23 September 2011
Roman’s Girls, a Catholic initiative in Addis Ababa, assists about 20 girls with school.
(photo: Peter Lemieux)
Today marks the autumnal equinox in the northern hemisphere — the first day of fall.
For a lot of children, the return of fall means returning to school. In the countries CNEWA serves, Catholic schools are often the only institutions providing an education in regions where quality education is a luxury. Meki Catholic School in central Ethiopia is one example. In An Uphill Battle, Peter Lemieux explored some of the challenges young women in Meki, Ethiopia face in their quest to achieve a higher education:
If growing up in Ethiopia these days were a race, these children would appear to be off to a good start. But a closer look reveals an unfair contest, one that favors the boys.
While Meki Catholic School makes every effort to maintain gender balance — an equal number of boys and girls make up its primary grades — the number of girls enrolled in the school’s secondary classes drops sharply. For the girls fortunate enough to remain in school, the harsh reality of Ethiopia’s tradition of gender disparity hits harder than a stiff headwind in a 50-yard dash.
Against a metal fence enclosing the school grounds, Messeret Yohannes, an 18-year-old senior, discusses the future with her girlfriends. All expect to go to college. And all hope to become professionals either in accounting, banking, education or medicine. Given the school’s outstanding achievements, high aspirations such as theirs are certainly realistic. From among the graduating class, 94 percent are expected to attend college, compared to 30 to 35 percent nationally.
For more, check out the May 2009 issue of ONE. Also, if you are interested in learning how you can help children in Ethiopia attend school, visit our website for more information.
22 September 2011
Tags: Ethiopia Africa Catholic education Women (rights/issues) Catholic Schools
An elderly refugee from Azerbaijan languishes in an unsanitary government housing project. (photo: Armineh Johannes)
Photographer Armineh Johannes’ enthralling photos from the story, Pensioners in Crisis exposed a harsh reality for a group of Armenians too often forgotten — the elderly:
“When we escaped Azerbaijan in 1988, the state gave us temporary asylum here with assurances we would receive an apartment later,” said the 80-year-old widow. “But they forgot about us,” she continued, repeatedly pressing her face into her open hands.
A “refugee,” Mrs. Sargsian is among the thousands of Armenians who fled their homes in neighboring Azerbaijan in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.
“Who needs a life like this? I don’t want to live in these inhumane conditions,” she added, gesturing at her run-down studio apartment.
Sonya Sargsian resides in a dilapidated government-owned building housing impoverished pensioners and the homeless — one of three clustered in a forgotten suburb of Yerevan, the Armenian capital. Built as a student dormitory after World War II, the building has not been renovated since its construction. Residents share a common bathroom, which barely functions. Decrepit plumbing supplies water at irregular intervals.
For more about the state of Armenia’s senior citizens, read the story, Pensioners in Crisis, by Gayane Abrahamyan, in the January 2008 issue of ONE.
21 September 2011
Tags: Refugees Armenia Caucasus
In an undated photo from our archive: A seminarian prays in a church in Beit Jala, Palestine. (photo: Karen Lagerquist)
Today the Catholic News Service reported on the recent Palestinian bid for U.N. membership:
In a Sept. 20 interview in the suburban Washington offices of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation, Patriarch Fouad Twal told Catholic News Service that “the question of full membership for Palestine does not mean the end of negotiations. On the contrary, they must continue negotiating and speaking to find a solution for everybody, peace for everybody and security for everybody.”
Patriarch Twal, a Jordanian-born Palestinian, said that, in preaching about peace, he often says that it must be “peace for all the inhabitants, otherwise nobody can enjoy peace.” He and other Christian leaders, including Pope Benedict XVI, often cite a two-state solution as the desired path to peace.
Read more on the Catholic News Service website.
19 September 2011
Tags: Palestine Seminarians Church of the East
A nurse gives Noor Fahmy her daughter, Mary, shortly after delivery at St. Thérèse Hospital in Cairo, Egypt. (photo: Shawn Baldwin)
In the July 2008 edition of the magazine, journalist Liam Stack told us about a Catholic hospital in Cairo that provided care to Egypt’s needy without regard to religion:
Overall, the hospital employs 4 dentists, 3 nurses, 45 doctors and 33 nonmedical employees, most of whom live in Imbaba.
While the facility’s employees are all Christian, Father Morgan is quick to point out that the overwhelmingly majority of its patients are Muslim.
“This hospital is interested only in the health of the community, not in people’s religion,” he says. “I would say that more than 85 percent of the people who come here are Muslims, and it’s no problem.”
What patients care about most when it comes to health care, in his view, is not the doctor’s religion, but his ability. That is why people, Christian and Muslim, come from all over the country to receive treatment at St. Thérèse Hospital.
To learn more about St. Thérèse Hospital, check out the story Healing Egypt’s Needy.
16 September 2011
Tags: Egypt Health Care Africa
A priest reflects during Holy Week at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
(photo: Paul Souders)
In the Spring 1989 issue of our magazine, when it was just a quarterly, we featured a beautiful photo essay of Holy Week in Jerusalem. The photos, by Paul Souders, accompanied text from a speech by His Eminence, D. Simon Cardinal Lourdusamy.
It is not an accident that we find ourselves “passing this way but once” — making our once-forever passage through life — now, in the age of the post Vatican Council, the age of the permissive society, the age of protest, of
painful renewal and re-thinking, in the age of Biafra and Bangladesh and Burundi.
It has not happened by chance. This was planned for us before the stars were hung in the sky.
God saw this as a time for us, the time when we could best serve, the time he was going to need our help to carry his cross.
This is our glory — that he wants us here now — nobody else.
