Posted by Amy on Friday 20th July 2018
Keen to test out the latest coin in your wallet? Ethiopiaid is excited to now accept cryptocurrency for online donations, so you can test out that coin and feel good about it too.
Our aim? Helping the poorest and most marginalised people in Ethiopia. Your transaction? Goes where help is needed most - often towards helping vulnerable children and women have access to food and safe shelter, emergency healthcare, schooling and gainful employment.
Get ready to feel really warm and fuzzy inside...
Bitcoin Cash BCH
Kicking it old school? Like a receipt?
Include your email address in the transaction or send us an email with your transaction ID to: email@example.com
You're ace. Thank you!
World Youth Skills Day
Posted by Amy on Saturday 14th July 2018
In a country where almost 3 million children are deprived of basic education and almost 50% of youth are unemployed, it’s more critical than ever to ensure youth have the skills they need for their best future.
Today on World Youth Skills Day we’re showcasing the work we’re doing to support training and education for youth across Ethiopia.
OUR AIM: To promote quality education for all
Across our global offices, we have partnered with various local organisations in Ethiopia to cover a range of education resources for youth; from basic literacy on the street, to access to formal primary or secondary school, to scholarships for university and apprenticeships. We believe everyone should have access to comprehensive education regardless of age, gender or physical condition.
STARTING OUT: SAFE HOUSES & BASIC EDUCATION
For homeless and parentless children, going to school is often less of a priority than finding safe shelter and food. We work with different local organisations across Ethiopia who run sanctuaries or safe houses for orphaned children and survivors of violence. As well as housing, feeding and protecting these children against slavery, these sanctuaries provide access to formal and informal education.
Provide all the essential school materials such as writing books, pens and textbooks so students can focus on their learning - and not how to pay for it.
Enrol children living in the safe houses to local primary schools which they attend daily.
Provide programs for business, craft production, communication and mathematics to students unwilling or unable to attend formal school.
Help older students access higher education, vocational training or find long-term employment so they can become self-sufficient citizens.
Provide mobile schools where children still living on the street can learn simple literacy and numeracy so they don’t miss out on basic education.
HIGHER LEARNING: UNIVERSITY & APPRENTICESHIPS
Higher learning is often a luxury only the wealthy can afford; but even for those who can afford it, a lack of choice and quality in tertiary institutions has meant many students go abroad to study. They often do not return to Ethiopia, so valuable skills and expertise are lost. We partner with universities and vocational institutions to provide higher learning scholarships to disadvantaged students who could not otherwise afford it.
Provide access to university education through scholarships at the Hope College of Business, Science & Technology – Ethiopia’s first public benefit university!
Here, students can obtain diplomas in areas such as business, technology and social sciences. These are all highly employable areas in the government and private sectors, so students are able to find jobs quite easily after graduation.
Provide access to vocational training through the Hope Enterprises’ Vocational Training Unit in Ethiopia’s capital.
Students can learn practical skills in tailoring, metal work, furniture making, industrial machinery, hospitality and catering. This includes a 2-month apprenticeship to help graduates secure a permanent job upon completion.
EQUAL EDUCATION: GIRLS IN SCHOOL
There is a stunning difference in education levels between men and women in Ethiopia. Only 7.8% of women have some secondary education compared to 18.2% of men and, for women, literacy levels drop by 16%. A large factor behind this is that girls in rural areas often miss school during menstruation due to lack of sanitary items and toilet facilities, plus widespread stigmas against menstruation. This causes them to fall behind in their studies and drop out of school at an earlier age. This is a huge waste of human potential and one we are working hard to rectify with local partnerships.
Provide menstrual hygiene kits to girls in school which contain a reusable sanitary pad so girls can manage their periods discreetly, with dignity and without having to stay home from school each month.
Distribute information booklets which have the facts on puberty and menstruation to help break down taboos, dispel common myths and offer a factual resource for students who often have nowhere else to turn.
Build toilet facilities with adequate sources of water including female-only toilets so girls can manage their periods in a sanitary and private environment.
INCLUSIVE EDUCATION: SPECIAL EDUCATION NEEDS
For a child living with a disability in Ethiopia, access to education is virtually impossible. Only 1% of children with special needs have access to specialised education and are often neglected by society. Through various partners such as a boarding school for the blind and a physical mobility support and rehabilitation organisation, we support youth with special needs to have the same opportunity for education as every other child.
Support a boarding school for blind children (Mekelle Blind School) including funding for training in braille typewriting.
Provide funding for ‘Talking Textbooks’ where volunteers read and record textbooks for use by sight impaired students.
For physical mobility needs, provide walking aids, ramps and accessible toilets in schools where students have mobility issues.
Cover costs for school fees, books and transport for older children with disabilities who don't have the means to support themselves, and provide funding for inclusive kindergartens where children both with and without disabilities can learn and interact together.
Want to get on board?
To get involved in this work, visit our Donate page and help promote education and skills training for youth across Ethiopia!
Women Extension Workers Workshop
Posted by Amy on Thursday 12th July 2018
We need your help to fund an upcoming workshop to train a new team of Women Extension Workers in rural Ethiopia.
These Workers are local Ethiopian women who have experienced circumcision themselves and even practiced it on others… But who have come to us wanting to change.
This workshop is essential to train local women about:
FGM’s horrifying dangers and complete lack of religious significance
The health resources available for girls who are suffering
The critical need to stop practicing FGM on girls themselves
And MOST IMPORTANTLY to spread this new knowledge and awareness back to their own communities and stop this dangerous practice of FGM from the ground up!
Our local partner, the Afar Pastoralist Development Association (APDA) tries to run these workshops every quarter. But this year, a lot of their money has gone to drought relief so they are struggling to keep these workshops going.
From one of our wonderful supporters:
"Dear Ethiopiaid, a big thank you to all of you working to stop this barbarism.
I cannot express in polite terms my anger and outrage knowing this has been
happening for so long. Thank goodness brave people are standing up and
fighting against this. Gives me hope for the future."
- Jenny, Emerald VIC
Can you stand with us again in the fight against FGM?
Sign Up To Make Your Voice Heard!
Posted by Amy on Wednesday 11th July 2018
That Female Genital Mutilation has NO PLACE in the modern world, nor do similar harmful traditions
That obstetric fistula WILL be eradicated in Ethiopia through awareness and access to health services
That EVERYONE should have equal access to education, regardless of age, gender or physical condition
That empowering WOMEN with skills and education is essential for progress
That orphans and vulnerable children deserve SAFE housing and opportunity to grow
If you believe as strongly as we do, sign up to make your voice heard below!
You'll receive monthly news on what's happening in Ethiopia and find out how your voice can make a difference.
Menstrual Health Management Symposium
Posted by Amy on Friday 1st June 2018
The FIRST-EVER meeting on managing menstrual health for women and girls in East and South Africa was held this past week in Johannesburg, South Africa.
A ground breaking initiative, the Menstrual Health Management Symposium aims to bring together the many different programs and policies that already exist surrounding menstrual health and develop a sustainable, scalable framework which is cohesive across East and South Africa regions.
Purpose of Menstrual Health Management Symposium
According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the purpose of the symposium is:
To strengthen commitment and build on the latest evidence base, to move from research to action, and to demonstrate innovative, sustainable and scalable models to address the menstrual health management needs of adolescent girls and women throughout their menstrual life cycle in East and Southern Africa.
Issues surrounding menstrual management
Across the globe, a lack of access to menstrual hygiene products and a lack of widespread education contribute to cultural stigmas against menstruation.
Dr. Julitta Onabanjo, UNFPA’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, says on the topic:
“African sexuality is very much a hidden thing… [but keeping it hidden] perpetuates stigma and discrimination.
“Access to sexuality education is vital for menstrual literacy but also for self-confidence, self-esteem and self-worth.”
In Ethiopia, menstruation is a taboo subject. As a result, girls’ first periods usually take them by surprise; they don’t know what to do, or who they can turn to for help.
“When I first started to menstruate, I did not know what it was. I was very shocked and embarrassed. I was even too embarrassed to tell my mother.”
Excerpt from educational booklet ‘Growth and Changes’ distributed by Dignity Period
Although health and biology are taught in schools, the classes do not do enough to change the social perceptions about menstruation — that it is shameful, unclean, and a result of sexual activity – nor do they offer the practical knowledge adolescent girls need to manage their menstrual hygiene effectively.
Many girls are forced to use straw or strips of old cloth because they do not have access to or cannot afford sanitary products.
The lack of sanitation, fear about accidents and shame of having their period often drives girls to stay home from school during menstruation. With frequent absenteeism, these girls fall behind in their studies and have a higher risk of dropping out early.
Not only does this greatly restrict girls’ freedom and opportunity for education, but it is also a tragic waste of human potential.
How we support menstrual management
We work in partnership with Dignity Period with the mission to keep Ethiopian girls in school by providing quality menstrual hygiene products. Dignity Period operates within three areas of work:
SANITATION | Purchasing and distributing reusable, eco-friendly pads for girls in school, locally manufactured in the Mariam Seba Sanitary Products Factory.
RESEARCH | Funding research at the established Mekelle University in northern Ethiopia to explore cultural beliefs and social attitudes around menstruation in rural Ethiopia.
EDUCATION | Developing research-based programs to improve awareness and support on issues surrounding menstruation that are sustainable over the long term.
Within the field of education, Dignity Period produces a ‘Growth and Changes’ information booklet which provides facts on puberty and menstruation, answers common questions and dispels long-held myths which perpetuate menstruation as shameful.
Since launching the Menstrual Dignity Project in Ethiopia in 2015, a huge 73,197 students have been reached with information booklets and sanitary products for improved menstrual management.
Small steps for sustainable change
The menstrual management programs we support through Dignity Period are just one part of a wider chain of programs spanning many different sectors, channels and organisations.
The Menstrual Health Management Symposium aims to look at a wider picture of menstrual health across Africa by collating evidence and research from the many different programs in place and using this knowledge to drive more unified, scalable solutions for menstrual management.
