Seeing Hope Amid Ethiopian Suffering

Father Manny Clavijo is a priest at St. Mary’s in the Diocese of Worester, Massachusetts. He recently joined two other priests and eight Mundelein seminarians on a trip to Ethiopia to visit CRS development projects as part of the Global Fellows program. Here he shares his thoughts as the trip came to an end.

Our visit to Ethiopia is coming to a conclusion. We have visited the Missionaries of Charity one last time at their Sidist Kilo home for the destitute and dying in Addis, and now we are packing to return to the USA later tonight.

These few days in Ethiopia have left an indelible mark on all of us. This mark will travel with us back to the States and be our motivation for sharing our story with our families and communities.

We have seen what poverty, global warming, injustice and underdevelopment can do to a human being, to a child of God. All these adverse factors can truly make a child of God believe that he or she is not. But despite the different faces and situations with which suffering makes known its overpowering presence in Ethiopia, there are still signs of hope.

Ethiopian church

Ethiopia’s children reflect the country’s hope and beauty. Photo by Debbie DeVoe/CRS

It is hard not to see glimpses of hope and of a future of justice and equality after witnessing what solidarity, love, development projects and justice can do for a human being, for a child of God, through the work CRS and its partners carry out in this beautiful land of Ethiopia. How can it not be a sign of hope to see dusty, rocky, dry grounds turning into green, beautiful and healthful oases where crops are growing and holding future promise for villagers near Mekelle and Adigrat? How can we not believe in justice and peace when we see Muslims, Ethiopian Orthodox and Catholics working together for the wellbeing of their communities, bridging their differences by treasuring and strengthening that which unifies us?

How can we not see glimpses of hope after meeting Lane, Carlos and Debbie, CRS staff and USA citizens who selflessly spend their lives to make the world and this country of Ethiopia more humane? How can we not see glimpses of hope after meeting Ato Kifle—a CRS Ethiopia staff member—and many others Ethiopians helping to improve the life conditions of their own people? How can we not see glimpses of hope after seeing the Missionaries of Charity Sisters and volunteers working day and night caring for 900 patients with HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis in just one of 18 homes? How can we not see glimpses of hope after seeing the work of God in all of them?

This is the message we, seminarians and priests, are bringing back to the States. It is through the contribution of many people here in the U.S. that this transformation is happening now in Ethiopia. We are bearers of great news but also bearers of a great challenge: Ethiopia still needs our help. CRS, its partners and the Catholic Community in the United States are committed to continue bringing hope to our brothers and sisters in Ethiopia. 

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