Comboni Lay Missionaries

Our third trip to Ethiopia

LMC Polonia

On October 27, we flew to Ethiopia. This is our third trip. The journey was smooth and we arrived in Addis Ababa on time. We were picked up from the airport by Sister Janina – a Franciscan nun who has been in Ethiopia for over a dozen years.

The next day we continued our journey to our place of stay, to Awassa, to Magda Soboka, who founded and runs the Ethiopian Children’s Foundation “Barkot”, to help her in her work in the Foundation.

Magda’s Ethiopian husband received us at the bus station and welcomed us very warmly.

A surprise was waiting for us, prepared by Sister Franciscan Missionary of Mary, a Pole, Kamila from Łódź, who works at the hospital in Bushulo as a midwife and nurse. Her parents came from Poland to visit her for the first time (and she has been here for 8 years). The surprise was a five-day trip deep into Ethiopia to various tribes and missions led by the Spiritan Fathers.

The trip lasted 5 days. It started on October 30 and ended on November 3.

On the first day we stopped in Arba Minch at the Spiritan fathers’ house. On the way we visited the Park of 40 Springs.

On the first day we went on a boat trip on Lake Chamo, where we saw crocodiles. Then we went to the Dorze tribe, where we were dressed up in their tribal, festive costumes, and they treated us with a cake made of banana leaf flour, alcohol and home-made honey. It was a great experience. Their houses are shaped like a crocodile’s snout. Returning to the mission for the night, we stopped at a factory for hand-made silk and silkworm breeding. We learned about the process of manual production of fabrics, which were also used to sew finished products (scarves, bags, blouses, etc.). It was a very fruitful day.

At dawn after Holy Mass on November 1, we said goodbye to the fathers and continued our journey. We visit the land of the Mursi tribe in Konso. This tribe has been in Ethiopia since the 15th century. They began to build their houses on the mountain, and the entrance to the village and houses leads through small stone corridors, so that no unauthorized person can get in, and forms three circles around the mountain. This tribe cultivates its traditions and customs, creates a community,

We reach Jimma in the evening for an overnight stay at a guesthouse and dinner.

Very early in the morning we leave the guesthouse and set off in the rain to the village of the Turmi tribe. The rain stopped, and we, with a guide and security, visited the village of the tribe which according to the old tradition, places plates on the lower lip of the mouth, and the warriors paint themselves. This tribe changes its place of residence every 3-4 months, looking for food for its flock – it is a pastoral tribe. The inhabitants of this tribe go naked, sometimes covering themselves with a blanket. An interesting fact for tourists is that in the evening there is the “ewangadi” ceremony, there are various shows, bull jumping, dances, etc. When a man from this tribe wants to get married, he must show courage and strength, jump over 6 bulls, and a woman whips herself. The Ethiopian government wants this tribe to dress and send their children to school, but they do not want to and destroy the clothes because it is not their culture. During the day, the men are out hunting. In the village we only saw women and children.

We go to Yabello to spend the night with the Spiritan missionaries. The Missionary Fathers run a boarding house for older boys and girls studying. They encounter great difficulties in employing teachers because teachers want very high salaries that fathers cannot afford. Right now, they would love to see a volunteer who would teach English and computer science. Of course, there are problems with work permits, so such a volunteer could only work for three months.

Unfortunately, the trip ends quickly and we return to Awassa, visit a bamboo hotel along the way, eat at the Inka restaurant and go home in the evening. It was a wonderful trip, full of new information about the life of some Ethiopian tribes and the activities of the mission. It introduced us to the culture and customs of the Ethiopian tribes.

However, we did not come here to rest, we need to start doing something for others. We visit the Center of the Missionaries of Charity of Mother Teresa and Andrzej was offered few tasks: in the emergency room and in carpentry work. The sister superior, a Belgian, welcomes him very warmly. I will try to help Magda, and there is plenty of work.

Bogusia and Andrzej.

Testimony of David Aguilera on Africa Day

LMC Etiopia

We want to share with you this testimony sent to us by our dear colleague David on this Africa Day for the Spanish NGO AMANI that supports CLM:

Dear AMANI family.

On the day of Africa, that land of hope loved by those of us who live this vocation, I wanted to be present to share a gift from heaven.

