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Schoolchildren brought to the table in Ethiopia

LAST year, Missio Scotland—thanks in no small part due to the generosity of Scotland's Catholics—committed to supporting a very special children's project in Ethiopia, which has now been realised.

Schoolchildren with disabilities and various physical challenges at St Anthony’s Inclusive School in Adama/Nazreth (above) can now avail of a brand new dining room in which to have a healthy meal after its construction—funded by Missio Scotland—was recently finalised.

The school itself was established in 2006 with the intention of creating access to preschool education to children with different kinds of physical challenges. As with other countries on the continent, a child with a disability is often viewed pejoratively and access to education to such children simply wasn’t available.

Since it opened its doors, the school has provided educational opportunities to 692 children, 68 of whom had autism, five were visually impaired, 17 were both deaf and dumb—who were transported to and from the school in a wheelchair as they couldn’t walk—and two children who had multiple physical challenges. In addition, the school has also provided its services free of charge for close to 100 students in the recent past.

Most of the children with physical and mental disabilities come from poor families and are largely shut away from the outside world. The opening of the St Anthony’s Inclusive School enabled the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Sisters—who run the school—to inform the wider community about the adverse effects of social discrimination and seclusion of the children from the society, which can have serious and very negative consequences on their future life. As a result, many parents in Adama and the surrounding areas are sending their children to St Anthony’s and the numbers of those choosing to do so, year on year, is increasing.

While St Anthony's did have its own dining room, it was too small to house the pupils who attend the school and therefore, in 2022, Missio Scotland agreed to financially support the construction of a larger space for the schoolchildren where they could eat a healthy meal in a more comfortable and relaxed setting. This, in turn, will help to create an environment in which the children feel even more loved and cared for and will be able to focus more fully on their education. Now that the building has been completed, the Franciscan Sisters can work towards fostering that environment and supporting the children in their care even better than before. Thank you to everyone for your support, it will make a tangible difference to lives of Ethiopian children.

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