Welfare and Development
The Addis Ababa Geunet church (AAGC) had been involved supporting poor and vulnerable children by providing food, clothes and also by giving primary education for those children who are unable to get education and pay school fee. Formerly the church had supported these children by volunteer donors from the church members, however; the local donors were unable to continue supporting the children by collecting from the members, so that the church had to find another means and finally communicate with a donor organization from Hong Kong called Cedar. Cedar was started to support the sponsored children and the preschool before 21 years ago.
All the children were admitted in the preschool. After the Marxist government has fallen down and a new democratic government was replaced, the Genet church has owned its former places of worship & then officially continued to serve the community holistically in its local churches’ compound & other places too. Especially it started to serve orphaned and vulnerable children in the sponsorship program in two different places for the first time & latter one other additional place was included. When the Addis Ababa Genet church started child sponsorship program, the need of the surrounding community was high. Since there were too many poor and vulnerable children, the church has selected the poorest of the poor children and increased 40 more children & the number became 70. Gradually the number increased up to 145 then finally it raises up to 203 children in all the three places. Besides sponsored children there were also other poor children who were unable to go to school because of financial problem.
The church also supported these poor children by giving pre-school education and educational materials only freely. Cedar has played great role by supporting these children besides sponsored children. The AAGC & Cedar supported these pre-School children for two years in the pre-Schools which are found in the Addis Ketema church compound and in a place formerly called wereda Gulele kebele 02. After they have completed pre-school, the AAGC facilitated for the admittance of the children to continue their studies in government schools freely. In this case the AAGC in partnership with Cedar had been supported the pre- school children until 2009 & it was closed during at the end of 2009. During all those years about 2517 children (1199 male & 1318 female) were benefited from the pre-school.
Vision of AAGC development Sections
- To see a transformed and better life in the life of the poor and vulnerable community members.
- To see children becoming educated & self sufficient physically, emotionally & economically.
- Children & their family able to see God's love & compassion through the action of Christian walk & ministry and respond for the Gospel
3.3. Mission statement
- Serving the poor and disadvantaged in the community (especially children & women) to bring them to a state of better living condition & to reduce the impact of poverty in the community.
3.4. Objective of the program
- To transform the life of poor & vulnerable community to a better life by serving them holistically to meet their needs.
- To bring disadvantaged & vulnerable young children to a state of confidential & self supportive condition through empowering them by vocational trainings.
- To empower disadvantaged & vulnerable adults by income generating activities so that they will be able to strive to be self supportive.
- To contribute some for the poverty reduction strategy of the country by meeting the needs of the poor community.
3.5. Core Values
The Addis Ababa Geunet church development section consider that the following values are important while we are striving to achieve our goals.
- Accountable & responsible to God, partners, & to the people we serve.
- Be compassionate to whom we serve (children & parents).
- Show love & respect for those whom we serve them ( vulnerable children, parents & to all the community).
- To be salt & light in the community by showing Christ in our life.
What has been done so far by Addis Ababa Guenet Church Development Section?
1. Capacity Building
(Short term and long term trainings)
Besides serving the community the AAGC is working in empowering the church ministers by giving short & long term trainings in partnership with donor organizations.
1.1.Short term trainings
|Some of the Bible school students and their teachers in the summer program|
Among the different needs of the Addis Ababa Geunet Church (AAGC), equipping or building the Capacity of the ministers is one of the main activities of the church. Cedar had supported AAGC financially to empower the full time ministers and church leaders in short and long term trainings. In the first two years of relationship with Cedar, about 90 ministers had been equipped by the short term trainings. In the year 1989 & 1999, Cedar had covered expenses for AAGC to train evangelists and leaders for two consecutive summers i.e. 3 months each. AAGC was able to train 90 people (70 one time & 20 other time). The trainees were from different places and local churches of the Genet churches. They came from southern Ethiopia; rift valley, eastern Ethiopia or Somali region, from the northern part & from Addis Ababa city. The training was very helpful to equip the ministers so that they were able to serve efficiently and effectively in their local churches. Especially the rural ministers were more benefited than the urban ministers, since they had limited opportunities for trainings. They had served in a better way after they get the trainings.
