News blog

Blog category: 2009

November & December 2009

Greetings from Link Ethiopia

Welcome to the last Link Ethiopia news update for 2009! This is a good opportunity for us to tell you about our alternative gift website, Gift Ethiopia, which is full of fun and unusual present ideas, ideal for friends and family this Christmas.

All the gifts are needed by the children, schools and communities we serve in the north and south of Ethiopia. As a relatively small charity your support is hugely appreciated!

Do read on, and remember to visit


Essential gifts

Our gifts will bring a smile to the faces of your friends and family this Christmas. While at the same time they’ll bring a smile to children who are eager to learn, thousands of miles away.

Thanks to your support our projects now reach over 70,000 young people throughout Ethiopia. With your help we will be able to do even more to expand quality education to youngsters in towns and rural areas through 2010 and beyond.

So now’s your chance to give someone a gift that you feel passionately about; whether it relates to the importance of clean drinking water, hygienic toilets, books, or teacher training. Or perhaps you’re looking for something slightly out of the ordinary… ever heard of a donkey library?!

Visit to support the children and young people of this amazing country!

Water taps

Water taps

Donkey Library

Donkey Library

Help build a bog
Help build a bog

Complete school pack
Complete school pack


Special gift cards

For each gift you will receive a colourful and celebrational gift card explaining about the specific support you are giving, and these are posted to you 1st class so you can write a message and give it to your lucky family member or friend.

So please, visit our Gift Ethiopia website and give a special gift to a special person. It’s a brilliant way to get involved!


Thanks for all your encouragement and support throughout the year. We are looking forward to all that 2010 will bring.

Child sponsorship

Child sponsorship

Clean water for 40 pupils

Clean water for 40 pupils

Community football team

Community football team

Internet in a school

Internet in a school


Posted in 2009, News emails |

September & October 2009

Welcome to our September & October 2009 news update

Another school term and another school year ….  and I am sure it will be another adventurous year for all of our Link Ethiopia projects. It is certainly our intention to make it the most successful year yet – a year in which we involve more and more schools in linking and partnerships, one in which we find more generous people to support the work that we do, and certainly a year of more ambitious projects in as many Ethiopian schools as possible.

Some of these of course are already nearing completion or are underway. Read on!

Focus on… Projects

The number of projects we are able to fund continues to grow, thanks to your support. Here we’d like to tell you about just a few. If you’re able to support future projects please let us know!

Atse Fasil Elementary School library

Atse Fasil is the main elementary school in the village of Azezo, which is situated just outside Gondar in northern Ethiopia. It caters for 2,260 pupils from Grades 1 to 8.

The school’s library was, until recently, very small and it was unable to cope with the hundreds of pupils that wanted to make use of its reading and reference materials. Link Ethiopia worked alongside the school community to fund a significant extension to their library facility, which is now enabling many more pupils to study there and browse the books available.

The school now needs more desks, shelving and books to fully utilise the additional space they have. If you’re able to offer any assistance please let us know!

Fasiledes Secondary School teachers room

The Fasiledes Secondary School is one of the oldest schools in the Amhara region. It’s also the very first school that we started supporting, almost 14 years ago!

There are 70 teachers at the school, looking after some 3,800 students. Quite a task, and made particularly difficult as the teachers had no adequate staff facilities in which they could plan lessons and relax.

With our support the school community has been able to construct a fantastic teachers room, which has just opened.


Double your money! Dosha water project… can you help?

Dosha Elementary School is located in a town called Asella, three or four hours drive south of Addis Ababa. The school is in a particularly poor neighbourhood and the school infrastructure and resources reflect this. There are 1,100 pupils who attend the school and they learn in 18 wood and mud classrooms. The school community’s two greatest needs are a clean water supply (there’s currently no water provision), and more desks in their classrooms.

To support the school with these projects we need to raise at least £2,000. But the fantastic news is that two generous supporters have offered to match anyone else’s donations up to £1,000.

So now is your opportunity to make a huge difference. For every pound, dollar or euro you give, it will be doubled. You’ll be making twice the impact!

At the moment we’ve only raised £130 of the £2,000 needed. Please get involved. Visit:

Can you get involved?

We are always seeking funds to enable us to support an ever expanding number of schools and young people in Ethiopia. The projects we fund are vital to the communities we work alongside, and we need your help!

Email [email protected] if you can help us. Or donate via our website ( or even create a Justgiving page to collect sponsorship and donations! (

Thank you!!

News from Ethiopia

  • Ethiopia has recently received an international award for the introduction and familiarisation of a new technology called agro-stone in the country. The award was presented at a ceremony held in Shanghai and officials said that it was given to Ethiopia in recognition of expanding housing construction and job creation that derived from the use of this technology. Ethiopia introduced agro-stone technology, which seems to be a cost effective way for partitioning walls, in 2005.
  • And 16 years after its discovery in north-eastern Ethiopia scientists have announced their confidence that “Ardi”, a hominid skeleton, is some 4.4 million years old. This makes it more than a million years older than “Lucy”, another skeleton found in Ethiopia, in 1974. The skeleton took nearly three years to piece together and another 13 years to analyse. It is hoped that Ardi will give greater insight into ancient hominid life and development.

Meet the Team: Ashley England

Ashley is the Link Ethiopia Treasurer and gives many hours of his enthusiastic time to the planning and control of the organisation’s finances, as well as to our annual Gift Ethiopia scheme. He has been twice to Ethiopia, and remains exceptionally supportive and creative in all our activities.


Ethiopia uncovered: Gondar

Although Link Ethiopia has been expanding to involve itself as widely as possible in Ethiopia, its home and Head Office will always be in the northern, and very historic, town of Gondar.

Gondar was once the capital city of Ethiopia, starting in the early seventeenth century when King Fasiledes chose it as his capital. It was at that time that the famous Royal Enclosure was begun and his own Fasil’s Castle, one of the many amazing buildings inside the compound, is now a well-known national icon of Ethiopian history and culture. Stylistically it is, according to the experts, a mixture of Ethiopian, Portuguese and Indian styles! Elsewhere in Gondar are other ancient buildings that are clearly of a similar vintage – the compound known as Fasil’s Bath at the foot of the main town which is a focal point of Gondar’s Epiphany celebrations (Timkat), and the Palace and church of Kusquam, high on a hill on the edge of the town built for the Empress Mentwab in the eighteenth century.

