AFRICA/ETHIOPIA - Over 800 child beggars receive an education thanks to the Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Addis Ababa (Agenzia Fides) - There are 813 children who have been educated in schools run by the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul near a small cemetery in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.
According to a statement sent to Fides Agency from Aid to the Church in Need, despite the limited space, (in fact the school is located on a hill at the edge of a cliff) the nuns were able to obtain a small library and even a small field where the children can play . "Here everything is in a small-scale version- says the director, Sister Belaynesh Woltesi - but our children are not lacking in anything: books, uniforms and especially food. Although, with prices which continue to rise, it is increasingly difficult for us to buy food.
"All students come from poor families and the majority of parents have AIDS or leprosy. There are many children born to HIV positive, but the Daughters of Charity do not know the exact number. AIDS in Ethiopia, although widespread, is still a taboo and the womwn religious avoid even uttering the name of the syndrome before the sick.
Many pupils were picked up in the streets of the capital, while begging to support their own family. Some were selling lottery tickets, chewing gum and sweets, others belonged to the gang of "professional beggars" who dress up as clowns and perform stunts to impress passersbys. Begging is illegal in Ethiopia and for this reason parents allow their children o go out alone in the afternoon, when the number of policemen on duty is lower. Unfortunately, even prostitution is widespread.
The sisters continue to look for small beggars around the city. "But it is not easy - explains Sister Belaynesh - because often the money they make is the only entry for families. And now the children know the rules of the road and cannot accept that someone will take care of them. "
In 2011, recalls the statement, Aid to the Church in Need donated to the Ethiopian Catholic Church over 620mila euros. Part of the money collected helped to support many religious men and women who assist the poor and needy throughout the Country. In Ethiopia over 10 million people benefit from the immense work of charity of the Catholic Church, despite the Catholic faithful are only 700 thousand. The Church runs 203 kindergartens and 222 schools attended by over 180 thousand students of all religions. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 09/08/2012)