Together we can help shape menstrual health in rural areas of Ethiopia and take the steps needed for sustainable change.
Want to get on board?
Reusable sanitary pads are an effective and immediate way of improving menstrual hygiene and management. Dignity Period purchases these sanitary pads locally from the Mariam Seba Sanitary Products Factory and distributes them to girls in rural schools who could not afford or access these products otherwise.
For a small amount, you can purchase a Mariam Seba sanitary pad to help a girl in school manage her period with dignity. If you would like to give a gift of dignity, please visit our Donate page. A small gift will make a big difference for a girl in Ethiopia.
Say No to FGM
Posted by Amy on Thursday 24th May 2018
Our mission is an important one.
Girls like Mayram who was mutilated at just 10 days old don’t have the power to speak up and say no to FGM – but you do.
Your support works two ways – to educate families on the dangers of FGM through trained Women Extension Workers in Ethiopia, and to provide support, health service information and counselling for those subjected to FGM.
For Mayram this support has meant the difference between life and death.
Each girl you support, each extension worker you help train is another step closer to beating FGM.
This emblem is a mark of the work we stand for and the cause you support. Download your printable version here!
Put an End to Obstetric Fistula
Posted by Amy on Tuesday 22nd May 2018
You can help put an end to fistula.
Our goal is to raise $6,000 by the end of June 30 to fund 10 emergency fistula repair surgeries for women desperately in need.
You can make a difference today.
Overcoming Obstetric Fistula - Abrehet’s Story
Posted by Amy on Tuesday 22nd May 2018
“I barely left the house in 17 years. I never thought I could be cured.”
My name is Abrehet. I am 34 years old and this is my story.
Imagine being married at 12 and pregnant at 14.
Imagine going into prolonged labour and being days from the nearest hospital. When your baby daughter finally arrives, imagine the feeling of relief knowing she has survived the traumatic experience, when 95% of babies in similar circumstances do not.
Imagine your joy being cut short when you realise you can no longer hold onto your bladder or bowel movements. The shame of finding out you are now incontinent.
Imagine a week later, your husband suddenly passes away.
It’s unimaginable, isn’t it? But this is Abrehet’s story. Like thousands of other women living in rural Ethiopia, she experienced an obstetric fistula caused by being in labour for five days. And like the vast majority of these women, she was immediately ostracised because of it.
“I felt abandoned,” Abrehet says. “I had no money for rent or food and no-one would give me a job. My daughter wasn’t able to attend school because I couldn’t afford it.
“She was forced to look after me, cleaning the urine from my clothes and washing my diapers. It was humiliating — I was supposed to be her mother, but she had to take care for me.
“I smelt bad, no matter how often I washed. I had no friends and I could barely walk — the burns on my skin from the urine were so painful.”
What is obstetric fistula?
Occurs after a long and painful labour
The compression from the baby’s head cuts off blood to the bladder or rectum
Tissue dies and leaves a hole, causing the mother to become incontinent
95% of babies will be stillborn
Has crippling after-effects: a woman with fistula is often abandoned by her husband and forced to live the rest of her life alone and ashamed
Each year, 3,500 women living in rural Ethiopia develop obstetric fistula
Source: World Health Organization
How can we put an end to obstetric fistula?
Fistula has been described as the moral challenge of our generation. It is almost entirely preventable – in fact there are no known cases of it in Australia or other developed countries – and it’s completely curable.
Healing Hands of Joy are local partners based in Ethiopia who are on a mission: not only are they fixing fistulas by sending women to specialist hospitals to be cured – they are also working to fully rehabilitate and reintegrate survivors back into their community.
They are helping these women to get jobs, learn new skills and receive counselling to work through their trauma. Where appropriate, they are training women to become Safe Motherhood Ambassadors, providing education and access to safe delivery options for pregnant mothers.
“I was 31 years old and had barely left the house in 17 years. I never thought I could be cured. When I was offered surgery to fix my fistula, I cried for days,” Abrehet says.
“I knew I wanted to help other women who were like me and so when Healing Hands offered to train me to become a Safe Motherhood Ambassador (SMA), I said yes straight away. For the first time in my life, I was learning. I was getting an education and I could help other people, so they didn’t have to go through what I did. It felt so good.
“My life was transformed by Healing Hands of Joy, and I am so thankful to all of the people around the world who support them and make stories like mine possible.
“I hope that one day, no more women in Ethiopia ever have to experience life with fistula. But until then, I won’t give up on these women. I hope no-one else will either.”
You can stop the needless suffering of women in Ethiopia right now.
Put an End to Obstetric Fistula
Posted by Amy on Monday 14th May 2018
Your support will help fund critical fistula repair surgeries including post-operative care, plus train more Safe Motherhood Ambassadors to provide information on maternal health and prevent fistula occurring in the first place.
Put an End to Obstetric Fistula
Posted by Amy on Monday 7th May 2018
Your support will help fund critical fistula repair surgeries including post-operative care, plus train more Safe Motherhood Ambassadors to provide information on maternal health and prevent fistula occurring in the first place.
Help Give Kofi his Best Chance in School
Posted by Amy on Thursday 26th April 2018
A pencil, writing book, sharpener and backpack. These are the only four items grade 2 student Kofi has for primary school in his remote Ethiopian community.
On a lucky day, he’ll also get a chance to look over one of the second-hand textbooks in his class. The textbooks are simple, focusing on subjects appropriate for a grade 2 primary school student – subjects like reading, numbers and spelling.
The problem is there are only three textbooks in a class of 12. More often than not, Kofi will miss out.
It seems like a small thing, but with so few other resources in the classroom, a simple learning aid like a textbook becomes essential for learning development. Without them, students like Kofi struggle to keep up in class.
Ethiopiaid’s local partner, Jerusalem Child and Community Development Organisation (JeCCDO) is working on the ground to manufacture and distribute desperately-needed textbooks for primary schools in Ethiopia’s far east region of Dire Dawa. The textbooks are locally sourced, efficiently printed and cover basic areas of learning development for primary school students.
But we need your help...
Our Mid-Year Impact in 2018
Posted by naomi on Thursday 12th April 2018
We’re only mid-way through April and 2018 is already turning out to be a remarkable year.
With the support of our contributors and through our local partners working tirelessly on the ground in Ethiopia, here is the impact we have made together in 2018 so far.
THIS YEAR & ALWAYS: A big thank you to all our supporters! This could not have been possible without you.
We have made great strides so far this year, but there’s still work to be done.
If you would like to give a gift to continue bringing health and hope to communities in need, please Give A Gift of Your Choice here.
International Women’s Day 2018 #PressforProgress
Posted by naomi on Tuesday 6th March 2018
This year, the theme for International Women's Day has been declared as #PressforProgress. To celebrate this important day, we would like to take this opportunity to recognise the incredible work of three very important partners who are all pressing to make change and bring progress to Ethiopia.
Dignity Period works to providing school girls all over Ethiopia with menstrual hygiene packs, allowing them to remain in school by managing their monthly cycle. By working to reach some of the most remote areas of Ethiopia, Dignity Period are ensuring that no girl gets left behind, and that her geographic location is not a barrier to receiving an education. Each menstrual hygiene pack includes a reusable, washable sanitary pad which can last up to 18 months, a pair of underwear and a comprehensive educational booklet which is also distributed to school boys. Just $10 can supply a menstrual hygiene pack for two girls for 18 months.
It is clear that giving girls the opportunity to continue their education enables them to have a greater chance of achieving their full potential, allowing them to create their own change in their communities. Dignity Period is pushing for progress one school at a time and ensuring that something so simple should not stand in the way of girls going to school.
The Association for Women’s Sanctuary and Development (AWSAD) is an organisation which addresses violence against women and girls through prevention, rehabilitation and economic empowerment. The organisation runs three safe houses across Addis Ababa for women and girls and provides shelter, food, counselling, medical services and legal assistance. AWSAD supports women and young girls who have been victims of rape, domestic abuse and other forms of gender-based violence. Just $40 can help cover the cost of a night in the safe house for a woman.
ASWAD pushes for progress on the individual level by providing these women and girls with greater opportunities than they ever would have faced alone, enabling them to live lives of their own making, free from abuse and poverty.
Women and Health Alliance (WAHA) works across three areas in Ethiopia, providing free fistula repair surgeries for some of Ethiopia's most marginalised women. These women often spend years, if not decades, suffering the debilitating effects of obstetric fistula: a birthing injury where a hole develops in the birth canal as a result of long, obstructed labour, leaving the mother incontinent and the baby often stillborn. $75 can help cover the cost of a fistula repair surgery for a suffering mother.
Thankfully, WAHA takes a holistic approach to treating these women, not only curing them physically but also providing transportation to and from the Gondar Fistula Centre, quality pre and post-operative care, psychological counselling, and training for former fistula patients to become Health Extension Workers in their own villages. These Health Extension Workers are integral to the health and wellbeing of future mothers and children all over Ethiopia, encouraging expectant mother to seek maternal health services and never birth alone. WAHA is pressing for progress at the community level, determined to change attitudes to birthing and maternal health and ensuring future mothers and their children never have to experience the horrific aftermaths of obstetric fistulas.
International Women's Day is a chance to officially recognise the invaluable work that women do every day to eliminate the obstacles faced not only by themselves, but by women and girls around the world. We are incredibly humbled to be working alongside these inspiring organisations who continuously #PressforProgress and strive for change for all Ethiopian women and girls. If you would like to support our work, please donate below.
Alone. Ashamed. Scared.
Posted by naomi on Thursday 15th February 2018
These are some of the emotions an Ethiopian girl experiences when she gets her first period.
You see, in Ethiopia, menstruation is a taboo subject. As a result, girls’ first periods usually take them by surprise. They don’t know what to do, or who they can turn to for help.
A girl in Australia might feel a little embarrassed and awkward when she gets her first period, but usually she will understand that it's a natural transition into womanhood which will soon become a manageable part of her life. Most girls in Ethiopia don’t have this understanding. And even for girls like 16-year-old Harifeya, who learnt about menstruation at a young age, getting your period can still be a terrifying and shameful experience.
