| Development cooperation
|| Church Work
|| Child sponsor program
Ethiopia is the oldest independent state in Africa and is around 3,000 years old. The country’s population is 81.2 million. Ethiopia is an extremely poor country: one quarter of the country’s population live on less than one US$ per day. Only one third of the population are literate. Life expectancy is about 50 years.
FELM’s partner organisation in Ethiopia is the Mekane Yesus Church. The Church is actively involved in health care and education provision, in addition to more traditional church work. The work of the Church has been praised by the Ethiopian authorities.
The Church’s income has not grown at the same rate as its membership and work commitments. FELM therefore supports the Church’s efforts to improve its financial management and become self-sufficient.
Food aid to drought areas
Certain areas in Ethiopia are in almost constant need of external food aid. FELM has supported the provision of emergency aid to Balen Gassera, as well as supporting a food security project that aims to promote self sufficiency and reduce the need for aid.
FELM and the Mekane Yesus Church provide various types of support to people in rural areas aimed at improving their quality of life. The local people have themselves identified their needs including: improved access to clean water through improving water management systems; training in health care for both people and animals; training in methods for increasing agricultural and livestock productivity; and support for the development of women’s livelihoods. The project has led to improvements in the quality of life of people living in the villages in question. For instance, villagers are now more healthy and have a more varied diet, the situation of women has been improved through providing them with entrepreneurial and vocational training and literacy classes have been organised.
Education for all is an important target for the Ethiopian government. FELM has supported various educational development projects in Ethiopia over several decades. The Mekane Yesus Church has done important work in improving the accessibility of education to children in remote areas and particularly in increasing girls’ school attendance.
A second important activity of the Mekane Yesus Church which FELM supports is developing education for deaf Ethiopians. The Hosaina School for the Deaf offers deaf children the chance to receive high quality education, which can be continued up to university level. The school has also developed a vocational training programme, which can help school leavers to enter working life. The children at the Hosaina School are supported through FELM’s child sponsorship programme. FELM has also supported the pioneering work of the Mekane Yesus Church in promoting the rights of the deaf, more widely, in Ethiopia. This work involves producing teaching materials, training teachers and working towards changing attitudes.
FELM also supports work to provide ethnic minority children from six ethnic groups with mother-tongue education. Mother-tongue education improves the educational results of ethnic minority children and strengthens their cultural identity. The work involves creating teaching materials and programmes in the languages in question and the training of teachers. FELM carries out this work in collaboration with SIL Ethiopia and the Ethiopian government.
HIV and AIDS work
The HIV and AIDS situation in Ethiopia has stabilized. It is estimated that there are 800,000 HIV-positive people and 1 million AIDS orphans in Ethiopia. The Mekane Yesus Church began its HIV and AIDS work in the 1980s and this work still constitutes an important part of the Church’s congregational and social activities. FELM has supported this work for around 20 years. The work includes prevention work, which consists of awareness raising and trying to change attitudes, as well as support to those who are living with HIV and AIDS. We have also provided support to children orphaned by AIDS in accessing education and finding work.
Healthcare is one of the basic services provided by the Mekane Yesus Church, which is supported by FELM. The modernization and new equipment that have been provided for the Atsaamo and Gemedo health centres have been important factors in reducing maternal and infant mortality and reducing incidences of malaria. Further training for health care professionals has improved the standard of care patients receive. As part of the development of healthcare village midwives have also been trained and awareness raising work carried out in remote areas concerning HIV and AIDS. Training on hygiene and nutrition are included in all community development projects.
FELM supports the proclamation work of the growing Mekane Yesus Church, as well as the training of its pastors and church workers in theological seminaries and Bible schools. FELM also supports the training of workers for women’s work, family work and diaconal work.