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Blog category: Projects
1st Jun 2016
Written by Ama Konneh
On the 9th of May, the opening ceremony for the opening of Phase 2 of our St George’s School project was held. This phase saw the construction of a further four classrooms (on top of the original 6), an IT suite for children to expand their knowledge of technology and develop IT skills that could potentially improve their future prospects, toilet accommodations to better standards of sanitation and basic hygiene, a guardhouse, and workshops. These improvements allow for a varied education syllabus and encourage creativity as well as the teaching of vital life-long skills.
“St George’s School hosted an opening ceremony for Phase 2 of construction. On behalf of the school community, I would like to thank everyone who has supported us in this project and made it such a success. It was a lovely day and the photos below represent just a few of the happy memories I will take away from the event.”
Hannah Dillon – Director of Education, St. George’s School
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Children singing the Ethiopian national anthem to start the ceremony
“First of all, I am glad to be invited here for the opening ceremony of the phase 2 building at St George’s. In addition, it is my pleasure to say some words here in front of you all.
Be it in facilities, the quality of the teachers, or the teaching and learning process, St George’s is certainly the highest quality school in Gondar. The results which the students have achieved show that there is a good flow of teaching and learning.
These additional classrooms will be helpful for other orphans and vulnerable children who wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to go to school. According to the information from our supervisors, St George’s School is one of the schools which produces talented students and gives us hope of the future of Ethiopia.
Finally, if St George’s School continues as it is, it will be the model school for Gondar City and for the Amhara region. We will always be at your side. Be strong and thank you.”
Mr Yigsaw Mekonnen – Head of the Gondar City Education Office
First day teaching Grade 2 children in one of the new classroms
The partnership behind this project: Link Ethiopia were brought on board the St. George’s School project by the Northwood African Education Foundation, a charity founded by Malcolm and Katharine Colquhoun, to take on the on-the-ground aspects of the projects; principally, the construction of Phase One and Phase Two of the school.
“My involvement in Ethiopia began in November 2014 when I flew here to manage the building of St George’s phase two construction.
Qualified as an architect in 2013, I was looking for an adventure and Ethiopia has definitely not failed to deliver. I moved back to the UK last summer continuing in my role as project architect for the school.
This week I flew out to take part in the opening ceremony alongside the founders of the school Sir Malcolm and Lady Colquhoun. This marked the completion of the Phase 2 construction – a year on from when we broke ground in May 2015.
It has been a terrific week, made mostly by the presence of the parents, local community, director of the education and mayoral office on the day.
After one failed bid, many macchiatos and mixed juice it was a gratifying moment to see the children take occupation of 4 new classrooms, a chai hut, ICT/library along with a new guard house, workshop, store and sanitary facilities.
As we move forward with Phase 3, which will take the school through from Grade 2 to Grade 12, it was a gratifying moment for all. Personally it bookmarked all of the fantastic people I have had the opportunity to work with and volunteer alongside.
Long may Link Ethiopia’s involvement in the community continue.”
Project Architect Lucy
The construction team, Birara(director), Lucy(architect), Sisay(foreman), Endeshaw(contractor), Malcom(founder), Elsa(manager of Link Ethiopia)
We would like to thank the Link Ethiopia and Broomwood staff in Ethiopia who worked on this phase of the project, the architects and volunteers, the construction company, the NAEF, Gondar Education Office, and all the children, families and communities at St. George’s School. Link Ethiopia would like to express our gratitude for the involvement of everyone who helped to make this project a success and give vulnerable children the opportunity to have an education.
Broomwood thank you display
The ceremony was over just before it started to rain
1st Jun 2016
Written by Rhi and Ama
Ethiopia is still a country of economic divides. Although there has been major progress recently, there is still an obvious gap between urban and rural areas in terms of basics such as education, sanitation and development. In the countryside, an agricultural way of life often means that time is limited, as rearing livestock and tending crops leaves little to spare. The schooling resources for rural areas are often scarce. Educational facilities are lacking, and the school buildings themselves can be old, unsafe, with poor structural integrity and reduced light and space.
