A member of the Brothers of Good Works Social and Economic Empowerment program

Restoring the Dignity of Ethiopia’s Most Vulnerable Women

“There is no saint without a past, nor sinner without a future.”
Saint Augustine

God has a forgiving heart and wants to restore the potential in each of us — especially those who are defenseless, overlooked or oppressed.

In Ethiopia, this includes those vulnerable women who have often been forced to work in the commercial sex industry to survive. Their line of work is degrading, and in a country with one of the highest rates of HIV infections, those experiences could easily lead to further desperation.

Thanks to the good work of our ministry partner, the Brothers of Good Works, women are being provided the hope they needed to break free from oppression.

The Brothers of Good Works‘ vocation is the preferential option for the poor, in accordance with Catholic social teaching. The order was founded nearly 200 years ago in Belgium and later established a presence in Ethiopia. Cross Catholic Outreach began partnering with Brothers of Good Works in 2010 and currently supports several of its ministries in Addis Ababa, including its Counseling and Social Services Center, elderly support project, and the St. Gabriel Catholic Health Center.

Thanks to the support of donors like you, a group of women have been able to get the training they needed to launch small businesses. No longer are they forced to rely on the sex trade as a means of providing for their children.

A former commercial sex worker, Robe now runs a coffee and tea business
Former commercial sex worker Robe now runs a coffee and tea business.

Meet Robe: A Testament to Transformation

Robe Berhanu was a commercial sex worker who suffered from depression. She had little hope for a better future. Robe would leave her 8-year-old son with neighbors and pretended that she was a housekeeper — a lie that ate her up inside.

“There are times that I was beaten. I hated myself,” she said.

Still, Robe clung to the hope that something better was possible and she decided to pursue help. She accepted an invitation to attend a mission-sponsored group offering educational sessions and business training classes to commercial sex workers.

Equipped with the training and moral support the program provided, Robe started a coffee and tea business. She has since expanded her services to selling injera bread and shiro, both local food staples.

“I was on the verge of death, but the organization has saved me. In the past, there had been times that we were not able to meet our basic needs. We did not have enough to feed ourselves! Now I can buy whatever we want for living.”

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Meet Senait: From Desperation to Businesswoman

To say that Senait Yalew has endured difficulties in life would be an understatement. While only 32 years old, she is already a widow. As she struggles to raise her son, she also battles health issues. With only meager earnings as a street cleaner — $8.85 per month — it has become a challenge just to keep a roof over their heads and food on their table.

In her desperation, Senait might easily have been tempted to take the path others have taken — becoming a commercial sex worker — but she has avoided that fate, thanks to an intervention in her life.

With your support to Brothers of Good Works Social & Economic Empowerment, you empowered Senait to open her own coffee and tea stand. Armed with a great business plan, Senait also committed to a monthly savings goal. Within three weeks of launching her business, she had already put away twice that amount to help build a better future.

“I thank God,” Senait said cheerfully. “[I’m] not dependent on others [and I can] improve my housing… and fulfill the needs of the household.”

For the first time in Senait’s life, she has hope for a brighter future. Senait’s long-term plan is to open her own café — a dream she once would have considered impossible. But with your support, she knows Philippians 4:13 is true: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Senait Yalew shares a hug and a smile with Robson Etefa, a social worker and business trainer.
Senait Yalew shares a hug and a smile with Robson Etefa, a social worker and business trainer.

Give Our Vulnerable Sisters and Brothers a Path to a Better Life

St. Augustine is now respected as one of the most influential theologians and philosophers in Church history, but he honestly wrote that he was not without sin, especially in his younger years. In his autobiography, “The Confessions,” St. Augustine recalled a time he stole fruit as a teenager, not out of hunger, but because “it was forbidden.” Through the fervent prayers of his mother and the Lord’s intervention, he eventually returned to the one true faith and fulfilled his incredible potential as a builder of God’s kingdom.

When you give through Cross Catholic Outreach, you demonstrate the kind of unconditional love and belief in spiritual restoration St. Augustine’s life represented. Like his mother, St. Monica, you refuse to give up on the vulnerable, believing they deserve a dignified life.

At Cross Catholic Outreach, we believe “the Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). Your support of our ministry, and gift to Brothers of Good Works, helps commercial sex workers, like Senait Yalew and other women who may be HIV-positive, rediscover their God-given value and purpose. Without your generosity, transformations like these would not be possible.

To extend a hand of mercy to the most vulnerable, please donate below.

Donate Monthly to Provide Lasting Hope

Every month (on the 25th)


Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw in my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen.

Saint Augustine’s Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Proceeds from this campaign will be used to cover any expenditures incurred through June 30, 2024, the close of our ministry’s fiscal year. In the event that more funds are raised than needed to fully fund the project, the excess funds, if any, will be used to meet the most urgent needs of the ministry.