CNEWA Canada

Stories From the Field: A Sister Serves Families Affected by COVID-19 in Ethiopia

Sister Maria Bandiera, a Consolata Missionary sister from Italy, has served in Ethiopia for the past 40 years in various responsibilities, in remote and moderately urban areas. Currently she is in charge of the Consolata Sisters Urban Community Center in Addis Ababa. The center serves outcast and destitute families, mostly women, suffering from leprosy in the peripheries of the capital city, Addis Ababa. The COVID-19 pandemic is making life very miserable for these women.

The financial grant received from CNEWA from the COVID-19 Emergency Fund has allowed Sister Bandiera to offer hope to 50 families with food packages and sanitary materials. Sister Bandiera wanted to express her gratitude to benefactors, and also wanted to share with our donors how COVID-19 has impacted the children and families she serves.  

One of the beneficiaries I interviewed used to work as a house maid before the pandemic. But not now.  Even if she is aware of the protective and preventive measures, she can’t afford to purchase Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) items. And there is no adequate water supply in the village to help her family practice proper hygiene. “With an empty stomach, with no job and income to buy a loaf of bread, how can one be protected from this pandemic?” she asks. “Thank you to the donors who remembered me through this gift.” She expressed her gratitude while collecting a food package and PPE materials from the Community Service Center managed by Sister Bandiera.

Emahoy Haregawin is a hard-working nun who started the St. Benedict Women’s Monastery, located about 20 miles west of Addis Ababa. (She was featured in ONE magazine last December in the story, Heroes in Habits.) In recent months, she has noticed the elderly and people with physical challenges gathering near the gate of her new monastery. She discovered they are looking for some kind of food from the monastery. She found that because of COVID-19, the family bread winners are not able to work, and people are forced to stay home. There is no money for food, so the elderly and sick come to the monastery seeking help, trusting that the church will not abandon the poor.

With few resources to help them, Emahoy Haregawin approached CNEWA’s Addis Ababa office for some emergency aid. With a donation received from CNEWA, she selected 20 severely impacted families to offer them small food packages at least for one month. However, on the date of distribution, 50 families showed up! The food distribution had to be adjusted to make it go further so that no one would go hungry.   

During this time, CNEWA reached out to 14 institutions in total. The emergency fund has been used primarily to offer PPE items to 184 health workers in eight health facilities. In six of these health facilities, 235 malnourished children received a one-month food supply. In three community centers 750 families received a one-month food supply, along with PPE and sanitary items. In 33 parishes of Adigrat Eparchy, 75 priests are provided with PPE and sanitary items themselves and for the faithful who visit the parish church in private for personal prayers.

And the funds have also helped feed people spiritually. The national Catholic Secretariat used $5,000 to offer televised liturgies that were viewed by nearly one million Catholics for one month. 

All the beneficiaries and serving institutions have expressed their gratitude to CNEWA and our donors.  

Learn more about CNEWA’s COVID-19 Emergency Fund at this link.

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