Update from Ethiopia
Fr. Stephen Monaghan CM
The Ambo Lazarist Deaf School was opened in 2012 by the Vincentian Community, with the support of the Vincentian Lay Missionaries (VLM), Castleknock College, Misean Cara and Ethiopia Deaf Project. The schools strives to provide a quality education to those who would otherwise potentially not receive any education, and be excluded from society. We have a special concern for Deaf children living in rural communities who are very marginalised and have no access to school.
Over the midterm break, it was great to have the opportunity to visit Ambo and meet all of the new students from rural districts who have registered at the school. Judging from the smiles on their faces, they seemed delighted to finally have an opportunity to attend school. I was particularly thrilled that Abdi who I mentioned in a previous message had come back from the countryside with his dad and was loving learning. In order to ensure he can remain at the school, we offered his dad a job as a security guard. When Abba Asfaw (the Parish Priest) told him this news, he said he has rarely seen a man get so emotional and nearly dance for joy. We hope to fund this through our sponsorship program. Abdi, is one of the most engaged and attentive kids I have seen come to the school, so I think this will certainly transform his life. His biggest preoccupation before I left was when he was going to get a school uniform. I tried to explain to him that it would probably be about 25 sleeps before the tailor finishes making them…
Everything in Ambo was calm and peaceful, but all during the week the tension throughout the country was building due to the war in the North and an impending threat to the security of the Capital Addis Ababa. Early in our visit we were warned to be ready to leave Ambo at a moment’s notice. Thankfully I was able to conclude the full visit to the school and complete the review and planning. However, when we got to Addis a State of Emergency had been declared and all foreign nationals were being encouraged to leave the country. I have to admit, I left Addis with a heavy heart, thinking of those who I was leaving behind and worrying for their safety. I was in touch with the Irish Embassy today and there was some slight glimmer of hope that efforts to broker peace might pay dividends. Yesterday, I spoke with one priest who is at the epicentre of the war yesterday and when I asked him if there was anything we could do… he just said ‘Pray’. So if you are inclined, please remember our friends there in your prayers.
The photos are of Abdi which I think reflect his desire to learn, the encouragement of our older students to assist him learn Sign Language and the lovely warm welcome I received from the staff and students on my return visit.
You can support Abdi and the work of the Ambo Deaf School here: https://donorbox.org/christmas-campaign-2021-1