World Mission Sunday is vital to the growth of the Church and the spread of the Gospel in predominantly impoverished and remote areas overseas.
Ethiopia is perhaps a country most well-known for the suffering it has experienced through intense famine and desperate poverty. Amongst these ongoing challenges, missionaries like Maria are bringing communities together to build hope for a better future.
Maria is a Spanish lay missionary from the Community of St Paul. She works and lives with an Ethiopian community in Meki. This very large population is situated in a rural area, and the people of Meki survive by working the land and rearing cattle.
As a result, many women are forced to look overseas for work. But often, this leaves them in vulnerable situations where they suffer abuse and isolation away from home.
As Director of the Kidist Mariam Centre, Maria works to provide a safe, supportive, and educational environment for vulnerable women, so they no longer have to leave their families and communities to find work.
Maria works with an amazing local team to offer women various different vocational training including food preparation, hairdressing and tailoring
Watch Maria and project co-ordinator Girma share their mission:
Maria’s faith, perseverance and dedication to the local people are inspired by her love of Mary: ‘Being a woman, a very humble woman, being the mother of God, and also being a very good inspiration for the disciples… she inspires me. I hope she also will inspire all the women and all the staff, everybody who comes to the Centre to see her as an example of a woman able to transform her life… She’s the best inspiration we can have in the Centre’.
Beth* has seen her life dramatically change through her involvement with the Centre. Living with her mother, brother and sister in Meki, Beth had needed to support her family and became a domestic worker in another country.
Unfortunately, when she went overseas her employers abused and mistreated her. Beth shares that she became ‘mentally unwell’ and returned to her homeland. There, a local Catholic Priest encouraged her to seek assistance through the Kidist Mariam Centre.
Maria remembers when she first met Beth: ‘She came to our Centre to get advice. We started employing her as a cleaner because she needed some help to support her family. And little by little she developed an interest. She wanted to become a food preparation student.
‘Now she’s so happy… we have a project in the rural area with women raising goats to produce milk. And she’s the one in charge of preparing goat’s cheese. She has become the goat cheese expert in our Centre. It’s most impressive that she’s so happy, she’s so self-confident. And she’s even taught many other people’.
Beth’s faith has been a beacon through some of her darkest moments. And in sharing her faith, witnessing to her experiences of Christ’s mercy and healing, Beth is helping other women at the Centre. She says: ‘I believe that God is always before you and behind you in all your troubles… He is prominent for a person like me, who has fallen in life. He is my life. God is my life and my everything’.
Supported by the international Missio network, the Kidist Mariam Centre has seen nearly 3,000 women complete training courses and build brighter futures for themselves and their families.
This World Mission Sunday you have the chance to partner with Maria, and missionaries like her, to support vulnerable women in Ethiopia and around the world. Please lend your invaluable support to ensure this work continues to make a difference for many more women and their communities.
*Beth’s name has been changed to protect her identity.