News blog

Blog category: 2012

Volunteering successes in 2012-13

Link Ethiopia’s volunteering scheme has been running for many years now and a great number of visitors have been able to engage with Ethiopian schools and their pupils over that time.

We have no restrictions on age (apart from obvious lower age limitations) and we welcome people from all walks of life – teachers, students, retired business people, etc.

This last academic year we have hosted nearly two dozen enthusiastic individual volunteers (along with a very large number of volunteer visiting groups that you can read about in our other updates), both in our northern region centring on Gondar and in our southern office area around Bishoftu (Debre Zeit).

Our volunteers have almost all taken part in some secondary teaching, supported and guided not only by our caring staff but also by copious resources and materials that have enabled and facilitated their efforts. But many have brought other skills to bear during their placements in the way of sports training, computer help (for both students and teachers), photographic techniques, teaching support and discussion, etc.

Gondar volunteers

Our Country Director, Ato Belayneh Shewaye, and our Volunteering Coordinator, Eyayaw Bayable, have welcomed a number of volunteering visitors to Gondar during this last year.

vol_gondar_tom_harryTom Berry and Harry Page continued our wonderful association with Backwell School in Bristol by volunteering for a three-month period and maintaining good relations with the Angereb Secondary School which is linked with their own school.

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At the same time, Sue Lawrence was taking on some very challenging phonics teaching in a wide range of primary schools and receiving glowing reports from both teachers and pupils. She is limbering up at this moment to spend another month there in October to further Link Ethiopia’s involvement with phonics and spoken English.

We welcomed Brigitte Hekker and Caspar van Cruchten from the Netherlands – for the third time! Brigitte taught in Gondar while Caspar became our first ever teaching volunteer in Bahir Dar. And like Sue Lawrence, there are yet more return visits on the cards.

Another pair of long-term friends of Link Ethiopia, Tricia and Bob Hayne, spent a month with our Gondar staff, teaching at Edeget Feleg Secondary School and generally supporting the work that we are doing in that area. Tricia used to be king-pin in Bradt Travel Guides whose superlative Guide to Ethiopia is tucked under the arm of many a tourist.

vol_gondar_sueAlan Taylor, yet another friend of Link Ethiopia and a very confident occasional resident in the Gondar area, spent four weeks with us, teaching in schools and catching up with his many friends.

And that brings us up to the present time with our Gondar volunteers. Jake Nielen and Alice Apsey, both studying at Cambridge University and involved in some serious research projects, have just arrived to spend six weeks with us in Gondar. The effectiveness of the volunteering experience and a particular focus on girls’ education are areas where we hope to gain from their insights.

Bishoftu volunteers

Down in our southern region, just below the capital Addis Ababa, we have likewise had a resounding year of volunteering thanks to the efforts of Hailemariam Ayano, our Regional Manager, and Habtamu Dereje, our Volunteering Coordinator.

Steph McKean travelled from Canada and spent a very enthusiastic and active month helping small groups of keen youngsters with their English Communication Skills. She took back a wealth of fond memories with her to Ontario.

Our first ever volunteer from Egypt was Shorouk Abulmagd, whose caring and sensitive nature made a real impact in Bishoftu.

vols_bishoftu_pete_sarahAnd more dynamic work was to follow with our two volunteers from the UK, Pete Belfield and Sarah Hamlin, whose three month stint with us became extended into a longer period of hugely supportive efforts in a number of areas of our work. We were particularly honoured to have Sarah with us, the granddaughter of world famous surgeon Catherine Hamlin who founded and still runs the renowned Fistula Hospital in Addis.

Next to arrive in Bishoftu was Malcolm Cartledge, a very experienced and talented photographer, who used his knowledge and enthusiasms to instruct small groups of secondary students, many of whom had never held a camera before, but who were fast learners producing some fun and creative images under his guidance.

Another star in Link Ethiopia’s volunteering firmament was the Scot Calum Erskine, arriving from Dubai where he teaches sports, and who had previously done some amazing fund-raising to provide all sorts of sports kits and resources. His infectious energy was appreciated by all and he remains a valued supporter of our work.

And so we come up to date with a number of present volunteers in our southern region.

vols_bishoftu_nowGrace Mickleburgh, from Sussex University, is just leaving Bishoftu after eleven weeks of charismatic involvement with adoring students whose English skills cannot have failed to improve during her time there. Read her own blog here.

