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Ethiopia, Africa

ETH02b - Care Centre at Gondar

Partnership Ref.:



Worku Tafete



Funding Status:

Completed - No Funding Required

Partnership Type:


Funding Size:

$0 - $2,999

Annual Budget:

US$ 0

Connected To:

ETH02a , ETH02c , ETH02d , ETH02k , ETH02l , ETH02m , ETH03


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Funding Contact:

No funding required


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Population: 85.0 million

Life Expectancy: 54.7 years

GDP: US$333 per capita

Unemployed: 50.0%

77.6% earn less than US$2/day

Current Partnership Impact

45 families are being assisted

50 elderly, disabled or chronically ill people supported

3 people employed in partner businesses

Partnership Overview

There are many widows living on the streets of Ethiopian cities. In Gondar our partners have done something about it. They approached the local council to identify some of the most vulnerable elderly people. They were allocated 58 and in partnership with the local Council, who designated a building, each day the widows come from begging on the streets for a meal.

History Of Partnership

In 2003 BHW personnel met a church leader in Auckland, New Zealand. He came to live in Auckland as a refugee from Ethiopia. While a refugee he came to believe in Jesus Christ. Now he was training to be a pastor and was very interested in returning to Northern Ethiopia to become involved in church planting.

Hard workIn 2005 Worku Tafete returned to Ethiopia after many years away. It became very obvious that there were tremendous needs and opportunities in Northern Ethiopia. Worku introduced us to leaders of the evangelical churches in the North. They had developed strategies to reach their people but lacked resources. They had structures and vision but no funds.

Since 2005 much prayer and thinking went on and a plan emerged that required the funding of training and the funding of more church planters. A large church in the USA approached BHW about becoming involved in a large partnership and their profile matched the opportunity. In 2007 that church came to visit and decided to fund the training of potential and existing church planters.

It was very obvious to everyone that there are huge humanitarian needs in Ethiopia. Many widows thronged the streets as beggars to feed themselves and their families. One church in Gondar began to do something about it and when the church leaders from the US came they realised that caring for the poor had to be an integral part of the work they became involved in. Prior to BHW being involved, someone was giving some support to the widow care programme but that funding had stopped and the remaining money in the bank was drying up. Some short term funding was left to continue the programme and regular support of these widows was commenced.

A local church leader began renting a house in which the elderly could meet and for more than a year the programme was run from this building. But a dispute in the church meant that the man was not able to continue and so an approach was made to the local City Council to provide a building. They did so and the programme was shifted. Unfortunately the building is not very suitable, it is in a difficult place to climb up to for old people, it is a public hall and there are often other meetings going on, and there is no adequate kitchen. 

After using that building for a number of years other land was made available and the project was shifted again to a permanent location. The local government were so impressed by the care shown to the elderly and vulnerable that they built basic accommodation for them. Adjacent to the housing, a building has been erected to which the people come each day for their meals. This has been a huge benefit them as they now do not have to go onto the streets to beg. They are much more healthy and able to care for themselves and their dependents. 


Widows who are on the streets of Gondar begging for their survival needs and some of their dependent family members.

What We Like About The Partnership

This deals with a very real need in the city. There are many elderly people thronging the streets and begging. It helps them survive with some dignity. They get some fellowship and care.

It builds a good relationship with the local city leaders and breaks down barriers. 


Vision And Annual Strategy
The vision is to care for the vulnerable on the streets in the most appropriate way.

The current strategy is for the selected (by the local Council) people to come to the centre six days a week. There they eat their midday meal and spend a few hours together. On Saturday that are given a meal for Sunday. If they are unwell another person can collect their meal. If people don't come two consecutive days someone goes to find them.


Personal Testimony
Real "Life Change" Stories 

WidowAlemitu Zerefa, age 72

Woizero Alemitu was married to a soldier and had six children. Her husband had died 25 years ago and after that all her children died one by one. She was left with nothing except poverty and loneliness. She had no income, no food to eat, no clothes to wear and no home to live in.

