After overnight in Dire Dawa, we visited several projects in and around the city itself.
This is a non-residential facility which deals with two types of youth: those in homes with special needs, such as a single parent; and those on the streets with no place to stay at night.
The at-home youth are provided a place to gather, to play, and to study after school. Simple facilities provide various things for the youth to do, such as ping pong.
Women in the community come together to learn how to create and operate small businesses. One woman bakes very fine cookies and is selling them to various stores and food outlets. She has received a loan from the Community Group, and repays it over a few months. This woman is saving to purchase larger baking equipment so she can expand her business. These many businesses give women a greater security for their families, and are able to provide more opportunities for their children.
It is a real joy to feel the enthusiasm, interest, and commitment of all these women. They support each other and learn different techniques from each other, as well as specialists who come in to work with them. Really impressive to see their initiatives!!
In order to keep the items fresh, they are brought in and stored for no more than 3 months, then sent on to local centers.
Over several years of seeing the CRS projects around the world, I have been so impressed with their commitment to pre-staging items needed for various disasters and needs: typhoons, droughts, earthquakes, groups fleeing all kinds of threats, and the like. In this way CRS can respond quickly when crises arise.
NOTRE DAME SCHOOL
We had the opportunity to visit Notre Dame School, one of the largest Catholic schools in Ethiopia with some 1,600 students--from kindergarten to seniors in high school. The quality education is provided for all these students who come from the surrounding areas. Three Ethiopian Sisters serve in the school, along with a layman as principal. A large and varied staff helps teach and form these young people.
MISSIONARIES OF CHARITY SISTERS
Since our time was limited before having to fly back to Addis Ababa, our visit was very short. Basically, these Sisters of St. Mother Teresa's Community care for the most neglected and needy persons in the community. Almost all need medical attention through various clinics, as well as living arrangements for many until they are able to live on their own.
Medical and mental health issues are very prevalent here, as well as those in advanced age who are near death. The Sisters benefit from various doctors and nurses who help out, but they are also able to send patients to the local hospital for more specialized care.
CRS is the primary food source for this enormous compound. Without this food, the Sisters would never be able to accommodate and serve so many people.