Even more iconic is the church of Debre Birhan Selassie which lies hidden amongst a copse of trees a short distance from the town centre and whose wall and ceiling paintings are nothing short of extraordinary. They show the Trinity, the Virgin Mary and many Ethiopian saints, along with a particularly colourful and characterful picture of the Devil himself.

Gondar is one of the great places to visit in Ethiopia, not only for its incomparable historic attractions, but also for the warmth and welcome of the Gondar people themselves.

Coming up on UK Television

  • Tribe – Suri – The primitive and amazing Suri tribe
    Thursday October 8th and next day (Eden)
  • Hell on Earth
    Three programmes on life in the Danakil Desert
    Sunday October 18th and next day (Eden)
  • The Nile – The Great Flood
    Life in the Ethiopian Highlands
    Wednesday October 21st (Eden)

Ethiopian proverb

A blade won’t cut another blade; a cheat won’t cheat another cheat

English proverb

When the going gets tough, the tough get going

Website link

An American factbase on Ethiopia at

… and of course,

Help us?

As always, if anyone reading this would like to offer us expertise, knowledge and help with our work or if you would like to associate yourself with one of our school projects (classrooms, water, toilets, books, etc) then please get in touch. You can donate via the following link, or by contacting us – details at the bottom of this email.

Posted in 2009, News emails |

August 2009

Welcome to our August 2009 news update

A holiday for some, a quiet rest period for others. But for all of us at Link Ethiopia, activity continues as normal as we strive to improve and extend the work that we are doing – more and better school links, further teaching volunteers to prepare for their experiences, greater numbers of kids to support through our Child Sponsorship scheme, and always an eye on where our help can best be used in Ethiopia.

None of this would be possible without those individuals who put their trust in us and who strive to make funds to support our work. This August issue of the News Update focuses on just a few of them – read on and support their efforts if you feel you can.

Focus on… Fundraising

We would love you to support the fundraising activites you can read about below. Remember to let us know if you are planning to organise your own fundraising activity and we can do all we can to help you!

To Hel and Back: Driving from the UK to South Africa, and back, to raise funds for Link Ethiopia

Carl James and Tom Picton are ex-students of our founding link school, Dr Challoner’s. They wanted to support our work and came up with a slightly crazy plan.

In late September they will set off on an epic journey from the UK to Die Hel, near Cape Town in South Africa, and back. They will drive through 40 countries, cover over 30,000 miles, and they will encounter some of the harshest environments this planet has to offer; from the sand dunes of the Sahara, to the mud tranches of the Cameroon rainforests, to the dizzy heights of Mount Kilamanjaro which they plan to climb en route! They will also be volunteering in some of our Ethiopian schools for a month on their journey, helping us set up a new sports programme.

Carl and Tom’s remarkable journey aims to raise £10,000 which will be donated to Link Ethiopia and another charity, but they need your help to get there. Please show your support and donate at where more information is also available. Thank you!

Sailing around Britain to support Ethiopian education

Another of our energetic supporters, Chris Veys, is still at sea, sailing around the whole of Great Britain to raise funds for Link Ethiopia. This amazing challenge will take three months to complete and will take him to over 60 destinations, covering 2,500 miles. At the moment he is somewhere near the Western Isles of Scotland and has already raised over £2,000.

Will you consider sponsoring his incredible efforts? All funds will support Link Ethiopia’s work supporting education in Ethiopia. Please get involved. Visit:

Selling bunting, for Ethiopia!

Fundraising isn’t all about big travelling adventures. Paula Nelson, one of our future teaching volunteers, has been working incredibly hard recently making the amazing bunting you can see below.

This high-quality hand-made bunting is on sale with all funds raised being donated to Link Ethiopia’s work. This is ideal for fetes, celebrations and home decor. Sales are going well so far but there is still plenty of bunting available. If you would like to help our cause and buy some of this beautiful handicraft, please get in touch for details and prices – contact Chris Grant ([email protected]) for more information. Thank you!

Can you get involved?

Link Ethiopia is always seeking funds to enable us to support an ever expanding number of schools and young people in Ethiopia. The projects we fund are vital to the communities we work alongside, and we need your help!

Can you help us by organising a fundraising event? Raising any amount, large or small, is hugely appreciated. We’d love to hear if you’re thinking of organising something.

Email [email protected] to let us know, and when you’re finished you can donate the funds you’ve raised through our website ( or you can send us a cheque (to Link Ethiopia, St George’s Church, Crayford Road, London, N7 0ND). You can even create a Justgiving page to collect sponsorship and donations! (

Thank you!!

News from Ethiopia

  • Just how do the Ethiopian long-distance runners do it? What’s their secret? Anyone thinking that it is just Haile Gebre Selassie who is Ethiopia’s claim to fame must keep their eye more closely on the ball (to truly mix our metaphors!). It is in part due to his inspiration, but there are now so many excellent Ethiopian athletes that it is difficult to know which one is the star of the moment. In Berlin, at the recent World Athletics Championships, it was again Kenenisa Bekele who took the honours in not only the 10,000 metres but also the 5,000 metres. “It’s fantastic. I’m happy for myself and my country,” he said afterwards.
  • Meanwhile, Ethiopia’s best known pop singer, Teddy Afro, has been released eight-months early from a two-year prison sentence because of good behaviour. His fans worldwide will be thrilled by the news. After his release he said “I would like to express my respect and gratitude to all the people of our country. I was able to meet many good people in prison, from the lowest-ranking policemen to the highest administrator. I had a nice time.”

Meet the Team: Mulugeta Derso

Mulugeta is our enthusiastic Project Coordinator, working in our Gondar office. He is in charge of planning and monitoring our projects within the Ethiopian schools we support in the north of the country. His energy and intelligence is a huge asset to the charity!



Ethiopia uncovered: Prester John

One of the most fascinating legends to have been associated with Ethiopia from medieval times was that of Prester John.

