ETHIOPIA: Salesian missionaries in Abobo help poor families have access to health and social services they need for survival
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries are working to ensure that families living in Abobo, located between the cities of Gambella and Pugnido in western Ethiopia, have access to the services and resources they need. The majority of the population in Abobo is of Sudanese origin because of its proximity to the border of Sudan. Many people have sought refuge there to escape war and famine. In Ethiopia, where rural poverty is endemic, Sudanese refugees find themselves lost and without support except for the refugee camps that have sprung up around Gambella.
In 2002, a group of Italian and Spanish volunteers set up the Abobo Health Center in collaboration with local Salesian missionaries. Today, the Abobo Health Center serves as a symbol of the community and provides health services for the more than 4,000 local villagers. The facility has 40 beds, a small ward dedicated to sick children and those suffering from malnutrition, and a small wing that houses obstetrics. Having expanded its reach over the years, the health clinic serves the approximately 20,000 people living in the area and the 200,000 people in the entire region.
“The services provided at the Abobo Health Center are critical to this community, especially in the face of coronavirus,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Salesian missionaries also provide education and social development services for people in the area. There is a parish, oratory and kindergarten, which has served more than 100 children since its inception. Missionaries also work to ensure the local population has the food and water it needs.”
Salesian missionaries in Abobo are also helping families improve their living conditions. Many of the families still live in huts with little to no sanitation. Because of deforestation in the region, the availability of dry grass for roofs and wood for building structures is decreasing. Many of the structures have makeshift roofs that have to be redone every three years. Salesian missionaries are working to help these families have more stable structures to reside, ensuring both their health and safety.
Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world with more than 38 percent of its population living in poverty, according to Feed the Future. Close to 85 percent of the country’s workforce is employed in agriculture but frequent droughts severely affect the agricultural economy leaving more than 12 million people chronically, or at least periodically, food insecure. In addition, more than two-thirds of the population is illiterate.
The country has 4 million orphans which account for nearly 12 percent of all children and according to UNICEF, more than half a million of these were orphaned as a result of the HIV/AIDS crisis that has affected the country. Thousands more children run away each year seeking a better life on the streets.
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Salesian Missions – Ethiopia
UNICEF – Ethiopia