She knew from her school what a period was, but these classes did nothing to change the social perceptions about menstruation — that it is shameful, unclean, and a result of sexual activity. They also didn’t help her with the practical knowledge she needed to manage her menstrual hygiene effectively. And even if they did, she would never have asked her parents to purchase menstrual pads for her, because they don’t have enough money, and she was just too embarrassed to ask.
I’m sure you agree that no girl should be too afraid to ask for guidance and support when she gets her first period. That’s why I’m asking you to please give $50 today and help us to not only normalise this very natural experience for girls in Ethiopia, but also provide them with the items they need to feel comfortable.
Harifeya was forced to use strips of old cloth and was constantly worried about leakage or accidents, as she had seen other girls be relentlessly teased by boys and younger girls who hadn’t yet got their periods. It’s a sad fact that menstruating girls often stay home from school three to five days per month, fall behind in their studies, and end up dropping out, due to the “shame” of having their period.
This could have been Harifeya’s story too. But then one day, our partner, Dignity Period, came to Harifeya’s school to hold education sessions on menstruation, and give the girls an environmentally-friendly, reusable Mariam Seba pad and hygiene kit. The pads are comfortable, and Harifeya can wear them all day without having to worry about an accident. Washing is easy, and she feels confident drying them with other laundry because, with the waterproof side up, they look like any ordinary piece of cloth.
Harifeya is able to attend school with a renewed sense of pride and without the fear of menstrual accidents. And without the threat of absenteeism due to her period, Herifeya does not have to worry about falling behind in her studies. I sure you understand what a tragic loss of human potential it is when girls are forced to drop out of school due to getting their period. Our work with Dignity Period is such a simple, effective way to solve this problem — but without you, we can’t continue this life-changing program.
Just $50 will help us to provide 10 girls with menstrual hygiene packs and a reusable Mariam Seba pad, which can be used for up to 18 months.
As always, thank you for supporting Ethiopiaid in our mission of bringing health and hope to people in Ethiopia.
Give the Gift of Education
Posted by naomi on Thursday 8th February 2018
What A Year!
Posted by naomi on Thursday 11th January 2018
As another year begins, we wanted to take a look back at all the things that made 2017 such a successful year.
None of these successes would have been able to happen without the support of our wonderful donors. What you have done for Ethiopians in 2017, and what you continue to do is nothing short of incredible.
Last year our partner the Association for Women’s Sanctuary and Development (AWSAD) were able to provide safe housing for 180 women who were survivors of domestic violence and their 60 children. These survivors are incredibly vulnerable women, many arriving at the safe house heavily pregnant. In fact, 70% of these children were born in the safe house.
During their time at the safe-house, these women have received psychosocial support for these survivors as well as medical services, transportation, child care, food and costs of living.
Our Partner Healing Hands of Joy have been able to train twenty fistula survivors through their Rehabilitation and Reintegration Support Program to become Safe Motherhood Ambassadors. Thanks to you, these women have been enabled to lead full and productive lives within their families and communities whilst promoting the importance of advancing maternal health standards, utilising family planning methods, and improving attended birthing rates.
Additionally, sixteen of their male family members have attended a men’s workshop about obstetric fistula sensitivity, and 147 more people from two woredas (districts) have attended workshops about how to support victims of obstetric fistula.
Your support hasn’t just provided surgeries for women who have suffered in silence and isolation from this horrible condition, often for decades. It has given women the confidence and the knowledge to return to their communities and ensure that other women don’t lose their babies and do not suffer from this preventable condition anymore.
Dignity Period, our partner working in the Tigray region, have been able to continue their work providing menstrual hygiene kits to girls and menstruation information booklets to boys throughout schools in rural and remote areas of the region; aiming to break the taboo of menstruation throughout Ethiopia and give girls free access to hygienic and discreet ways of managing their periods. Because of you, the lives of over 3,500 girls and boys have been directly impacted. Your donations purchased 1,877 dignity kits and information booklets for girls aged 10-14, and an additional 1,709 booklets for boys aged 10-14.
We are looking forward to sharing some more information with you about Dignity Period’s amazing work in the coming months, so keep an eye out!
Thank you again for all you have made possible throughout 2017, we can’t wait to continue in 2018!
For these girls, we must keep going
Posted by naomi on Thursday 14th December 2017
I recently arrived back from my first trip to Ethiopia and felt to tell you about my day with AWSAD. After all, the life-changing work I have just witnessed is only possible because of you.
In Addis Ababa, I was greeted warmly by Maria, the founder of the Association for Women’s Sanctuary Development (AWSAD), who run safe houses for women and girls who have experienced sexual or physical violence.
Maria is the one who has taken in and cared for young Ayana and Fatuma, whose story you can read here. Her warmth, compassion and determination to help these girls radiates from her. She is truly a remarkable woman.
I picked a good day to visit — it was graduation day for girls who successfully completed a hairdressing and beauty course! We celebrated in true Ethiopian style, with dancing and smiles and laughter. The joy was infectious.
But despite the celebration, I felt a knot in my stomach looking at all the girls, dancing and singing, and knowing there was one thing that brought them together: all had suffered horrific abuse.
The young girl with the missing eye; her friend with a scar down one side of her face. With a jolt, I realised that girl who was heavily pregnant would be around the same age as my daughter — who has just finished Grade 7.
My trip was incredible eye-opening and an experience I’ll never forget. Not only has it made me see firsthand what an incredible difference your support has made to girls in Ethiopia who have experienced incomprehensible horrors; it has steeled my resolve even more to keep going.
For these girls, we must keep going.
Thank you so much for all that you do.
This Christmas, give hope to girls like Ayana
Posted by naomi on Monday 4th December 2017
"He killed her using pieces of glass, right there in front of me.”
Ayana* was raped by her father. Later, she witnessed him brutally murder her mother. She was only 12 years old.
This story is hard to write. And I must warn you, it may be hard to read. But when I think about how I will be spending Christmas this year — how my children will unwrap their presents under our tree, happy and excited, with no doubt in their mind that they are safe and loved — I can’t help but think about the children who have never known such a feeling.
The children who have been sexually abused by a parent or guardian. The children who have witnessed horrors beyond their comprehension. The children who are orphaned, separated from their siblings and left alone in the world.
So, while this story is hard to write, I must write it. For them.
And I am hoping that once I tell you this story, you will join me in helping to give them hope this Christmas.
Ayana is a bright girl. She and her little sister, Fatuma*, both hope to be doctors when they grow up. Despite their four-year age difference, the two sisters are extremely close. But last year, their whole world fell apart.
“I try to forget how it happened,” Ayana says. “We were at home, back from school and my mum was making coffee and my father there too, chewing chat. He sent Fatuma to buy milk and when she returned with it, he stirred something in it and gave it to us to drink. We slept heavily that night.
“But in the middle of the night, I woke up to sounds of beating and shouting. When I went to see [what was happening], my father was beating my mother with rods of metal.
“I was frightened and tried to scream but he threatened me. He killed her using pieces of glass, right there in front of me.”
Can you imagine the fear and pain Ayana’s mother, Gadise*, must have felt? She knew her husband was dangerous. He had attacked her in the past and threatened to kill her after she tried to seek help in reporting him for raping Ayana.
But in Ethiopia, half of all women have experienced physical violence. Two-thirds have been sexually assaulted. And horrifically, one in six girls will be raped.
It’s no wonder Gadise stayed quiet and didn’t report her husband. Deeply entrenched traditional values and unequal power relations between men and women in Ethiopia meant that she felt powerless to protect herself or her daughters.
But that’s why I desperately need your help today. We must end this epidemic that is destroying women and girls’ lives — and killing women like Gadise.
Please will you give $50 today and help us end the senseless and horrific violence used against women and girls in Ethiopia?
After murdering his wife, Ayana’s father tried to run away but he was caught by the police and arrested. Ayana and Fatuma were left orphaned and deeply traumatised. But thanks to the incredible support of people like you , the sisters had somewhere to turn.
Our local partner, the Association for Women’s Sanctuary Development (AWSAD), operate safe houses for women and girls who have experienced sexual or physical violence.
“They gave us a clean place to sleep, meals and counsellors to talk to us,” Ayana says. “They accompanied me to court hearings and took care of our legal case.”
After working extensively with their counsellors to deal with their trauma, the girls started to show a bit of confidence. Soon, they were ready to return to school.
“At first, we were withdrawn and didn’t want to mingle with anyone, but the counsellors and our friendships with the other residents slowly helped us to forget what happened and be positive and hopeful about the future. I have been through a lot but I feel that education is what I need to be able to face future challenges in my life … Fatuma passed Grade 5 with good scores; she stood fourth in her class! I just passed the 8th grade national examination and I’m awaiting the results.”
It is truly remarkable how resilient young people are, isn’t it? Despite experiencing one of the most horrific things a person could live through, Ayana and Fatuma still have hope.
But that’s why I wanted to share their story with you. Because I know you have hope too. Our donors have been such an amazing support in the past and I am so grateful to know that you care about giving girls like Ayana and Fatuma a second chance at a great future. Thank you so much. But when I think about where they would be this Christmas if it weren’t for the generosity of people like you, I can’t help but think of all the other women and girls who also need our help.
Thank you for listening to this story. I’m sure you agree that everyone deserves to have happiness at Christmas. And with your help, I know we can make this a reality.
Merry Christmas to you and your family, and thank you in advance for your kindness.
Ethiopiaid Australia Foundation
*names have been changed to protect identity.
Join Natalie Imbruglia in the fight to end Obstetric Fistula
Posted by naomi on Friday 3rd November 2017
This November, Melbourne will welcome Natalie Imbruglia back to our beautiful city for the Spring Racing Carnival. Natalie is a British-Australian singer-songwriter, model, actress and philanthropist who is passionate about ending the suffering of women and children around the world. Since the 1990s, when she began accruing much acclaim for her status as a major musical influence, Natalie has felt she needed to become more involved in the fight to end obstetric fistula.