He was supposed to have been a fabled Christian king living in a Christian realm that the early Portuguese explorers were convinced was part of present-day Ethiopia. Accounts of his kingdom are to be found from as early as the 12th century onwards and told of a generous and virtuous ruler whose kingdom possessed all sorts of riches and where strange and wonderful creatures were to be found. For many, Prester John’s land represented a sort of earthly Paradise or a place where the magical Fountain of Youth could be found. He himself became a symbol in Europe of the Church’s universality, transcending all cultural and geographical boundaries and distinctions.

The legend was to inspire various expeditions from Europe and further afield. And the story was to live on in people’s imaginations for many centuries, with even Marvel Comics in the 20th century featuring a character called Prester John in some of its popular publications.

Coming up on UK Television

  • Tribe – Nyangatom
    The warrior tribe in the Omo Valley
    Saturday August 5th (+6th +9th) (Eden)
  • Around the world in 80 treasures
    Ethiopia and the Ark of the Covenant
    Tuesday August 22nd (+23rd) (Eden)
  • The Nile – The Great Flood
    Life in the Ethiopian Highlands
    Thursday August 24th (Eden)

Ethiopian proverb

You cannot build a house for last year’s summer

English proverb

He that gives to another bestows on himself

Website link

Lonely Planet on Ethiopia at

… nearly as good as our website!

Help us?

As always, if anyone reading this would like to offer us expertise, knowledge and help with our work or if you would like to associate yourself with one of our school projects (classrooms, water, toilets, books, etc) then please get in touch. You can donate via the following link, or by contacting us – details at the bottom of this email.

Posted in 2009, News emails |

July 2009

Welcome to our July 2009 news update

There are all sorts of ways in which individual people are helping with the work of Link Ethiopia – and every personal effort allows us to support more young people in more Ethiopian schools. In this edition you can read just a little about the activities of some of these people. Perhaps these ideas may inspire you or your friends to help just a little too. As the Ethiopian proverb says – “Little by little an egg grows legs and walks” Think about it!

Sailing around Britain – Please support Chris!

One of our more energetic supporters, Chris Veys, is currently at sea, sailing around the whole of Great Britain to raise funds for Link Ethiopia. This amazing challenge will take three months to complete and will take him to over 60 destinations, covering 2,500 miles.

Will you consider sponsoring his incredible efforts? All funds will support Link Ethiopia’s work supporting education in Ethiopia. Please get involved. Visit:

Focus on… Volunteering

Here we want to tell you a little about our volunteering scheme, but first let us introduce you to two volunteers who have recently returned from Ethiopia. If you would like to follow in their footsteps and work with students in this amazing country, please visit our website or contact our Director, Chris Grant, for more information ([email protected]).

Volunteers return from teaching in Ethiopia

Caroline Hunt and Jon Roberts have just returned from their recent volunteering experience in Ethiopia. Caroline spent two months and Jon spent six weeks living in Gondar, a bustling town in northern Ethiopia, and working in our linked schools in and around the town.

Caroline spent her school time at Edeget Feleg Secondary, a large school in the market area of town. She taught English communication skills and also touched on drama and poetry. She said “I loved my pupils and wish I could have taught them more. They often came back for the second same lesson in the afternoons. I hope that especially those shy girls become doctors or architects and keep speaking with strong voices.”

Meanwhile Jon was based at Fasiledes Secondary School, teaching English to Grade 9 students as well as carrying out check-ups on the computing equipment at some of our linked schools. Link Ethiopia has helped several schools with their IT facilities over the past few years but there is still a lot that needs to be done to improve their infrastructure to a satisfactory level. Jon’s assessment of the facilities and his recommendations for improvements have been invaluable in guiding us in this area. Back in the classroom, when there were exam periods, he was also able to give students one-to-one lessons to help them with their end-of-year revision and exam preparation.

Both Jon and Caroline made a wonderful contribution to the communities they worked in during their stay and they will be much missed. We look forward to them being friends of Link Ethiopia for many years to come.

Volunteering with Link Ethiopia

Are you looking for a fun and fulfilling opportunity to help young people and immerse yourself in a fascinating culture? Gap Ethiopia is one of the best value volunteering schemes around. We work alongside dozens of schools that would really benefit from a volunteer teaching English, IT skills or Sports Coaching. Volunteering is an amazing way to explore Ethiopia and make a difference.

We offer flexible placements of a minimum of one month and placements can begin at any time. Our scheme has been running for over ten years and we will support you every step of the way with training and advice. Volunteering with Gap Ethiopia starts at just £570 for a one month placement and is sure to be the experience of a life time.

If you or someone you know might be interested, please visit our website or email [email protected] for more information.

News from Ethiopia

  • While we’re on the subject of people helping in their own particular ways, one article of news that caught our eyes was the following: Purdue University’s School of Veterinary Medicine (in the USA) celebrated its 50th anniversary by sending 19 faculty members, students and alumni to Ethiopia to assist in improving livestock production and continue its ongoing relationship with an Ethiopian veterinary school.  One of the visitors said – “Because of the lack of nutrition, animal reproduction is a luxury in Ethiopia. We saw 5-year-old heifers that had never been in heat. We really want to improve reproduction and show people they can do it too.”
  • And, after almost a year’s suspension, FIFA has just readmitted the Ethiopian Football Federation to world football after elections for a new leadership were held recently. Their dispute started in early 2008 when the Ethiopian Football Federation fired its president at a meeting that FIFA didn’t recognise. A small delegation from the world football’s governing body were present at the recent elections and said they were satisfied with the result.

Meet the Team: Sachin Shah

Sachin Shah is the School Links Manager in the UK, and he works with tireless energy and enthusiasm in all he does. He has taught in Azezo Secondary School and has subsequently visited Ethiopia many times, remaining full of ambition for the organisation’s work.


Ethiopian money

The production of suitable bank notes for any country is not only a matter of sophistication and security in its techniques, but also an important symbol for that country in terms of its international standing.

Ethiopian currency is no exception. The basic money unit in Ethiopia is the ‘birr’ each of which is divided into 100 cents. At the present time there are about 18 birr to the UK pound and about 11 birr to the US dollar. As prices in the country rise the smaller coins representing the ‘centimes’ are becoming less and less useful.