In my last period in Ethiopia, fraught with difficulties such as the political situation, the war, the displaced persons and refugees, we also received the gift of an Ethiopian Comboni vocation with whom I was able to share life and project.

The scholastic Abreham, who studied all his theology in Peru, was called to the Gumuz land to make his missionary experience.

If it is already a difficult area, being an Ethiopian it is even more so, since the ethnic conflict could affect him negatively. Anyone in his place would have refused, as he might become a target of the rebels. He acknowledges that he came with fear, and we were afraid for him too. But his trust in God was greater.

He soon began to get involved in helping refugees, welcoming orphaned children, helping so many families broken and disintegrated by the war through the creation of a macro garden where to give work to young people and allow them to support the families and allow them to return to school to reach the last grade of compulsory education (since they did not have to work all day as in the other jobs, in addition to being encouraged to go to school, their school fees were paid and school supplies were bought for them).

Saving Africa with Africa. Firstly, to fight for the Gumuz land to regain hope through procuring the livelihood of all needy families through the work of the young and healthy, while committing to go back to school to improve their future. And two, an Ethiopian who could be according to their canons of the enemy Ethnicity, being the one who reaches out to them, welcomes them and frees them from so many prejudices.

The experience was precious. We both started it and today he continues it.

He was recently ordained a deacon. Instead of choosing his parish church, the Provincial house or one more easily accessible to his own family, he decided to be ordained in his very hard parish of Gumuz. His “Abba Abreham” made a clear commitment to them, the forgotten of Ethiopia.

I am enclosing photos of the young people he continues to help.

The money that AMANI sends from the collaborations of the partners is precisely for these projects. I will make a more detailed account of all of them to share with the AMANI family.


-David Aguilera, Comboni Lay Missionary.

Happy Africa Day to all!

The story of Tarekegn – a boy who lived on the street


I would like to tell you the story of Tarekegn who used to be a street child. Tarekegn comes from a family that is not well-off. He has both parents and as many as seven siblings. Tarekegn used to go with his father to the district called Zero Amist. His father used to give catechesis in one of the Protestant churches. The boy, however, began to fall into bad company. In the local area, he met street children who encouraged him to use stimulants, to go out with them and to beg.

Tarekegn got so screwed that one time he ran away by himself and stayed on the street. He began to spend days and nights there. He took on some very bad habits. His family knew this and had sporadic contact with him as his home is just outside Awassa and his father works in the city itself. Tarekegn, however, was not listening to anyone.

One day he ended up at the center. He began attending open classes. He was one of the first boys to be admitted to the center shortly after the pandemic started. The boy was glad that he could live with us, but I must admit that it was not easy with him. During his rehabilitation, we had various problems with him, which were relatively more than with other children. Tarekegn has changed a lot over time. There was a year with us. In the end, it all turned out well and he went home. He lives with his family and continues school. I believe it will stay that way and he will never come back to the street.

Magdalena Soboka, CLM Ethiopia

God saves children with our hands

Barkot children

Since our center for street children began to operate, God has helped many children with our hands. I believe our work makes sense even if we change the life of just one child. Meanwhile, I counted all the children we sent to school, providing them with the most necessary clothes, uniforms, exercise books and school supplies and for whom we provided full board or whose families we offered food and cleaning products every month. It turned out that there are exactly 30 of them. We changed the fate of 30 children! 30 children started or returned to formal education.

Barkot children

Overall, we helped more children. There were many more children who came to us, could eat a hot meal, wash themselves, wash their clothes and participate in activities. This is not the end, because our mission is still going on and getting more and more active. Many boys come to us and we continue to try our best to find the best solution for them so that they have a relatively happy childhood and future ahead of them. After all, God has beautiful plans for them … “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jr 29,11

Magdalena Soboka, CLM Ethiopia

At the doorstep of a different Easter

David Gumuz Situation
David Gumuz Situation

Ethiopia is a country very different from the rest, in many aspects. Among them, its own calendar, both civil and religious. Christians follow the Orthodox calendar (both Orthodox and Catholics), in which Holy Week began yesterday, Sunday, April 25 (day 17 of the month Miaziah for Ethiopians).

