ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, FEB. 18, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Catholic missionaries in Ethiopia are directly impacting the view of women's dignity, promoting equality of all people and the education of girls.
Aid to the Church in Need, which supports these missionaries, reported on the effect of the Church on the Borana Oromo tribe in southern Ethiopia.
In this culture, girls have traditionally been married off without the possibility of refusal. If a young woman became pregnant before marriage, she was sold to an enemy tribe.
The Church has been slowly changing these customs by teaching about the equal dignity of men and women before God.
The Catholic missionaries have reported a growing interest in education, including that of girls.
Father Boniface Isenge, a missionary who works with the people, stated, "We encourage people to send their children to school and come to have a love of learning."
The aid agency noted that education has helped the people to improve living conditions, safeguard their rights, and understand the faith by reading the Bible.
Father Isenge reported: "The people love to listen to us.
"They were delighted when we came to them. They are very hospitable and immediately shared their food and the milk from their cows with us.
"They also know that we are here to help them. We share everything with them, fetch water with them, travel the journeys on foot with them."
He noted that the when he first arrived to that region he had to learn the language, and the Borana were "delighted" to hear a foreigner speak in their tongue.
The priest added that this process has actually aided his work, as the people listen attentively to correct his use of the language, thereby attending closely to his message as well.
"This is part of my joy," he said.
Father Isenge emphasized the need to build a church in the area where he works, near the village of Hako Bake, where the main marketplace of the region is located.
Although the Holy Ghost Fathers have built some schools and churches in the region, the nearest is still ten miles away.
A letter from the missionaries to the aid agency stated, "The evangelization work that we want to start in Hako Bake will aim to reach every area of the people's lives."
Thus, Aid to the Church in Need is sending €15,000 ($20,455) to support the building project.
Father Isenge stressed the need to put down "deep roots" for the faith in this region.
He noted that the young people in particular, especially the girls, have been quick to embrace the Christian faith.