The design of the notes is very attractive and all embracing. The one-birr note shows the magnificence of the Blue Nile Falls near Bahir Dar along with some the country’s colourful birdlife, while the five-birr note concentrates on Ethiopia’s mammals, with a particularly fine image of the endemic Mountain Nyala.

The brown ten-birr note focuses on production, with a modern farmer ploughing his land on one side and a lady skilfully weaving a basket on the other. Fifty-birr shows us a simpler form of country farming on one side, with the iconic Gondar castles on the other. Finally, the green hundred-birr note shows a scientist concentrating on his microscope, with an Axum stela on his left.

Coming up on UK Television

  • Wild Africa – Mountains
    Gelada baboons and Ethiopian wolves
    Friday August 7th  (Eden)
  • Air Crash Investigation
    An Ethiopian aircraft is hijacked in mid-air
    Monday August 10th (National Geographic)

Ethiopian proverb

Teeth are all friends among each other

English proverb

Few words the wise suffice

Website link

The wonderful Africa Guide’s pages on Ethiopia

And, of course, our website…

Help us?

As always, if anyone reading this would like to offer us expertise, knowledge and help with our work or if you would like to associate yourself with one of our school projects (classrooms, water, toilets, books, etc) then please get in touch. You can donate via the following link, or by contacting us – details at the bottom of this email.

Posted in 2009, News emails |

June 2009

Welcome to our June 2009 news update

Another UK summer and the fast approaching end of another school year. Link Ethiopia has spent many months developing the content and quality of its school links and we are now beginning to see the expansion of the scheme as it was planned a long time ago. We hope soon to be able to say that the school linking service that we provide, in the UK, in Ethiopia, and now just starting in the US, is of a quality second to none in its support and in the thoroughness of it provision.

So this issue of our News Update is all about school linking – read on! And best wishes to you all!

Focus on… School Linking

Here we want to share some news from two clusters of links that are emerging in the Leicester and East Sussex areas of the UK.

Do get in contact if your school would be interested in starting a link with Ethiopia – or pass this news email on to any friends who may be interested. Contact our Director, Chris Grant, for more information ([email protected]).

School linking in the Leicester area

We have known for some time that the Leicester Royal Infirmary in the UK has a well established link with the teaching hospital in Gondar, Ethiopia – the town where we have our Head Office. We had not been quite so aware however that Leicester University had extended this linking idea by joining with the relatively recently established new university in Gondar.

This has given us all the idea of trying to form a real cluster of links in the Leicester area to join with schools in the Gondar region. One of our most active and resourceful school links already exists between Queniborough Primary School in Leicestershire and the Yekatit 23 Elementary School in Bahir Dar, in the southern part of the Gondar region.

We recently visited Queniborough School and were thoroughly impressed by what we saw there. Ethiopian displays exist in almost every corner of the school and there is no doubt that the children are very aware and knowledgeable about their link. Photos shown here were taken around the school – a thoroughly colourful and stimulating experience.

On the back of a meeting held during this visit, we immediately have Church Hill Junior School and Wreake Valley Community College coming on board with new school links in Ethiopia. The next phase of the plan is to encourage a number of other local schools to join the cluster.

School linking in East Sussex

Meanwhile, thanks to the commitment and enthusiasm of Susan Kent in East Sussex, we have a large group of new schools joining Link Ethiopia to initiate links in an area of Ethiopia just south of Addis Ababa.

Susan is about to say goodbye to her school, Hailsham Community College, and to take a sabbatical year during which she will spend several months in the Asella – Nazaret – Debre Zeit area, helping these links get up and running. She has considerable experience in teaching and coaching sports and has been connected with the British Council’s “Dreams and Teams” initiative. This has introduced Hailsham Community College to Ethiopia and now around ten schools in the local area are starting to engen

der a real level of commitment and enthusiasm for that country.

Susan recently co-led a group trip to this region with students from her and other schools and we thought we would like to share the following comments with you, quoted from the young people who were experiencing Ethiopia for the first time…

“There was an amazing contrast of culture – and the warmth of hospitality was by far the thing that stood out for me.”

“Everyone has such a positive attitude and appreciates everything they have, so unlike our own culture!”

“I loved going to the different schools and showing them how to use the sports equipment in different ways. Everyone is so lovely, helpful and appreciative.”

How to get involved

We think that an active and involving school link with a country such as Ethiopia can be a truly memorable and even life-changing experience. Perhaps you can help us find other schools that would like to share this experience. Get in touch! Email [email protected]

News from Ethiopia

  • There is news that Ethiopia is about to start a major project to restore and possibly expand its 100 year old and largely disfunctional railway. French built in the early 1900s, the railway used to run smoothly from Addis to Dire Dawa and through to Djibouti. Now the condition of the track is so bad in places that derailments happen on a regular basis. The new project will see significant track replacement and bridge strengthening to enable this route to once again help with imports and exports via the Djibouti sea port. There are also initial plans for a much wider country rail network.
  • Meanwhile the ‘flourishing’ new industry in cut flowers is developing strongly in Ethiopia. The second largest flower farm in the country has just been inaugurated and is already exporting its products. It is owned by an Indian parent company, Surya Blossoms, and will be responsible for a large number of new jobs in the area. Sending 17 varieties of flowers to the Middle East, Europe, USA and Holland, the firm at present already exports 40,000 flowers a day.

Meet the Team: Chris Grant

Chris Grant is the founder and Director of Link Ethiopia. He is a musician, keen traveller, and has many years of teaching experience.

Chris started the organisation over thirteen years ago and he remains ever ambitious and enthusiastic as Link Ethiopia develops and expands in its exciting second decade, thanks to everyone’s support!

The Ark of the Covenant

Tradition has it that the Ark, the sacred container that was built by the Israelites to house the tablets of the Ten Commandments, disappeared from its place in Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem and was taken to Ethiopia in the first millennium BC. It was supposed to have been stored in a monastery on a remote island in Lake Tana for many centuries and guarded by the few monks who lived there before being moved to the Church of St Mary of Zion in Axum, right in the north of the Ethiopia.

Every Ethiopian church has a replica of the tablets, known as a ‘tabot’, which is closely guarded in its inner sanctuary and the tabot is the most important single religious symbol in the Ethiopian church. There are many writings that try to track the story of the Ark of the Covenant once it left Jerusalem, with Graham Hancock’s “The Sign and the Seal” being one of the most readable and fascinating.