1.2. Long Term Trainings (Scolarship)
Cedar had also supported AAGC to train its full time ministers in Theological Colleges for the longer time, i.e. in the four years degree and two years diploma program. For the last few years Cedar had supported by giving scholarship for 6 ministers of AAGC to be trained in theological Colleges in different times. The 6 ministers are from different local churches of AAGC. The ministers were attending in different Theological Colleges such as Mekane yesus Seminary (Lutheran theological colleges), ETC (Evangelical Theological Colleges), ABC ( Addis Ababa Bible College).
|Graduates from Theological Colleges Solmon Getachew (above left), Debebe Gebrie (above right) and Solomon Tesfaye ( bottom)|
|Graduates from Theological colleges Tadele Wolde (above), Eyobe Buta (left bottom) and Bezunehe Assefa (right bottom)|
The above ministers were involved in different ministries in their local churches. They contributed for the growth of their congregation by serving in different ministries especially by teaching and preaching
The Addis Ababa Geunet church started the sponsorship program in 1994. A Christian non government Relief and development organization called Cedar (which is found in Hong Kong) support the sponsorship program in partnership with Addis Ababa Geunet Church. Cedar had admitted 60 children for the first time. Gradually the number of children increased up to 203. For the last 16 years Cedar had supported 559 children in the sponsorship program who are very poor and were unable to get their basic needs such as food, education, health services, social & spiritual help. Children who are the poorest of the poor have been selected from the community to the sponsorship program so as to be supported to fulfill their basic needs. Those who are orphans & single parent children are given priority in the sponsorship program.
Criteria for Selection of the needy children
• Children should be the poorest of the poor in comparing with other poor families.
• Those who have very low income which means unable to meet the need of their children adequately are also selected.
• Those who are Orphans & single parent are given priority.
• During the selection there should be no discrimination of sex, religion & tribes (ethnic group)
• The age of the children who will be admitted to the sponsorship program should be 5-8 of years old.
Who are the beneficiaries?
The beneficiaries are the poorest of the poor families who are selected from the community and from the church. The program did not make any discrimination of ethnic groups, sex and religions when it first accepted the candidates from the community. They are from different ethnic groups and languages. They are also from different religious background such as Coptic Orthodox believers, Muslims and Protestants.
Activities that have been done so far
The AAGC sponsorship program has supported children & their family physically, educationally, socially & spiritually in partnership with Cedar.
Food (Wheat grain & Oil)
Physically the program supported by giving food, i.e. 25 kgs of wheat grain or wheat powder & 2 liters of Oil for each child. Every year children will be provided 25 kgs of wheat or wheat powder and 2 liters of Oil 3 or 4 times throughout the year had been distributed for the beneficiaries. In the early stage of the program the beneficiaries have been provided wheat grain & oil 6 times a year i.e. every two months. When the price of food increases, the distribution gradually has been decreased from 6 to 4 times i.e. every three months and finally it becomes three times since the price of Oil and wheat grain & powder have been highly increased and also since the program mainly focused on education of children, educational material & vocational trainings.
|When parents of children provided wheat grain & Oil|
Clothes & Shoes
Clothes and Shoes have been given to all the sponsored children two times in a year for longer time. For the last few years since the price of clothes and shoes is increased highly in the market, the distribution of clothes reduced one time in a year & continued to distribute shoes two times in ayear. Besides clothes and Shoes, blankets, bed sheets & mattresses had been distributed in some Occassions when the need is high. During Christmas times, T-shirts and shorts have been additionally given to the children while they are celibrating Christmas with their family.
|Parents received blankets for their sponsored Children|
|Sponsored children with new clothes|
|Sponsored children with new clothes at different times & with Christmas gifts|
Medical assistance has been provided whenever the children were sick. The project has paid the expenses for the children who had health problems. They had been treated in health centers, clinics & hospitals. Medical checkup has been done for all children for about 4 times throughout all those years. Besides; they have been provided 2 bars of soap for each child every year minimum 3 times & maximum 6 times in a year during those 16 years. The project also supported HIV victim children by giving additional nutritious food. For the last 16 years, about 6 children had found out HIV victims. Out of these children two of them had died of AIDS. We have tried to help these children to be assisted in the hospitals, however; the children died before ARV (Anti- Retroviral) drugs have been widely distributed freely for the victims by the government.
|Children examined their health by the health Officer|
One of the main supports for the children in the sponsorship program is education. All the sponsored children are encouraged and given more attention for their educational progress while they are at school. The sponsorship program will pay registration fee for all children & monthly school fee for some of the children. Educational material such as exercise books, pens, pencils, text books, school bags, compasses etc also have been provided to each child. Mini libraries have been established in each project sites to encourage children to borrow books to use them as an additional source for their studies so as to be competitive in their studies. Children who were joined in higher education have been encouraged to continue further study. In this case, 34 children joined in Colleges and Universities and out of them 30 of them are graduated by diploma and first degree.
|Some of the graduated young children from different Colleges & Universities|
Children are allowed to stay in the project until 18 years of old. In some exceptional cases they exceed more than 18 years. Before they have been terminated they will be allowed to take vocational trainings. For the last 9 years (beginning from 2001) children have been trained in different areas of trainings based on their interest. During those years 120 children have been trained in bamboo work, carpet making, metal work, videographey & photography, catering, hair dressing, nursing, auto mechanics etc. Many of the children support themselves & their family by the skill they acquired. Most of them were employed in government & private organizations so as to earn an income. Others work for their own organization to be business men & women so as be more productive.
