The Benishangul-Gumuz region lies in northwest Ethiopia, on the border with Sudan. A poor and underdeveloped region, it is home to the ethnic groups the Gumuz and the Agaw. Most of the people here still follow traditional pagan African religions and their lives are overshadowed by all kinds of superstitions. For example, the Gumuz people believe that the blood of a woman in childbirth will bring a curse upon them. And so every pregnant woman – including many a still completely inexperienced young girl – must leave her village and go to an isolated spot and bring her child into the world alone and without help. Many die as a result.
It was not until eighteen years ago that the first members of the Gumuz tribe received baptism. But since then there has been continued and growing interest in the Catholic faith, and year by year there are increasing numbers of baptisms, including even in some of the remotest villages. In particular the children and young people are showing an interest in the Catholic faith. The adults – and particularly the men – are harder to reach, above all because polygamy is widely practised among them and consequently a man who accepts baptism can no longer live with several wives. Many women are also embracing the Catholic faith. For them the Gospel is a source of liberation. However, in general the people are only at the beginning of their road of Christian faith and still need intensive pastoral accompaniment and support.
This is a region where the Comboni Missionary Sisters are working. Among other things, they are preparing catechumens for the reception of Baptism and a number of engaged couples for Catholic marriage. Their chapel is a meeting place for a range of different gatherings aimed at strengthening and deepening the people‘s faith. But for this the sisters urgently need more materials for catechesis and for the formation of the catechists. At the same time they need to pay for maintenance work on the car they use for travelling into the villages, and also for work to complete a chapel in one of these villages, so that the faithful will have a place to gather and pray when the rainy season comes.
ACN is proposing to help the sisters in their pastoral outreach with a contribution of 6500 Euros.