May 2022: Ethiopia, Addis Ababa: VDI: Centre for the Accompaniment of the Elderly

VDI: Centre for the Accompaniment of the Elderly in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

VDI is the name for a small association of Catholic lay people in Ethiopia. They work on a voluntary basis for the poorest, the old women and men, in Addis Ababa. The centre is located in the city, actually a very expensive place. Numerous street dwellers who otherwise spend their time in extreme poverty and loneliness in the loopholes of the metropolis meet there every day.

The dilapidated premises are rented out by the Catholic Archdiocese. This creates additional financial problems for Terfa Dinka, the founder and director of this meeting place. He receives each guest personally, gives them a hot meal (injera) and – as far as possible – a bed. Everyone can wash, use the toilets and if someone is sick, they can count on medical help. In emergencies, admission to the hospital of the Sisters of Mother Teresa is possible. A dignified funeral is also provided.

On average, 50 to 70 people come to Terfa every day. He does not ask questions about denomination, origin or age. The people share a similar fate: loneliness and a life on the streets. Poverty, old age and a variety of old-age diseases such as mental, psychological, physical and mobility problems. The lack of balanced nutrition has seriously complicated the situation of older people in Africa, especially the homeless.

VDI houses 30 homeless elderly men and women at the main centre in Addis Ababa. They receive three meals a day and are also provided with other services such as washing, bathing and general personal hygiene. In addition to shelter, they have access to basic health care . Terfa is also aware of the enormous needs of people with very specific ailments. However, he can only provide very limited help here.

The makeshift dormitory in Addis urgently needs renovation. Some work has already been done. The building will continue to be renovated with the help of PBF, because we all hope that it can remain in its current, very central location for a long time.

Terfa also takes care of sick and elderly people in other places outside the metropolis of Addis Ababa. In Durame there are 139 beneficiaries, in Dembi Dollo 80, in Nekempte 50, in Burayu 50 and in Asko 23. With this money they can cover their daily basic needs. Through the financial monthly support of at least 2000 dollars that PBF gives to the VDI Centre, a good 500 people benefit directly from the valuable work of the Terfa Dinka team every day.

Handicraft skills for physical and mental employment:
Women and men are employed in handicraft activities such as knitting and weaving. They produce the famous Gabi, a cotton cloth traditionally made by women as a source of income. The centre sells these products to supplement donations.

This meeting place is also becoming increasingly important for PBF and visitors from abroad. We are proud of the work of Terfa Dinka, who is a role model for credible Christian action. Despite his advanced age, he gives all his time and energy, supported by his wife and some volunteers. According to his own statement, he finds strength, courage and confidence in his faith and in prayer. Whoever visits this place is deeply touched by the credibility of Christian solidarity.

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