Daniel, the boy only a few days old!
I know, Brother, he answered, but you know the situation. Where am I going to send him to school?
In Ethiopia, the finishing of the 12th grade is marked by a national exam that also serves as the admissions test for the Addis Ababa University. More than 150,000 students take the exam, but only 10,000 are admitted to some level of post-high school education. It is not unusual for one of the nine provinces or administrative regions of the country to have less than a handful of students pass the exam. In contrast, last year 115 students from St. Joseph took the exam and 114 were admitted to full degree programs at the university. This figure is higher than the number of students from most provinces who pass the examination.
St. Joseph School may be the exception by way of outstanding results; in general, however, a Catholic education in Ethiopia means excellence, a chance to move on, a chance to rise out of poverty and build a life for oneself.
Amanuel Beyene Sisay father died when he was 12 years old. Because of mental health problems, his mother was unable to care for him. The Capuchin Sisters learned of Amanuel situation and took him into their care. Through generous sponsors in CNEWA Needy Child Program and the loving care of the sisters, Amanuel not only finished high school but achieved a level of Very Great Distinction with a 4.0 grade point average. He also qualified for a coveted position with the university science faculty. Amanuel faces a bright and promising future.
Ethiopia Catholic childcare facilities, which include schools, are not limited to St. Joseph School or the caring Capuchin Sisters; Catholic schools and orphanages are also scattered throughout the rural areas of the country.
One young girl, whom I will call Helen, was several days old and very sick when she was left at the gate of the orphanage of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, run by the Franciscan Sisters of the Heart of Jesus. The nuns took her to the hospital, where she tested positive for HIV. Fortunately, like so many infants, she tested negative after some time had passed; for this one can truly say there but for the grace of God. And had it not been for the loving care of the Franciscan Sisters, Helen would have never had a chance.
Her story does not end there. If Helen is not adopted, which often happens with children at this orphanage, she will still attend a very good Catholic school. She may even qualify for the university and have a chance to build a life for herself.
Mesfin is another success story. He was born in the agricultural region of Woilata. Woilata is densely overpopulated. Though the people are hardworking, they are very poor. Mesfin was fortunate enough to attend the Catholic Mission school in Woilata.
In the eighth grade Mesfin heard the stirring of a religious and priestly vocation. He talked to his parish priest. The following year, he entered the Capuchin Fathers minor seminary in Nazareth and attended secondary school. Sponsored by generous CNEWA benefactors, Mesfin completed his seminary training and was later ordained a priest. Today he works in a rural Catholic parish, similar to the one from which he came.
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Tags: Children Ethiopia Education Poor/Poverty Catholic Schools