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Field Visit Report on Summer Feeding Project to 34 Parishes in Adigrat Eparchy, Ethiopia

11 Oct 2017 By Tarekegn Umuro, Programs Officer, CNEWA Addis Ababa Office

It is well remembered that CNEWA intervened in the severe shortage of food that happened in Adigrat Eparchy in 2016. At that time, the prompt response of CNEWA enabled the eparchy to provide famix, teff powder, and sugar for lactating mothers, pregnant women, children under the age of five and elderly people through two Catholic health facilities; we were also able to feed children through parish feeding programs during summer 2016. Although the support of the government and NGOs — including CNEWA — saved millions from life-threatening drought, chronic food shortages in the area have continued in 2017, too. So CNEWA has continued to support Catholic schools and children attending adjacent government schools by providing nutritious biscuits. The biscuit distribution program stopped in the first week of July 2017 as the academic year ended. But the Eparchy Youth Ministry Office appealed to CNEWA’s Addis Ababa Office to continue the parish feeding support, providing biscuits and bread for children and youth during the summer school break from 7 July to 10 September 2017. CNEWA, considering the real situation of the region and the experience of the previous year, accepted and approved the appeal of the Youth Ministry Office to share the already-approved fund for 2017 between the schools and parishes’ support.

Pastoral activities in the Adigrat Eparchy are structured in three levels: parishes, zones and diocese levels. Accordingly, the 34 parishes of the Eparchy are grouped into seven zones, depending on their geographical location and distance. The Eparchial Youth Ministry Office, through the person of the Rev. Negasi Yohannes, coordinates pastoral activities at all levels.

All the 34 parishes were involved in the summer youth programs at parish, zone and diocesan levels. The program was not simply the distribution of biscuits and bread for the children and youth in each level. According to the Father Negasi, there was a plan prepared for summer youth activities by the Youth Ministry Coordination Office in consultation with all parish priests. At the parish level, it was planned to engage children and youth in catechism, songs, sports and tutorial classes for lower grade children in English language and mathematics lessons. Catechism classes incorporated Bible studies, teaching about the sacraments, liturgy and ethics. The program was conducted from 3-5 days per week in each parish during the summer period indicated above. Some parishes had programs throughout the weeks. Fr. Negasi explained, “It was a systematically arranged program; when the youth arrive to their respective parishes, first they learn catechism; next they play volleyball or football or other type of games according to their own interest; after the sport, they gather to rehearse spiritual songs for Sunday services; then distribution of biscuits or bread follows before they leave to their homes.” Some parishes that have university students benefitted more because the university students voluntarily used their holidays to assist in tutoring classes for lower grade children in English language and mathematics lessons.

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