Happy Ethiopian Christmas!

What’s today? Why, it’s CHRISTMAS DAY!

Christmas in Ethiopia is celebrated on 7th January, and is called Genna or Lidet, which comes from the word Gennana, meaning “imminent” and expresses the coming of the Lord and the freeing of mankind from sin. We bring greetings to you our beloved brothers and sisters in Christ and praise our heavenly Father once again for you and for your support, which is positively affecting the lives of so many people. May God bless you in 2016.

Ethiopian nativity scene painted in a traditional style. Photograph by Patrick Comerford.

Much has taken place in recent months...

Making Self Help Groups sustainable

We are moving into the third phase of the project - to set up Church and Community Managed Resource Centres (CCMRCs). The aim of these is to make the most of local resources and make the Self Help Group project sustainable into the future. The self-financed centres will sustain, support and expand Self Help Groups in their district in a way that best suits their needs and situation. Church leaders from different areas have expressed their positivity and the potential they can see for the resource centre model. They are exploring the idea in more depth to identify areas for improvement and to make it appropriate for different contexts.

Business and literacy skills

A workshop on basic business skills and business development took place for SHGs in Addis-Ababa. Conversations, case studies and drama helped the participants to easily understand the concepts, so that they can also share what they have learned with others.

We have also carried out a literacy project, alongside local churches in Addis Ababa. Women from female-headed households are taught to read and write and also learn simple numeracy skills so that they can record income and expenditure for their businesses.

Challenge and opportunity

In a previous update, we noted that one of our biggest challenges is other organisations who are implementing a distorted SHG approach by giving financial handouts. Praise the Lord that with the Tearfund Horn of Africa regional office we have joined the Self Help Group Cooperative Network, which gathers organisations together under one umbrella. We firmly believe that we are applying the SHG approach in its best possible way through enabling communities to change their lives using their own resources. We hope to have a positive influence in the cooperative network so that different organisations will agree on the basic Self Help Group principles and parameters and apply it in similar terms.

Points for prayer

  • Thank God for the great changes we have seen in the past years, and pray that He will help the SHG members become even more self-supportive.

  • Amongst the festivities and the wonderful stories of lives being transformed through Self Help Groups, please do pray for Ethiopia. The worst drought in decades has left millions of Ethiopians facing months of severe hunger and hardship. Please pray for God’s intervention and wisdom for the church on how to respond. Full story and prayer points here.

  • Pray for guidance and wisdom for the churches looking through the new CCMRC model, to identify areas for improvement and make it work for different contexts.

  • Thank God for the Self Help Group cooperative network. Pray that it will expand and that we can make a positive impact that will benefit many communities.

Photograph: Patrick Comerford

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Simon Haile

Simon Haile is the Programme Manager for the Ethiopian Kale Heywet Church's Self Help Groups programme in urban areas.

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