Christ Church Aden and its clinic is a key project of the diocese. For almost 150 years, daily prayer and weekly worship have shaped its mission.  Today that mission is to serve many people: the Yemenis and refugees who are healed in the medical clinic or whose sight is restored in the eye department, the seafarers who are visited in the port and the weary who rest in the guesthouse.  Christ Church Aden is an enduring sign of God’s love in Yemen.

In addition to providing weekly worship for the Christian community in Aden, the church runs the charitable Ras Morbat Clinic from its compound.  The work of the clinic provides affordable reliable health care for the people of Aden and beyond.

Despite the country’s present fragile and precarious state, a small, warm-hearted, international congregation continues to meet each Friday to worship, visitors – though far fewer than in the past – to call, and hospitality and support to be offered to seafarers.

The chaplain at Christ Church is also the agent of the Mission to Seafarers in the Port of Aden. On a week-by-week basis, this work involves pastoral ship-visiting. One sailor told the chaplain that the Mission to Seafarers‘ agents were the only people who ever came on board not wanting something for themselves. From time to time there are more challenging issues to deal with: entire crews have been abandoned in the port of Aden without pay, with individuals sometimes owed tens of thousands of dollars.

This video, made by the Revd Nigel Dawkins, gives a good insight into the life and work of Christ Church.

The Ras Morbat Clinic

Yemen is one of the world’s least developed countries and remains the poorest and most rural country in the Middle East.  The political unrest over recent months has made the situation worse for the population with diminishing food and fuel supplies.  There is also inadequate health provision for the people of Yemen.Although there are Government hospitals , these often have a reputation for being dirty and patients are charged for all services beyond the absolute basics.  There are also private clinics but these are prohibitively expensive for the average Yemeni. Ras Morbat Clinic addresses these issues through the work of its two departments, the general department and the eye department.

Since its beginning in 1996 the General Department has provided primary healthcare to the poorest people in the local community.  For a nominal registration fee ($1 per person) a patient can see a doctor as often as required, and is given necessary drugs free of charge by the on-site pharmacy.  There is also a small laboratory on site where a variety of tests can be conducted, leading to rapid diagnosis and treatment of conditions.  There were over 10,000 appointments in the general department in 2010.

The Eye Department welcomes patients from all over Yemen, and offers visual acuity, refraction, examination by ophthalmologists and laser or surgical treatment as required.  The Eye Department also runs camps, for example an annual trip to Mocha, to treat patients in regions where there are no eye clinics.  There were over 5,000 appointments in the eye department in 2010, and over 450 operations were performed. The Eye Department is also an Implementing Partner of UNHCR and provides eye care to the Somali refugee population living in the Aden area.

In addition to providing health care, Ras Morbat Clinic seeks to employ and train local staff, thus increasing the skills within the local community.  It’s role as a training institution has been recognised by the Medical Faculty of the University of Aden, and the clinic has been assigned responsibility to share in the regular training of post graduate students.

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History

Christ Church AdenChrist Church was built in 1863 as the garrison church for British Forces in Aden, with Queen Victoria as one of its early benefactors. It remained active until 1970 when, following the British withdrawal in 1967, the communist government of South Yemen requisitioned the building. It was then used as a storage facility, and later a gymnasium, until the reunification of North and South Yemen in 1990.

From 1987 until 1993 the then Bishop of Cyprus and the Gulf, John Brown, was in negotiation with the government of South Yemen, and subsequently the united Republic of Yemen, for the restoration of the church to the diocese. The combination of an agreement that the church would build, fund and run a medical clinic for mothers and babies, and a fatwa issued by the Grand Mufti of the Yemen ordering that Christians should be permitted to worship freely “just as Muslims are permitted in Britain” clinched the matter.

The church was restored, and finally rededicated in 1997.

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