5 March 2015
Sister Micheline addresses the students gathered at her center in Lebanon before serving them a hot meal. (photo: Tamara Hadi)
Name: Sister Micheline Lattouff
Order: Good Shepherd Sisters
Facility: Dier el Ahmar Social Center
Location: Dier el Ahmar, Lebanon
What’s the biggest challenge a sister can face? An overwhelming humanitarian crisis—one that threatens to turn your entire community upside down.
That’s what happened to Sister Micheline Lattouff. With her fellow Good Shepherd Sisters, she had spent years running a center for the local poor in Dier el Ahmar, Lebanon. There, they provide schooling for the village’s children.
The surrounding farms have always drawn fieldworkers from neighboring Syria. But when civil war engulfed their homeland, that long tradition changed. Suddenly, the workers’ camp was, as Sister Micheline says, “full of children, women and elderly who had escaped from Syria and found refuge in the village.”
Everyone was huddled in “wet tents with rain leaking inside, the floor filled with mud without any heating. The children were around a wood fire in the snow with bare feet.”
The sisters raced to acquire tent material, warm clothes, shoes, food and heaters. Local Christians opened their homes, providing mattresses, blankets and supplies.
Soon, 1,400 families had poured in, overwhelming the village. But then Catholic Near East Welfare Association came through. As Sister Micheline explains, CNEWA’s donors “provided the refugees with food packages, winter kits and water supplies.”
She was troubled by seeing refugee children “trying to kill each other in war games, imitating the fighters in Syria.” So with more CNEWA funding, the sisters expanded their school program, providing focus for hundreds of traumatized girls and boys.
What will happen next? After dealing with the crisis head on, Sister Micheline is ready for whatever lies ahead.
“I feel very proud of the volunteering work provided by the whole community,” she says. “Now, when we visit the camp, we find that all families — Christian and non-Christian — became like one family, where members take care of each other.”
As war and natural disasters put more people at risk, the need for all of us to “take care of each other” is more important than ever. It’s why CNEWA is proud to support sisters like Sister Micheline. And it is why she hopes you can do the same.
Thousands of sisters. Millions of small miracles.
To support the good work of sisters throughout CNEWA’s world, click here. (And you can read the introduction to our series, for more information, too.)
For more about Sister Micheline and her work, check out Syria, Shepherds and Sheep from the Spring 2014 edition of ONE.
19 February 2015
Tags: Syria Lebanon Refugees Sisters
Sister Elizabeth Endrias assists a trainee at the Congregation of the Daughters of Saint Anne Vocational Training Center, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (photo: CNEWA)
Name: Sister Elizabeth Endrias
Order: Congregation of the Daughters of Saint Anne
Facility: Women’s Promotion Center
Location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
It’s a small building, filled with the sounds of life. Whirring sewing machines. Scissors snipping through fabric. Voices filled with hope for the future.
At the Women’s Promotion Center in Ethiopia’s capital city, teenage girls and women learn the skills of making clothing—from fabric cutting to sewing to embroidery. They are among the poorest residents of this poor country. And their training serves one purpose: survival.
A group of nuns from the Congregation of the Daughters of Saint Anne runs the center. The sister in charge, Sister Elizabeth Endrias, is 24 years old. But the program she’s developed is intensive. “Training takes from ten months to two years,” she explains. “This year we have thirty trainees in dressmaking and seven in embroidery.”
With resources limited, the school has begun charging a modest fee. For the poorest students, however, money is never a barrier. “In this case we intervene, inquire about their difficulties,” Sister Elizabeth says. “And when we find it necessary to support them, we offer them free education to complete their studies.”
She remembers the day one teenager arrived with her father. “He had the desire to help his daughter in her training. He told me the extent of their poverty but willed to pay.”
The father paid for two months, but grew ill and passed away. “Imagine the challenge facing this 18-year-old girl,” Sister Elizabeth says. “We not only exempted her from fees, but also gave back to her mother the two months payment that her father had paid.”
That young seamstress—her name is Hanna—plans to start a dressmaking business to support her family. “Sister Elizabeth is very special for me,” she says. “She rescued me from losing this opportunity after the death of my father. I am very grateful to her.”
For the women who fill the center each day, Sister Elizabeth and her fellow nuns are role models. Her supervisor, Sister Weineshet, explains that all have wide-ranging abilities. “If they work with women, not only their religiosity is needed,” she says. “They need to be equipped with a holistic knowledge of women, their needs and challenges.”
At Catholic Near East Welfare Association, we’re proud to support the sisters’ important mission. And as they help improve the lives of women who have so little, one thing is certain: the good sisters will be grateful if you can help too.
Thousands of sisters. Millions of small miracles.
To support the good work of sisters throughout CNEWA’s world, click here.
22 December 2014
CNEWA President Msgr. John E. Kozar and Norma Intriago, director of development, collect a tray of handwritten special intentions, all mailed in by donors during CNEWA’s 2014 Christmas fundraising campaign. Msgr. Kozar will celebrate Christmas Midnight Mass at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, and will include the special intentions in his prayers. To contribute to the campaign, click here. (photo: CNEWA)