Though I am not a Catholic, there will always be a special place in my heart for some nuns on the other side of the world. You see, before they came home to us, both of our Ethiopian daughters were cared for in a Catholic orphanage in Addis, called Kidane Mehret. According to this article in the CNEWA:
At one time, Kidane Mehret was run by a single nun who continued to work at the orphanage well into her 90’s…. After the nun’s death, Sister Lutgarda Camilleri of the Franciscan Sisters of the Heart of Jesus was asked if her community would assume responsibility for the orphanage. Sister Lutgarda was told the sisters had two options: “Take care of the children or throw them back on the streets.”
Sister Lutgarda chose, of course, to take care of the children. The article talks about the original old building that housed the children at KM. By the time I went to Ethiopia to get my daughters, Kidane Mehret was in it’s new builing, a considerable improvement over the old place. But Sister Lutgarda was still in charge.
She is a strong, efficient lady, (photo above, far right– my daughter is on the left) who when I went to get my daughter, took one look at the outfit I had brought and said, “That will be a little bit small on her.” This despite the fact that she had 170 children in her care at that time, and my daughter was one of a dozen children in her room.
As is the case with all orphanages, things are not perfect at Kidane Mehret. Babies sometimes sleep two to a bed, and there aren’t enough caregivers to go around. But the workers do the best they can with the resources they have. And both my daughters came home in good health, ready to love and be loved.
I am so grateful for the work they do there. A friend of mine, whose daughters came from the same orphanage as my girls, says “There is a whole generation of children [in Ethiopia] just waiting for someone to give them homes.” And the nuns at Kidane Mehret are doing their best to find families for these kids, one child at a time.