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Blog category: Fundraising
4th Apr 2016
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.
16th Nov 2015
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!
2nd Sep 2015
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 www.linkethiopia.org and click on ‘Get Involved’. Also, don’t forget to go to http://www.charitygolfclub.org/ to support the group in future fundraising events.
20th Nov 2014
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).Click to expand
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!
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.
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.
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.
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).
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 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!).