News blog

Blog category: Fundraising

Adventures with a Donkey in Ethiopia

Written by Rory

It’s 2pm in the heat of the Gondar afternoon and I’m following the happiest donkey in Ethiopia. Happy because he’s spreading the joy of reading in for Ethiopian students without libraries … and because carrying his load of books, rather than bags of cement or teff (a grain used to make injera, Ethiopia’s stable bread) that are the usual fair of his fellows, is a cushy number.


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I am at Bahire Ginb school near Maksegnit, a small village between Gondar and Bahir Dar, to see one of our donkey libraries. Link Ethiopia has three donkey libraries – two in Gondar and one in Bishoftu. Each donkey visits five rural schools who do not have a library, one a day over a week. Via our donkeys, children can access books which are usually scarce at home and at school; they are able to read reference and textbooks to support their lessons but also to read fiction in Amharic and Oromo. These free reading sessions, as well as group stories, can be a gateway for students into the world opened by reading – reading for pleasure, reading for reading’s sake.


Donkey libraries are a great service for rural schools without libraries. Teachers and students are always excited when the donkey library arrives and more and more schools request to be included. There are thousands of students who do not have access to books beyond their school textbook. For that reason, Link is seeking to increase the number of donkey libraries from 3 to 4, which would allow us to serve an additional 1000 students in rural schools. Click here if you’d like to help and support us to bring the Donkey and his books to so many more children.

At Bahire Gunb, a group of students are sitting in a circle around Belete, our donkey librarian. He is reading from a book of Ethiopian folktales and the class follow along from their own copies. Stage left, our mobile library sits in the shade of a tree job done for another day.


Posted in 2016, Fundraising, Libraries, books and literacy, Projects | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Chihira Elementary School welcomes Link Ethiopia’s youngest ever fundraiser!

Written by Zemene

Its not very often that donors to development organisations get to see exactly how their money has been spent, and that’s why I was delighted that young Misha, along with his mother and young brother, were able to come with me to visit Chihira school, in rural Amhara, to see the results of his committed fundraising. Chihira school is only accessible by foot – its about a 45 minute walk from the main road. However, given that a sponsored walk had been Misha’s main fundraising activity (177 miles walking along Offa’s Dyke!) I didn’t think he would mind!

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Whilst great strides have been made in education in Ethiopia recently, there unfortunately remains a large gap in both access to, and quality of, education between urban and rural areas. The inaccessibility of rural schools makes them harder to support, and the more agrarian way of life in rural areas, where large amounts of time have to be devoted to farming livestock and tending to crops, means that rural schools suffer from limited resources.

In 2013 Misha had raised £2,534.05 and with this money we were able to build 2 new classrooms at Chihira School. By increasing the number of classrooms from 5 to 7, the school is now able to operate more efficiently, and now students are able to carry on schooling beyond Grade 5, without sacrificing the time available to the children to help with family tasks. This is crucial to ensuring that rural children do not drop out from school.

Misha was also able to fund our Donkey Library for one year, which means that the children at Chihira School have access to the wide variety of text and fiction books available from our roaming library. Our donkey carries books and an accompanying librarian, who visits 6 schools in the Northern Region of Ethiopia. For schools in rural areas of Ethiopia a library is an all too rare luxury and yet access to books is one of the most fundamental necessities for education. The donkey brings books to children in remote villages, giving them regular access to books on all subjects.

As well as spending time with the students and parents, to whom they donated some additional school resources, Misha and his family also got the opportunity to see the donkey library in action at Chihira. Once again thanks to Misha for supporting Chihira school!

Posted in 2015, Classrooms and furniture, Fundraising, Libraries, books and literacy, Projects, Uncategorized |

Charity Golf Club team raises £1,250

Written by Muna

The Charity Golf Club organisation held a fundraising event recently at the Hainault Golf Club outside of London. The club consists of more than 20 friends, who work to make a difference in the lives of thousands by raising money for various charities. They do this by holding golf tournaments for a different charity every month throughout the year.


