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Hundreds of thousands to receive support

CCFC’s country-office communications manager prepares for the Ethiopian component of a $28.8-million, four-year maternal- and child-health project in sub-Saharan Africa

By Semereta Sewasew, communications manager, Ethiopia

KEMISSIE, Ethiopia — It’s early August, and rain is a welcome reprieve in Kemissie, Ethiopia, home of the new Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC) office for the Canada-Africa Initiative to Address Maternal, Newborn and Child Mortality.

In Kemissie, the lush, green bushes, flowing Borkena River and grazing cattle hide the fact that a harvest has been missed, and food shortages have led to emergency food relief and malnourished children.

Back at the CCFC country office in Addis Ababa, our team is happy the project — with funding from Global Affairs Canada — will deliver essential health services to mothers, pregnant women, newborns and children under the age of five. This is the first time CCFC’s Ethiopia team will directly implement a project of this size. We are proud of the accomplishment.

CCFC has been welcomed with enthusiasm. It helps that the Government of Ethiopia will be a lead partner. The local health bureaus have contributed to our office search, supported project staff recruitment and explained challenges, such as shortages of medical equipment, trained health workers, water and other required essentials in many health facilities. In this Oromia administrative zone, early, forced marriage and female genital mutilation are issues CCFC will also work to address.

The influences of Oromo, Amhara and Afar regional cultures are entwined in the lives of the residents of this zone. Many men wear long kilts and walk proudly with their camels, which represent status in this poor community where women may not have rights equal to their husbands. That said, the women are known for their exquisiteness. They wear long, bright dresses, adorn themselves with ornaments, wear beaded hairstyles and apply eyeliner to enhance their features. What’s not said is 142,000 mothers, pregnant women, newborns and children under five years of age need better health services and protection from harmful cultural practices.

CCFC is ready to address the life-threatening challenges women, infants and children in Kemissie face. Our partners across the globe are also working to promote similar change, as the broader initiative is being implemented in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi and Tanzania by CCFC, Amref Health Africa, SickKids Centre for Global Child Health in Toronto and Water Aid Canada. Read more about it at ccfcanada.ca. Stay tuned for more stories from this project.