In November last year, Ethiopiaid was thrilled to announce that Natalie had agreed to become our ambassador for ending obstetric fistula, helping us to raise awareness of this devastating childbirth injury.
Since then Natalie has advocated extensively for the rights and health of Ethiopian women and children, travelling to Ethiopia on two occasions where she spent time with our partners Women and Health Alliance (WAHA) and Healing Hands of Joy (HHOJ), in particular of which she developed a deep passion and respect for their work.
Both WAHA and HHOJ work to assist women who have suffered obstetric fistulas – a birthing injury as a result of a prolonged, obstructed labour. Obstetric fistulas are chronic and painful conditions which rob women of their dignity and their lives. This condition most commonly occurs amongst young mothers living in poor, rural settings with extremely limited access to health care and skilled birthing attendants, and women who have suffered from Female Genital Mutilation. Compounding their suffering, these women often become extremely isolated from their community and in most cases, suffer for years, if not decades, before receiving help. WAHA and HHOJ are working to end this by caring for women who have become sufferers of obstetric fistulas, and by training women to become skilled birthing attendants so more women can deliver their babies safely.
Deeply moved by the suffering these women endure, Natalie felt she needed to become more involved in the fight against fistula. In 2009, along with fistula survivor Sarah Omega Kidangasi, Natalie addressed the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations to call attention to obstetric fistulas. She spoke to 400 attending ministers, detailing the condition, as well as how treatable it is. Natalie’s work is crucial in terms of raising awareness of the condition.
Every minute, a woman dies needlessly in pregnancy or childbirth, and for each of these women, 20-30 women suffer a serious birth injury.
Obstetric fistula is a treatable condition, and we cannot allow any more women to suffer.
If you wish to join Natalie in the fight to end obstetric fistula, please donate now:
Say No to Female Genital Mutilation
Posted by Amy on Friday 13th October 2017
Mayram was circumcised when she was just 10 days old.
This single, destructive act wrecked her tiny body and left her with chronic pain and infection - for no reason other than tradition.
Too young to say “no” to this procedure, Mayram was left voiceless in her own suffering. Even worse are the horrific consequences she suffered. Recurring infections. Chronic pain. The physical and psychological scars that stay with girls like Mayram forever.
Mayram's father spent the first two years of Mayram’s life fighting to keep her alive. He had to regularly squeeze her bladder so she could urinate. The severity of the cutting of her genitals had caused deep scarring, permanently obstructing her urethra. However hard her father tried to empty her bladder, there would always be stagnant urine left behind, slowly poisoning her.
FGM is illegal in Ethiopia. However, many communities still practice it due to a deeply-engrained cultural belief that FGM is a necessary part of upholding family honour. When something goes wrong, families are scared they will be prosecuted. This means many people don’t seek help and girls die as a result.
You have the power to help stop this practice.
...By tackling this practice from the ground up. Local partner based in Ethiopia, the Afar Pastoralists Development Association (APDA) trains “Women Extension Workers” to work with remote communities bound to these dangerous cultural traditions and drive awareness to end FGM.
Training more Extension Workers is critical. In extremely remote areas, such as Awra where Mayram and her family live, more than 80% of girls experience FGM.
It was thanks to the support of Women Extension Worker, Hasna, that Mayram’s family was able to overcome their fear of prosecution and take their daughter to the hospital – just in time to save her life from the infection that was poisoning her.
“I will never let this happen to another girl.”
You can stand with Muusa to stop this happening to another girl.
By giving a donation today, you can help ensure no other little girl ever has to experience the horror that is Female Genital Mutilation.
Dignity Period: Helping Girls Manage Their Period So They Can Stay in School
Posted by naomi on Monday 10th April 2017
Dignity Period works with young women in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia by providing them with reusable sanitary products. Menstruation, which is commonly taboo and a source of shame across Ethiopia, often prevents girls from going to school out of fear of embarrassment. Over time as girls miss more and more school they are forced to discontinue their studies. With the help and support of Dignity Period, girls in Tigray can manage their periods with confidence, allowing them to focus on persuing their education.
Rosina (16), Mlat (16), Mulu (15) and Kasemneger (16) are all in years 9 and 10 at Adigudem Secondary School, Mekelle, Tigray. All have received sanitary packs from Dignity Period which contain a year’s supply of menstrual hygiene supplies, including four environmentally friendly and reusable sanitary pads, two pairs of underwear, and a comprehensive educational booklet regarding puberty and menstruation, which will also be distributed to over 1,700 boys who attend schools in this area.
Through an interpreter the girls explain that before Dignity Period’s partnership with their school, the girls and their classmates had no awareness of menstruation and had received no education about what they were experiencing or how to manage it. Unfortunately, all four girls had started their periods before they knew what they were. As the girls will learn from the information booklets included in the kits, this is frustratingly common. These booklets contain personal accounts from other girls in the region who have endured similar experiences, and in turn had their lives changed by the combined work of Dignity Period and Ethiopiaid.
Kasemneger told us that all four of them had stopped coming to school as a result of their periods; they felt dirty, ill-prepared and ashamed to attend classes - particularly with the fear of stained clothing.
Thanks to Dignity Period and Ethiopiaid’s support, the girls can manage their monthly cycle hygienically and confidently. They know when to expect their periods every month and mark it on a calendar. Furthermore, they now feel able to share awareness of menstruation with their families andtheir peers at school.
The girls were asked what they wanted to do once they have finished school - now Dignity Period has enabled them to focus more on their education. The girls told us, with confidence:
Rosina: An engineer
Mlat: A doctor
Mulu: A lawyer
Kasemneger: A doctor
These girls will let nothing stand in their way. To help them on their path please donate now.
Ethiopiaid Monitoring Trip Diary 2017: Economic Empowerment at Cheshire Services!
Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on Monday 3rd April 2017
Last Saturday I travelled to Harar, a walled city with a rich past and history, and once a capital of Ethiopia. There is no airport so I flew to the city of Dire-Dawa, where Cheshire Services also runs a centre with services for the disabled. Fasil, Cheshire’s program manager, was waiting for me. We drove east, up a steep sinuous road into the mountains, to an altitude of about 2000 metres. About 50 kms away from Harar, we turned onto a dusty and bumpy country road and crossed a few small villages in the rolling hills. People smiled and waved at me when we drove by, foreigners are still a rare sight in these parts. We stopped in the village of Ifa Aramaya, where Cheshire has been supporting 20 women with disabilities through its credit cooperative for animal husbandry. Adinan, the social worker running the project, greeted me. We walked up a long path lined with cactuses. It was already very hot under the sun.
Along the winding path around several houses, with many curious children now in tow, we reached a modest mud house. This is where Chaltousan, a mother of five, lives. She is 40 years old and was born here. Her husband, Abdul, is a farmer. One of their sons was with spina bifida and severe mental disabilities. He was unable to attend school and, in the absence of proper health care, passed away just three months ago. Chaltousan stopped speaking, it was a difficult moment as she recalled her 8-year old’s tragic end. Life has been hard on the family and they were barely surviving with the help of relatives. Poor families in the countryside cannot access bank loans as they are deemed a liability.
Cheshire’s outreach team visited Chaltousan eight months ago, and invited her to join the credit cooperative to help her break out of poverty. She first attended a 3-day training with other women in the village to learn basic numeracy and business skills. She received advice on how she should use and pay back the loan, and how to make savings monthly. Chaltousan purchased a cow and 2 goats. At the beginning, it was difficult and she had to postpone two reimbursements. But within six months of selling milk and butter, and lending her male goat to breed in the village, she is now able to save a decent amount every month. The family’s life took a turn for the better and she expressed a lot of gratitude. With her savings, she looks forward to purchase another cow and increase her butter production.
Over the next two days, I visited other families in Ifa Aramaya (like Meimouna and her adopted daughter, to the left), Gursum and Kabsu. These are all remote villages in the Harar region, where women benefit from the credit cooperatives set up by Cheshire Services. I was shown how the credit cooperatives are managed, from individual records of certified beneficiaries, cooperative committee policies and credit saving booklets. In Gursum, the cooperatives have successfully mobilized resources within the community to increase the amount of credit available for people with disabilities. A worthy endeavor of solidarity!
In this National Regional State, the population is composed of about 70% Muslims, and 30% Orthodox Christians and other faiths living in perfect harmony. People are not shy and women wear extraordinarily colourful traditional clothes. I will long remember the beautiful faces and smiles that punctuated my village visits and meetings. A long drive back to Dire-Dawa and a flight to Addis Ababa, I look forward to a few final meetings before diving back into Spring in Ottawa.
Olivier Bonnet, Executive Director Ethiopiaid Canada
March 30 Harar, ET
Cheshire Services is supported by Ethiopiaid Canada, Ethiopiaid Ireland and Ethiopiaid UK. Since we share a Global Strategy for empowerment and change in Ethiopia, this post is also being shared on Ethiopiaid Australia's page.
This is the fifth of several posts Ethiopiaid will be sharing after each partner visit while in Ethiopia. Every year, as part of our monitoring and evaluation process, the directors of Ethiopiaid Australia, Ethiopiaid Canada, Ethiopiaid Ireland and Ethiopiaid UK travel to Ethiopia to meet with our partners to make sure we are creating lasting and effective change and that your donations are well spent. Watch this space for more updates!
Our interview with Fistula Ambassador Natalie Imbruglia
Posted by Francesca Rutherford on Thursday 23rd March 2017
Last night we caught up with our Fistula Ambassador Natalie Imbruglia via a live Twitter interview.
We were delighted back in September when Natalie agreed to become our Fistula Ambassador, helping us to raise awarenss for this devestating, yet curable, childbirth injury. We asked Natalie why she wanted to get involved in our fistula work and to tell us about her own expereiences of visting Ethiopia.
When did you first become aware of obstetric fistula in Ethiopia?