Mark Forrest and Kathleen Martin have likewise just come to the end of their stay with our southern staff. Their enthusiastic energies again impressed all who experienced them.

Tamara Szerezla, a Hungarian teacher at present working in Oman, has been giving some very specialised help and advice to teachers in the Bishoftu area, discussing and comparing education systems in a very inspiring way.

And now, Haile and Habtamu are awaiting the arrival of three more Cambridge students, Sam Franklin, Tess Godley and Alex Logan. They are due to arrive in the next few days to carry the Link Ethiopia volunteering flag to even greater heights.

So how about getting involved with some volunteering yourself? Are you interested? You don’t have to be a teacher. You don’t have to have done this sort of thing before. And we shall prepare you and support you all the way. Get in touch – [email protected]


Posted in 2012, 2013, Volunteering |

Link Ethiopia update – December 2012

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Welcome to Link Ethiopia’s December 2012 News Update!

2012 has been quite a year for us, both in Ethiopia and internationally. Our projects in schools across the north and south of Ethiopia have expanded and we have so many exciting stories to share. To whet your appetite you can read a few highlights of our projects and their achievements in our news update below and do remember that we have more stories on our website blog which you can visit at any time (

Before we get stuck into our projects roundup, we’d first like to show off our new 2013 Calendar and our Gift Ethiopia website which might help with your Christmas shopping.

Thank you again for your support!

2013 Calendars

Calendar photos in all their glory!

Our first batch of 2013 calendars sold out fast, BUT, fear not, the second batch has arrived – just in time for Christmas! Each month is illustrated with a beautiful photo, including some of our Link School’s amazing children, the incredible Simien Mountains and the monolithic rock-cut churches in Lalibela. They also carry a thought-provoking Ethiopian proverb on each page which may give you some inspiration. We are really proud of them and at just £8 (or equivalent) they make great gifts. Head over to our calendar page to see more and to get one for yourself or someone you know.

Gift Ethiopia

Christmas Gift Cards

Our Gift Ethiopia website is the perfect place to go if you’d like to support our work in schools and give a meaningful present to friends or family at the same time! Christmas is a time for making others happy – and Gift Ethiopia lets you make those you love happy, as well as school children and communities we support across Ethiopia!

Donkey libraries, toilets, football teams, school uniforms… Whatever you’d like to support, head over to to start choosing your gifts!

Donkey Library: the sequel

Donkey Library & Librarian

With help from one of our long-term supporters, we have been able to establish a second Donkey Library, in the Dembia Zuria region near Gondar! After the success of our first innovative mobile library we have been keen to widen the benefits to more rural pupils. The new project now supports an extra 4,000 students and we’re really pleased to see it up and running.

Water water everywhere, and plenty to drink!

Water Taps at Dukem 2

Part of our commitment to improving access to quality education is to help make sure children are healthy and well enough to really engage with the available education in their towns & villages. To this end, we have been constructing clean drinking water facilities in a number of our schools across Ethiopia, and one of the latest projects has been at Dukem 2 Elementary School near Bishoftu.  We would like to thank our long-term partners World Challenge for assisting with the project. Head over to our projects page to learn more about our Health & Well-being projects.

Technology projects roundup

Children at Tokumma thank LE for the work.

Technology plays such an important role in developing the potential of any country’s future generations that we are delighted to share with you the incredible progress that has been made on some of our technology-focused school projects.

Solar Power

At one of our schools, Ambo Tokumma Elementary in western Ethiopia (see picture above), the installation of solar panels has seen many amazing changes to life and work at the school. The project has allowed solar energy to be harnessed to power lighting and radios across the school! It also lays the foundations for our ongoing work at the school where we are currently building an IT centre complete with solar powered netbooks and an internet connection – a first for the area! Head over to our technology blog to learn more!

IT Power

We all know how computers are vital to so many aspects of society – work, learning, entertainment, to name just a few. So we are really pleased to see the IT centre at Tana Haik High School in Bahir Dar doing so well! Not only have the computers become an integral part of learning at the school, but the school also took it upon themselves to establish an internet connection, increasing the usefulness of the IT centre even further.


We’d like to wish all our supporters a merry Christmas and a happy new year! See you all in 2013 for more exciting education work!

