30 Mar Ethiopia shut down and hunger risk
A few days ago Ethiopia introduced stringent measures for limiting the spread of the pandemic. All businesses are shut down by government order, and all schools, factories and public places are closed. 97% of the mission’s staff are at home. The mission hospital remains open only for emergency outpatient services, as it is not yet equipped to treat covid-19 patients. The oxygen unit and radiography unit are stuck in containers in Djibouti due to the absence of freight carriers and staff in public offices. We are making masks out of materials we received from Italy in the past (our thanks to the company Alpretec). We have intensified our farming project so that we will be able to distribute fruit and vegetables to our people, and we have purchased food for our animals so that we will be able to butcher them to supplement the diet of our children, who have very little to eat now that they can no longer go to school and are forced to stay at home by government order. We have stocked up on diesel fuel so that we can operate the pumps on the two wells: there are frequent power outages in town, so we risk ending up without water. The pandemic has not yet reached Adwa, thanks be to God! It will get here, eventually, but for the time being, our main concern is how to get food to families who could die of hunger before coronavirus even arrives. The government is not paying the wages of public employees, and Adwa market is empty because food, which comes primarily from the villages, cannot be brought here. The people in the country will survive, but those in the city are suffering hunger.
There is no unemployment insurance in Ethiopia, no form of social security or other support. The mission will be able to pay the salaries of our 300 employees in the month of March, even those who are staying at home; but without our usual income from production and teaching, the future will be dramatic. The money we receive from adoptions at a distance will not be enough to maintain all the families here. We are seeking funds everywhere we can, even if this means sacrificing some of the money intended for completion of the hospital (the work has of course had to stop).
This is, unfortunately, the situation at the time of writing.
From Sister Laura and all of us at the mission
Updated on March 23, 2020
Many thanks for the translation to Joanne Roan