I learnt about it in 2005 from Richard Branson. Virgin Unite took me on a field trip to Ethiopia and Northern Nigeria. I interviewed women suffering with the condition. I also interviewed the husbands, families and Emir’s (spiritual leaders). I couldn’t believe I’d never heard about Fistula when 2million women worldwide are suffering with this preventable treatable condition.
How has being a Fistula Ambassador changed you?
After that first field trip I could not forget about all those women suffering. I promised myself I would continue to shine a light on this issue and be a voice for them so they are not suffering in silence. As a woman it affected me deeply. I believe it’s a woman’s human right to be able to deliver their baby safely. It’s all our responsibility to nurture and protect women and mothers around the world. Child birth should be a joyous occasion, a celebration of life, not the beginning of a life with fistula, which can tear apart the family unit.
What do you like most about being an ambassador?
I like giving people an opportunity to help themselves and using my profile to draw attention to matters that are close to my heart. I love getting to learn about other cultures. I now have more compassion for people and a respect for our differences. These women have inspired me. I’m also inspired by those who work tirelessly to help them. It makes me want to be a better person, to do more to help. My heroes are people like Catherine Hamiln, who founded the first fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa and Allison Shingo who founded Healing Hands of Joy in Mek’ele. Both of these women have dedicated their lives to helping women with Fistula.
Is there a story that has particularly touched you?
On my last field trip to Ethiopia to visit Healing Hands of Joy I met a woman who had been suffering with fistula for 22 years. We approached her with one of the Safe Motherhood Ambassadors who had gone through the program at HHOJ. She had already had a successful fistula surgery, been educated and reintegrated into society. I watched this women inspire the other to finally come forward and have the courage to seek help. The women who had been suffering for 22 years went on to have fistula surgery. When we support each other we can find courage we didn’t know we had. This woman’s life was given back to her. This really touched me.
Why do you support Ethiopiaid?
Ethiopiaid has partnered with the Ethiopian Government on their Campaign to Eradicate fistula by 2020 in Ethiopia. I’m really excited about this campaign and I wanted to be part of the amazing work that Ethiopiaid is doing to help these women.
What other charities do you support?
My main focus is women with fistula; I support Virgin Unite, Ethiopiaid and Healing Hands of Joy. But as its World Water Day (22nd March) I should draw your attention to Drop4Drop who do amazing work around the world to ensure people have clean drinking water.
I also support Big Change whose mission is to transform the way we support the next generation. You should check out their site.
What do you hope for the future of maternal health?
My hope is that women all over the world will be supported to deliver their babies safely. There are already solutions, we just need to work together with the governments and Emirs to make this happen sooner rather than later. Ethiopia is on its way to making this a reality my hope is it that other countries will follow their lead.
Who has inspired you?
My mother and father have inspired me by working full time jobs and raising 4 strong powerful women! I will forever be grateful for the sacrifices they made for us. As I mentioned earlier, Catherine Hamlin and Allison Shingo inspire me because they have dedicated their lives to helping women with Fistula. Richard Branson has also inspired me, not only is he a successful business man, he is an amazing father who has instilled great values in his children. If it wasn’t for Richard and Virgin Unite I would never have known about women with fistula.
Have you ever been to Ethiopia? What do you like about the culture?
I have such fond memories of Ethiopia. My first visit was to The Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa. It was so impressive and the staff were so loving to all the women being treated. When a woman there is repaired of fistula they all sing a song and they present her with a new dress. I will never forget seeing the joy on their faces, to finally be dry after so much suffering. It was fantastic. The people were very graceful and friendly and I loved the food!!! On my last trip I saw some beautiful lush landscape. I definitely want to go back.
If there was a person from history you could follow on social media who would it be?
Oscar Wilde … for his Wit!
Who’s your favourite person to follow on Instagram?
I have so many but I love Mattdraperphotography for his underwater photography. His pictures take you to another world, just stunning.
A big thank you to Natalie for giving up her time to talk to us, we look foraward to working with you!
Ethiopiaid Monitoring Trip Diary 2017 - Our Partners
Posted by Natacha Soto on Thursday 23rd March 2017
Be the Change you want to see
Today I completed the visits to Ethiopiaid Ireland’s partners in Ethiopia: AWSAD, the Hamlin Fistula Hospital, Hope Enterprises and Cheshire Services opened their doors to Ethiopiaid and made us feel welcome every step of the way.
Today I also read the United Nations Development Programme’s latest Human Development Report: 'Human Development for Everyone', which was released on March 21. The report shows that in almost every country, several groups face disadvantages that often overlap and reinforce each other, increasing vulnerability, widening the progress gap across generations, and making it harder to catch up as the world moves on. Principally women and girls, newborns and school-age children, rural dwellers, indigenous peoples, ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants and refugees, and LGBT communities are among those systematically excluded by barriers that are not purely economic, but political, social and cultural as well.
The Human Development Index measures the average achievements in a country in three basic dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, education, and a decent standard of living. Ethiopia still ranks low at 174th out of 188: this means there are still many challenges the most vulnerable in the modern Ethiopian society face on a daily basis.
What I witnessed in the last few days is local organisations working hard to reach and serve the most vulnerable, the poorest of the poor:
AWSAD supports victims of gender-based violence and discrimination, harmful traditional practices and exploitation.
The Hamlin Fistula Hospital is dedicated to the treatment and prevention of childbirth injuries called obstetric fistulas: a condition that can lead to severe infections and paralysis caused by nerve damage.
Hope Enterprises operate two feeding programmes for people living on the streets of Addis Ababa and Dessie (both children and adults), seven elementary schools, five high schools, numerous vocational training and adult literacy programs throughout Ethiopia.
Cheshire Services provide orthopaedic and social rehabilitation services for children and young people with disabilities also throughout Ethiopia.
Salem (hello) and a smile were on every person I met. The testimonies we heard were heart-breaking to say the least. Nevertheless they thanked us infinitely for the support we provide, they know they now have the opportunity of a better life, an opportunity they never thought it was available to them and they will make the most of it.
The people and the work I had the honour to witness are a sign of hope for all those who are mostly affected by the inequalities of the modern world and we are thankful for all the support of our donors, who through the provision of funding to our partners, are very much participative of the change we are enabling in the Ethiopian society.
Eufemia Solinas, Ethiopiaid Ireland
Addis Ababa, 22nd March 2017
Eufemia, the team of Cheshire Services and visitors during visit at Menaghesa Centre / Tailoring Vocational Training for young mothers run by Hope Enterprises at Addis Ababa branch.
This is the third of several posts Ethiopiaid will be sharing after each partner visit while in Ethiopia. Every year, as part of our monitoring and evaluation process, the directors of Ethiopiaid Australia, Ethiopiaid Canada, Ethiopiaid Ireland and Ethiopiaid UK travel to Ethiopia to meet with our partners to make sure we are creating lasting and effective change and that your donations are well spent. Watch this space for more blog updates!
Ethiopiaid Monitoring Trip Diary 2017 - AWSAD
Posted by Natacha Soto on Tuesday 21st March 2017
A warm welcome in Ethiopia
It is not every Monday morning that you have the opportunity to meet amazing people doing amazing work. And it is not every day you get to meet wonderful women, who are showing determination, bravery and real hope for the future even through some of the most devastating experiences life could bring.
The first partner I got to meet during my very first visit to Ethiopia is AWSAD, the Association for Women’s Sanctuary and Development. AWSAD runs a crisis centre for women and girls in Ethiopia, providing a refuge for victims of gender-based violence and discrimination, harmful traditional practices and exploitation. They also offer legal advice, health services and vocational training, as well as delivering training to community and government institutions, such as the police forces, to enhance their capacity of providing quality services to victims of gender-based violence and exploitation of women and girls.
Maria, founder and director made us feel welcome since the moment we crossed their gate: water, tea and biscuits accompanied a thorough presentation of the work of the organisation during 2016, together with its successes, such as the opening of new safe houses outside of Addis Ababa, but also with the endless challenges they face when providing a multi-faceted service to young girls and women, who have been affected by violence.
We were then honoured to be welcomed in one of the safe houses, where we were introduced to three young survivors, who very kindly shared their heart-breaking stories. It is hard to imagine a world where anyone has to endure such level of pain, violence and abuse – but it is a reality, and that is why there is such demand for the services AWSAD provides. Currently their safe houses are at full capacity and more – the one we visited hosts 79 women and 37 young children. Numbers confirms that there is no denying they need ongoing support.
Even through life hardships, the group of young children and women welcomed us with dances, singing, a beautiful coffee ceremony, a hand-made card from the young children who attend classes in the house and few hand-made presents by the very same women we seek to support.
The spirit and genuine warmth was overwhelming, nevertheless I felt truly uplifted. A feeling that is accompanied by the certainty that Ethiopiaid support to AWSAD is truly in aid of some of the most vulnerable people in Ethiopia and it is a partnership we are very proud of.
Eufemia Solinas, Ethiopiaid Ireland
Addis Ababa, 20th March 2017
Olivier Bonnet (Ethiopiaid Canada), Eufemia Solinas (Ethiopiaid Ireland) and Lisa Cousins (Ethiopiaid UK) Directors with Maria Munir (AWSAD), during visit at AWSAD. / Tailoring Vocational Training for young women run by AWSAD.
This is the second of several posts Ethiopiaid will be sharing after each partner visit while in Ethiopia. Every year, as part of our monitoring and evaluation process, the directors of Ethiopiaid Australia, Ethiopiaid Canada, Ethiopiaid Ireland and Ethiopiaid UK travel to Ethiopia to meet with our partners to make sure we are creating lasting and effective change and that your donations are well spent. Watch this space for more blog updates!
Ethiopiaid Monitoring Trip Diary 2017 - Arrival
Posted by email@example.com on Sunday 19th March 2017
Diary Entry from Canada:
It's a bit tough leaving behind our Canadian winter in the middle of the night, and arriving in Addis in the early morning hours after 15 hours of flying and an 8 hour time difference! Some emotions as I step once more on the continent in which I was born. Between the airport and hotel, the city is just waking up, and it is summer in Ethiopia. The bougainvillea and hibiscus are in flower, it is sunny, the air is full of unfamiliar bird songs and the soft sounds of Amharic language. There are smiling faces to greet me.