Coming up on UK Television

  • $100 Taxi Ride
    Interesting goings-on around Ethiopia
    Thursday July 2nd (Travel Channel)
  • Tribe – Suri
    The primitive and amazing Suri tribe
    Saturday July 18th (Eden)
  • Tribal wives – EthiopiaA Scottish airhostess amid the Afar tribewomen!
    Wednesday July 22nd (Eden)

Ethiopian proverb

It is not for one man to dispense justice or for one piece of wood to strike fire

English proverb

He that fears every bush must never go a-birding

Website link

Learn a lot more about the Ark of the Covenant on Wikipedia…

And remember to visit our website from time to time…

Help us?

As always, if anyone reading this would like to offer us expertise, knowledge and help with our work or if you would like to associate yourself with one of our school projects (classrooms, water, toilets, books, etc) then please get in touch. You can donate via the following link, or by contacting us – details at the bottom of this email.

Posted in 2009, News emails |

May 2009

Welcome to our May 2009 news update

The UK summer is upon us already and our schools are in their final half-term of activity. Link Ethiopia has been extending and expanding its school links recently, with visits to Leicestershire and East Sussex providing lots of new and enthusiastic faces. But this news update focuses on our Child Sponsorship scheme, not only helping individual and needy young people in Ethiopia, but also supporting the schools where those pupils attend with basic resources that benefit numerous other young people.

Read on …. and perhaps join in with our very worthwhile scheme?

Focus on… Child Sponsorship

Have you ever considered sponsoring a child? There are thousands of children in Ethiopia who need your help.

Our sponsorship programme focuses entirely on supporting education which is the best way to support Ethiopia’s next generation.

Rising food and fuel costs are increasingly forcing families to choose between buying the necessities for everyday living or buying the books and pens they need for their children’s education. Without an education most of these children will never get the chance to change their situation. Your regular sponsorship donation will support your child with all their schooling needs as well as fund wider projects in their school providing hundreds of children with vital facilities such as clean water, classrooms, and books etc.

Read on to find out more about the scheme and get in contact with us ([email protected]) or visit our newly updated website ( if you can help.

Sponsorship at Adama No 6 Elementary School

Adama No 6 is a primary school in one of the poorest parts of Nazret town, in southern Ethiopia. Many families here make a living selling produce in the local market.
However, the sharp rises in basic foodstuffs and fuel have hit many
families hard and it is becoming increasingly difficult to afford to
send their children to school. Without help, some children could be
forced to drop out of education to try and earn money to support their
families instead.

The school is severely under resourced and needs new classrooms for its growing number of pupils as well as desks, books and toilets.

Link Ethiopia has worked with the Adama school community to identify ten of the most vulnerable children with the hope of finding them sponsors so they may continue their education and secure themselves and their family a brighter future.

How to get involved

Sponsoring a child through Link Ethiopia is simple. It costs just £3 per week (£12 / $25 / 17€ per month) to support the education of your sponsored child and the school which they attend. On average 20% of your sponsorship money is spent on your child’s educational needs and 80% on supporting projects in their school to benefit everyone. Through sponsorship, your act of kindness will give a child a bright future.

Visit our website’s newly updated Child Sponsorship section for more information –

Send us an email ([email protected]) and we will get things set up for you straightaway. Thank you!

News from Ethiopia

  • The growing of coffee in Ethiopia has been a major element in the country’s economy for many years now, but a greater diversity of production is always being sought by its businessmen. More recently, a few years ago, the cut flower industry was introduced in the fertile soils south of Addis Ababa and this has since become of great importance for Ethiopian trade. Now it has been announced that a Malaysia-based company will set up a mushroom farming establishment in Ethiopia, growing various types of mushrooms and producing packed food and other products both for the domestic and export markets. If all goes according to plan, the company will set up the mushroom production facility around the beautiful Lake Shala, a few hours drive south of the capital.
  • Meanwhile, further south lies the Omo River, which has long been the focus for hydropower generating potential. The river has been in the news recently because of a third hydropower plant that is currently being developed while, nearby, the second hydropower plant called Gilgel Gibe II is just days away from its completion. It had been delayed for over a year because of several unforeseen natural hazards. Six months ago the project was halted for a considerable time after the drilling machine got stuck in muddy terrain. This came just after striking a hot spring, a development that forced the diversion of a tunnel. But these problems have been sorted out and this new facility is due to produce a huge increase in the country’s energy production, enabling a much more constant supply of power to be delivered throughout Ethiopia.

Meet the Team: Firew Tilahun

We would like to introduce you to our most recent member of staff here at Link Ethiopia. His name is Firew Tilahun and until six months ago he was teaching in an Ethiopian school in Debre Zeit (Bishoftu), south of Addis Ababa. Now he has taken on our new and exciting project of expanding our work into areas in southern Ethiopia and he heads up the newly created Link Ethiopia office in Debre Zeit. He is our Southern Coordinator and we hugely appreciate his energy and general brilliance!

The Ethiopian Wolf

One of the most charismatic of the endemic animals of Ethiopia is the Ethiopian Wolf, also known as the Simien Fox. It is largely found in the very high areas of the country, such as the Simien Mountains in the north and the Bale National Park in the south. It is hugely endangered, with an estimate of about 500 animals in total, most of which live in Bale.

It lives in packs that share and defend an exclusive territory, but it hunts for its food in a very solitary manner. It is a carnivore and its main source of food is the likewise endemic Big-headed Mole Rat. It has also been observed eating sedge leaves, probably to aid its digestion.

The animal is a national symbol in Ethiopia, with two complete series of postage stamps portraying it in various situations. Claudio Sillero-Zubiri of Oxford University is a world expert on the Ethiopian Wolf and has done much to ensure its survival.

