Salesian missionaries and sisters collaborate in training more than 1,500 people
(MissionNewswire) The Global Solidarity Fund project, set up in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia,* has helped improve the lives of more than 1,500 returning migrants, refugees and those internally displaced in the country, according to an article by the Vatican News. The project has brought together five religious congregations including the Salesians of Don Bosco, Salesian sisters with the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Ursuline Sisters, Missionaries of Charity and Jesuits through the Jesuit Refugee Service.
Migrants and refugees from other African countries add to the more than 4 million inhabitants of Ethiopia’s ever-expanding capital city. According to UNHCR, the U.N. Refugee Agency, there are over 924,000 refugees and asylum seekers residing in Ethiopia. A majority originate from South Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea. In addition, there are 3.5 million people internally displaced in the country.
Under the project, Salesian missionaries and sisters have been responsible for providing skills training and job preparation, something the Salesians are known for around the globe. Courses were offered in tailoring, fashion design, hairdressing, domestic help, leatherwork, welding, electrical skills, carpentry, IT, graphic design and printing. More than 70% of those who have taken courses have already found work and companies are excited for the skilled labor.
Abebech, an Ethiopian mother who arrived in Addis Ababa from Zwai in search of work, was taken in with her baby by the Missionaries of Charity. She then studied cutting and sewing at the Mary Help College of the Salesian Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and now works in a clothing company.
Lydija Worku, owner of Emmanuel Garment, explained to Vatican News, “Those who are trained at Mary Help College have many excellent skills, which is why we joined with the Salesian sisters in this project. We have already hired nine employees trained through the project, but we would need at least 40.”
Samuel Dejene, age 19, grew up on the streets in the Addis Ababa suburb of Mexico. He met Father Angelo Regazzo, treasurer of the Don Bosco Children Center, and accepted an invitation to attend Salesian skill training. Dejene now works at a leather bag factory and lives with friends in a home they rent. Fr. Regazzo goes every day to meet street children and offer them a chance to change their lives.
The goal is the expand the project. The five heads of the congregations met at St. Michael’s Center, which houses the offices of the Socio-Pastoral Commission of the Archdiocese of Addis Ababa that oversees the project, to discuss the way forward.
According to Vatican News, an agreement has also been signed with a bank and another financial institution to provide micro-credits for migrants who want to start their own businesses. Father Petros Berga, head of the commission, said in the Vatican News article, “Thanks to this Global Solidarity Fund program, they (religious communities) are working together, and are stronger than before.”
Fr. Berga explained that a training hub has been created that offers job placement, job creation, self-employment help and health support. He added, “In the next phase, hopefully a three-year program, with the help of Global Solidarity Fund, we would like to train 10,000 beneficiaries.”
Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world with more than 38% of its population living in poverty, according to Feed the Future. Close to 85% of the country’s workforce is employed in agriculture, but frequent droughts severely affect the agricultural economy leaving more than 12 million people chronically, or at least periodically, food insecure. In addition, more than two-thirds of the population is illiterate.