The Daughters of Charity are dedicated to helping eradicate poverty, both by providing relief and skills and training to lift people out of poverty around the whole world. The Daughters in Ethiopia are no different. Vincent de Paul said “A sister will go and visit the poor ten times a day, and ten times a day she will find God there.” The Daughters mission with the poor is indelibly linked to their spirituality. For this reason, all the work they do seeks to help the most disadvantaged in society. Helping those in particular need of financial and social assistance is a difficult yet rewarding activity.
Despite relatively high levels of growth in Ethiopia, averaging around 10% during the past 13 years, poverty remains a significant issue in the country. Political turmoil, frequent droughts as well as an influx of refugees from South Sudan and Eritrea means that many still live below the poverty line. Ethiopia is still ranked among the low human development countries at 174th out of 188 countries in 2014 as noted in the 2015 UNDP Human Development Report. Average per capita incomes are less than the current sub-Saharan average. There are also concerns that as the adverse affects of climate change take hold, those living below the poverty line could increase, especially considering around 85% of people work in agriculture. Poverty can have an adverse affect on people’s happiness as well as cause suffering, illness and death. The causes of poverty are difficult to accurately define, but a number of general causes can be assumed. For the Daughters of Charity, dealing with the causes of poverty and attempting to lift Ethiopians out of the poverty cycle is a crucial part of their mission.
The projects provided by the Daughters of Charity have helped thousands of people to carve out a better life for themselves. One of the key aspects of the Daughters poverty reduction strategy is about helping others to help themselves, not merely to give short term relief. So whilst the Daughters do provide poverty relief in the form of food or finances for many, particularly homes with vulnerable children, the most important thing is teaching skills and providing support which helps foster a mentality of self-help. Not only does this create long term solutions to long term problems, it also gives the beneficiaries of the projects a sense of purpose and a confidence to take on the challenges faced by poverty. It means they will not fall in to a state of dependence, leading to new ideas and job creation which can help people beyond the immediate beneficiaries.