This week the Southwark, Westminster and Brentwood office were very pleased to host our Ethiopia Evening and welcome Abba Solomon and Tamiru Leggese to share their news and reflections on Cafod’s Connect 2 initiative in Sebeya, Ethiopia.
Abba Solomon, the Parish Priest in Sebeya’s Holy Trinity Catholic Church opened the evening by thanking CAFOD supporters for standing alongside farming families in his community. He also highlighted the success of Muslims, Ethiopian Orthodox and Catholics working together in Sebeya to overcome common problems.
Tamiru Legesse, the CAFOD communications officer for Ethiopia followed Abba Solomon’s inspiring introduction with a presentation which provided an excellent overview and visual representation of CAFOD’s work in Sebeya. While Ethiopia’s economy is often portrayed in a positive light with particular focus on the country’s growing business sector, Tamiru stressed that inequality is rife and hunger continues to represent a key problem. With more than 40% of the country’s 74 million people living on less than one dollar a day, malnutrition is the highest killer in Ethiopia.
In response to the threat of drought and hunger, CAFOD and its partners are helping local communities by providing seeds, animals, money and business training to help people support themselves. Tamiru shared the story of a young man who has successfully learnt to farm chickens and Selamawit, a woman who has set up a kiosk selling products such as bread, vegetables and soap to other people in her community. CAFOD also provides humanitarian assistance placing a special focus on children’s nutrition.
While lobbying and advocacy work can prove difficult in Ethiopia, Tamiru also highlighted that the government are encouraging citizens to use water conservation mechanisms such as constructing terraces on mountains by using stones to stop soil erosion as part the government’s “safety net programme”. According to Tamiru, government mobilization plays a key role in environmental protection however a major challenge revolves around regional government’s capacity and will to prioritise the environment.
In addition to CAFOD’s projects, Tamiru shared vibrant photographs of life in Sebeya, such as children on Palm Sunday, school life, and local culinary delicacies such as Injera (sourdough-risen flat bread) and the famous Ethiopian coffee.
Tamiru also displayed images of the beautiful letters and cards that have been exchanged between Sebeya and local parishes in England and Wales.The evening ended with delicious nibbles and a chance for members of the Southwark community to chat to our Ethiopian partners and find out more about their wonderful work.