It is a hope that burns bright in the lives of the poor, the only stable reference centre for thousands of people who turn to Kidane Mehret in times of emergency, for advice, for help, truly for anything they might need.
In an area like Adwa, scarred by years of war and poverty, how was everything that stands today built in such a short amount of time?
Along with the Salesians, the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians were among the first missionaries in the Adwa area starting in 1620, the year in which the Jesuits were driven out.
They were called in by the city elders with the goal of educating and professionally training the youth.
The community was officially created at the end of 1994. That was when the “miracle” of Adwa began.
The only thing they had was the land given to them by the public administration; everything had to be built from the ground up. Sister Laura had to take up residence in a blue military tent. As the first sister and financial aid arrived, works to build the housing and the school began.
From there, the community grew and worked to help the people emerge from terrible poverty, fight starvation and illness, and begin the long journey towards development and self-sufficiency. Despite starting from nothing, the mission now offers the people a nursery, primary, middle, high, and technical school, advancement of women, social and medical services; a true miracle, the result of the generosity of hundreds of people.
READ MORE ABOUT THE STORY OF THE MISSION: READ THE BOOK “THE BLUE TENT – IN THE HORN OF AFRICA WITH THE WEAPON OF SOLIDARITY”
THE SALESIAN COMMUNITY TODAY
The Daughters of Mary Help of Christians are tireless. Each sister knows how to make the most of her talents to help the poor. Currently, the workforce is limited. While we are hopeful for new arrivals, there is much work to be done:
Sister Laura, Mother Superior and founder, is always ready to help “her” people, from the smallest to heads of state.
Sister Marjorie, an English native, one of the pioneers along with Sister Laura.
Sister Imelda, from the Emilia-Romagna region, in Adwa since 1996, manages the nursery school and has trained local teachers for her “black pearls”.
Sister Anna, from Poland, manages the hostel for girls at risk.
Sister Annama, from India, is the new school headmistress.
Many sisters from all over the world have alternated in contributing their efforts to help create what stands today: Sister Anna (Italy), Sister Rita (Italy), Sister Dolores (India), Sister Marcella (Italy), Sister Agnese (Korea), Sister Antonietta (Italy), Sister Netsanet (Ethiopia), Sister Rachel (USA), Sister Thuy (Vietnam), Sister Ruth (Columbia) …
And the arrival of Ethiopian novices is a sign of hope for the future of the mission.
THE MISSION includes:
a nursery school with 400 children
a primary, middle, and high school with 1500 students
a technical school with about 100 students
a centre for the advancement of women, to help young women find their dignity, teaching them literacy and helping them enter the workforce
an oratory-youth centre with more than 1000 girls in attendance
a social service project for families with about 2000 children benefiting, for a total of more than 6000 people regularly receiving aid
a greenhouse and a barn for the Mission’s food self-sufficiency and to distribute meat, milk, and cheese to the poorest families
a hostel housing physicians, nurses, and health care personnel who collaborate with us to train students in anticipation of completing construction of the hospital
A hospital is being built to counter the worsening health crisis in Adwa!
The mission also offers:
an ambulance service, especially for pregnant women
collaboration with local health care authorities for vaccination campaigns
emergency aid in the event of epidemics, etc.
collaboration with civil authorities in the event of humanitarian crises (150,000 refugees aided during the war between 1998-2001)
participation in resolving problems regarding the local people (Sister Laura is a board member of the Adwa chapter of the National Ethiopian Women’s Association)