Ethiopia Visit: Helping Others Help Themselves

Augustine Lee is a seminarian studying for the diocese of Cleveland. Augustine is participating on a Global Fellows immersion trip to Ethiopia.

Today we visited some villages where the Daughters of Charity are assisting the poor and vulnerable. The first place we went was a house where six ladies were weaving cotton, which is how they made their living. When I walked into the house, I was shocked because their workplace was inferior; it was very small, not a lot of room for weaving. There was a fair amount of dirt and many flies. It was hard to accept what I was seeing. Leaving the house, I was frustrated because it seems that I could not do anything for them.

Ethiopia AIDS

A woman puts the finishing touches on a coffee pot that she will sell at market. This woman has AIDS and is being assisted by the Daughters of Charity, who are in partnership with CRS. Photo by Mikaele Sansone/CRS

Following the visit, we were led to several booths where people were selling some household utensils. The booths were provided by Daughters of Charity. The booths seem disarranged and small in my eyes. However, the conversation with a woman selling at one of booths struck me and I realized that I have a narrow mind. She really appreciated her small booth because she can now feed her family. I came to know that the workplace was the stepping stone in which she was able to begin a new life and she was aware of her ability to do something by herself.

These words from the woman opened my eyes and caused me to view things in a new way. At that moment, what I heard at the orientation in Baltimore came to my mind, “mission does not aim at changing to fix something but to teach them how to fix it by themselves.” I thought that the goal of mission is to do something for them. Yet, it helps them to do something for themselves.

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