Coming up on UK Television

  • Around the world in 80 treasures
    Ethiopia and the Ark of the Covenant
    Wednesday June 10th  (Eden)
  • Cliffhangers – Girl Power
    The gelada baboons of the Simien Mountains
    Thursday June 25th (Nat Geo Wild)
  • The Nile – The Great Flood
    Life in the Ethiopian Highlands
    Tuesday June 30th (Eden)

Ethiopian proverb

One rind is enough to tie a thousand pieces of wood

English proverb

Elbow-grease gives the best polish

Website link

Lonely Planet on Ethiopia – nearly as good as Link Ethiopia!

And of course,

Help us?

As always, if anyone reading this would like to offer us expertise, knowledge and help with our work or if you would like to associate yourself with one of our school projects (classrooms, water, toilets, books, etc) then please get in touch. You can donate via the following link, or by contacting us – details at the bottom of this email.

Posted in 2009, News emails |

March & April 2009

Welcome to a combined March & April news update

Hello from all of us at Link Ethiopia!

Spring is awakening here in the UK and some of the Link Ethiopia team are just returning from Ethiopia again. We have volunteers waiting in line to go out there to teach and work in schools, we have our schools preparing letters and pictures for their partner schools, and we are generally looking forward to a whole new set of plans and developments.

All of our work is centred on supporting education in Ethiopia – building classrooms, installing fresh water pumps, providing books and computers for schools, making sure that sanitary facilities are adequate and suitable, etc. In this News Update we are concentrating on our projects, and specifically our recent toilet projects.

Could you help with future projects? We are always seeking new schools to help with fundraising, as well as individuals and non-school groups in any country of the world. Do get in contact!

Focus on… Projects

This month we want to show you some exciting project related developments that are taking place on our website, and introduce you to two recent toilet facilities that we have funded in northern Ethiopia. If you can help with future projects like these please let us know! Email [email protected] or donate online at Many thanks.

New projects website under construction

An exciting new addition to our website is currently under construction. We have been longing for some time to share with our supporters and the wider web-surfing community much more information about our many and varied projects. Now, thanks to the hard work and expertise of two volunteers, Ali Lown and Pete Garland, we are developing an extension to our website which will give detailed and regularly updated information for each of our projects.

Details will include project costs, fundraising progress, news updates and photo updates as well as showing you where projects are located and giving some key facts and statistics about each school so you know a little more about the communities we are supporting. For those who want to stay in the loop you will be able to receive email notifications when there are updates to your favourite projects or schools.

Our thanks go again to Ali and Pete for all their time and energy. We will let everyone know when the website launches!

New toilets at Arbatu Ensesa and Chechela Elementary Schools

The importance of adequate toilet facilities within schools cannot be overstated. Hygienic sanitation is one of the best ways to reduce the spread of disease and subsequent illness amongst school pupils and Link Ethiopia has been funding projects to help in this area for many years.

Just recently, staff and pupils at Arbatu Ensesa Elementary School celebrated the opening of a new toilet block which we jointly funded with the local community (left photo below). Their previous toilet facilities were showing their age, and were not sufficient for the hundreds of pupils on site. The new toilet block contains six cubicles for female pupils and two for staff, and the old toilet block is now being used by male pupils.

Another school in the north of Ethiopia, Chechela Elementary, is currently constructing their own new toilet block, which we have jointly funded with the community (right photo above). The eight new toilet cubicles will be split equally between the male and female pupils and, judging by current construction progress, the new facility should be fully in use within the next couple of months.

To ensure these new facilities remain clean and usable for many years to come both schools will benefit from a toilet cleaning programme that we are currently developing with their staff and pupils.

How to get involved

If you are able to help us with future toilet building projects, please do get in contact. We work with dozens of schools in Ethiopia which are in need of improved sanitation facilities and we rely on supporters like you to help fund the projects alongside the local communities. If you are able to make a donation, please visit our website ( or email Matt at [email protected] for more information. Thank you.

News from Ethiopia

  • We couldn’t resist bringing you this news: Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa recently ran out of Coca-Cola as the credit crunch took the fizz out of the economy. The BBC’s Elizabeth Blunt in the city said she had known African countries to run out of petrol, soap, sugar, batteries or tyres – but never Coke.  The East Africa Bottling Share Company, which produces the soft drink in the region, temporarily shut its bottling operation in Ethiopia a month or so ago. It said they had the Coca-Cola – but did not have the bottle tops. You will be pleased to hear that the problem has since been resolved and the soft drink is now back on the shelves.
  • Also, a newly established private airline, Air Ethiopia, has begun to provide its Ethiopian customers with flight services. It is the first private airline to start regular flights in the country. Captain Abera Lemi, who used to work for the national Airlines, established Air Ethiopia last October and it is now providing passenger, cargo, ambulance, charter, and non-scheduled flight services between Addis Ababa and regional centres. Air Ethiopia has acquired a 19-seater aircraft called Beach 1900 from an American aviation company. “The unique feature of the aircraft is that it can land on any field which is not paved,” Abera said. “We give priority to safety,” he added.

Meet the Team: Matt Stockdale

Matt Stockdale is Link Ethiopia’s Project Director and coordinator of our London office activities, working full-time to bring about the success of the organisation. He has lived and taught in Ethiopia, and has been back to visit on many, many occasions.


Culture spot: Traditional clothing

Many visitors to Ethiopia are surprised when they find that traditional clothing does not quite fit in with the colourful styles expected elsewhere in Africa. Whereas in West Africa, printed cottons with bright pictorial designs enliven every marketplace and social meeting, in Ethiopia the traditional clothing is based on pure white woven materials.

To see a crowd of people making their way to a celebration or church service in Ethiopia, all dressed in various styles and forms of the white traditional shawl, is a sight of great elegance and wonder. People keep their white clothing immaculately clean and bright.

Whereas the men will usually wear their plain shawls over their normal daily attire, the women are draped in all manner of finely embroidered or woven cloths, often edged in purples and greens and pinks. Shawls are thick and warm for the chilly evenings, thrown over the shoulders with great style. Much finer and lighter materials provide shawls for the daytime, worn with pride and pleasure whenever people go out to meet their friends.

Coming up on UK Television

  • Long way down – Egypt and Ethiopia
    Ewan McGregor and friend journey through Africa
    Friday May 22nd
    (National Geo Wild)

Ethiopian proverb

The good looks of a moron do not stay that way for long

English proverb

An easy fool is a knave’s tool

Website link

All the up-to-date news, from a variety of sources at

And of course,

Help us?