For more of the Cardinal’s speech, check out the story On Carrying a Cross: A Reflection for Lent.
15 September 2011
Tags: Jerusalem Priests Holy Sepulchre
In the April 2011 CNEWA Connections e-newsletter, we chose to focus on some “never before seen” photographs by Sister Christian Molidor. It turned out that every picture told a story, and Sister Christian shared some anecdotes behind the images in an engaging slideshow. It offers a window into the world that we serve. You can view the slideshow and read more in A Christian Behind the Camera, within the newsletter.
A young girl at a refugee camp in Jordan. This photo is an outtake from the story, A Delayed Homecoming, featured in the Nov/Dec 2001 issue of the magazine.
(photo: Sister Christian Molidor, R.S.M.)
For more “never before seen” photographs by Sister Christian — like the one above from Jordan — check out the April 2011 CNEWA Connections e-newsletter.
14 September 2011
Tags: Children Jordan Refugee Camps Palestinian Refugees
Sister Lutgarda with Abel and Helen at Kidane Mehret Children’s Home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (photo: Sister Christian Molidor, R.S.M.)
During her time with CNEWA, Sister Christian Molidor often provided personal and informative stories for our magazine. In the story Every Child Has a Name, she wrote of her experience visiting the Kidane Mehret Children’s Home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — a child-care facility enrolled in CNEWA’s Needy Child Sponsorship Program.
If Kidane Mehret did not exist, chances are many of the children would have been aborted or died from exposure. The Franciscan Sisters receive what the government considers “reject children.”
My first visit to Kidane Mehret was to gain an overview of the orphanage and its children. Besides caring for 90 children, the sisters also provide meals twice a week for more than 150 displaced persons from the surrounding area, mostly women and children. Many of the displaced women reciprocate, working in the kitchen, preparing food and serving.
How do the children come to Kidane Mehret? They are often illegitimate. In Ethiopia, the shame of bearing an illegitimate child remains strong. Many children are just left at the gate of the orphanage. Sister Lutgarda told me about a small, very ill boy who was thrown over the fence into the garden. When the gardener went to work the next morning, his first thought was to scold the children for throwing their clothes in the garden. Then the tiny boy started to cry. He was taken into the orphanage. After much difficulty, Sister Lutgarda received government certification for the boy — without such certification, he cannot be adopted.
For more about the Kidane Mehret Children’s Home in Ethiopia check out the September/October 2001 issue of the magazine.
13 September 2011
Tags: Ethiopia Sisters Africa Orphans/Orphanages
An elderly woman makes her way through Jerusalem. (photo: Sister Christian Molidor, R.S.M.)
Sister Christian Molidor has a knack for capturing quiet, unguarded moments in her pictures — like the one above, from 1993. We asked her what she remembered about this shot, and she wrote back:
“How about that? I can’t always remember my car’s license plate, but I know most every photo I’ve ever taken.
This was an elderly woman, not a nun, taken in Jerusalem. I spoke with her as she was on her way to shop near Damascus Gate.”
If you would like to read or share Sr. Christian’s final email message, it is available on our website.
12 September 2011
Two young girls at a displaced persons camp outside Dellé, Eritrea, in August of 2000. (photo: Sister Christian Molidor, R.S.M.)
Today’s featured image comes from our extensive collection of photographs by our long time friend and staff member — Sister Christian Molidor, who is retiring from CNEWA this week. The image was taken in conjunction with the story, Eritrea in War’s Aftermath in the Nov/Dec 2000 issue of the magazine. The article was a first hand account by Brother Vincent Pelletier, F.S.C., CNEWA’s Regional Director for Ethiopia and Eritrea, at the time.
We visited a camp for the displaced in the village of Delle, about 18 miles west of Barentu. With some 45,000 residents, it is one of the largest camps in Eritrea. More people are expected to enter the camp as those who fled to Sudan during active fighting continue to return. As we walked through the camp we noticed that many inhabitants had set up shop in their tents and were selling everything from soap powder to beer. Under a canvas, a makeshift school had been organized for the children. I was relieved to see that the children in the camp looked healthy. By contrast, some of the children from surrounding villages appeared malnourished. Some of these people have been in the camp for two years.
You can see more pictures at the link — and we’ll have much more from Sister Christian to share, as well. For the next few days, we’ll be posting more images from her collection for our “Picture of the Day.”
Last Thursday she sent out her final “Greetings from Sister Christian” email message, which you can view on our website as well.
9 September 2011
Tags: Children War Africa
Medical Sisters of St. Joseph fill buckets for the evening wash at their house of formation in Kothamangalam, Kerala, India. (photo: Sister Christian Molidor, R.S.M.)
Our beloved Sister Christian Molidor will be retiring from the agency in a few days. With that we’ll also be retiring her biweekly email message, “Greetings from Sister Christian.” In her most recent message, she leaves us with some inspiring words of wisdom:
Manifest your loyalty in word and deed, keep a promise, find the time; forgo a grudge, forgive an enemy; listen, try to understand, examine your demands on others and think first of someone else.
Appreciate. Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little, then laugh a little more, deserve confidence, fight malice and decry complacency.
Express your gratitude, go to church, welcome a stranger; brighten the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth.
Speak your love; speak it again. Speak it still once again.
Among her many gifts, Sister Christian is also a talented photojournalist. During her nearly 30-year tenure with us, she captured thousands of images from CNEWA’s world (like the one above). She was eager to share her gift with others and we’d like to share it with you. We will feature a Sister Christian photo from our archive in the ‘Picture of the Day’ post for the next few days.
Read more of Sister Christian’s heartfelt words in her final email message.
Tags: India Sisters Kerala Vocations (religious)