In September 2006, the local authorities sent her to the feeding centre.  From this time onwards she has been eating her lunch in the centre and taking her dinner home.  

Now she is happy and comfortable. When asked regarding the impact of the support, her eyes were full of tears and said “words cannot explain how you are making my life happy, God bless you, God bless you…” 

Wubet Kassie, age, about 60

When she was young she went to Sudan. She doesn’t know her exact age but thinks she is about 60. She came back from Sudan as a repatriate but did not have a job and as time went on, she sold all her property to pay for rent and accommodation and in the end she was left with nothing. She then tried to make a trade from cotton for cultural dressing to sell to people and so be able to pay rent and to have some food. She doesn’t know what exactly has happened but now she is sick. There is a swollen mass in her stomach and also in her neck. She went to hospital and waited for three days but her turn did not come. When she asked about it, a guard chased her out so she did not have any treatment in that government hospital. 

When she came to the feeding centre the first time she was starved and thought she was going to die but she had the chance to come to the centre having been considered by the local authorities. There are many poor people in this community, but she is one of the poorest of the poor, and so she was chosen. The numbers at the centre are limited. She had difficulty to see far, and even now she cannot see and her back suffers from bad aches. 

She doesn’t have any family apart from one son who is in prison in Gondar. He has been there for a long time, but even when he was not in prison he didn't help her. Her only hope is this shelter.  She says “thank you for the feeding centre here and for providing food and soap for washing, and for medical treatment.” So she is grateful for that. She is worried about her sickness, especially the swelling on her stomach.

EnatEnat Berara, age 60

This lady has been blind since six years of age. Her husband is also blind. Both of them spent all their lives begging on the streets of Gondar. They have six children and the responsibility of raising all these children was a huge burden upon this blind couple. Unfortunately her husband became completely paralyzed and could not go out begging.

Enat tried to do the hard work of feeding the children and taking care of her blind and paralyzed husband. Life was so miserable for this lady. In 2006 she was sent to the feeding centre by the local government. Now she is so happy. She is eating her lunch and taking her dinner home to share it with her husband.

Gelayefu Mulaw

When she was younger, a long time ago, she was married with five children. Four of them died and now she only has one. She lived in a place near the Sudan border for a long time. She was successful there and had a farm and a hotel. She was doing well while she was there. After that, they came upon very bad times because of the war and they lost everything. After that, her husband died and her only daughter is sick. “We are in a very bad situation, we don’t have anything.” While she was in that situation, the feeding centre started. 

Then in October, soon after she had been coming here, her eyes went funny. One day her eyes were fine, and another day her vision started to feel different and her pupils started rolling around and going upside down. She did not know what was going on. After she arrived home one day, she went completely blind. The next day, her friend led her to the feeding centre, completely blind. For sixteen days she was helped by her friend to come to shelter. After that, she spoke to one of the leaders who took her to hospital. They had to pay four hundred birr, and they cleaned her eyes and performed cataract surgery. Then she was able to see again. She came back and joined her friends and was able to see again. She rejoiced and shared with her friends what happened to her. 

She thanks God, Bright Hope and Chase Oaks Church for helping her to see and for everyone to be able to have proper meals every day.
“For the future, we don’t have any families – you are the only ones we have. When we starve, when we are thirsty, when we sick, you are the only hope for us to look for. We think of you like parents, you are like our fathers and mothers.” 

MuluMulu Mekonen, age 73

Mulu lived in a town called Debretabor; she was married and had five children. Three of her children died and finally her husband died. At this time her mother advised her to marry another man. Mulu did not want to marry but her mother pushed her so much so she left Debretabor town and come to Gondar.

At her young age she was a daily laborer but when she became old a time came where she could not do hard work. Life became very difficult. A catholic organization was giving her 10 kgs of wheat and 1 litre of oil per month. Even this help was discontinued and finally she ended up in the feeding centre.

As all others she was screened by the local government and sent to us. Now she is one of the happiest widows of the feeding centre.