As always, if anyone reading this would like to offer us expertise, knowledge and help with our work or if you would like to associate yourself with one of our school projects (classrooms, water, toilets, books, etc) then please get in touch. You can donate via the following link, or by contacting us – details at the bottom of this email.

Posted in 2009, News emails |

February 2009

Welcome to the February news update!

Hello everyone – and best wishes to you from a chilly and recently snowy UK!

This News Update will have our usual mixture of thoughts and information but the focused topic for February is our volunteering scheme. Nowadays our volunteers are of a very wide age-range and take part in all sorts of supporting activities in schools in Ethiopia. Here you will read about some of our recent volunteers and what they have managed to achieve. Perhaps you would like to join them! Read on …

Focus on… Volunteering

In this Focus on Volunteering we want to mention seven volunteers who, in the last year, got fully involved in our teaching programmes in the north of Ethiopia. Amy, Emily, Hana, Hannah, Cassey, James and Will all made wonderful contributions to the work of Link Ethiopia while they were there and we are delighted to say that they all had a fantastic and fulfilling time. We look forward to their being friends of Link Ethiopia for many years to come.

Amy, Emily and Hana

Amy, a confident and energetic young lady, was a very positive member of the Gondar community throughout her stay and seemed to enjoy the bustle and vibrancy of the town itself. “I am so happy to have participated in the gap scheme, it was fantastic!

Emily shared her teaching with Amy for those three months and was, right from the start, very organised and competent, coping easily and well with the challenges of life in a very different community. “As regards the accommodation, it was fantastic! The location was perfect and it was very nice.

Hana was not only our first volunteer to come from the USA but also was the first volunteer of Ethiopian parentage. We were therefore delighted to have her very positive influence in Gondar and her students valued her lessons very highly indeed. “Nothing short of awesome! Belayneh and Mulugeta [our staff in Gondar] have been fabulous resources, mentors and friends.

Hannah, Cassey, James and Will

Hannah was full of energy and assertive enthusiasm in her teaching and in her time in and around Gondar. She soon got her students organised and motivated in a very real way and will surely be missed by them all. “Just a really great experience- I’ve loved every minute of it.

Cassey approached everything in Gondar in a really optimistic and intelligent way and there is no doubt that she was able to impart things of real lasting value to all who attended her classes. “Made some great friends and I didn’t want to leave!

James was certainly a popular and friendly member of the Gondar community throughout his stay, involving himself fully not only in the teaching but also in a considerable way outside of school hours. “The training we received was effective in inspiring confidence and giving us an idea of structuring our lessons.

Will, who partnered James and co-taught with him, not only showed himself to be a very competent and aware teacher but a very sympathetic and supportive companion to all his students. “From this experience I gained patience and confidence, learned a new language, experienced a different culture, and made new friends.

How to get involved

Link Ethiopia has recently been in consultation with numerous schools in Ethiopia and is hoping for a real expansion of its volunteering scheme. With placements of varying lengths of time to suit the individual need, a much wider range of areas of involvement for volunteers to take part in, and no restrictions being placed on the age of the volunteers signing up, we hope that many more people will take advantage of this experience and give themselves a time in their lives which could be truly life-changing. Email Chris at [email protected] for more information.

News from Ethiopia

  • Many Ethiopian farmers have for the first time become owners of their own new private insurance firm, the Oromia Insurance Company. The new company has been under formation since February 2008 and has now joined the insurance industry of Ethiopia with a considerable financial base. “The distinctive feature of the Oromia Insurance Company is that millions of farmers in the Oromisa region have become shareholders through their cooperative unions,” said Mitiku Abdissa.
  • A motorbike ambulance donated by the NHS in Wales has helped to save the life of an Ethiopian mother. The ambulance, specially designed to cope with the poor road infrastructure in the rural heartland of southern Ethiopia, was donated by the members of the Gwent Health Link. Eighteen year old Shemsia was having a difficult time at home with her first birth and her family had heard of the recent arrival of the motorbike ambulance in Alaba health centre. They telephoned in the middle of the night and the motorbike ambulance was sent out to Chobare where Shemsia lives. She gave birth in the health centre later that evening, with help from a trained midwife, to a baby girl weighing 3kg.

Meet the Team: James Birch

James Birch has joined us recently to spearhead the development of our Child Sponsorship scheme. He is one of our past Gap Volunteers, having taught in the Fasiledes School in Gondar in 2000. We get the advantage of his commitment and expertise on the days when his Parliamentary work allows!


Culture spot: Food

These days, in Ethiopia, there is a wide range of tasty food options in town cafes and restaurants. But traditional Ethiopian food is the still popular (and often unchanging) basis for a family’s normal meals.

Meal times in Ethiopia are very social occasions. A large single plate of food is prepared with a huge sour pancake called injera as its base. On top of this are placed various wats or stews according to availability. There might be various mixtures of vegetables from the garden – potatoes, onions, carrots, cabbage and a sort of spinach called gomen. Very popular is a dish called shiro wat made from chickpeas and mixed spices, while a more celebrational meal will perhaps include little pieces of roast lamb called t’ibs or even the national chicken dish called doro wat, served in a very spicy sauce along with a hard-boiled egg.

The men of the family tend to be served first, sharing the large plateful of food. After that the ladies join in, followed by the children. Visitors and special friends sometimes receive food directly from the hand of their host, a great honour in Ethiopian culture. This is called gursha.

Coming up on UK Television

  • Saving Planet Earth – Saving wolves
    Graham Norton in the Simien Mountains
    Wednesday March 11th (Eden)
  • The Nile – The Great Flood
    Life in the Ethiopian Highlands
    Tuesday March 24th (Eden)
  • Wild Africa – Mountains
    Gelada baboons and Ethiopian wolves
    Tuesday March 31st (Eden)

Ethiopian proverb

The person who is cruel dies twice

English proverb

If a man deceive me once, shame on him. But if he deceive me twice, shame on me

Website link

The latest news on health issues in Ethiopia at

and, of course, our own colourful website at

Help us?

