Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Gode, Kelafo and Godere, Ethiopia

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Gode.
On Thursday, November 3, Fr. Haggerty and I flew southeast from Addis Ababa through Dire Dawa and Jijiga to the small city of Gode, which has a mostly Somali and Muslim population. There Fr. Christopher Hartley (a priest from Spain who formerly served in New York) is in the process of building a large complex along the river that will include a school and other forms of outreach to the local community.

Fr. Don, Medvin and Ethiopian children in Gode.
Camels along the road between Gode and Kelafo, and Kelafo and Godere (above and below).

After being picked up at the airport we drove about 75 km through the desert (I’ve discovered that roads are approximate in Ethiopia) to the much smaller town of Kelafo. There Fr. Hartley and four Missionaries of Charity, in collaboration with the Somali NGO WASDI and the Czech NGO PIN (People in Need), have begun relief efforts for the 15,000 – 20,000 Somali refugees who have settled in the tiny village of Godere, so close to the border that Somalia is visible in the distance.

Essential relief supplies for the refugees provided by the Missionaries of Charity.
On Friday, November 4, all of us drove another 75 km to Godere to visit the camp and evaluate the progress on the houses where the MC Sisters and Fr. Hartley will be living while ministering to the refugee population. It is an extremely harsh and desolate location. Water has to be trucked in daily from about 6 km away; the heat is tremendous and there are no trees for shade.

The house of the Missionaries of Charity in the Godere refugee camp.
What is most heart-wrenching, though, are the stories of the refugees who have fled the deteriorating situation in their homeland, walked many miles on foot through the harsh desert, only to face a difficult and uncertain future in a foreign country. The situation in Godere is much more primitive and raw than what I saw in Dadaab. In the face of such intense suffering and desperation, I was deeply moved by and grateful for the presence of the Church in the persons of Fr. Hartley and the Missionaries of Charity. Please pray for them and those for whom they are laboring to make the love of Christ tangible through their service and the material assistance they are offering.

Refugee Family.
When fighting overtook her village, this woman became separated from her family;
she does not know where they are, or whether they are dead or alive.
When his last cow died from the drought, this young husband and father
finally fled Somalia with his wife and three young children.


  1. Father, so great to see you were in Ethiopia. I couldn't help but think of Sr. Denise and Sr. Marian and their travel there thirty years ago. Sr. Denise loved the Ethiopian people and their great spirit for life. You know if you ever need a traveling partner let me know. Continued prayers for the success of your mission and for you.

  2. Hi. Am abdi original from kelafo county. Thanks you very much for.your report