In these days we have been in Lent, a period characterized by fasting and by the personal and voluntary commitment to abstinence in order to rethink our way of life.

However, our people have been suffering from forced fasting for weeks now. Since the conflict became radicalized and negotiations to reach a peace agreement in our region broke down, thousands of families of all ethnicities had to leave their homes, and it was then that this imposed period of true penance and abstinence began.

Abstinence from food, because they fled with the clothes on their backs, thinking that it would be temporary; and they spent days, if not weeks, without being able to enter any village, wandering through the forests, without eating for long periods, in order to feed the babies and the youngest children with what little they had. This forced fasting has kept them with hardly any strength for more than a week, and malnutrition has surfaced, as well as related health problems.

Abstinence from shelter, because they did not even have time to find something to cover themselves with. No blankets to protect them from the cold and humid night in the forests, nor from the suffocating heat of the days in the sun. Moreover, forced to sleep on the ground, with nothing to rest on and nothing to cover them; exposed to all kinds of animals and insects, especially the mosquito, which has wreaked havoc, leading to a major resurgence of malaria, which is now manifesting itself.

Abstinence from health, since the aforementioned situations, as well as stress, worry, fear and anguish are causing the flourishing of all kinds of physical illnesses, as well as worsening psychological health, especially of the most vulnerable. Hopelessness has a negative effect that I could not even imagine, and that also materializes in the body.

They are not only exposed to inclement weather, but also to attacks from the militias of different ethnic groups, from those who, out of desperation, are engaged in looting, from those who want to profit from the conflict. Life is so fragile in this situation that it seems to have lost all its value.

David Gumuz Situation

Tomorrow the Holy Week will begin with Palm Sunday. With the absence of almost all of our people, with the uncertainty of whether we will see many of them again, and with the suffering that is taking root in our hearts. The Passion and Death of Jesus makes more sense than ever at this time when, for hundreds or thousands of people, every day is a Calvary.

For this reason, the Last Supper has to regain its full meaning, when Jesus, before beginning, began to serve his own and washed their feet, a gesture understood in his time as a humiliation of the one who must revere the one who is above him. However, He gave it a new meaning, staging one of the greatest works of mercy that exists: let our faith in God serve us to seek to serve and not to be served. We cannot remain impassive before the suffering of our brothers and sisters. May the suffering of our people (understood from the universal fraternity) not be alien to us, but “neighbor”.

From our mission in Gilgel Beles, from the beginning we opened our doors to the thousands of refugees in the forests around our area. With the limited means we had, searching even under the stones, and with the collaboration of our diocese in Ethiopia, as well as of the local government ( little collaboration due to the number of needs) we tried to alleviate the little we could reach, focusing mainly on the most vulnerable.

For the sick and the pregnant women we set up an emergency medical post, which is always overwhelmed by the numerous cases of malaria, typhus and typhoid, serious skin problems, pneumonia, severe malnutrition, etc. For the children we set up a daily canteen, which unfortunately is almost always overwhelmed by the needs.

The means are insufficient, the forces weaken, the number of people arriving daily increases, the needs multiply, the days go by and the situations deteriorate. But at the end of the day, when our hope is about to be exceeded, we realize that all the children have received at least one meal, the sick have been medicated and at least recognized, the women have received care, and the distribution of clothes and means to protect themselves has been completed. Where there was no food for all, it arrived, and where there was no plan, the solution emerged.

As St. Augustine said, “work as if everything depended on you, trust as if everything depended on God”. These simple day-to-day miracles are what make me recognize that in spite of the fact that we are so foolish as to spoil His work, God continues to take care of us and protect us, especially when nothing is left, “God alone is enough”.

With this bittersweet feeling of confidence on the one hand, and of discouragement for the situation on the other, we begin Holy Week, with our eyes always fixed on the Resurrection, that is, on the confirmation that in spite of everything, goodness and forgiveness must always have the last word. And it is difficult to believe it with what people are living, but was the resurrection expected?

David Gumuz Situation

Because, if these “unexpected miracles of everyday life” are not a sign that there is a God who overflows with Love, “may God come and see”.

David Aguilera Perez, Comboni Lay Missionary in Ethiopia