OUR FOCUS
COUNTRY: 
ETHIOPIA

Ethiopia: the "Land of Origins"


Throughout Socktober in 2022, students will learn about Ethiopia and support children and their families in need. Although it is a beautiful and deeply historic place, Ethiopia's challenges, including conflict, poverty and famine, have troubled its people for centuries. The growing influence of climate change will only serve to exacerbate these issues, and we are called to act now to work with local communities to support children and families in need, to preserve their dignity and to safeguard their future. 

In 2016, Ethiopia unveiled a new tourism slogan—the "Land of Origins", an homage to the country's rich history of human civilisation. 

A changing environment

Since the time of Jesus Christ, the people of Ethiopia have lived under the rule of kings, emperors, foreign dictators and presidents. The country's modern history began with the Kingdom of Axum, which incorporated what are now the surrounding republics of Eritrea, Sudan and Yemen. Ethiopia gained independence from Italian rule in 1896, and in 1930 one of the key figures in the nation's history, Haile Selassie, rose to become Emperor, a position he held until a revolution in 1974, except for a brief period of exile during the second Italian occupation from 1936 to 1941.

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Emperor Selassie was a Christian and adhered to the tenets and liturgy of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, one of the oldest organised Christian bodies in the world. After Christianity was introduced to Ethiopia in the 4th century, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (called Tewahdo in Ethiopia) soon became the dominant religion, and was the official religion of the ruling state under Emperor Selassie up until the end of the monarchy in 1974. Today Ethiopian Orthodox is still the most popular religious affiliation in the country with over 40% of the population identifying with the faith. Islam is next, with around 34%.

The most common ethnic group in Ethiopia is the Oromo people, but there are some 80 different ethno-linguistic groups, and while Amharic is the working language of the national government, each state has the right to choose its own working or official language.

Sadly, conflict has shadowed Ethiopia for decades. Since the revolution in 1974, the country was led by a military regime called the Derg, which itself was overthrown in 1991 after a lengthy and brutal Civil War. Internal politcal struggles and external wars followed, but amidst democratic, multi-party elections and an historic peace treaty with Eritrea, Ethiopia's economy developed into the fastest growing in Africa and one of the fastest in the world. However, the benefits were enjoyed mainly by the wealthy, and with the tensions between ethnic groups and political rivals growing, the gap between wealthy and poor, exacerbated by the impacts of conflict, continues to widen almost as rapidly as the economy grows.

This especially affects communities in rural areas like Emdibir, where we are training our focus this Socktober. With factors like climate change compounding the lack of access to nutritious food for the most vulnerable young people, support is needed now to ensure children are given the best start in life. Find out more below.

The most common ethnic group in Ethiopia is the Oromo people, but there are some 80 different ethno-linguistic groups, and while Amharic is the working language of the national government, each state has the right to choose its own working or official language.

Sadly, conflict has shadowed Ethiopia for decades. Since the revolution in 1974, the country was led by a military regime called the Derg, which itself was overthrown in 1991 after a lengthy and brutal Civil War. Internal politcal struggles and external wars followed, but amidst democratic, multi-party elections and an historic peace treaty with Eritrea, Ethiopia's economy developed into the fastest growing in Africa and one of the fastest in the world. However, the benefits were enjoyed mainly by the wealthy, and with the tensions between ethnic groups and political rivals growing, the gap between wealthy and poor, exacerbated by the impacts of conflict, continues to widen almost as rapidly as the economy grows.

This especially affects communities in rural areas like Emdibir, where we are training our focus this Socktober. With factors like climate change compounding the lack of access to nutritious food for the most vulnerable young people, support is needed now to ensure children are given the best start in life. Find out more below.

The spectre of food insecurity
and malnutrition

In Ethiopia, food insecurity and malnutrition remain key issues today. Famine has continually reemerged in the drier, agriculture-reliant parts of the country in past decades. The problem was given a big profile in the 1980s with the globally broadcast concert, Live Aid, which raised millions of dollars for famine relief and brought critical attention to the situation in Africa.

And while the rural town of Emdibir, nearly four hours from the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, has managed to avoid major famine, families in the area know well the heartache of struggling to access and provide the right nutritious food for their children.

Malnutrition remains a dark spectre for many families in Ethiopia. Shockingly, it is a contributing factor in half of all child deaths in the country. For the fortunate children who survive, they may be irreversibly harmed by the effects of malnutrition for the rest of their lives.

There are many causes of malnutrition, including food insecurity, poor feeding practices, infectious disease, and maternal disempowerment. Further, climate change and conflict can have significant impacts on food security in parts of the country reliant on agriculture for survival.

Neela and Ajani in a fight for life

"They don't get any milk. They only get syrup from a syringe."

"What about food?"

"We don't get any."


For Emdibir mother Neela and her youngest child, Ajani, every day is a fight for survival as this courageous mother and her husband Omari struggle to provide enough nutritious food for their baby son.

Neela told of the heartbreaking reality her children face every day. When asked if she can provide milk for her little ones, she responds: "They don't get any milk. They only get syrup from a syringe." What about food? "We don't get any."