As part of our rural education campaign, Link Ethiopia has been working with Girlguiding North East England and AidCamps International to rebuild schools and classrooms in the satellite developments and farming communities around Gondar. Structures that are bright, airy and welcoming are provided, as well as having more space and facilities for the children using them. This is important because with limited space, schools may not have capacity for all the children, or be able to offer education past a certain age. This means many children cannot continue in education, as the travel to the next nearest school that offers further education can simply be too much, leaving them no time to complete domestic or agricultural tasks required, let alone tackle homework. Each additional year of schooling increases a person’s earning potential by 10%, meaning that the possibility of lifting an area out of poverty becomes more of an attainable goal with the correct infrastructure in place.
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A typical classroom in a rural area
Andinet School is one of the most recent school partners in this joint partnership. The school previously had a rundown set of classrooms, with lumpy stone floors, poor roofing, and unplastered walls. Originally built from traditional wood and mud, one in particular had fallen into a state of disrepair and was no longer serviceable as a building. Providing little shelter from the elements, the classroom was a difficult environment for young children to be in. As a small space, access was restricted and some of the children could not progress to higher grades.
Link Ethiopia worked with the local community to discuss what they needed out of a new school building. A double classroom was planned, allowing children the space and security they need to continue their education. We had worked with a volunteer architect on previous school projects, and the structural changes she had suggested to improve the life of the classrooms were also implemented here. This included plastering the mud and wood, metal shutters for security at night and use of a wooden cross beam to prevent lean on the building.
Our volunteers and their hardwork
Link Ethiopia partnered with Girlguiding North East England and AidCamps International over the last few years to fundraise for, and sign up volunteers, to open this vital resource for children in rural Ethiopia. AidCamps team of volunteers were motivated and engaged with the project, and helped ensure the building was completed on time. A number of Girlguides will also be going out this year to continue the restoration and improvement work at Andinet School – this will be their 2nd visit.
The classroom was opened in plenty of time for the Summer term. Representatives from the education authority and the local kebele attended, as did the school director. The project build had been challenging in places, liaising between contractors, volunteers and the local authorities, so we were delighted to have opened on time and to see the difference this build will make straight away. The classroom is spacious and a positive space for children to develop and learn in. Having previously had to finish educating children at grade 3, the school now plans to educate children up to grade 5. The opportunities this will provide for the local children are huge.
The new classroom in use
Link aims to build a further 20 new classrooms in rural areas, with a focus on schools that cannot currently offer all grades. For more about how to get involved, you can read our page here.
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!
23rd Oct 2015
Written by Muna
Ethiopia is becoming a land of business opportunities. There have been reports of many big hotel chains opening new branches in Ethiopia. It is confirmed that the Hilton Hotel will open in 2020 in Awassa, one of the fastest growing cities. Thanks to the new infrastructure, not only will the Ethiopian hospitality industry grow, but attract entrepreneurs worldwide as well. Ethiopia harbours at the moment uncountable entrepeneurs. Many of these entrepreneurs have successful local businesses.Click to expand
For example, Solomie Wassie- founder of B Honey. Solomie Wassie was included in an article about pop-up shops being a smart business plan two weeks ago. She gave her opinion on the subject. “The last thing you want is to get a business licence and get situated only to find you are not a viable business,” she told the BBC. Solomie’s story started from her mother’s garden. With excessive amount left from the garden, Ms. Solomie tried to figure out how to stand out in a market that is saturated with honey. She started to mix her honey with oranges and ginger. On her first day she sold 200 jars at the food bazaar. By selling infused honey she was able to give her customers something new but yet something familiar.
But your business doesn’t always need to stand out in the crowd. One of Link Ethiopia’s sponsored families has managed to expand and operate a business from their home. Link Ethiopia supported Chali, the head of the household, with a microfinance loan so she could make and sell injera from her house. Her business has quickly become a success. During the first two months she sold 80-120 injera per day and demand is only increasing. Thanks to the success of her business she can cover rent, living expenses, and her children no longer have food-related problems. She was also able to repay her microloan months before the due date.
After the popularity of her injera began to grow, Chali was able to expand her business with the involvement of a local savings and loan organisation. She bought a second hot plate and has hired a local woman, so is extending her entrepreneurial activities out into the local community. Recently she has been approached by a shop who was interested in selling her food, so the future looks increasingly bright. Now she made the big step to sell her injera that shop. If many people like Solomie and Chali start a (local) business, more jobs can be created and the economy in Ethiopia might grow on a fast rate.
