AFRICA/ETHIOPIA – The Salesians: we share what we are and what we have with the people who suffer

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Addis Ababa – “Above all, displaced persons want the war to end and peace to reign so that they can return to normal lives. Those who have fled their homes desperately need something to eat, drink, sleep and clothing to protect themselves and to protect them from the bad weather. They need all the emergency humanitarian aid, since many of the displaced are housed in schools. We distribute flour and oil or food prepared for them. We give supplementary multivitamin foods to small children who need special care”, says Father Hailemariam Medhin Sdb, an Ethiopian priest of the Salesians of Don Bosco, who has been Superior of the Salesian Vice-Province Africa-Ethiopia-Eritrea since 2019.
In the magazine “Misiones Salesianas”, published by the Salesians in Spain, which dedicates a focus to the emergency in Ethiopia, the Superior reports: “In Tigray the population is severely affected by the crisis, in addition to the already existing restrictions due to the pandemic. The families are unemployed because of the war and some have had to take in relatives and other family members who have been displaced and fled in search of safety. Those who do not have “extended families” find refuge in schools and other facilities but lack what is necessary to survive. The isolation of the Tigray region from the rest of the country and the fact that you do not know how and where your loved ones causes great suffering”. “The strong tradition of solidarity among the Ethiopian people makes it easier to survive”, said the religious. “Many people help each other because they share what little they have with those who have nothing. In view of the serious humanitarian situation, Don Bosco’s Salesians, religious and lay workers, especially in the parishes of Mekelle and Adua, use a generator to supply the population with water from wells. The population sees the presence of the missionaries as a valuable support: we remind you that the Salesians of Don Bosco already won the trust of the population during the famine in Ethiopia in 1984 and 1985. In one of our communities in Adigrat, about 50 families took refuge in the premises of the Salesians of Don Bosco during the heavy bombing of the region. As Salesians, we try to bring comfort to frightened people, to give hope to those in despair, and to provide material and spiritual help. We share what we have: time, food, water, protection from the bombs”.
Schools in the region have been closed for over a year and the humanitarian emergency continues; the religious are tempted to continue their missionary, pastoral and social work: “We are not a large international humanitarian organization”, notes the Provincial, “and the people around us know it. In such a situation we give children and young people and mothers priority with young children. There are also unaccompanied minors because their family members have fled. Thanks to our close ties to the population, these children are looked after by their neighbors. All teachers and staff in our educational centers are fully committed to helping the neediest population”. “Now that the international community is aware of the extent of the conflict”, concluded Father Hailemariam Medhin , “we plead for an end to the violence and the killing and suffering of the population. We are priests and we do not do politics: we do our best to bring the Gospel, helping the suffering, as Jesus did”.