Sr Celestina comes originally from Nigeria and is a nurse/midwife with the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. She has been in Ethiopia since the drought and famine of 1985 and is in the capital Addis Ababa doing urban development work among the urban poor, especially those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS – mainly poor mothers, children and youth.
The project is Blessed Mother Teresa Friendship Center. One of the root causes of HIV/AIDS pandemic is poverty. The project’s analysis of needs has shown that the people living with HIV/AIDS suffer from food insecurity, stigma, low/non income, poor standards of living and many other social and economic problems. They poor living mostly in the slums due to the lower rents and through a sense of mutual support. The centre aims at helping the affected, infected and the very poor to live as positively as possible and to make a difference in their lives and to contribute to the building of society.
The members of the project are doing this by providing the basic necessities of life:
- Food supplements for the destitute
- Repair of the dilapidated mud houses
- Provision of current text and references books to the project’s library
- Assistance to the HIV+ clients and the very poor
- Provision of potable water and latrines
- Installation of electric light so that children can study
- Provision of youth recreation facilities and 2 months free summer school for the poor families
- Skills training for young women and provision of micro credit services to women
Currently in its sixth year, the centre is feeding nearly 400 monthly and have trained 30 young men and women in skills like sewing, hairdressing and catering. They now have work and are contributing to their families.
In the past 12 months the centre has also repaired 35 mud huts; constructed 22 latrines and 25 kitchens; connected drinking water to 40 homes; and has installed electricity in 32 homes …. among other things (says Sister Celestina modestly).