Print
People

from the world of CNEWA

by Don Duncan

image Click for more images

Sister Lutgarda Camilleri

When Sister Lutgarda Camilleri, 67, took on the care of the children of Kidane Mehret Children’s Home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1996, she took on a child care facility that “should have been demolished some 50 years ago,” wrote CNEWA’s Mercy Sister Christian Molidor in 2001. Since then, Sister Lutgarda and her community, the Franciscan Sisters of the Heart of Jesus, have developed a beautiful facility for an increasing number of children. Sister Lutgarda recently sat down with ONE magazine’s Don Duncan to talk about the children’s home and her own journey.

ONE: What was Kidane Mehret like when your community took it over in 1996?

SL: It had absolutely nothing. We couldn’t find anything we could use. Nothing. Not even a drop of oil. Oil is a very precious thing for Ethiopians; most food is cooked with oil. But God’s providence never, ever failed us.

So, we cooked pasta. The children stood in line and the queue never stopped. Why? Because the children thought it would be the first and last meal we would serve. They would take the meal, hide it in a plastic bag and come back!

ONE: How did you develop the original children’s home into the complex that exists today?

SL: Back in the beginning, the original building was made of mud. It was in ruins. There were holes in the roof. The children had no proper beds, no mattresses, no sheets and no blankets. We started saying: “How can we continue to stay here?”

The police would come with babies. I would say: “No, we can’t take babies. How can you take a baby into a place in this condition?” Then, a visiting brother from the Archdiocese of Cologne, Germany, encouraged me to write a funding proposal. Once I did, I sent it to him and to CNEWA, and that is when we got funds to build the new orphanage building.

First, the funds came from CNEWA, then from Germany. After that, the lion’s share came from Caritas. CNEWA gave us $25,000 initially and then another $25,000 to help finish the building. The new orphanage building finally opened in 2002.

ONE: How many staff members work at the orphanage currently?

SL: We have 38 paid workers in the children’s home: people caring for babies, matrons for the older children, laundry and kitchen staff, a secretary, an assistant manager and a driver. And then there are the volunteers.

ONE: Tell us about your volunteers.

SL: We work mostly with Project Abroad. It is an English organization, but it works all over the world, and they help connect us with volunteers. Many of them are very good with babies. At the moment, one of them is giving instruction in computers, another is teaching an English class and another, a math class. Then, we have other volunteers that apply directly to us through our web site.

ONE: How many children does the orphanage house currently?

SL: At the moment, we have the lowest number ever: 80. The government policy has changed. All abandoned children must go to government orphanages now, and no longer come directly to us. I think the policy change is due to child trafficking.

Post a Comment | Comments(0)

1 | 2 |