As expected I did see many groups of soldiers, men and women, carrying old Kalashnikovs and batons, stationed along the main arteries. They were not there last year. The state of emergency declared last October was expected to end this month, but it has been prolonged. The soldiers' blue uniforms are visible, but they seem laid back, sitting in the shade, not on high alert. It is morning rush-hour, the shops and cafes are opening, streets are bustling and there are people everywhere. I am happy to find fruits and vegetable stalls carrying a bright and wide variety you simply cannot find during winter in Canada.
This evening, I took a stroll to close-by Medane Alem Church. My colleagues from the UK and Ireland are arriving tomorrow. I will read up on our partner's latest reports to prepare the visits to our partners next week. I look forward to my meetings at Hamlin Fistula Hospital on Monday, where we are set to meet Dr Tesfaye, the new CEO who was appointed 9 months ago. I may even have the opportunity to meet Dr Hamlin herself.
I also look forward to meeting the youth graduates we supported for vocational training this past year, as well as some of the women from the first tailoring training project - all run by our partner Hope Enterprises.
This is the first of several posts Ethiopiaid will be sharing after each partner visit while in Ethiopia. Every year, as part of our monitoring and evaluation process, the directors of Ethiopiaid Australia, Ethiopiaid Canada, Ethiopiaid Ireland and Ethiopiaid UK travel to Ethiopia to meet with our partners to make sure we are creating lasting and effective change and that your donations are well spent. Watch this space for more blog updates!
Join us in Ethiopia!
Posted by naomi on Friday 10th March 2017
In 2017 challenge yourself - Raise money for charity - Travel across the globe - and see firsthand the incredible work which YOU support in Ethiopia.
This November, Ethiopiaid will give you the opportunity to do just that.
For the very first time, Ethiopiaid Australia will be running a donor trip to Addis Ababa, offering you a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit and volunteer at the charities you help us fund!
During your visit you will also take part in the Great Ethiopian Run. You can walk, run or jog the 10km through the streets of Addis Ababa, and join in the festivities with 40,000 other participants - singing and dancing the day away!
Despite the high altitude and warm weather, it really is an achievable challenge for everyone, and an experience that you will never forget!
The trip will take place between 21 – 28 November and we ask all participants to commit to fundraising $4,000 (excluding flights and an upfront deposit of $500) which will go straight to helping support our partners in Ethiopia.
If you would like more information, or would like to express your interest, please contact Naomi via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone on 03 9864 6060 by end of May. Spaces are limited so please contact us quickly to secure your place.
This really is a once in a lifetime experience, and one that you will share with Ethiopiaid supporters from Australia, Canada, Ireland and the UK.
Join us - and make 2017 the year you go on an incredible adventure!
International Women’s Day 2017
Posted by naomi on Tuesday 7th March 2017
Today, the 8th of March, marks International Women’s Day, a very important day on our calendar and hopefully on yours too! This is a day to recognise the integral role women play in all aspects of society, and the importance of breaking down social and cultural barriers which inhibit women from fully participating in all areas of life.
Today we celebrate the women who have achieved great feats, who have worked tirelessly to eliminate the obstacles faced not only by themselves but by women and girls around the world.
We celebrate the women who have shown perseverance and resilience in the face of opposition, discrimination and oppression.
We celebrate the women who have created change and paved the way for women and girls after them, and who have made sacrifices so future generations may face greater opportunities and qualities of life than they did.
Here at Ethiopiaid Australia we are also celebrating our incredible partners who work every day to ensure the women and girls of Ethiopia live a life of dignity and opportunity, free from the harms of traditional practices and cultural constraints.
Valerie Browning founded APDA (Afar Pastoralist Development Association) in 2012 after living and working in the Afar in rural north-eastern Ethiopia for over 40 years. Originally from Australia, Valerie has worked tirelessly promoting the end of female genital mutilation (FGM), and is determined to see the practice stopped in the Afar through education and communication. Valerie’s commitment to the advancement of the health of women and girls is truly inspiring, and today we celebrate her.
Dr Mulu Muleta of WAHA (Women and Health Alliance), has been instrumental in the progression of women’s health in Ethiopia, performing countless surgeries on women who have spent years, even decades, suffering the debilitating effects of obstetric fistula. Located in Gondar in north-western Ethiopia, Dr Mulu has spent almost 20 years as an obstetric surgeon treating women with obstetric fistula, and today we celebrate her.
AWSAD (Association for Women’s Sanctuary and Development) is an organisation which addresses violence against women and girls through prevention, rehabilitation and economic empowerment. The organisation runs three safe houses across Addis Ababa for women and girls providing shelter, food, counselling, medical services and legal assistance. AWSAD supports women and young girls who have been victims of rape, domestic abuse and other forms of gender-based violence and provides them with greater opportunities than they ever would have faced, and today we celebrate them.
Dr Catherine Hamlin has been a pioneer of women’s maternal health in Ethiopia for over 40 years since her and her late husband Reg Hamlin founded the Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia organisation in 1974. Since then Catherine has also gone on to found the Hamlin College of Midwives and the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital. Dr Catherine’s organisation treats over 3000 obstetric fistula patients each year between the main hospital in Addis Ababa and five other regional hospitals. The life’s work of Dr Catherine Hamlin has made an insurmountable difference to countless thousands of women in Ethiopia, and today we celebrate her.
And lastly, today we celebrate the sisterhood. The women in our lives who have taught, nurtured and inspired us and who we stand side-by-side with in the pursuit of gender equality around the world.
If you would like to help us continue our support of these incredible organisations please donate here.
Introducing our new Ambassador for Fistula… Natalie Imbruglia!
Posted by Francesca Rutherford on Thursday 9th February 2017
We are delighted to announce that Natalie Imbruglia has agreed to become our Ambassador for obstetric fistula, helping us to raise awareness of this devastating childbirth injury.
Natalie is an Australian-British singer-songwriter, actress, model, and philanthropist. Her charity work is extensive and we are really pleased to have her support for our important work. As an ambassador for Virgin Unite – the charitable arm of the Virgin Group – Natalie supports campaigns to end poverty and to raise awareness for the eradication of obstetric fistula. In 2005, Natalie visited fistula hospitals in Ethiopia and Nigeria with representatives from UNFPA – the United Nations Populations Fund – and Virgin Unite. Deeply moved by the suffering these women endure, she felt she needed to become more involved in the fight against fistula.
"For some people, fistula is a difficult issue to talk about. But that discomfort pales in comparison to what women living with fistula face every day," Imbruglia says. "I don't want to be part of the silence. I want to do everything I can to make a difference in these women's lives." To hear Natalie talk more about obstetric fistula, please watch the video below:
In 2009, along with fistula survivor Sarah Omega Kidangasi, Natalie addressed the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations to call attention to obstetric fistula, a childbirth injury that results in prolonged pain, incontinence, and social exclusion. She spoke to 400 attending ministers, detailing the condition, as well as how treatable it is.
“Obstetric fistula was eliminated here in Europe and the United States more than 100 years ago,” said Imbruglia. “It’s unacceptable that women and girls in developing countries are still suffering from this entirely preventable and treatable condition.”
She has fundraised and lent her voice and energy to ending obstetric fistula. She has contributed to the Department for International Development’s blog, outlining the devastation caused by fistula, as well as its negative impact on developmental progress. To read the full blog, please click here.
Natalie’s work is crucial in terms of raising awareness of the condition. Every minute, a woman dies needlessly in pregnancy or childbirth, and for each of these women, 20-30 women suffer a serious birth injury. Obstetric fistula is a treatable condition, and we cannot let any more women to suffer.
Ethiopiaid’s partners in Ethiopia – Hamlin Fistula, Healing Hands of Joy, and the Women and Health Alliance International – work tirelessly to create lasting change on the ground. Together we aim to make great strides towards eradicating obstetric fistula for good. But we need your help to reach the many thousands still living in isolation and shame and to prevent this happening to more women. Please donate here:
We Are Women: an interview with Dr Mulu Muleta
Posted by sharon on Wednesday 1st February 2017
Happy 93rd Birthday Dr Catherine Hamlin!
Posted by sharon on Tuesday 31st January 2017
On January 24th, our beloved Dr Catherine Hamlin, founder of the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, turned 93 years old! She had a lovely celebration at her home in Ethiopia, surrounded by close friends and patients past and present. Dr Catherine still lives on the grounds of the hospital and is incredibly engaged in continuing the legacy of her work.
She wrote to thank our donors last Christmas:
“I am so grateful to all the supporters who continue to give us funds to run our hospital. Fistula is a tragic injury that causes enormous sadness. The women often have to live alone and their lives are very tragic but they can be cured and many of them have become wonderful citizens of Ethiopia and are helping others with similar birth injuries. Things are improving as we have many more doctors going out in to the rural areas to identify patients. I hope one day there won’t be any more fistula cases in Ethiopia and it will be like the so called developed world. I am so grateful for your interest in our work as it is seldom talked about. It is work I enjoy very much and although I am retired I still get great joy from seeing women cured and I continue to live in the grounds of the hospital. Thank you for your wonderful donations and for all you are doing for us.”
What a remarkable woman!
From Fistula Patient to Community Maternal Health Advocate: The Story of Mamar
Posted by sharon on Tuesday 31st January 2017
“I think that people need information. There is usually nobody to explain to us properly what the risks of delivering all alone are. How are women supposed to know about safe motherhood practices? We need to tell them.” Mamar, 18, a former fistula patient who is now using her experience to teach others about safe motherhood practices.
