ethiopia-1This week’s featured project, the story of of a woman named Belaynish, represents a small window into the numerous diverse works of the Daughters of Charity as they collaborate with local people in villages and communities around the globe as they match funding partners with their vital projects and programs.

The Daughters of Charity are overseeing year three of a multi-dimensional program in Sammaro, Ethiopia that empowers indigenous women with skills, education and confidence toward their own self sufficiency.

In a society where women do not own land, nor are they entrusted with decision making, this program has launched income generating activities, a women’s micro-credit program, an animal dispersal program, an adult literacy and simple math program, assistance with school for their children, medical aid, a home repair and renovation program, community and individual backyard farming programs, and skills development activities such as knitting, soap making and spices preparation.

The program’s ultimate goal beyond skills enhancement and offering opportunities is to develop women’s strength and self-confidence, which in turn will move the people away from a long history of a “handout mentality” and improve their lives. The first year of the program welcomed 130 women, with average family sizes of 5 to 12 members.  The subsequent years continued to build upon the successes of these women, including an encouraging unanticipated outcome of the willing involvement of their husbands.

This is the story of a lady named Belaynish, a very poor woman in Sammaro whose husband abandoned her and their four children.ethiopia-2

Belaynish knew all too well the cycle of abject poverty and how dreadful it was to be dependent on others.  She could barely provide one meal a day for her children, and they had all stopped attending school because she needed their help to eek out a meager existence.  Belaynish had nowhere to turn until she heard about the Women’s Development Program and summoned the courage to ask the Daughters for help.

Although skinny and frail, Belaynish proved to the sisters that she could do what was necessary to change her life.  With a small sum of seed money, she began preparing the staple food of ‘enjira’ and sold it in the market.  She carefully managed the little money she received and taught her children the importance of saving as well.  Inspired by her own small success, Belaynish embarked upon a ‘buy-and-sell’ strategy by obtaining a larger loan that enabled the purchase of a pair of oxen.  Today, Belaynish has purchased her own sheep, a donkey, and chickens, and she has paid back her loans to the program in full.  Not only can she provide food for her family, but her children are all now back in school.

Belaynish is a role model for her children and now animates a life of dignity and self sufficiency. Belaynish has even managed to build a place outside of her home for her animals, as they were previously living in the family home.  Belaynish is a stellar example of the changes that are transpiring through the Daughter-inspired development program in Sammara, and other similar programs operating in the 13 areas throughout Ethiopia where the sisters serve.ethiopia-3

St. Vincent said, “We should assist the poor in every way and do it both by ourselves and by enlisting the help of others; to do this is to preach the Gospel by word and work.”

Daughters of Charity International Project Services

  • Was established in 2004 as a related nonprofit service organization of the international Company of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul;
  • Provides assistance in identifying suitable funds for Daughters of Charity projects in impoverished countries;
  • Assures that 100% of all contributions go directly to support the Daughter-administered projects and programs; and
  • Has facilitated the funding of nearly 300 projects from 50 different countries, through contributions from diverse international foundations, corporations and individual donors.

Contact Information

Sr. Felicia Mazzola, DC, director

22255 Greenfield Road, Suite 232

Southfield, MI  48075-3734


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