Posted in 2012, News emails |

Hosting a teacher at Rushmere Hall Primary School

Rushmere Hall Primary School recently hosted Mr Dawit, a teacher from their Ethiopian Link School, Times Choice Academy, and it couldn’t have gone better!

After being welcomed to Rushmere with a welcoming ceremony, he spent the week meeting with the school Link Club & touring the school. He also met with the school Headteacher, and observed and participated in many lessons, telling Ethiopian folk tales and discussing Ethiopian culture.

After taking part in a school trip, and a farewell ceremony, Mr Dawit engaged in a second in-depth meeting with Rushmere’s Headteacher, which will really work towards enriching educational practice at both partner schools.

Before he flew home, Mr Dawit enjoyed a day trip to London with fellow teachers from Rushmere, and saw all the sights London has to offer from an open-top double decker bus! I’m sure all involved loved the exchange experience and are really sad this trip has come to an end.

Hannah, the Link Coordinator at Rushmere, had this to say of the exchange experience: “After the second visit, the teachers, children and parents are enthused by [the Link]. Numerous displays have gone up to celebrate his [Mr Dawit’s] wealth of knowledge, more teachers are getting involved and our Link Club is getting bigger.”

If your school is interested in hosting a teacher(s) from your Link School, please get in touch with [email protected] Link Ethiopia can help you with any aspect of the exchange experience, and we can also support you in applying for the Connecting Classrooms Grant, which can provide funding and guidance towards hosting a teacher from your Link School, and for visiting as well!

Posted in 2012, School links |

Great Ethiopian Run 2012

On the 25th of November 2012, over 36,000 people from across the world took part in the largest road race in Africa, the Great Ethiopian Run. This annual event, now in its 12th year, has grown year-on-year to its current stature; this year more people took part than in the 2012 London Marathon! Quite a feat for a marathon held at 8000ft, in Africa’s highest capital city, Addis Ababa!

This year 9 amazing people ran representing Link Ethiopia. This group included two teachers from Sincil College who were able to use this opportunity to visit their link school, learn more about Ethiopia and consider possibilities for bringing a group of students to Ethiopia next year.

The running group also included two former Backwell School students, currently working as volunteer teachers in Gondar as part of our gap year scheme.

If you think your school would like to get involved in this event next year then please contact [email protected] for more information or visit our website to find out more.

You can find out more about our gap year scheme here – And don’t forget, students from linked schools get a 50% discount on our already fantastic rates!

To check out how our brilliant team got on, check out the gallery below! And Channel 4 are broadcasting highlights of the race next Sunday, so make sure to check it out on T.V. or on 4oD online.

Posted in 2012, Ethiopian culture, Ethiopian news |

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

December 3rd is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities

This international day of events, awareness raising, learning and understanding is organised by the United Nations and has run for more than a decade. Learn more about the day at the UN’s website here .

Link Ethiopia’s Work on Disability

At Link Ethiopia, we believe that all children should have access to a quality education, and we know that disability can be a serious barrier that needs to be overcome.

Link Ethiopia’s Disability: Widening Access & Participation (DWAP) project aims to help two schools initially, across Northern and Southern Ethiopia. With over 200 disabled students, including deaf, mute and physically & mentally disabled pupils, its great that the schools are trying to help so many children who face such a variety of learning obstacles. However, the schools are very ill-equipped to provide the quality education that these students need and deserve. They need help obtaining Special Educational Needs learning materials, rehabilitation and mobility aids, hearing aids and basic educational materials such as books and pens. More importantly, the schools need teachers who are properly trained to work with these disabled pupils.

Click here  to see and download a poster outlining the key problems associated with children’s disability in Ethiopia, and some fundraising goals and ideas that you can help with.

If you think you would like to support Link Ethiopia with this project then please contact [email protected].

Posted in 2012, By topic, By year, Projects |

Addis Makes Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Cities for 2013!

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s wonderful capital city, has made it into the annual Lonely Planet Guide’s Top 10 Cities in the World list for the first time!

As the diplomatic capital of Africa, and one of the continents, not to mention the world’s, most exciting and thriving metropolis’, Addis is a natural choice for the list. And for travellers interesting in seeking out vibrant and beguiling destinations, and one’s off the beaten track, it is a choice that really is difficult to beat.

