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Children's Medical Clinic in Waliso, Ethiopia

At a meeting of its National Board, held at Hellenic College Holy Cross Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Mass., on September 17, 2005, the Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society committed its support for a $60,000 project to develop a medical clinic in Ethiopia to be constructed by International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) in cooperation with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

The 6-room medical clinic will be located in the West Showa Diocese in the Oromiya region of Ethiopia. Outfitted with modern equipment and staff trained not only in advanced medical treatment and care, but also in care, support and counseling techniques for people living with HIV/AIDS, this much-needed medical diagnostic and treatment clinic will serve the population of Ambo and the surrounding villages. The clinic will adjoin a school and specifically focus on the provision of free medical care and free primary education to HIV and AIDS-infected orphans.

The infrastructure is ill-suited to support its rapidly growing population and current government-run health facilities are over-burdened, under-staffed and poorly equipped. The health status of the region ranks among the lowest in the country. Data from 2004 indicates that less than half of Ethiopians have access to health services and Malaria is the leading cause of deaths for both infants and adults. Approximately 120,000 Ethiopians die from AIDS-related causes per year and there are more than one million HIV/AIDS orphans in the country.

IOCC has been active in Ethiopia since 2001, when it began supporting small-scale agricultural projects in partnership with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church's relief office, the Development and Inter-Church Aid Commission. IOCC and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), are in the second year of a three-year partners in a project to offer faith-based community care to nearly 9,000 AIDS orphans and vulnerable children, provide palliative care to more than 26,000 people living with HIV/AIDS, and prevent future infections of the disease.

Philoptochos seeks to alleviate the burden carried by many of the Orthodox orphans in Ethiopia by providing hope for a better future. A future filled with caring and loving individuals who support and serve as role models to these children. Only by offering love and Christian charity can the lives of orphans be guided to a brighter tomorrow.