The people of the Gumuz tribe live in western Ethiopia, close to the border with Sudan. Until a few years ago, they were mainly a nomadic people, though many of the Gumuz were captured by Sudanese slave traders in the late 19th century.
Today, they live in severe poverty, and life is especially difficult for the women. They are tasked with significant manual labor, even while pregnant.
There is also the Gumuz belief that a woman’s blood in childbirth brings a curse upon her family, so women give birth in an isolated spot, like a riverbank, without any help or support. Since young girls are often forced into marriage, their bodies are not mature enough to handle the pains and rigors of delivery. As a result, they suffer extremely long and difficult births, frequently with fatal complications. Such laws and superstitions are the cause of great fear.
The Gumuz recently came into contact with Christianity, and the Gospel has already touched them. Many former nomads have settled and built round huts close to the nearest church; interest in baptism has surged.
For three years, Ethiopia’s Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition have worked with the Gumuz tribe. They prepare candidates for baptism, discuss Christian doctrine, and offer special support to women and girls.
They have, for example, ensured that girls receive an education. The Gumuz were slow to embrace formal schooling, especially for their daughters, but the sisters managed to convince them of its value. They have also opened a small kindergarten, which prepares children for more advanced and structured learning.
The sisters live simply, in a small mud hut. Still, they must cover the costs of basic necessities, including fuel, since their work requires that they travel to many widely scattered settlements in Ethiopia. They have asked ACN to support their ministry, and we have promised them $15,000.
Will you help these sisters serve the poor of Ethiopia?
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