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We were thrilled when we heard that the club had chosen Link Ethiopia to be supported for the month August. On a sunny Saturday afternoon the golf charity tournament was held for golfers and guests. Anyone who wanted to give back by playing a friendly game of golf was more than welcome to join in. We can imagine what a fun day it was for the participants. In the end, they raised an incredible £1,250 for Link Ethiopia! The money will be used to support our work improving the quality of and access to education in Ethiopia. We want to thank the work the Charity Golf Club team have done and we wish them well in future events.

If you want to follow the club’s example, visit our website at and click on ‘Get Involved’. Also, don’t forget to go to to support the group in future fundraising events.


Posted in 2015, Fundraising, Sports, Uncategorized |

‘Beautiful by Sky Hormbrey’

Written by Laurence

The wonderful single ‘Beautiful’ is out now! The song, written and performed by Sky Hormbrey from Headington School, is raising money for their partner school in Ethiopia – Hamle 19!

The school have done amazing things over a Link relationship that has lasted many years. We really hope this amazing effort furthers the fantastic work they’re already engaged in.

You can download the song on iTunes here, and help us change lives through education:

Posted in 2015, Classrooms and furniture, Ethiopian news, Fundraising, Global Education, Other news, Project expeditions, School links, Volunteering, Water and sanitation |

Our 2013/2014 Annual Report

Written by Isabel

We have just published our Annual Report for 2013/2014 which is available to read here (link). We would like to thank you all for your support over the past year, and hope you continue on the journey with us! Below is a summary of what we have achieved with your help, and highlight of some of the work we’ve done over the past year. All of this, and more, is explored in more detail inside the report.


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Why Education?

Our work is completely focussed on changing lives through education. Whilst the impacts of schooling are experienced on an individual level, its benefits are multiplied to include families, communities and wider society. Among the benefits are an increased earning potential, a reduction in the infant mortality rate and an increase in average GDP by 0.37%.


Further than ensuring education becomes universal, we work with our link schools to provide a quality education. To ensure this, we have 5 main targets on which we focus:

• Infrastructure
• Teaching Quality
• Learning Resources
• Inclusion (of all social groups)
• Community Support

Below are some examples of the projects we have been involved in during the 2013-2014 period, each of which reflect one or more of our targets.

St. George’s School Project

‘Having worked with schools elsewhere in Ethiopia, I could see the huge contribution that St. Georges is making to improve education’
– Hannah, Teacher and LE Volunteer

Link Ethiopia supported the establishment of the St George’s School project, an initiative set up by the Northwood School Group here in the UK. St George’s, a not-for-profit non-government school, provides learning opportunities for a large intake of orphans and disadvantaged children from the local area.

One of the first classes at the new St. George’s School enjoys learning in this colourful and stimulating environment.

One of the first classes at the new St. George’s School enjoys learning in this colourful and stimulating environment.

By March 2014, the core buildings were completed and already in use. The aim is for the project to continue to expand in order to provide schooling until Grade 12. A very big thank you to Broomwood Hall and the Northwood School Group for your vision and direction so far!

Case study: Dudmegn School, Gondar

In February 2014, we installed a water station of 24 new taps at Dudmegn School. Before the installation, the school was managing with just two functional taps for a population of over 2000 students. The wider availability of water in the school has resulted in a higher attendance rate among students. We are hugely thankful for the purchases made from our Gift Ethiopia shop,, and also for contributions made by the Mandala Trust, in addition to the supporters of our gift scheme.

Case study: Sincil School, Lincolnshire

At Sincil

The link between Sincil Sports College and Times Choice Academy in Bishoftu has been especially fruitful, and the partnership provided an opportunity for two students, Kyle and Ryan, to take part in the British Council funded ‘Connecting Classrooms’ exchange programme. This was a great opportunity for the boys to visit Times Choice Academy, which they really enjoyed! We are also pleased to say that Sincil were awarded funding for a second ‘Connecting Classrooms’ trip. Well done and thank you to both schools for maintaining a strong and successful partnership.