9th Oct 2015
Written by Ben
Today is International Day of the Girl, and this year’s theme is adolescent girls. In 2000, the UN set the Millennium Development Goals, which expire this year, and 1 of the 8 goals was to ‘Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015’. Girls who were born in the turn of the millennium, are now adolescents, and the progress made under the MDGs has seen a closing of the gender gap in terms of primary and secondary enrolment across the Global South, and in Ethiopia.Click to expand
However, despite the great improvements, there still remain a number of challenges to overcome. Our research found that whilst Ethiopia had made great strides in ensuring that as many girls as boys now enrol in primary school, however at secondary school the gender gap remerges. Despite similar numbers of boys and girls starting secondary school education, many more boys complete secondary schools than girls, as challenges unique to girls hinder their attendance and attainment. For every 10 boys in secondary school in Ethiopia there are only 9 girls.
At Link Ethiopia we are entering a new phase in our support for Girls’ Education. We already ensure that over two-thirds of children on our child sponsorship programme are female to counter the increased risk of dropout. Our Gondar office has held its first meeting of the ‘Girls’ Education Steering Committee’, a community-based group comprised of local women from a range of backgrounds who meet monthly to guide Link Ethiopia’s female education policy.
The group is currently working on designing pilot projects to be run in 2016, which will focus on singular interventions targeted at a small number of girls, and are currently considering proposals such as girls’ accommodation blocks and expanding Girls’ Clubs in schools. Through careful monitoring and evaluation of the different pilot projects, Link Ethiopia will be able to build up a body of knowledge of the most effective ways to support girls in education. The most successful of these pilot projects will then be developed further, and expanded across Link Ethiopia’s schools.
Please support our Day of the Girl campaign to support the Girls Education Steering Committee and their pilot projects so that Link Ethiopia can increase it support for female education in Ethiopia and help close the gender gap. 100% of all donations that come through our website until 18th October will go towards funding our pilot projects programme, and you can donate here. If you’d like to fundraise for Girls’ Education email email@example.com. You can also spread the word about our work by sharing this blog post on social media with the hashtag #dayofthegirl.
Thanks for reading and watch this space for updates on our Girls’ Education projects.
12th Sep 2015
Written by Muna
You may have seen it on our Facebook page already this week, but we are pleased to announce that the Wolves won the Gondar Under-17s Cup Tournament! After battling through the group stages, quarters and semi-finals against colourfully named teams like ‘Fuad Grocery’ and ‘Medhanealem’, they tenaciously won the final against their rivals ’Esufikir’– a team who had previously trumped the Wolves 1-0 in the group stages. After their success we spoke to the members from the Link Ethiopia Wolves to tell us about that glorious day.Click to expand
“On Monday, all my team members were confident that we would win. But I was a bit less confident.” said the Wolves’ coach Ermias Dejen. Even though the team was in high spirits in anticipation of the game, Ermias and the audience that day felt differently. In his opinion, 95% of the spectators were sure that our team would lose. The coach elaborates why they thought that:
“It’s because Esufikir have been together for the last 4 years, both in the winter and summer. They train three or four days a week. My team only meets when the academic year is over. In terms of fitness and training, all the teams we faced were better than us. It seemed like we were an under-15 team while the others looked like under-20 teams.”
During the final, the teams both played well and their friendly rivalry made itself known on the pitch. Esufikir may be good, but The Wolves were performing at the same level.
“That’s because my players were better at controlling the ball” Ermias explains. “We learned not to give up hope easily from them. We were also able to continue defending well to take them to the penalty shoot-out.” The tensest part of any game are penalties. The Wolves’ captain, Solomon, missed the first penalty, which left the team and fans crestfallen. But to everyone’s relief the team’s savior came in the form of our goalkeeper, Atirsaw. He blocked two penalties, which ended the game with The Wolves winning the Cup!
We asked Amanuel Tesfahun, lead striker for The Wolves, what his thoughts were about the game: “I didn’t expect to score that day. But all of us played the first 10 minutes well and created the chance to lead deep into our opponent’s territory into the last minutes. The fact that we scored first helped us to go all the way to the penalty shoot-out. But when they scored the equalizer we were all shell-shocked.”
He continues: “When our Captain missed the first penalty, I thought we were finished because this was what happened to our team in last year’s final. But with the heroic effort of the goalkeeper and the other penalty takers we were able to win it this time. Winning a cup is the ultimate success and it has made me very happy.”
