to church to pray on Sundays! Sadly we learned two others had alcohol problems and we have enrolled them in an addiction program at the local hospital.

We have begun to look for a larger place where all our blind individuals can reside together.

There is an increasing number living on the streets, struggling to survive. As inflation soars here also, street boys are everywhere in Addis having families not able to provide for them. We have taken in one boy, Abiti who lives with one of our blind individuals. When we have a bigger house we will take in more.

The other project we have begun is the opening of a classroom for the disabled in the rural area of Saguire where the Holy Rosary sisters operate a catholic primary school. The local government is so excited as they say they have many students in need! We are super excited also by the transformation of our first disabled student there, Mitiki.

Previously she never left her house as she is being raised by her old grandmother after her parents passed away and Mitiki has difficulty walking with cerebral palsy. Now in school (she is brought to school by horse and buggy- main transport in the village)- she tries to run and play with the other students and runs joyfully to the teachers to greet them! The sisters are so pleased with her transformation! Hopefully we will have some new pictures soon to share with you.

God has blessed us greatly here and we are so thankful to see His presence everywhere! On some occasions He shows us His divine plan. For example, I stopped on the street to talk to a street boy whose arm was covered in sores, likely from bacterial infection. He was about 9 years old from Wolita and did not speak Amharic, the language of my translator.

Just so happened that a man from the same place came walking by at that moment who spoke both Wolitan and Amharic so we were able to communicate with the boy! Without the Lord’s help none of this would be possible! Everyday I put all in His hands. May He use us to bring blessings upon the people we meet and share His love with all!

Thank you to all of you who have contributed and made all these things possible! When you get to heaven there will be so many people you do not know waiting to greet and thank you!


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