Sponsorship case study: Tejitu


Tejitu, an 18 year old young woman from Bishoftu, has been sponsored by Link Ethiopia for approximately 5 years. Through our School Links, Volunteering and other project programmes, she has been able to gain confidence in her English language skills, engaged in global learning with students at her link school in the UK. She also helped to coordinate a ‘World Challenge’ trip at her own school, which helped her to further develop her global outlook and grow in confidence. We are extremely proud of her achievements and we look forward to seeing her fulfil her ambition of studying Biology at university.

Teaching Quality


Investing in quality teachers is central to providing a quality education. During the 2013-2014 year, we were able to train grade 1 and grade 2 teachers in the phonics method. We have observed fantastic results so far, among them a 77% increase in the number of students using the library and a 65% increase in test scores for students of the trained teachers.

You can flip through the report below (click in the middle to view fullscreen). Enjoy!

Click here to see the full report and hear about the above achievements in detail, as well as the results of our work on global awareness, learning resources, and inclusion. Once again, we want to thank our link schools for your dedication, fundraising and ideas – none of the above would be possible without your contributions. We look forward to future engagements and successes!

Posted in 2013, 2014, 2015, Child sponsorship, Classrooms and furniture, Ethiopian news, Fundraising, Gender, Global Education, Inclusive education, Libraries, books and literacy, Other news, Project expeditions, Projects, School links, Science and technology, Sports, Tours, Uncategorized, Volunteering, Water and sanitation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Do we have a Right to Education?

Written by Laurence

It might seem like a simple question with an obvious answer; yes.

But across the world it’s not necessarily that simple. Children surely have the right to education. But do adults? What kind of education are children and young people entitled to? Should we have to pay for education, and if so, does education still exist as a fundamental right? Or is it now a commodity like gold, corn, property or oil?

UNESCO - Out of school children

Following the intro animation you can explore the situation in Ethiopia by going to the right-hand bar.

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Even if we all agree that we, or at least children, have a right to education, does that mean that all children will now have that education within their grasp? Will governments and institutions rise up and sever the chains holding back girls, rural children, poor children and others? Unfortunately, when you look around the world today, even with the Right to Education enshrined under Article 28 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 58 million children around the world are still out of school.

The UNESCO graphic, which you can access via the image above, explores some of the reasons why children in a variety of circumstances struggle to access education:

  • Lack of access in rural areas,
  • More than half of boys aged 7-14 work,
  • Many girls work or undertake chores at home,
  • Poverty keeps three-times as many poor children out of school than their richer counterparts.

There is such a variety of challenges facing children in a country like Ethiopia that sometimes you marvel even at the luckier children who do have access to education – the boys who work part-time to help support their family; the girls who spend so much time looking after young siblings, cooking and cleaning; the children who walk miles every day just to get to school.

Link Ethiopia began with the question ‘why education?’ What is so important about education, why does it matter, and what changes does it bring to the lives of young people? Perhaps this seems like another obvious question with a clear answer. But in order for governments, institutions and people to change – to see that 58 million children out of school across the world is a disgrace – we sometimes have to bluntly show why education is so vital.

7MajorImpacts-01_SMALL The impacts of education on an individual’s – and a country’s – future can be considerable. © Link Ethiopia

The above graphic attempts to do that. Things are always more complex than graphics, charts and reports can show. And many of the benefits of education are intangible and can’t easily be mapped, recorded, or given a financial value. But here are some basic facts that highlight just how important education is – for health, wealth, happiness and much more besides. And I don’t think anyone can argue with that.

