A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Mary, Joseph and the baby are alive at Dadim

 Report from Catholic Mission Australia. 

Words by Dan McAloon, pictures by Bruce Dynan/Catholic Mission

Horn of AfricaThe famine afflicting millions in the Horn of Africa appears so vast you could wonder what your donations could possibly do to alleviate this terrible situation. The truth is, in this very minute, you are saving lives.

The emergency feeding programme that has been operating at the Dadim Primary Health Care Clinic in the famine-declared area of Ethiopia since September is funded through the donations Catholic Mission supporters sent in response to Franciscan Sister Maureen Elliott’s appeal for help.

Located in a place named Yabello in the region of Woredo, 250 kilometres south of Awassa, the Dadim clinic is an outreach of the Church’s presence which has been here since 1974. The parish priest is a Spiritan priest, Father Boniface, who is assisted by Sisters of Charity who run the local school. In the present famine the clinic is literally a life buoy. Its feeding programmes target babies and infants, nursing mothers, the elderly and widows.

The assistance provided to one small family speaks for many. Among the nomadic Guji herdsmen who have trekked to the clinic is a woman named Mariam (Mary) and her husband Yosef (Joseph) and their baby Nugese, whose name translates as “My King”.


This is a health worker from Dadim, on outreach to one of the outstation clinics, testing the circumference of the child's arm, to determine if the child falls within the category of malnourished

Like rural people the world over, Yosef is entirely dependent on his crops, pastures and animals.  When the expected rains of May and later October failed, Yosef had no choice but to take his family droving, pushing his tired cattle across a flat and dusty red landscape where the only feed on offer were thorn bushes and briars.

From Moyale, on the border with Kenya, the family trekked 240 kilometres to reach the Dadim Clinic. Mariam and Yosef know they are welcome here. They will be cared for. The baby Nugese will recover and grow. This Christmas this little family will celebrate the gift of life within reach of this clinic.

This Christmas, as we think of another family who also trekked a long way to a town where a baby named Emmanuel was born, in Ethiopia remember Mariam, Yosef and Nugese whose lives in the season of Advent are illuminated with the light of Christ Our King.


Mariam, a Guji woman, who with her husband Yosef drove 240kms to reach the emergency feeding program operating from the Catholic clinic

Drovers' children

Drovers' Children in Dadmim village tend the cattle. Herding is critical for the survival of the family and these children must herd the animals, while other brothers and sisters are chosen to go to school.

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