Mamar, 18, is one of the youngest women to take part in the Maternal Health Advocate (MHA) program which was implemented by WAHA in Ethiopia in 2013 in partnership with Ethiopiaid Australia. The program seeks to improve care-seeking behavior for reproductive health. Originally from Gewtamba, a small village in Ethiopia’s Dabat District, Mamar is a former fistula patient who suffered from this condition after giving birth to a stillborn baby boy when she was just 15. She did not receive any antenatal care during her pregnancy and gave birth at home attended by her family, as is customary in her village. Labor was obstructed and she struggled for three days to give birth. “It was my brother who eventually took the baby out,” she says, telling her story from WAHA’s fistula Center located in the Gondar University Teaching Hospital, where she now occasionally provides support for patients awaiting fistula repair surgery.
Despite a high fertility rate, there is a very low demand for available reproductive and maternal health services in Ethiopia. Only 12 percent of births are attended by a skilled health worker , a situation that contributes to the country's alarmingly high maternal mortality ratio of 350 deaths per 100,000 live births . The lack of health care facilities in the country is significant, particularly in rural and isolated communities where almost 80 percent of the population lives. But even when reproductive health care is available, it has been observed that the majority of women do not seek care at any stage of their pregnancy, either because they are not aware of its importance, or, in many cases, because of customary beliefs that it is not useful or is unnecessary.
‘I became used to hiding’
When Mamar regained consciousness several days after giving birth to a stillborn boy, she noticed her bed was completely wet. The difficult labor had been very painful and she had developed a fistula in her bladder that made her incontinent. “I was very scared, I did not understand what was going on, because I had never heard of something like this in my village”, explains Mamar. The following months were difficult for her: “I became used to hiding. I hid from my family, from the neighbors who came over for the coffee ceremony; I hid from the people of the village. I was too embarrassed to be around anybody because I was leaking urine uncontrollably. I smelled, and my clothes were constantly soaked. I could not attend reunions, weddings, or funerals, I felt like I had lost my youth”. When she discovered how Mamar was suffering, her mother took her to the health center in Dabat. The health center staff told them about WAHA’s Fistula Center in Gondar and scheduled Mamar for a fistula-repair intervention in the following months Even though Mamar never thought she would be healed, the operation was a success and she found herself liberated from incontinence and pain. She decided to stay in Dabat City going back to her village only occasionally: “My husband and I have grown apart now. He did not bother to come to visit me in Dabat or in Gondar, so I stayed here. I have a job now and I like it”.
“I am able to advise other women so they don’t experience what I did”
Becoming a Maternal Health Advocate is something that Mamar cherishes deeply. While recovering at the WAHA Fistula Center, she was invited to take part in a group of 43 former fistula patients leading community mobilization activities in a project aimed at raising awareness of safe motherhood practices in 43 villages in the Debark and Dabat districts. They received training and worked for over seven months doing home visits, giving talks outside churches or during vaccination campaigns to explain to women and their families the importance of seeking professional care and delivering their baby at a health facility. Mamar explains, “I learned how to stand in front of people, how to speak to them, and more importantly, I learned what exactly fistula is, and why it happened to me. I am now able to explain what the risks of delivering at home are and why every woman should seek care when she is pregnant.”
Last year, the network of MHAs carried out 460 home visits, in which they identified and offered support to 2,260 pregnant women, advising them to plan consultations and informing them about the available health services in their communities.
Mamar is happy to have been part of this project. She realizes that people listen to her and that her words can help. She personally followed and advised 70 pregnant women in the villages of Chila Kebele. Only two of the 25 women who have already had their babies delivered at home. The others delivered at a health facility. “I believe they decided to do so because of the knowledge I shared with them”, Mamar says with a smile.
Antenatal care consultations in the region increased steadily during this period, reaching 2,826 by December, as did use of WAHA’s motorcycle ambulance referral system and upgraded local health services in both Dabat and Debark.
Mamar believes in change. “I think that people need information. There is usually nobody to explain to us properly what the risks of delivering all alone are. How are women supposed to know about safe motherhood practices? We need to tell them.”
“I know that women who have talked to us have been going to consultations and taking better care of themselves. So if we continue doing this, more women will avoid pregnancy-related risks. As for myself, I feel that my life has improved: first of all I regained my health, and second, I am more confident now and I can take care of myself. I feel very happy”.
Why surgeon training is important
Posted by sharon on Monday 30th January 2017
Dr Mulu Muleta, Managing Director and surgeon at Women and Health Alliance (WAHA) Ethiopia, is featured in the video below talking about the importance of training surgeons in Ethiopia. Ethiopia has one of the highest rates of maternal health injuries (such as obstetric fistula and prolapsed uterus) in the world, with only 1 in 10 women seeking skilled help during their pregnancy and delivery. We are incredibly proud to support Dr Muleta and WAHA in their work to improve maternal health services across Ethiopia.
Video credit: Fistula Foundation
12 Facts You Need to Know about Ethiopia!
Posted by email@example.com on Thursday 19th January 2017
As an NGO that supports work in Ethiopia exclusively, we thought we should share some facts about the very country whose change and progress we are most humbled to be part of! We guarantee you’ll find at least 3 of the following 12 facts interesting (sorry, no refunds!).
#1 Coming in at 4.4 million years, Ardi is the oldest hominid ever to be discovered, followed by Lucy at 3.2 million years old- making Ethiopia the birthplace of Humankind! As an aside, Ardi was discovered by Ethiopian Paleoanthropologist, Yohannes Haile-Selassie., Image: Ardi. Source Wikipedia- Ardi.
#2 Standing tall (literally) at 2,400 metres, or 8,000 feet, Addis Ababa is the highest capital city in Africa and the third highest capital in the world. Image: Bole, Addis Ababa. Source: addisababaonline.com
#3 In the classroom, we’re almost even, boys and girls! In grades 5-8 the ratio of girls to boys is now at 97%, almost 1 girl for every boy in class! Though this number is improving at other grade levels as well, the quality of education has been declining. We know it’s happening, and the government is making efforts to reverse it!, Image: Happy learning at Hope Enterprises in Ethiopia! ©Ethiopiaid
#4 A pillar of strength, Ethiopia is the only country in Africa never to have been colonized, although this was attempted twice by Italy. However, some delicious Italian influence remains, like macchiatos, pasta and pastries. Image: Statue of the Lion of Judah taken against the Ethiopian National Theatre. A symbol of Ethiopian freedom erected for the coronation of Haile Sellassie I, stolen by the Italians and placed in Rome, in 1935. It was finally returned to Addis Ababa in the 1960s. © Jennifer Naidoo
#5 Here’s a feel-good quote from the World Bank (2016) we think belongs in this list: “Over the past two decades…primary school enrolments have quadrupled, child mortality has been cut in half, and the number of people with access to clean water has more than doubled.” Image: Clean Water in Ethiopia. ©Charity:Water
#6 “13 months of Sunshine”: Ethiopia runs on a 13 month Julian calendar. Today, January 19, 2017 is 11 Tarr, 2009 in Ethiopia. Interesting, right? Image: January 19, 2017 from ethiopiancalendar.net.
#7 Despite early marriage being outlawed, Ethiopia still has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with 16% of girls married before the age of 15 and 41% married before the age of 18. We’ll expand on this serious challenge in coming blogs!
#8 The first African ever to win Gold in the Olympic Games was Ethiopian runner Abebe Bikila. He ran the race barefoot! Check him out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_Nygi01VqI
#9 While Ethiopia is one of the oldest countries in the world, it was also one of the first countries to sign the Charter of United Nations. Ethiopia is currently home to the Headquarters of the African Union. Image: The African Union HQ in Addis.
#10 Ethiopia’s official language is Amharic. In addition to this, there are 88 individual languages spoken, with English being the main foreign language taught in schools. Image: Map of Ethiopia.
#11 New achievement unlocked: In less than 3 years, Ethiopia has more than doubled the number of health centres in 6 regions of the country. Now, more people than ever have access to healthcare. To keep pushing forward, the country will need to improve the ratio of health professionals to people, consistently provide quality care in all facilities in all regions, and train more doctors.
#12 Finally, the best is of course, last. So most of us know that the origin of our favourite bean (coffee, obviously) comes from Ethiopia, but how was it discovered? Told for generations in Ethiopia, and shared with us the same way, the story goes like this: One day a young Ethiopian herder named Kaldi noticed his goats eating the coffee plant and becoming energized, so he decided to try it. He ate it, but nothing really happened. After trying it in several different ways, he finally roasted it, ground it, and put it in hot water, like tea. This is how coffee, as we know it, was discovered. Coffee shops named after Kaldi can be found all over Addis Ababa, and even in Nairobi, Kenya. I thank my sweet grinds for Kaldi every day! Image: Jebena used for brewing buna (or coffee) in Ethiopia. Source: NatGeo
Special thank you to one of our very own Ethiopian-Canadian volunteers, Eden, who helped research and add to this blog! Also, huge thank you to our volunteer Patricia, for meticuliously editing our work.
- National Geographic. (n.d.). Explorers Bio: Yohannes Haile-Selassie. Retrieved from http://www.nationalgeographic.com/explorers/bios/yohannes-haile-selassie/
- Institute of Human Origins. (n.d.). Lucy's Story. Retrieved from https://iho.asu.edu/about/lucys-story
- Marcus, H. G., & Crummey, D. E. (2016, June 30). Britannica Online: Ethiopia. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/place/Ethiopia
- The World Bank: Ethiopia Overview. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/ethiopia/overview#1
- UNDP. (2014). National Human Development Report 2014: Ethiopia (pp. 1-123, Publication). Addis Ababa, ET. Retrieved from http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/nhdr2015-ethiopia-en.pdf
- UNICEF. (2014, November). THE STATE OF THE WORLD’S CHILDREN 2015: Executive Summary. pp. 90. Retrieved from https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/SOWC_2015_Summary_and_Tables.pdf
- Abebe Bikila: barefoot to Olympic gold. (2017, January 08). Retrieved from https://www.olympic.org/videos/abebe-bikila-barefoot-to-olympic-gold
- The World Factbook: ETHIOPIA. (2017, January 12). Retrieved January 19, 2017, from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/et.html
Introducing Healing Hands of Joy
Posted by sharon on Wednesday 30th November 2016
There are none more passionate about eradicating obstetric fistula than women who have suffered from the devastating condition themselves. That's why Healing Hands of Joy is training fistula survivors to become Safe Motherhood Ambassadors.