Posted in 2015, Child sponsorship, Classrooms and furniture, Fundraising, Gender, Global Education, Inclusive education, Libraries, books and literacy, Other news, Project expeditions, Projects, School links, Science and technology, Sports, Tours, Uncategorized, Volunteering, Water and sanitation |

Brackenbury Christmas Fair

Written by David Fricker from Brackenbury School

School fairs are an excellent opportunity to raise the profile of global links and keep the school community fully informed. At Brackenbury Primary School in London, the school’s Link Ethiopia Club holds a stall to promote the school’s link with Besebarok School in Ethiopia. Each year, the school has fairs for Christmas, Easter, Eid al-Adha and during the summer too! Every fair provides a great opportunity to also raise funds for Link Ethiopia’s fantastic work. Over the past two years, Brackenbury has raised sufficient money to enable Besebarok to participate in Link Ethiopia’s exciting Literacy & Libraries project.


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During Brackenbury’s recent Christmas fair, the Link Ethiopia club sold Link Ethiopia merchandise (pens, badges and wristbands) and flags. Also, cakes and biscuits (decorated with the Ethiopian flag) were available along with greetings cards, notepads and calendars made by the club members, with Ethiopian images such as the traditional coffee pot. The Link Ethiopia club members enjoy selling the products whilst also being available to answer questions from their peers and the school community. The Link Ethiopia stall is now an established feature of school fairs and an effective way of maintaining the profile of the partnership between Brackenbury and Besebarok.


Don’t forget, Link Ethiopia has a range of amazing merchandise:

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Posted in 2014, Fundraising, Libraries, books and literacy, Other news, School links | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Gondar in a Day

Written by Rory & Hannah

It is a time-worn cliché that you never visit the famous sights of the place where you live, focussing instead on the day-to-day necessities of life and saving the money to visit famous sights in far-flung places. Of course we are in Ethiopia so this does not quite apply, but it did take us a few weeks to get around to seeing some of what Gondar has to offer to tourists. Inspired by previous volunteer Ben’s excellent blog, Addis in a Day, which we used to navigate Addis Ababa last month, we decided to compile some up-to-date information on Gondar for visitors and volunteers (the prices have increased considerably since the publication of the latest Lonely Planet).


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Running at the Stadium
We started our day at an ungodly hour, tentatively stepping out of the Link Ethiopia compound in our running gear. The day was breaking and there was a slight chill in the air: the perfect time of day for a jog. Unfortunately, half of Gondar was also out on the streets going about their business; they were without exception heartily amused by the sight of four farenjis hurtling down the hill towards the stadium. We followed the Tarmac road as it snakes down around 1.5km, dodging sheep and chasms in the pavement as we went. Needless to say to those who know me, we did not run all the way and walked the last part into the football stadium opposite Fasiledes Secondary School and next to King Fasiledes bath house (more on him later).

The track is dirt but it is nice and flat and the surroundings are quiet and calm (at least not on a match day). We were joined by other running clubs and individuals putting us to shame but it did not dissuade us from our training for the Great Ethiopian Run next Sunday.

*Fundraising plug*… Please sponsor our team here.

Breakfast at New Day Café
This seemingly unremarkable café can be found by walking up past the main entrance to the Quara Hotel from Piassa, passing by the traditional nightclubs and the petrol station on your left and then when you see the Mega Book Store on your right, you should find it on your left. New Day was close to the previous Link office and therefore a favourite haunt of many a volunteer and we have discovered why. The makiato is top-notch and we also filled up on the typical Ethiopian breakfast foods, full (a spicy bean stew served with fresh bread) and fetira be mar (a thick pancake served with honey). Delicious!

King Fasiledes castle – the most well-preserved on the site

King Fasiledes castle – the most well-preserved on the site

Tour of the Royal Enclosure
Gondar’s town centre is dominated by the fortified walls of the castle complex (also called the Royal Enclosure). The walls serve to conceal the six castles built by a succession of kings in the seventeenth century who made Gondar their capital. Entry for tourists costs 200 Birr per person (just over £6 at the time of writing) and I would recommend a guide for the day, which will set you back 400 Birr, and can be arranged within the castle walls and will stay with you to guide you around all the day’s sights. We were impressed by the interior of Fasiledes castle (the only castle fully in tact), the display of traditional lime mortar being used to renovate Mentawab’s castle and by the tales of royal folly retold by our guide. If you were on a tight budget, you could forgo the guide, but the Lonely Planet (other guidebooks are available) would be indispensable because no information boards are provided.