Social and Spiritual help
Children have been encouraged to visit some historical and educational places. For the last few years, the grown up children have been visited soft drink factories, museums, historical places, etc. the smaller children have been taken to recreational places to make them enjoy and interact to each other.
The other main activity is children have been visited by the project workers in their home and in their schools. Those who were in difficult situation & problems have been counseled and have been given solution & instructions. Parents also advised to follow up their children. Those who are weak in their studies had been counseled to be motivated to study as much as possible and to be competent in their studies.
The main focus of the sponsorship program is to win children and their parents for Christ. Besides giving physical assistance the program was serving to nourish the soul of the children and their parents. During all those years we have been teaching and preaching the gospel to children and their parents. The ministry of children sun day school of our local churches together with the project workers have played great role to teach children Bible education. The children have been taught Biblical truths in children sun day schools at each project sites. Besides sun day school, they have taught basic Bible education. Children conferences were held at the school clothing times raising crucial issues for the children, ethical education was given to bring children to have Christian character. Special programs during Christmas and Easter days were conducted for both parents & children. During those days the Gospel of Christ has been preached and many respond positively to the Gospel.
What is AAGC doing currently?
Currently AAGC is continuing supporting the poor and vulnerable children through the sponsorship program in partnership with Cedar. At this time it supports 170 children in the program. Besides sponsorship; it also empowers poor women by assisting them through Self Help Group (SHG). SHG is a new way of helping the poor community to be self supportive. The self help groups (SHG)s are groups of marginalized and poor people in the community or church members which are formed voluntarily for the common purpose of the reduction of poverty. The groups initially start saving from small amount and increase their savings to raise their capital & have a common fund which is used for the purpose of advance loans.
SHG in Addis Ababa Geunet church
The Addis Ababa Geunet church (AAGC) has formed the self help groups (SHG) from the poor and marginalized groups. These people are economically very poor and were unable to support their family and fulfill the needs of their family. The people were selected from the community and the church by the local officials and the AAGC development section. There are different criteria’s when the beneficiaries are selected from the community and the church. The SHG formed their groups themselves voluntarily. The group members should be intimately closes each other and have similar life standard. One group consists of 15-20 people (some times more than that depending on the situation). The groups have formulated code of conduct in agreement to bind themselves. That will help them to manage the group and to take disciplinary actions so as to benefit each member of the group equally.
The SHG groups started savings by contributing a certain amount of money every week or every 15 days. The amount of saving decided by the group members & usually they started with small amount. Gradually they increased their savings after they understood the benefits of group saving. They also have regular meetings weekly or every 15 days. During their meetings, they exchange ideas freely in a democratic manner and also collect their savings. The purpose of group savings is to have a common fund (capital) which is used for the purpose of advance loans to the group members. The one who is able to take loan from the common fund (saving) will return back the money with its service charge (interest) in a scheduled time, so as to give an opportunity of loan for another group member. Two or the three group members can have a possibility to get loans from the group saving. The members in the group meetings should take all the loaning decisions through participatory decision making process. There has to be loan committee which is selected from the group members. The committee prioritizes the loan application, fix repayment schedules, fix appropriate rate of service charge (interest) for loans. The group decides who has to take the loan first.
There are 13 SHGs formed since July/2011. The total number of the people in all SHG groups is about 225 people. These are marginalized and poor people and most of them are women. In the initial stage of group formation there were challenges until the people understand the concept and advantage of group savings. They have been provided seed money to encourage them to save more & that was small amount for each group. At this time all groups are strengthened and are in a good situation. They are so eager to meet together discuss about their business. Most of them are engaged in an income generating activities and work individually to get income for their family. The groups have their own names such as Rehoboth, unity, Ebenezer, Amen, Lydia, hope of tomorrow, Exodus etc.
What was the benefit of SHG?
- It empowers the poor people how to involve in an income generating activities.
- Basically it helps them to get loans from what they save since these people are unable to get loans from other finance organizations.
- It teaches the poor how to save money from what they get.
- It helps them to solve their social problems by discussing each other in their meetings and find solution. Etc.
- It empowers women in decision making process since they exercise how to decide on their own money & make them independent.
|Some of the SHG groups in one of the project sites|
How can we support the marginalized groups?
If we support by giving a certain amount of money to empower these needy people we can help them to be self supportive. It needs to train these people the benefits of group saving, loaning and money management. It also very important to teach them income generating activities.