During summer time/rain season in Ethiopia, the students doesn’t have regular classes, but it is quite popular to organize summer school or other activities for the kids.
This year also CLM in Ethiopia were involved in such a program. Tobiasz was coordinating the project and invited the rest of the community to take part in it. Over 80 kids participated in the school during 3 weeks. They had different topics related mostly to health – nutrition, HIV/AIDS, first aid, hygiene etc.
A few months ago, 12-years old Aman, after falling from a tree injured his spinal cord. His family brought him to us as the last place where they could receive some help. Unfortunately the damage was so serious that we were medically unable to do anything. Only we could try to get a wheelchair for him so he can become more independent. There is one organization in Awassa that distributes orthopedic equipment, so together with Aman we went there, full of hope. Unfortunately they could not help us. I was so disappointed… So the boy went home without anything … After a few weeks I visited this organization again and found out they have a new delivery of wheelchairs! However, I had no contact to Aman (most of our patients do not have a permanent address, phone number, or any other means of finding them). I felt really bad with it, that the chance to help the boy appeared too late, and now I probably never will meet him again… But God is reliable! I recently visited another child in hospital and how great was my surprise and disbelief when I saw Aman’s smiling face on the bed next to me! It turned out that he was getting discharged from the hospital the same day, so his mom willingly accepted the offer to come to our center (where we would continue to treat bedsores for which he was hospitalized) and at the same time try to get equipment for him. The next day Aman was with us, so we went to ask about the wheelchair. And we heard – “We are very sorry, but unfortunately we have no more …”. And such a cry in my soul – “Lord, this boy has already been disappointed once, now you put him again on my way, so please help!” And a moment later – “Although we have one wheelchair, which for a few weeks no one picked up, so if it fits can you get” And of course it fitted perfectly! How great was Aman’s joy when he started to go around the center 🙂 And how great was my joy and gratitude to God for this miracle! For the fact that I met this boy again, for having arranged a wheelchair for him and it’s so immediate, because normal waiting process lasts 2 months 🙂 And also a lesson of trust for me that God never let us down and that He also knows better when it is good time to have something happen.
What is the best way of spending holiday? This question was not in the mind of children living in the neighborhood of the clinic I work in. They mostly come from poor, large families and their parents cannot afford any holiday activities for them. Time just passes while they get bored. We decided to take them out of this summer idleness.
Using their time, which they have in overabundance and financial means received by the group of Polish Comboni Lay Missionaries, we tried to make for them something pleasant and useful at the same time. We organized the summer school. 80 boys and girls of age from 12 to 18 took part in that. Children were divided into three groups: older boys and girls separately and youngest students –together. Each group attended in 1-week program.
We started each day with a prayer “Our Father”. During the classes they were taught about nutritious food, hygiene, environment protection, family planning method and first aid. They were taught about problems facing teenagers ie. addictions, AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, abortions, female genital mutilation and forced early marriages.
For the purpose of better perceiving of the knowledge many of the lessons were conducted as outdoor activities: practical exercises or games. After the classes about nutritious food children went to do some gardening, when they learnt how to make patches and plant vegetables. At the end of the hygiene lesson toothbrushes and toothpastes were distributed and all children brushed their teeth. Lecture of the first aid, when short “what-to-do” movies were shown, was followed by practical exercises, where young students played roles of fainted, burnt and choked people as well as their lifesavers. During one of the games they learnt how to behave in a good manner – for example when seeing white person better to greet him instead of calling “youyouyou”. What they learnt during all the week they painted during the last lesson.
One of the classes concerned the creation of the world. There were shown pictures proving beauty of the world created by God, ie. wonderful landscapes of Ethiopia, beautiful sunset at the Awassa lake, at the side they live. Just after that there were presented photos of the rubbish scattered in their neighborhood. After this short lecture we went with zeal to pick-up the rubbish from the clinic compound.
During the school break each student received a pack of biscuits. Every child received daily nutritious lunch: injera with different vegetables, what could be consider as a good example of nutritious food they learnt about during their classes. The school has ended with official graduation ceremony, where certificates of attendance were distributed. Every student as a gift received a school set, consisting of exercise books, a pen, a pencil, and a sharpener, what for many families was a significant reduction of the household expenses. Additionally, twelve the most active students received an extra math’s set (compass, ruler, setsquare).
Everyone like the school so much. Teachers were happy that students were interested in all the subjects. Children are already waiting for another summer school next year.
“Share the Joy of the Gospel” – Ethiopian Comboni Friends’ annual retreat
“No one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord”
“O God your ways are holy!
You are the God who does Marvelous deeds”
On July 21-23, 2017 at the Comboni Postulancy House in Addis Ababa we held our annual retreat as Comboni Friends of Ethiopia. I was really looking forward to this chance to pray, worship, build our friendship and strategize. This is always a special time for me: to leave the office and get away from hustle bustle. I said: “O Lord, your ways are holy”. Earlier this year, I went on a silent retreat for a week. What better, I thought, than a week of silence for an introvert? So it was a bit of disappointment when I learned that Comboni Friends’ retreat would not be one in complete silence. But God continued to surprise me and make me laugh.
“Share the Joy of the Gospel!”
I was very pleased with the Comboni Friends retreat. During the weekend-long meeting we felt like a family. Praying together, eating together, working together. Preparing meals, washing dishes, playing games, talking – doing everything together was great fun! On Saturday afternoon we went out to play Bible games on the street and I really liked that idea to share the Joy of the Gospel with others.
“By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have loved one to another” – we continued our retreat activities in Mother Teresa’s House, where our group got involved this year in monthly volunteering. It was the first time for me to visit the compound and as one of the sisters guided us through different departments of the centre, a thought came to my mind: each individual Christian and every community is called to be an instrument of God for the liberation and promotion of the poor and for enabling them to be fully a part of society. This requires us to be attentive to the cry of the poor and to come to their aid. The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew.
Pope Benedict XVI wrote: “Faith is gift that is given to us to be shared”. My prayer and hope is that every member of the Comboni Friends in Ethiopia will be willing and committed to put those words into practice. The task of each one of us is to live what we believe. This is the most important way of spreading and strengthening our faith.
During the reatreat, Comboni Missionaries did work hard to share the joy of the Gospel “in deeds and in words”. We thank them for what they did for us and pray for them, especially for Fr. Juan, responsible for Comboni Lay Missionaries in Ethiopia, Fr. Sisto, the Superior of Ethiopian Province and Comboni Lay Missionaries from Poland working in Ethiopia who reactivated the Comboni Friends group in Ethiopia. “Your good work will be poured out in the sight of all mankind” – dear lay missionaries, we rejoice that our Heavenly Father has performed this in practice, and we thank Heavenly Father for your work.
Our meeting has brought forth the realities of our missionary vocation to the group.
We have discussed topics like communication, vocation, economics, formation and much more. Through these discussions we have found where we have met our goals, areas that we need to improve and the challenges we face in doing so.
Much like St. Daniel Comboni we have all found some difficulties in expanding the Kingdom of God. With the charism of our founder and intercessor, we find the strength to carry on in our mission and find the path to do so.
Like the palm tree bearing the coconuts fruit, it is not easy to share the sweet taste of salvation but we find the strength to climb, through our faith and our community.
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