A view of some of the castles

A view of some of the castles

Traditional lunch at Camelot House
Guided by our stomachs, we proceeded to Camelot House, which can be found in the old Italian Art Deco cinema on the left-hand side as you head back to Piassa from the castles. The interior is dark and traditionally Ethiopian with small tables and also grass strewn on the floor. Unanimously we decided to eat shiro, a stew containing chickpea flour and berbere, but the controversy came when deciding between tegabino (thick) shiro and feses (runnier) shiro (better than it sounds). So we ordered both and very tasty it was too.

Fasiledes bath and bath-house

Fasiledes bath and bath-house

King Fasiledes Bath
Next we decided to stroll back down the hill to our next sight. You can take a bajaj (price negotiable) but if you have eaten two types of shiro you might appreciate the walk (which was around 2km). The bath and its bath-house offer calm surroundings (we were the only tourists) and the tree roots growing over the sides of the bath are an incredible sight. I should mention that entry is included in the price of entry to the royal enclosure.

Tree roots growing over the sides of the bath, searching for water

Tree roots growing over the sides of the bath, searching for water

At Epiphany the bath comes alive as it is filled by river water (using an ingenious damming and pipe work system) and it becomes the site of a mass public ceremony. We are looking forward to witnessing this in January when we return from the UK (it is sure to warrant another blog post).

The holy trinity above the altar of the church

The holy trinity above the altar of the church

Debre Birhan Selassie Church
As we left the bath-house, a bajaj was ready and waiting to take us up to the church on the other side of town. We negotiated 40 birr for the four of us but I am sure you could get it cheaper with some hard haggling. It was a scenic drive around the hills of Gondar to the Debre Birhan Selassie (Trinity and Mountain of Light) church. Entry to the church costs 100 birr, which you pay at the kiosk opposite, and the beautiful wall paintings inside certainly make it worth this. Our group was momentarily separated as men and women are required to enter by different doors and all are asked to remove their shoes. Our guide was still with us and this was invaluable because he was able to tell us the story of the church and its paintings.

The wall and ceiling of Selassie Church

The wall and ceiling of Selassie Church

The day was drawing to a close and we were feeling tired but satisfied as we made our way down the hill back in to town. The options for dinner are too numerous to list but we settled on Coffee House for its proximity to our accommodation (just near Atse Bekafa School) and for its excellent and piping hot chips (we had had enough shiro for one day!).

Posted in 2014, Ethiopian culture, Ethiopian news, Fundraising, Other news, Uncategorized, Volunteering |

Harvest 2014 at Tannery Drift

Written by Laurence

Tannery Drift Primary School decided to link their Harvest Festival enrichment activities and learning to their School Link with Selam Elementary in Enfraz, Northern Ethiopia.

Harvest time is a fantastic opportunity to link food and other development challenges in Ethiopia to those faced by communities in the UK (e.g. people relying on food banks).

It’s important young people in the UK and across the world learn that the problems we face are often universal challenges and hardships, even if they are different in scale to those dealt with by families in Ethiopia. ‘Harvest time’ here in the UK has many comparisons with similar traditions across the world, and so is a fantastic opportunity to engage your students in this global dimension that is sometimes missed. It can also help reduce the sense of ‘otherness’ that many people in the UK associate with poverty in Africa and elsewhere in the ‘developing world’.

Our ‘Food’ learning resources & scheme of work are a really simple and interesting way to bridge your Harvest Festival enrichment activities with your Link or any global learning you are looking to do as a school.

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“It was the responsibility of the Badger class to investigate Harvest Traditions and Celebrations to lead our Harvest Festival this year.

