Dear Family and Friends,
It has been almost 2 months since we have returned from Ethiopia. It's hard to believe that much time has past. I have intended to alert all of you about the OMCA "Unity to Save Life" organization that deeply touched Safia and I during our stay in Adigrat, Ethiopia. You will find pictures below of our visit to the Adigrat mosque where we attended a meeting with Muslim Imam, Orthodox Priest, and head priest of the Catholic cathedral. On this day we also visited 3 households who are suffering and dying from HIV/AIDS but I felt it inappropriate to share these photos online. If you wish to see more please see me in person and I will be happy to share.
The OMCA "Unity to Save Life" is a union of three religions (Orthodox, Catholic, and Muslin) which was established four years ago. It was established by the directors of these religions with the initiatives and motives to fight against HIV/AIDS. Since its establishment the religious leaders have set up a committee and sub committees, assigned a chairman, secretary, advisor, and cashier, as well they designed common guidelines to be used among the religions and have developed an administrative manual. To this end several of the volunteers have become involved and contributed the efforts in community sensitization and education, providing spiritual and moral counseling for people living with HIV/AIDS.
HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia started to be identified from two reported cases in 1986. After that the spread of AIDS increased and the epidemic developed rapidly. Results shown by 1990 the rural areas the epidemic spread progressed most rapidly. In 2005 the number of people living with HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia estimated to 1.5 million.
Tigray, is one of the regional states of Ethiopia highly affected by this epidemic. This area is deep rooted in poverty, illiteracy, war, and displacement causing the main reason for the spread of the virus. In 2005 statistics showed orphans number up to 70,000 and by the end of that year the number increased to a staggering 100,000 orphaned children.
Eastern zone of Tigray, (village of Adigrat is located in this region) has a population of more than 800,000 people. It is particularly the eastern zone of Tigray that has suffered from the protracted war during the derg regime and the recent ehio-eriteran conflict that resulted in instability, migration, and displacement, increased commercial sex workers coupled with prevalent misconception, cultural influences on women that contributed the spread of HIV/AIDS in this Eastern zone. Health institutions revealed the situation is still at its worst circumstances. In 2005, the Adigrat hospital revealed out of 43 suspected cases 39 were found positive (90% of the population.)
The OMCA participated in four days of HIV training with an intended aim of creating a common interfaith front to fight against HIV/AIDS epidemic. In order to make the religious leaders more exposed to the real situation, the training incorporated home visits to observe how HIV/AIDS is posing an impact on the community at large. The religious leaders were deeply touched by the existing situation and felt that they had forgotten the responsibility that God has given them to help and give hope for those in despair. With the overall motive the leaders obtained skills from the training and home visits, they recognized the need to respond to the common threats against humanity and from that four day training and visits the religious leaders released a statement and expressed their determination to collaborate in all aspects and establish a common union.
Unfortunately the committee still lacks the adequate skill on leadership and program management. The "Unity to Save Life" is in desparate need of man power and a desk top computer. More volunteers to assist in the outreach programs, alternative activities, counceling and education, and free testing is also in desperate need. Training of more religious leaders in pastoral counseling and money is needed to give to the patients to purchase food. Although medicine is now available if the patient cannot eat the medicine cannot be taken. (Information extracted from Abba Tesfay submission for mini-proposal document April 2009)
Please look inside yourself and see ways you can help. This organization is worthy of your attention. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me or the information below.
Please send donations to:
Abba W/Selassie Tesfay
Holy Saviour Parish
P.O. Box 8
Adigrat, Tigray, Ethiopia
You may also call Abba Tesfay at 011-251-344-45 00 25 he speaks excellent English and truly would love your help.
May God Bless All of You,