March 2023: Ethiopia / Addis Ababa: Social center VDI extends

Social center VDI extends for years far beyond Addis Ababa

VDI is an association founded by Terfa Dinka, an ethiopian roman catholic layman, whose mission is to assist old and stranded people, men and women from the street. They live on the streets in the metropolis of Addis Ababa, and find their daily home in VDI. This has been a growing priority for PBF for years, and Terfa Dinka recognizes in PBF a credible role model for genuine humane action.

Every day at lunchtime, well over 60 people come to the VDI to receive a very simple meal for their survival. Neither questions of denomination, origin or age are asked here. Some also find permanent shelter at the VDI. All of them are very weak, vulnerable to diseases, without any security and exposed to all the risks on the street.

Since the beginning of the activity in VDI, the religious community of Terfa Dinka supports 140 needy people in Durame, 70 needy people in Nekempte and 25 needy people in Asco.

They receive a small financial support for their daily needs. For the next year, PBF plans to provide health insurance, (Community-based Health Insurance) for all, as it has done in other places where PBF operates.

Who are the people in the VDI? Many of them have been displaced from the countryside to the metropolis, an increasingly expensive city, due to ethnic conflicts, food insecurity and social isolation. In loneliness and without permanent housing, they seek to survive and sometimes find refuge under a shelter.

Our occasional visits to the VDI bring much spirit and emotion, touching words of thanks, long prayers before and after meals.  A strikingly loud “Amen” concludes the daily event. For the first time, three sisters from the Little Convent of the Franciscan Sisters were also at the VDI with Peter Bachmann. Their service is reported in my report on Youtube (see below).

For me, the meeting place VDI is a symbol for unconditional love, for courageous action and acceptance without restrictions. Here I discover that the “true church” is here, with the poorest of the poor.

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Getachew Sale, PhD student in Nutritional Science at the University of Hawassa