We discovered how the harvest was collected in past years and the meaning behind Corn Dollies and “The Lord of the Harvest”. The writings we produced will be read out to parents at the schools’ harvest festival.

Two groups of children made and shaped bread dough into the traditional harvest wheat sheaf whilst the third group made and baked harvest mice to compliment the display.

We started to assemble the harvest display, incorporating ideas and work influenced by our School Link with Selam Elementary. We hoped to sell as much produce and flower seeds as possible, and decided to donate this money to Link Ethiopia’s work.

We raised over £150!

Produce that was not sold was donated to Richard Cox Elderly Care Home and Royston Food Bank, local organisations supporting people in our area, much as Link Ethiopia does in Enfraz, Gondar & beyond.”

Posted in 2014, Fundraising, School links |

The Great Ethiopian Run Experience

Written by Lynn Combes, teacher at Sincil Sports College

Sincil Sports College have been part of the Link Ethiopia School Linking programme for nearly three years now. In November 2012 I was able to visit our Link school in Bishoftu with a colleague; we were encouraged by our Headteacher to take on this experience after the school gained funding through the British Council Connecting Classrooms grant. Since then, we couldn’t have anticipated how our Link partnership would grow and blossom.

new friends

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“We were totally inspired by the the week with our Link partners. And the visit could not have been made easier for us; we were met at the airport in Addis Ababa by Haile from Link Ethiopia and from then on our adventure continued – visiting attractions, learning about the history and culture, visiting schools and projects undertaken by Link Ethiopia and finally visiting our Link school. The wonderful welcome from the pupils and staff is an emotional memory which will stay with me for life.

learning the culture

“Fast forward a year and in October 2013 I’m being asked by my Headteacher to take two pupils to take part in the Great Ethiopian Run in November 2013. This was beyond anyone’s expectations of the link programme we were part of; we are a Secondary Special Needs School for children with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties (SEBD) and unfortunately, such opportunities are not common for our children and young people. Our two chosen pupils had never been abroad let alone sit on a 10 hour flight to Africa! With only 4 weeks to get everything organised – passports, injections, tickets, risk assessment, the itinerary etc. – it was a mammoth undertaking, but everything passed and was sorted on time, with Link Ethiopia’s support!

on our way

“Once there we were met again by Haile from the Bishoftu LE office, which is about 30 miles south of Addis airport. A member of the team was then with us every day – for example, during every meal, sharing experiences and knowledge. They also supported us during the days we spent visiting schools, sights, restaurants, hotels and finally the Great Ethiopian Run itself. The week flew by but we could see that both pupils were having a fantastic week. They were speaking basic Amharic to the locals, ordering drinks and food, mixing with pupils in lessons, introducing Rounders to our Link school counterparts (Times Choice Academy) in their PE lessons. The joy, happiness and growing confidence in these two pupils was overwhelming, and we still had the GER to come.

one of the team

“We were part of the pre-race Pasta Party at the Hilton hosted by Haile Gabrselassie – what an evening, filled with celebration, dancing and music. The following day the atmosphere cannot easily described. I have been to many sporting events, as a spectator and as a participant, but this tops them all – with 36,000 people it’s a carnival atmosphere. A sea of colour all around with all the participants wearing their race t-shirts and groups singing and dancing all the way around – even the music radio stations were encouraging everyone to stop and dance as well.


“What elation, finishing and collecting our medal whilst the partying continued! The carnival atmosphere persisted with fellow race goers celebrating their success well into the evening.

“I am hoping to make this my third year promoting and supporting the work of Link Ethiopia at the Great Ethiopian Run – the race being the cherry on the cake of a life-changing weeklong adventure organised by Link Ethiopia. Fingers crossed!”

If you’d also like to experience the Great Ethiopian Run for yourself – or with your school and possibly students as well – then please take a look at our GER2014 page or contact us and we can answer any questions you may have.

Quite a team


Posted in 2014, Ethiopian culture, Ethiopian news, Fundraising, School links, Sports |