March 2023: Ethiopia / Lalibela: Laudato Si is the name of a new settlement

Shelter and dignity : Laudato Si is the name of a new settlement in Lalibela.

The construction of houses for destitute people continues with “Laudato Si”. For 17 years PBF has been working to help people without shelter in Lalibela. Neglected by the state and the church, isolated, begging, they live in miserable conditions and experience no signs of human dignity. For years, they have been part of the actual target group of PBF in Lalibela, but also elsewhere (e.g. in Addis Ababa, Durame). Two dominating family settlements are part of the village image: “Peter Village” was already built in 2004-2005. In 2015, “Amanuel Village” was ceremonially inaugurated. Several hundred needy families found shelter. In the meantime, PBF received a great many individual requests for shelters on its own land or on land allocated by the social welfare authorities.  With so many requests, it is often extremely difficult for the responsible team to weigh and make the right decisions. These are major challenges, as financial resources are limited. In addition, there is the difficulty that for completely destitute families, a piece of land must first be acquired from the social authorities.   A shelter with two rooms can therefore be very expensive. We calculate with 2500 to 5000 dollars. 3000 dollars could sometimes be enough if local building materials and volunteer labor can be used.

The town of Lalibela is growing rapidly and is becoming more and more densely populated. The number of people in need is increasing daily, and PBF is the only institution that effectively serves the disabled, the homeless, widows and orphans, in the eyes of both local residents and newcomers from the countryside. Therefore, the great rush for the many requests of individuals or groups, even local authorities, is quite understandable, but hardly manageable by PBF, because there are not enough funds available.

Instead of building individual shelters, we have decided to build larger housing units. Common walls, a single large roof, generally accessible sanitary facilities are planned. The city government, the social welfare agency, provided PBF with a large piece of land free of charge to build our 3rd housing development there.  Its name, taken from the Canticle of the Sun by St. Francis, “Laudato Si”, reminds us of our responsibility for creation worldwide. This new housing estate can only be started immediately thanks to a very large donation (30’000 Fr.) from the Rhine Valley (Catholic Parish Altstätten). With great thanks we report here step by step about the construction activity.

At the beginning of this year, in the presence of Peter Bachmann, the foundation stone for the whole housing estate was laid (see our documentation on Youtube) and soon after, the construction of the first unit for eight families could begin. The overall plan (eight housing blocks), the administration and the individual construction stages will be recorded in further reports.

Dan and Mesay

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