As always, if anyone reading this would like to offer us expertise, knowledge and help with our work or if you would like to associate yourself with one of our school projects (classrooms, water, toilets, books, etc) then please get in touch. You can donate via the following link, or by contacting us – details at the bottom of this email.

Posted in 2009, News emails |

January 2009

Welcome to the January news update!

Hello to all our friends out there in so many countries of the world!

Another New Year has dawned here in Europe while another festive Timkat (Epiphany) season is being celebrated in Ethiopia. For Link Ethiopia and all of the varied organisations working to put right some of the wrongs of this rather inequitable world, the tightening of financial belts is likely to make the going rather tough in the coming months. This is bound to be a major focus of our attention while we try to pursue the many ambitious new projects that are in the planning stage for this year.

This issue of our News Update focuses on our School Links scheme, expanding and becoming more adventurous all the time. Read on …!

Focus on… School Linking

More and more schools are joining with Link Ethiopia in forming a link of friendship and support between our two countries. A visit by the UK school, either the coordinating teacher or a more senior group of students, can often inspire and motivate a partnership like nothing else! Here we want to tell you about one of our school links and the recent group visit that took place in October.

Halliford School’s visit to Ethiopia

On the most recent school visit to Ethiopia twelve students from Halliford School in Shepperton visited Edeget Feleg School in Gondar.

Prior to leaving, the boys, their parents and their teachers worked hard to collect books and sports kits and to raise money for their link school. They ran a series of enjoyable events including a quiz night, a classical concert and a non-uniform day. Michael Gray, the Link Coordinator at Halliford, also organised a series of information sessions over the six weeks preceding the visit so that students could learn about the history, culture and customs of Ethiopia.

Following a warm welcome in Edeget Feleg, the students from Halliford set to work painting a beautiful mural outside the library and inside a classroom which will be equipped with computers that are to be funded with money raised in the UK. Students and teachers from both schools also took part in a series of mutually beneficial activities that were not only fun but also helped to build friendships and increase cultural awareness. A very exciting football match, together with some formal debates, enabled students from both schools to show their skills both on and off the sports pitch. Solomon, a student at Edeget Feleg, said: “We really appreciate the effort that the boys have made to visit us in Ethiopia. It has been a great chance for us to improve our English skills and learn all about British culture”.

Michael Gray, who put lots of effort into organising the visit, said: “The trip has been a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness of the link in our school. Students keep on coming up to me and asking me all about Ethiopia and when the next trip will be”. He added: “The biggest lesson that the boys learned was that, although we have different levels of material wealth, we all have the same aspirations and outlook on life. Hopefully the trip will become a regular feature in the school calendar”. Judging by the success of this trip, we hope so too!

How to get involved

If your school is interested in partnering with an Ethiopian school please let us know! We have dozens of schools awaiting a link so now couldn’t be a better time to start. Email Chris at [email protected] for more information – thank you!

News from Ethiopia

  • Ethiopia marches inexorably forward! It has just been announced that the ubiquitous Dashen Bank will now accept Mastercard in all its branches, having recently started accepting VISA. For years the lack of ‘plastic power’ has been something of a problem for tourists visiting the country, so large amounts of cash or travellers’ cheques deep in the pocket were the only options. Now that is a thing of the past, and a tourist or businessman can nip along to get crisp new notes fresh from the ‘hole in the wall’ (ATM).
  • In other news, at the very moment that we are planning the creation of a Donkey Library in the Gondar region to take reading materials to the most rural schools in that area, we learn from Elizabeth Blunt at the BBC of a similar scheme that has just been launched way down in the south of the country, in Awassa. Our own scheme will not be able to match the colourfully painted yellow cart that is being used there because we are going to be servicing communities far from any decent roads. Our donkeys will have waterproof panniers and they will meander between rural villages at a steady pace to deliver their educational loads.

Meet the Team: Belayneh Shewaye

Belayneh Shewaye is our Country Manager, based in our main Ethiopia office in Gondar. He is an experienced teacher and administrator and works full-time to coordinate our school projects, school links and volunteering scheme in the north of the country.



Geography spot: The road to Gorgora

In the north of Ethiopia is a huge and beautiful lake called Lake Tana, an area with an ancient and colourful history. Most tourists see this huge expanse of water from the southern tip, the now important regional centre of Bahir Dar with its tree-lined streets and fine hotels. But at the other end of the lake, far to the north, is a much smaller and more modest village called Gorgora.

Gorgora is reached from Gondar, where the main Link Ethiopia office is based, via a stony and countrified road that cuts through swathes of attractive farmland and which passes through several small welcoming roadside towns. The main one of these, Kola Diba, has schools and houses, cafes and shops, all hugging closely to the straight road that continues single-mindedly on its way to Gorgora and the lake.

There are many signs of past history at Gorgora. The ancient monastery of Debre Sina Maryam is one focus for those tourists who manage to reach there, while not far away are the ruins of Emperor Susenyos’s palace at Old Gorgora. But today the town’s main features are the extensive Lake Tana Transport Authority compound, which serves as the terminus for the large passenger boats that cross the lake from Bahir Dar in the south, and a particularly fine and welcoming lakeside hotel where visitors can while away many pleasurable hours watching the water and the plentiful and varied birdlife.

Link Ethiopia has just linked a school in the UK with the secondary school here in Gorgora, so we shall be visiting this beautiful spot frequently in the future.

Coming up on UK Television

  • Africa Trek – EthiopiaTribal Realm, Christian Empire
    Thursday January 29th (Travel Channel)
  • Tribal wives – EthiopiaA Scottish airhostess amid the Afar tribewomen!
    Friday January 30th (UKTV Documentary)
  • Ethiopian wolfAn enchanting story of survival
    Thursday February 19th at midnight(Animal Planet)

Ethiopian proverb

When they work together strings of a bark can tie up an elephant

English proverb

Don’t have thy cloak to make when it begins to rain

Website link

Lots of information to discover at the wonderful Africa Guide’s pages on Ethiopia

and, of course, our own colourful website at

Help us?

As always, if anyone reading this would like to offer us expertise, knowledge and help with our work or if you would like to associate yourself with one of our school projects (classrooms, water, toilets, books, etc) then please get in touch. You can donate via the following link, or by contacting us – details at the bottom of this email.

Posted in 2009, News emails |