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Relying on subsistence farming to feed their family, Neela and Omari can barely make ends meet, especially for their youngest, Ajani, who, like any baby, needs special nutrients to survive, grow and flourish. Without the support of the local Catholic parish and its project, the Deberety Farm, it would be almost impossible for the family to manage. 

"It is a great help to us. [The parish] give us towels, food ... for support. They give us almost everything."

Like a community garden or pantry, the Deberety Farm is a hub for families like Neela and Omari's to come and access the critical needs they require to feed and care for their children. In an area where around 70% of families survive only on subsistence farming, the Deberety Farm provides a life-giving service.

"To this day, we do not have to worry whether we have milk or not in the house. [The Farm] is like our home. We bring the milk and depending on the circumstance we use it for our children, either as cheese or butter," Neela says.

The Deberety Farm has done so much already for families in Emdibir, but without our continued support, the project cannot achieve the goals that will save many more very young lives like Ajani's.

Habte Ethiopia milking cow Emdibir
community in Emdibir Ethiopia

What is being done to support the community? 

Though the Deberety Farm, run by the parish priest Father Habtesilassie Antuan, is doing what it can to save the lives of families like Neela's, there is much more that needs to be done to ensure that the most vulnerable young people in Emdibir can survive and flourish. He recalls:

"When we asked what was required, it was goat’s milk — especially goat’s milk — which contains essential nutrients for a baby.” 

While cow's milk has been a saving grace for families in Emdibir, it is a costly and unsustainable answer for the community. This is mainly due to the fact that one of the most common animals in the region is not cows but goats. Father Habte says the local people are well trained in raising goats for meat and other uses, but not for milk, which is more nutritious and affordable than cow's milk.

"Goat breeding is not uncommon here. There are goats, but only for meat. Many farmers do not know that goat’s milk is available, so [we aim] to teach that."

To achieve their aim, the Deberety Farm wants to build a goat rearing centre, which will have a multifaceted impact on the local community.

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With more goats raised the right way, mothers like Neela will be able to provide milk which has all the right nutrients that a baby needs. This will help to prevent malnutrition and ensure Ajani and other babies like him will grow to be big, strong, and happy, and have the best chance in life. 

Other benefits from the goat rearing centre include the training and jobs it will create for the local community. In an area that has for so long been reliant on agriculture, it is critical to keep its people employed and trained in what they know best. Bringing new skills and techniques to farming in Emdibir will ensure that the families can work and live in a more sustainable way, so when Ajani grows up, he can know that his own children will have the food, healthcare, education and employment they deserve. 

Powering the future with education


The Lideta Catholic Cathedral School in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa is one of the country's leading educational institutions. It provides learning opportunities and opens vocational doors for students from families who cannot afford schooling, like many of those in Emdibir.
 

"The school offers many benefits for students both in educational growth and in spiritual development; because of that, students from LCCS consistently outperform and achieve with 100% pass rates to universities. Most of our former students are now serving their country in various professional positions."

- Cardinal Berhanayesus Demerew Souraphiel

Girls studying at Lideta school Ethiopia

Catholic Mission is working with the Lideta Catholic Cathedral School to provide scholarships to students from low-income families, who otherwise could not attend.

Priority is given to orphans, children of single mothers, children with parents who are unemployed or on a low-income, and children of parents who are no longer working and have no access to a pension.

As a haven for students, the school’s vision is to produce graduates capable of becoming future leaders in Ethiopia. 

Your support through Socktober can help ensure that all children in the region, regardless of their situation, can attend school and gain a quality education that will support them in the future.

Your support as a Socktober Star is essential to the success of Father Habte and the local Church's mission in Emdibir. Without the crucial funds we can raise together by kicking our goals and sharing this good news story, the local Church in Emdibir can help families such as Neela and Omari's to secure their future and that of their children. 

Here's how you can answer the call in 2022...

School fundraising targets

When setting up your school's page, choose any of these targets - or set your own - to inspire your students and their families to work towards a fundraising goal. You will be amazed what your school community can achieve simply by sharing the word and inspiring others to give towards these critical needs for the community in Emdibir. 

$403

can help to support the stipend of a caretaker on the farm
for six months.

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$1,174

can help to purchase 10 goats to kick-start the Deberety Farm's goat rearing program. 

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$2,013

can help to pay for food, medicine, and care for the farm animals for one year.

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$26,845

can help to pay for the construction of a shaded area of the farm to house the goats.

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socktober star fundrasing targets

Here are some ways you can support our brothers and sisters in Ethiopia by raising funds through your own Socktober page in 2022. By supporting the construction and upkeep of the goat farm project in Emdibir, you will be directly helping children like Ajani to receive the nutrients they need to grow strong and healthy.

Pick any of these targets or set your own as you register, and start kicking your goals and sharing your page to raise crucial funds.

$77

can help to pay for food, medicine and care for the farm animals for two weeks. 

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$135

can help to support the stipend of a caretaker for the goats for three months.

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$476

can help provide scholarships for two children at the Lideta Catholic Cathedral School.

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$1,000

can help towards the construction of a shaded area for the goats on the farm to live.

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Mission in 360

Immerse yourself in the Land of Origins, Ethiopia, and experience a day in the life of the local community. Our immersive 360° virtual reality technology has captured the surrounds of an Ethiopian village and some of the community activities that bring families together. What can you see happening around you?