For several years now, a new branch of the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy of St Vincent de Paul in Untermarchtal has been in development in Ethiopia through the engagement of Bishop Leonardus Dobbelaar – a Vincentian from the Netherlands. Today, the 12 Ethiopian Sisters support and accompany children, adolescents, the sick, the elderly and generally people in need in the Nekemte diocese and Addis Ababa. For example, they are committed to children as part of a child nutrition project in Darge and Ambo and are responsible for a small clinic on the outskirts of Nekemte. The main tasks of the clinic include preventive care for expectant mothers and mother-child care after childbirth, prevention of and care for people infected with HIV, and care for patients with the disease Podoconiosis, which is very widespread in Ethiopia.
The Ethiopian Sisters are also keen to improve the social and economic position of women in the country. As a result, Sr. Martha launched a gender project – an equal opportunities project – in partnership with the diocese of Nekemte. Women learn how to improve their income and are hence at a reduced risk of becoming homeless. Microcredits enable them to make investments and put what they have learned into practice. With the additional money they pay the school fees for their children, and also carry out house repairs so that they do not only have a roof over their heads, but a home that protects them from rain and offers enough space for all family members. Whilst the Sisters’ gender project does not directly fight immediate homelessness, it does ensure that people in Ethiopia live in adequate accommodation and learn skills that reduce the risk of future homelessness.
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