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Nuns in Ethiopia Reach Out to Hundreds of Vulnerable Families Amid COVID-19 Crisis

Sr. Jecinter Antoinette Okoth, FSSA

In a bid to alleviate the effect of COVID-19 crisis that has left several families in Ethiopia vulnerable due to economic hardships, a Religious Order of the Franciscan Sisters of St. Anna (FSSA) serving in Dongora Catholic parish has reached out to support hundreds of needy families during the pandemic. 

“Since there is lockdown and limited movements, most of the people are at home and not able to go for casual jobs. So we had people coming at the door of the convent asking for food most of the time. As usual, we can never give everyone. We as a community exhausted what we had and therefore resolved to carry out a project to see how we can help,” Sr. Dorothy Odundo, Coordinator of Dongora Women Promotion Group told AMECEA online in an interview Thursday, June 25. 

“I wrote to Missionszentrale der Franziskaner, a charity association which supports Order of Franciscans’ and through them we have managed to distribute foodstuffs and soaps to 300 families who were really in need,” the Kenyan-born nun ministering in Ethiopia narrated.

Through the Church elders and the parish priest of Dongora Catholic parish Fr. Mulugeta Moges Naramo, the nuns identified the needy families irrespective of Faith and have done the distribution of foodstuffs for a number of days.

“We did the distribution which has taken us four days to the identified families irrespective of their Faith. We had Christians and even Muslims,” Sr. Odundo a member of FSSA underscored.

Fr. Moges has appreciated the nun’s initiative saying that the intervention came at the right time and that food is the most important support required during this period of COVID-19 crisis when most families are starving and cannot afford proper meals.

“I would like to thank God the Father who has given faith to donors to help the poor and to Sr.  Dorothy, who felt sympathy with the poor and organized the food program, she has done a great thing to the vulnerable,” the Ethiopian cleric told AMECEA online and added, “Food is very important for our vulnerable people especially during this pandemic and the help has come at the right time to our people. I am very grateful and thankful for that together with my parishioners.”

The parish priest said that if the condition persists for a longer time, “I am ready to work hard with my zonal catechists accordingly to help since we still have more vulnerable people in the parish level.”

According to Sr. Odundo who works with over 600 women in the Promotion Group, a project which she instigated last year prior to the pandemic dubbed as “give a hand” where families support each other for sustainability purposes, has been helpful during this period of pandemic where those who have some food share with those who don’t have.

“I also came up with a ‘give a hand’ initiative whereby those who have can also help those without,” Sr. Odundo said and explained, “The initiative is for neighbor to neighbor. We have always emphasized on helping each other especially those with children and who at times go without food.”

“Since our project is not able to sustain the people for a long period of time, the “give a hand” initiative subsidizes. Therefor those who have no land to cultivate the local food can benefit from those who have,” she said.

As at Thursday, June 25, Ethiopia had reported 5,175 coronavirus cases including 1,544 recoveries and 81 deaths.

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