If you’re interested in visiting this beautiful city, and travelling through the ancient and welcoming country of Ethiopia, head over to our Tours page for ideas and inspiration. You can get in touch with chris[at] if you’re interested in an intimate, inspiring and unique trip that makes a substantial contribution to the brilliant work we do at Link Ethiopia. You can also learn more about Addis and Ethiopia’s history here.

[Man balancing twenty foam mattresses on his head through streets central market. Getty Images/Todd Lawson]

Posted in 2012, Ethiopian culture, Ethiopian news |

After the Shipment: Tana Haik IT Centre

Following Link Ethiopia’s shipment of computer equipment to Ethiopia in July 2010, we are really pleased to see that the IT centre set up with the donated equipment is proving very popular!

The growing demand for IT skills in Ethiopia’s job market means that getting access to computers, the internet and other ICT means that an IT centre such as the one being utilised by the pupils and teachers at Tana Haik, are a very important part of learning and preparing for the world beyond education.

After setting up the computer equipment brought by Link Ethiopia, Tana Haik went one better and, together with financial support from one of their alumni, were able to get the IT centre networked and connected to the internet! This gives them a great opportunity to connect with the web and make use of its incredible potential.

We are currently preparing to ship another container of computer equipment to Ethiopia, in a joint project with Aysanew Kassa Trust, so more schools will be able to make use of such equipment in the near future!

If you would like to know more about our work with technology and education, you can read about our projects here. If you would like to support Link Ethiopia’s continuing work towards improving access to quality education, you can donate towards projects such as these here, or by contacting matt[at]

Posted in 2012, Projects, Science and technology |

Halliford School: Visit to Edget Feleg Secondary

Teachers from Halliford Secondary School in Middlesex recently completed an exciting trip to their link school, Edget Feleg Secondary School in Gondar, Northern Ethiopia. They visited their counterparts in preparation for a visit from students due to take place in 2013! They toured the school, met the teachers and pupils and begun to draft the educational activities and adventures that their students would enjoy when they make the trip to Gondar.

They also toured the country, visiting some of the most interesting historical sites Ethiopia has to offer, and had a brilliant time experiencing Ethiopia, its culture and people – sure to give them a wealth of ideas from which to draw upon for lessons and activities once back in the UK and back to school.

I’m sure the pupils at Halliford School cannot wait for their chance to visit Ethiopia and meet their fellow students at Edget Feleg Secondary, and get out and experience the incredible wealth of history and culture Ethiopia has to offer. And I’m sure their teachers can’t wait either!

If you think visiting Ethiopia, to experience its rich culture & history first-hand, is something that you would be interested in, you can find some detailed information on the tours that Link Ethiopia runs here. These tours are a great introduction to the country, and offer an incredible experience that can’t be found elsewhere. And, even better, all proceeds go directly to the great work we do in the country! For more information, or to discuss our tours further, visit the tours page at the link above, or contact our director Chris Grant at chris[at]

Posted in 2012, School links |

Tannery Drift First School: Helpful Harvest!

At one of our new linked schools,  Tannery Drift in Hertfordshire, they certainly wasted no time in making the most of the opportunities afforded by their link with Selam Elementary in Northern Ethiopia. After introducing the project to the pupils and parents at the school, a great fundraising and learning opportunity appeared – the annual Harvest Festival!





Utilising some of the  resources provided by Link Ethiopia to linked schools, the children and teachers at Tannery Drift compared and contrasted the kinds of foods and dishes between the UK and Ethiopia – I wonder if the children would think about trying the acquired-taste of Ethiopian flatbread (injera)?  Already, in general discussions and all topics across the school, teachers and children often ask the question: “I wonder if that happens in Ethiopia?”.

As well as using the Harvest Festival to learn about Ethiopia and Ethiopian food, Tannery Drift went one better and sold the collected produce to start raising funds to help contribute to projects and education at Selam Elementary – great to get started so quickly and to come up with innovative fundraising ideas!

For more information on fundraising ideas and activities, click here, and for more on Ethiopian food, click here.

If you’re thinking of teaching this topic yourself, then you can find more resources here, and a great video from the Simpsons here.

Posted in 2012, School links |

Maksegnit Water Taps!

Maksegnit 2 Elementary School now has a fully operational water tap system.

A big Thank You! the Students and Teachers at West London Academy Primary School for their generous help and donations. We could not have done it without you.

Here is what your help has enabled us to achieve:

Posted in 2012, Projects, Water and sanitation |