This morning we left Addis Ababa, and drove with CRS Country Director John Shumlansky and staff in a southwestern direction to the town of Meki. Within the Church Meki is an Apostolic Vicariate--the last step before becoming a Diocese. The Bishop Abraham Desta heads up the Vicariate.
The Vicariate is situated in a very large compound with a new Church at the center of it. The Bishop's residence, offices for the Vicariate, and other leadership activities are situated here.
We first visited the wonderful Our Lady of Perpetual Help Clinic supported primarily by donors and entities in Spain. The Director is a young man from Madrid, and he has helped the Clinic to grow to a most effective medical center for the area. Spanish doctors, medical specialists, and dentists take turns coming from Spain to staff the Clinic. Many Spanish volunteers also come for a period of Christian volunteer work.
The Clinic opens at 6:30 am, and people begin lining up early to be seen by Clinic staff. A triage person evaluates each person to determine where he/she should be sent for care. Emergencies receive priority over all others.
A large number of patients are children. The Clinic serves pregnant women in pre-birth, birth itself, and after birth to make sure that there are no major issues with the mother or the baby.
A new large building is in the process of being completed, and new specialized equipment is coming from Spain. A new, large ultrasound machine is still in its shipping packaging, but soon it will be a powerful tool to assist the doctors for many illnesses.
Bishop Abraham Desta is shown visiting
some of the young children with their
mothers in the clinic area.
Small children are in the care of the clinic while their mothers are working, a marvelous Day Care Center. The young people assist in caring for the young ones until their mothers pick them up.
The Clinic also operates an orphanage program, with a special emphasis on creating a sense of "family" among the youngsters. They attend a Catholic school nearby, and they consider each other as genuine brothers and sisters--just like the other children from regular families.
In order to help train small farmers how to be more efficient in their farming, and to raise funds for the Vicariate for all of its programs, the Bishop owns and operates a huge farm outside the city. The farm has several distinct operations:
- Tree Fruit: mangoes, avocados, and other fruits
- Row Crops: corn, alfalfa, potatoes, and many kinds of vegetables to be sold
- Dairy Cows: to produce milk with the majority of it being used to make three kinds of cheeses
- Vineyards and Wine Making: the farm grows three varieties of red wine grapes, and chenin blanc grapes for white wine
This is my first visit to a farm owned and operated by the Church that produced fine wines and cheeses!
Bishop Abraham proudly displaying a 2018 Syrah red wine. The license to sell its wines and cheeses is pending.
The major funding and wine-making expertise came from Italy and Spain with their own marvelous wines.
In addition Italy and Spain provided assistance with the cheese making process.
This Farm is a unique example of how the Church in mission lands can be creative in serving the people by bringing them new skills for their own livelihoods.
Another splendid example of CRS at work in assisting local Dioceses with so many initiatives to help lift the economic potential of their people.
PLEASE DONATE TO THE WORKS OF CRS AT: www.crs.org