A version of this story was published in the Summer 2015 issue of Jubilate Deo.
Coffee Brings Women Together—and Saves Lives—in Ethiopia
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By the Rev. Charles Treichler
Cham is a member of the Anglican Mother’s Union and received training at the Gambela Anglican Centre where Bishop Grant and Dr. Wendy LeMarquand serve as missionaries. Take an in-depth look at the Gambella Anglican Centre.
Cham is a hero. An illiterate mother of 8 children whose husband was imprisoned during the most recent conflict in South Sudan, Cham devotes her “free time” to teaching women in rural villages basic family health and hygiene. She received her health training at the Gambela Anglican Centre (a project for which ARDF provided seed-funding) and has a passion to share these life-saving lessons with women living in surrounding villages.
The need is huge: local village women have an average of 8-11 children, of which only 2-4 survive past the age of 5.
Cham has developed a fascinating and effective way of gathering women for these lessons. Using the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony, Cham begins to roast beans in the village center and prepare the coffee. “Women cannot resist coming near when I begin to make coffee,” Cham says with glee. “Even if they are not part of the group.” Then, when the group has gathered, Cham begins her lessons using hand-drawn pictures so that the women—most of whom are completely illiterate–can understand.
“Cham has a gift for mobilizing women,” says Rev. Durash, Education Coordinator at the Gambela Anglican Centre, “Because of her, many women are now coming to the church.”
Cham also has a deep faith in Jesus. More clearly than many of the male pastors we spoke to, Cham articulated how Jesus’ death on the cross demonstrates God’s deep love for people, and desire to bring forgiveness and comfort.
One evening Cham agreed to take our ARDF team to her small compound to meet her family. Thirteen people live in a house no bigger than 10 by 30 feet. She offered us fresh mangos, soft drinks, and bottled water.
Laughing in the soft evening light, she shared her story. “I thank God because he has given me 8 children. My children know that I love them very much. They are happy that I work with the Mother’s Union and sometimes they say to me, ‘Go! Do the trainings.”
Cham is the reason why aid is still worth believing in. By investing in passionate, local leaders like Cham, aid organizations can actually make a real, sustainable impact. And as Cham taught us, that kind of impact reflects the beautiful grace of Jesus Christ.
Cham grinding coffee beans using a mortar and pestle.
Cham prepares coffee at the Gambella Anglican Centre.
Local Anglican church meeeting including Mothers’ Union members (dressed in blue).Help raise awareness: