Development; Welfare and Relief
The DOL program commenced in 2003, after Sandi Petersen travelled to Jimma, Ethiopia and stayed with the Daughters of Charities sisters. Sandi was invited into several homes and after seeing the very real needs and dignity of those, whilst living in utter poverty, committed to facilitating assistance to them. The hundreds of families living in the Gingo and Tulema Leprosy communities were once living on the street and in the local cemetery, describing themselves as ‘living above the dead, but below the living’. Now thanks to these programs, they are becoming proud citizens of Jimma with the next generation having the many opportunities that an education can provide.
Individual child sponsorship
Children in the DOL program are aged from pre-school to young adults. Many of the families live in extreme poverty with just their mothers and/or grandmothers trying to care for the family with extremely limited financial resources. There is no such thing as social welfare in Ethiopia.
The sponsorship funds have enabled the children to attend school, rather than assisting with begging, and at the same time allowed the adults in the family to sell some small goods (vegetables, earn money by collecting wood or by doing daily work). These activities are very grueling and labour intensive but has given some degree of dignity rather than having to beg in the streets.
The program has now seen our first students graduate with tertiary degrees, whilst others have attended college and graduated with various diplomas. This is an outstanding achievement when considering their parents are mostly illiterate and were begging prior to the commencement of the program.
A portion of the sponsorship funds is used for community development projects, and has assisted in building schools and housing, provision of a tutoring program to support the children to succeed in school and assist towards tertiary level education for older children. The community funds are also used to assist other families who are in need but do not have the benefit of regular sponsorship.
DOL-S Jimma School Funds
The School Funds assist the Daughters of Charity with the two schools within the Gingo and Tulema leprosy communities in Jimma, Ethiopia. The Tulema school is a kindergarten teaching KG1-3 and the Gingo school teaches KG1 to grade 4. So successful, have the schools been that they are now receiving requests from the wider community for children to attend. This is a major achievement, given that these schools were set up initially for the leper communities and were initially ostracized due to that.
The Daughters of Charity received funding to build a purpose-built building on the edge of their Gingo primary school for their Income Generating Activities (IGA) programs. The aim of this building and programs is to teach employable skills to the adults within the leprosy community; and to those children who do not go on to higher education. The programs to be taught will include food and beverage (with a café being built to help with fund-raising and also training purposes for front and rear of house); hair dressing; computer skills; driving; broom-making and other courses to be initiated over time. Employment opportunities are hard to come by in Ethiopia, so having these skills will make our communities much more employable and job-ready.