Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, has a new A.A. group — the first Amharic-speaking group in the African nation. Like most A.A. groups, it was founded out of desperation — and nurtured on hope.
Evolving out of a hospital program — a specialized mental hospital, and the only hospital in the country addressing alcoholism, a number of patients clung together trying to stay sober. In correspondence with G.S.O., Mekonnen Y. tells their story:
“Ever since we were discharged from the hospital, we have been sober for periods ranging from one month to fifteen months. During all this time we have been meeting frequently — some of us daily and others two to three days a week — and we have been trying to form a group, meeting informally at different places including the hospital compound and at different members’ homes for more than a year.
“In January 2016 we were able to get a meeting place outside the compound with the help of a doctor and a psychologist we know at the addiction department of the hospital.
“Now, with a permanent meeting place, we are on a good start with not less than fifteen regularly attending members. We continue to get together outside meeting hours and above all we are ready to provide Twelfth Step help for the still-suffering alcoholic.
“Among the challenges we have faced are the lack of a meeting place (which is now solved), and the fact that most of the alcoholics we could reach till now were those admitted to the hospital, most of whom had little resources to rent a place with members’ contributions. The other challenge we faced was lack of available A.A. literature in Amharic (our local language). Most of our members do not fully understand English. We conduct meetings in Amharic and needed to provide literature for newcomers.
“This is now solved after our coordinator who took the initiative to form the group (and is now sober fifteen months), was able to translate to Amharic the pamphlet ‘Frequently Asked Questions About A.A.,’ which we downloaded from the website. We now use it as starting material for group discussion and give it out to newcomers.
“This letter, then, is to announce our presence as the first A.A. group open to the community in the African nation called Ethiopia, having more than 90 million people with hundreds of thousands of problem drinkers (according to estimates from hospital sources) — a country in which no one seems to have heard of A.A.!
“At last, we are very much hopeful in you, our friends at G.S.O., in providing us much-needed support in areas such as providing A.A. literature in Amharic in order to help us fulfill our primary purpose — to carry the message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
“It is our pleasure to tell you that we have named our group ‘A.A. Addis,’ after the short form of our city Addis Ababa.”
From the Fall Issue of Box 459, the A.A. Quarterly Newsletter.