Before departing Meki, we visited one of the Catholic Schools. Catholic Education is a high priority for the Church and CRS across Ethiopia. This school is located near the compound where the Bishop and his staff carry out all their local projects.
Education is key to the future of any people, but especially so in the more rural areas of any country.
WOMEN'S EMPOWERMENT PROJECTS
We then drove to an area where a Women's Empowerment Project was underway. Centuries of cultural tradition have empowered men to be the absolute authority in each family. The wife has a very diminished role, relegated primarily to fetching water--often at several miles; caring for the children, preparing meals, washing clothes, and the like.
These women learn business skills whereby they are able to begin small enterprises such as raising chickens and selling eggs, raising goats, preparing food products for sale, and the like. They are then able to save their own money and eventually expand their businesses. They do this in harmony with their husbands, not in opposition, a new mutuality of roles.
Also at the same location the boys are taught and formed as well. They begin to understand the concept of mutuality in the role of husband and wife, and the great benefits to the family and to the marriage when such equal sharing in duties and rights is observed.
The single element essential for all human life is water. Without water there is no life.
However, the only water which really benefits the people is good, clean water. In rural areas throughout the world often the water supply is inadequate, or polluted, or not near to the people.
CRS long ago saw the need to help small communities develop new water projects which would provide clean and safe water where the people actually lived. CRS purchased five very large drilling rigs for use across Ethiopia to help locate water, drill down to the water, and pump it up for the people.
A well is drilled to a level where fresh, safe and good water is located. A pump is installed, and initially a diesel generator is used to pump the water to the surface. In this example, the water is delivered nearby to a water station. People bring 5 gallon jugs to obtain the water, about one or two cents the charge.
A local committee receives the money and accounts for it, using it to repairs or improvements to their system. This committee is composed of both women and men.
The installation of water wells and the supply of local water that is good and clean is one of the great achievements of CRS over the years.