CNEWA Canada

COVID-19 Update: Delivering Help and Hope to Ethiopia

Yesterday, CNEWA’s regional director in Ethiopia, Argaw Fantu, described the circumstances some women and children are facing in Ethiopia during the pandemic. Today, he adds more on how CNEWA’s Emergency Fund is providing relief.

Mendida Medhanealem Medium Clinic is located about north of Addis Ababa, run by the Congregation of Divine Providence Sisters. It is one of the eight rural health facilities that recently received a small portion of CNEWA’s COVID-19 Emergency Fund support to provide preventive and protective equipment (PPE) for health workers, along with food to alleviate hunger and malnourishment among the people. With this fund, the clinic is now furnished with PPE for its 30 health and supportive staff, caring for 80 outpatients per day who visit for health services. It’s also providing nutritious food for 80 malnourished children and 950 family members. All these provisions are expected to help for three months from June to August.

Health care workers of the clinic were full of worry and frustration when they didn’t have enough PPE items. But now says Sister Dinknesh, the administrator, “They are confident, feel well protected and active on their duties. I also feel confident now and thank CNEWA for rescuing us.” Sister Dinknesh explains, “COVID-19 has created complication on our services. Due to fear of contamination, our clinic attendance has decreased since April. Thus the small income we collect from card registration has declined. This affected us with staff salary. The number of people looking for food aid is increasing these days. Our resources are depleted. Our own safety is at risk. Thinking of and looking at all these things is really frustrating. It is in this situation that CNEWA helped us; we can raise our heads and look forward to continue serving. We don’t know how long this will take us. But we keep on hoping and praying!”

This is my first trip outside of Addis Ababa since early March and the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ethiopia. To avoid contamination and posing a risk for others, I opted to travel alone. But my 20-year-old son insisted on accompanying me. This is very unusual time and situation for us. Everything looks different. To see people all around covered with masks is very strange. It was disturbing and distressing to encounter ambulances along the way with their sirens wailing. We can only echo the hymn of the psalmist: “We will wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and shield” (Ps.33:20).

But we were gratified to see first-hand the fruits of so much generosity. CNEWA’s COVID-19 Emergency fund  is assisting eight rural health facilities run by the Catholic Church in Ethiopia, two community centers serving the elderly and destitute families and the poorest of the poor families in 24 parishes of Emdibir Eparchy. With this generous solidarity, 1,040 families with more than 4,150 family members are now getting food packages that will help them for up to two months. In the eight rural health facilities, 834 health staff and supportive staff have preventive and protective equipment for two to three months. A total of 640 outpatients who visit these health facilities every day are receiving proper protective instructions and medical services. Eighty malnourished children are having nutritious food packages for three months. And 31,185 community members who live near these health facilities are receiving sanitary services.

This is the reality of breaking the barriers on indifference, standing beside the religious sisters who are frequently referred to as “foot soldiers of the church” — especially at this very challenging, confusing and frustrating time. This is solidarity in action.

On behalf of all the beneficiaries and serving institutions, we express our heartfelt gratitude.

To learn more and give to CNEWA’s COVID-19 Emergency Fund, visit this page.

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