Imagine arriving in a place where the smell of garbage lingers in the air, but the smiles of children running to greet you make you forget about the smell. You see what seems like a disproportionate amount of handicapped people and the sheer number of women selling overripe bananas on the street jumps out at you. You notice that the asphalt ends and it is bumpy dirt roads in all directions. You also see a number of young men just hanging out with nothing to do, because there is no work in the area. You have arrived in Korah.
Approximately 80 years ago Dr. Thomas Lambie, an American missionary medical doctor, after having been called by God in a dream to serve lepers, founded a leprosy hospital at the request of Emperor Hailie Selassie. This hospital became Alert Hospital. At the same time, a need arose for a leper colony close to the hospital. Officials chose a place outside of the city where people suffering with the disease (and viewed as cursed) could live without interacting with the rest of the city. It became known as a cursed and forsaken place. As time went on the decision was also made to put the city trash dump beside this colony, adding to its stigma and view as being outcast. Today the city has grown around Korah, and the community of Korah has grown to over 120,000 people. People who live here are thought of as being some of the poorest of the poor. Some live in the trash dump. Others live off of what they can collect from others trash. There still are many who are diseased andsuffering from leprosy. There are many orphans and children in danger of becoming orphaned. HIV is prevalent as is prostitution and other social issues. Many of the elderly who live here live a very difficult life. Today, it still is known as the place for those who are forgotten, forsaken and cursed – but we think God sees differently.
Because of the overall poverty of this part of the city, there are a number of needs and social problems that present themselves. These are all opportunities for us to consider as we think about holistic ministry. These are also opportunities to help mobilize the community to use the assets of her people to make this a better place. This information is based on conversations with the leaders of Great Hope Ministry in Korah and some subjectivity due to the lack of actual statistics on this area.
high prevalence of HIV / AIDS
high unemployment rate
overall sense of hopelessness, lack of value and incapacity to use assets God has placed in people.
perception by the rest of the city as being forsaken, cursed and forgotten
lack of running water
sanitation issues further exacerbated by the proximity to the garbage dump and the lack of running water. Only 25% of Addis Ababa residents have a toilet…we imagine the number in Korah to be significantly less than this statistic.
high prevalence of prostitution
crime, based out of desperation and as learned behavior as well as the area providing a hiding place
high prevalence of orphans
high prevalence of street children / teens
high prevalence of families who live on the edge, very closely to not being able to care for all of their children
large number suffering from disease (including leprosy)
lack of basic medical care
poor education (to our knowledge, there is only one government school in the area)
malnutrition because of lack of resources
high amounts of post traumatic stress (loss of parents, friends, relatives, etc.)
poor infrastructure, including transportation
substandard housing (tarping)
large number of elderly, widows & handicapped, because housing is more affordable
spiritual oppression – a web of lies created by the belief that residents are forgotten, forsaken & defective
However…we know that God has not forgotten about Korah, but rather He has been at work, is working and will continue to work in making Himself known in Korah, thus awakening hope and life.