For two weeks this June, parishes across England welcomed CAFOD’s partners and staff from Ethiopia, to the UK, as part of CAFOD’s Connect2: Ethiopia scheme. The delegates from Ethiopia were Abba Teum, who is the diocesan director of ADCS (Adigrat Diocese Catholic Secretariat), our partner in Ethiopia; Abba Solomon, the parish priest in Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Sebeya; and Tamiru Legesse, CAFOD’s communications officer, who is based in Addis Ababa.
Over their two week visit, the partners visited nine different dioceses in England, giving presentations, sharing stories of life in Ethiopia, and learning about parish and community life here in England.
While in London, supporters from Westminster, Southwark, and Brentwood came together for an evening in CAFOD’s Romero House. Here the partners gave inspirational presentations about the vibrant Ethiopian culture, whilst bringing to life the work achieved in Sebeya, as a result of the support they receive from CAFOD supporters in England and Wales.
As the partners travelled north they visited the diocese of Shrewsbury, where they joined two parishes for a soup lunch, and met the dedicated CAFOD supporters, who have held soup lunches every Friday, to fundraise for CAFOD, for a combined total of 32 years.
Then, at a garden party in the CAFOD Liverpool office, supporters from across Liverpool diocese delighted in hearing how well received and cherished their cards were, that had been sent to the children in Ethiopia, sharing their support and encouragement.
Our Lady Immaculate primary school, in Brentwood diocese, has come together with Our Lady Immaculate and Holy Name parishes to support Connect2: Ethiopia as a community. At a presentation in the school, pupils were shocked to learn that the main language spoken in the country has more than 200 letters and were excited when they heard that many young people in Ethiopia supported their favourite football teams.
While in St Luke’s parish in East Anglia, Fr John Minh, parish priest, spoke of the relationship between people here in England and Wales, with the community in Sebeya:
“I jumped at the chance of supporting a place through CAFOD where we could get to have proper contact with the people we were actually raising money for. I want the parish to learn from them too. We are not just giving money to them, it is a spiritual connection as well.”
Abba Solomon echoed this saying:
“St Luke’s support gives us strength and helps with many problems in our community.”
Despite a busy schedule, the partners did get some time to take in some wonderful sites, including a visit to Stonehenge, and also a visit the beautiful Cornish coast.
As the partners returned to Ethiopia, Abba Solomon once again thanked the people of England and Wales for their friendship with the community of Sebeya, and although unable to visit all the Connect2 parishes, he sent his thanks and good wishes to these parishes too, saying:
“Many of my community members are living on the edge but with a little help of parishes like yours and a lot of hard work, we will be able to turn our life around. Your support helps us not just for a few days, not just for a year, but for life.
“May God bless you for your passion to be part of us and our lives. Your commitment to support us is inspirational and gives us hope. Thank you and bless you.”
If you would like to learn more about Connect2, visit: cafod.org.uk/connect2, or speak to your local CAFOD office.