Against all odds, our team proved that they were the best out there and claimed a triumphant winning. Throughout every match the Wolves played, they gained new supporters, which motivated them to win. Their coach has the final word: “The prize meant a lot to me personally. Link Ethiopia has been patient with me for the last three years. And now we have contributed our part to make Link Ethiopia well-known around Gondar.” We congratulate our underdogs, the Link Ethiopia Wolves, for winning the Cup in such nail-biting fashion!
We support the Wolves in Gondar, and another young team in Southern Ethiopia, as part of our commitment to supporting sports, fitness and physical education in schools and communities across Ethiopia.
Not only do these projects give young people a fantastic opportunity to be active and focused during the long Summer breaks from school, but they give young people something to be proud of – and be part of! This is invaluable for the communities in which we work, where young people face many challenges and a lack of local facilities for getting involved in activities such as sport. If you’d like to support this work, head over to our Projects and Donate pages to get involved.
8th Sep 2015
Written by Muna
In 1965, UNESCO has proclaimed that September 8th will be marked as International Literacy Day. Today is a day to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies. A day to remind everybody that reading and writing is one of the basic skills every person should and has the right to have. For over 55 years UNESCO has worked to ensure that literacy remains a priority on national and international agendas.
This year’s theme is Literacy and Sustainable Societies. Projects and events are being held all around the world in dedication of this day. In New Zealand babies born on September 8th, get a free book so new parents can read to them straight away.Click to expand
Literacy is a fundamental human right and everybody should be able to have access to it. Many countries have worked on improving their education system and made many efforts to reduce national illiteracy rates. For example, since 1951 the overall literacy rate in India has increased from a mere 18.33% to 74.04%. On an average, literacy rates have went up by at least 9-10% every decade.
On education, children from Finland are more ahead than other countries. Teaching is a well-paid and respected profession and at start of 2016, Finnish children will start learning computer coding. Finland is known for their innovative ways of education. They don’t dub foreign shows, but rather use subtitles to encourage viewers into reading and learning a new language. The Scandinavian country also has a strong library culture. 80% of Finns visit the library regularly. On an average, each person borrows 10 books, DVD’s or magazines in a year. And the UK isn’t that far behind!
Finland ranks very high amongst developed countries in education and literacy. Link Ethiopia have been working hard to decrease the illiteracy rate in Ethiopia with our project work in schools. Not that long ago, Link Ethiopia started our Libraries and Literacy project. Just like Finland, our goal is to promote a culture of reading and combat low literacy levels in schools at the same time. The project’s objectives are:
- To improve children’s reading attainment in the early grades.
- To increase access to books and libraries for younger children.
- To encourage reading for pleasure.
- To improve early grade teachers’ confidence in teaching reading and English.
- To improve the quality of teaching through adoption of pedagogies of systematic phonics and reading comprehension techniques.
- To improve outcomes for those identified as weaker readers in secondary school.
We’ve seen success in the Libraries and Literacy. Since 2013, we have been able to expand the project over 46 schools and bringing the joy of reading to many children. Our missions continues as we try to including more schools in to the Libraries and Literacy project – join us.
1st Sep 2015
Written by Muna
About a week ago, our favourite summer football team the Link Ethiopia Wolves, from Gondar, played against the Andinet Elementary School. The weather they played in would make it difficult for anyone to succeed in. As if Mother Nature had it in for the Wolves, the playing field was very slippery and wet due to the continuing rainy season. But the Wolves had their eye on the ball and the as a whole maintained a strong, energetic and persistent front. In the end, the match resulted into a draw. The final score was 2-2.
Almost a year ago, we wrote about the Wolves playing and winning their first ever match in the The Gondar Town Under-15’s Tournament against Hamsalomie, another school in Gondar! Unfortunately, although they made it all the way to the Cup Final, the Wolves didn’t win and were defeated in a tense penalty shoot out. We proud of how far our team made it- in their first tournament!
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We continue to be so proud of the Wolves. We’ve seen them progress a lot and they’ve surprised everyone with their determination. We hope to see many more goals to be scored in the future by our footballing hero’s. The Gondar Town Under-15’s Tournament continues this month and we hope our Wolves go even further than last year.