On completion of their free training, the Ambassadors are able to return to their communities, armed with the passion and knowledge to help prevent other women from suffering the same fate as them. They do this through encouraging mothers to participate in safe delivery practices and never delivering alone. The women also promote better infant health by educating new mothers about vaccinations, nutrition and good hygiene and sanitation. This provides the opportunity for each Safe Motherhood Ambassador to participate in a meaningful and visible way within her community, and in turn, recover her sense of worth and self-esteem. These women also play an integral role in helping to lower maternal and infant mortality.
Alongside this training, the Ambassadors are also encouraged to attend workshops which will allow them to develop other skills (including literacy, numeracy, and income generating activities). Each woman receives a micro-loan or a small grant to help her start a micro-business and support her economic empowerment.
Healing Hands of Joy are part of the Ethiopian government’s task force to end obstetric fistula by 2020, and join Ethiopiaid's existing partners; Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia and Women and Health Alliance (WAHA).
It costs $500 AUD to train each woman, which covers a two-week program where the women are given accommodation, three meals each day, training materials for them to take home, a new dress, shoes, radio, a mobile phone and an umbrella.
Ethiopiaid Australia are thrilled to join Healing Hands of Joy's mission to eradicate obstetric fistula in Ethiopia by 2020. No woman should have to give birth alone, or suffer from a birthing injury in silence.
Welcome, Healing Hands of Joy!
To donate, click here.
Welcome to the safe house!
Posted by sharon on Wednesday 16th November 2016
The Association for Women's Sanctuary and Development (AWSAD) supports women and young girls who have been victims of rape, domestic abuse and other forms of gender-based violence. AWSAD runs three safe houses that provides shelter, food, counselling, medical services and legal aid to the women and girls. But this is only the first step in AWSAD's holistic rehabilitation service for victims of gender-based violence.
They are are also engaging the women and girls in basic literacy education and skills training so that they are in the best position to secure employment and generate their own income when they leave the safe house. AWSAD delivers further training to community and government institutions, such as primary schools and police offices, to enhance their capacity of providing quality services to victims of gender based violence.
Our Ethiopiaid offices abroad work closely with AWSAD and have been very impressed with the great results of the program. We are delighted to contribute to this progress throughout FY 16/17 with a 12-month pilot program.
The program addresses violence against women and girls through prevention, rehabilitation, economic empowerment and support. It focuses on healing the women and girls both physically and mentally, whilst providing them with the skills and confidence to reintegrate back into society. In the first 12 months of the program, AWSAD hopes to support over 200 women and girls!
To donate, click here.
Three Days in Afar, remote Ethiopia
Posted by sharon on Wednesday 2nd November 2016
Three Days in Afar, remote Ethiopia
With Valerie Browning founder of APDA, Afar Pastoralists Development Association
7-10th October 2016
Sara Loxton, Ethiopiaid supporter, accompanied our Director of the Board, Alex Chapman, on a visit to our partner, Afar Pastoralist Development Association (APDA). We support to eradicate FGM in the Afar region and also provided essential emergency relief during the drought earlier this year and recently during the Acute Watery Diarrhea crisis.
8.00: Alex Chapman and I are halfway between the Afar towns of Semera and Logiya ready for the arrival of Valerie Browning. We’re already sweating in the heat. Today’s plan is to head north east for two days through the Afar desert to visit families benefiting from Ethiopiaid’s Goat Restocking Project following the end of the drought and the arrival of the rains.
275 families have received the goats, scrub grass has pushed through the rocky desert and the birakats, homemade underground water cisterns built by APDA, have enough water - for a few weeks. What no-one wants to talk about is that with the arrival of the rains have come locusts and Acute Watery Diarrhoea. This Biblical, parched land is possibly most people’s idea of Ethiopia. We are at the southern end of the Danakil Depression known as the hottest place on earth. A land of lava lakes, live volcanoes, salt pans and plateaus black with the detritus of past volcanic eruptions. Here the dusty air scrapes your lungs and, if there was ever a place where an ice cold beer was needed at the end of the day, this is it – but like the arid scrub, it is completely ‘dry’. The Afar people began converting to Islam in the 10th century and although they retain older beliefs that certain trees have sacred powers, the majority are now Sunni Muslims seeking out a subsistence existence unchanged for centuries in this harshest of lands.
2.00: Lunch, Eli Daar. We have long since left the terrifying Addis-Djibouti trunk road. Djibouti is the only port for landlocked Ethiopia. Most imports are transported on overladen trucks with poor brakes and no acceleration, driven by drivers chewing khat to stay awake as they push across the huge distances. Shedded loads, dropped containers and collisions are common. Private vehicles are rare. I think we’ve seen two cars today. It’s a relief to leave the road and begin our climb across the eerily beautiful salt pans. It took longer as we had a flat tyre which Mohammed, our driver, dealt with swiftly despite temperatures in the 40s. Lunch is shiro, a bean paste, eaten on the floor of a corrugated shack and shared with our 5 fellow travellers – all part of APDA: 3 Health Extension Workers, the driver and Valerie Browning.
It is now 24 hours since Alex and I met this inspirational Australian nurse and I can honestly say I have never met anyone like her! Energy, compassion, humanity, courage and humour wrapped up under the traditional dress of the Afar women, Valerie has lived among the Afar nomads for almost 30 years since marrying Ishmael Ali Gardo, an Afar Clan Elder. Known as the Angel of Afar and Maalika (Queen), Valerie has worked tirelessly to improve maternal and child health, improve literacy and eradicate harmful practices such as FGM through the organisation that she and her husband began in 1989: APDA. This is her home.
4.00: Beneficiary Meeting. A formal title for our first meeting with a family who have received goats from funds raised by Ethiopiaid’s Emergency Appeal. It is hard to spot the domed huts amongst the rocky landscape and as we stumble across the basalt we see no signs of life until a tall man appears from behind the rocks. Two women then rise up from a deboitas, the 3 metre wide by 1.5 metre high hut made from palm leaf matting. Two children are with them. There is nothing here. No trees, no shade, no water, just dust and stones. How can anybody live here? Then, the man moves rocks from one of the piles surrounding us and pulls out a baby goat. Then another… and another! These are less than a week old and are kept in the stone shelters while the rest of the herd has been taken to graze. The family received ten goats in the restocking programme; nine females and one male and the herd is already expanding. This programme is life changing. The family had nothing because of the drought and had been identified by APDA as vulnerable. They now have a chance.
6.00: Manda. We continue across this lunar landscape past rusting tanks, relics from the Derg’s violent rule. We have dropped off one of the Health Extension Workers who sets off on foot towards the horizon clutching his paperwork. Valerie tells us that they now have 224 Health Extension workers, grown from 20, and that they are well accepted and respected amongst the people they work with. There are 1.5 million Afari and one in two has stunted development caused by malnutrition. When they do eat, it is always the same thing – legumes.
As the sun begins to set, the Landcruiser pulls left towards a few scattered huts and more stone byres. Children run towards us and goats skitter past – some painted with the letters APDA across their backs! Women appear. They have a lovely welcome ceremony of hand kissing and are thrilled by Valeries’s unexpected visit. They produce canvas sheeting and a blanket which they arrange on the ground having moved some of the larger rocks out of the way. This is our bed for the night. Alex, Valerie and I will sleep here surrounded by the others who are happier outside. A gentle breeze catches us as the sun drops into the distant lava field and the moon rises behind us. We sit while Valerie chatters away to everyone. It is three years since this extended family were forced by drought to pack up and move their few possessions south. They dream of walking back home. Valerie dreams of walking with them.
The Clan Elder appears at supper time and after formal greetings Valerie begins business. She discusses births, teenage marriage, education standards and FGM. The Ethiopian Government has banned the practice but Valerie is keen to find out if this law is understood and upheld. It appears that the Government’s ban has reached even here but Valerie wants to check and she’ll need daylight for that.
We shall sleep well under the shooting stars. I have never been anywhere as silent as this.
6.00: Manda – The following morning. Apparently, Alex tells me, I woke the whole tribe with my snoring. They appeared to find it funny. Hope so… Breakfast is sweet tea from a blackened pot followed by sweet coffee. The cups are shared. They have so little. The goats will make a difference. Twenty ‘households’ within this community received ten goats each – again, nine females and one male. We walk over to the other side of the village to meet other beneficiaries and Valerie asks to see the youngest baby girl. She’s a few weeks old. Alex and I step back and try not to meet anyone’s gaze. Valerie inspects the infant and falls silent. She has been cut. Her clitoris has been removed using a razor and pulled out with a spike. The concession to the law makers in Addis Adaba is that the labia remains and she has not been stitched. It is hard to see this as an advancement but I suppose it is. The traditional birth attendant and cutter tells us that she bled a lot. I can’t hold back the tears.
11.00: Buure. This is where Mohammed, one of Valerie’s most trusted and respected associates comes from. We stop for a Coke (yes, even here) before heading out to meet another group of pastoralists and beneficiaries. They have also been displaced because of drought but look healthier than the people we spent the night with. Again, Valerie is able to mix social chat with health and welfare information before inspecting the youngest baby girl. She discovers that the same abuse has been inflicted on this child. The clitoris has been removed but the labia remains and there is no stitching. She tells them all why this is still wrong. They listen politely and offer no counter argument. We all drink warm goat’s milk. We are amazed at Valerie’s courage. Mohammed remains here to work for APDA.
2.00: Return to Logiya. Six bone shaking hours in the car during which I realise that I have not been to the loo all day, and am still wearing my pyjamas. Valerie at last gets some kip as we drive back past the people she cares so much for, past the water cisterns and watering holes that she has built, past the places where she has organised vaccination programmes and encouraged children to seek an education. Tomorrow, Alex and I return to Addis where the new British Ambassador, Susanna Moorehead, has kindly agreed to meet us to hear about Ethiopiaid’s work. Valerie will be back in her office in the heat and dust of the APDA compound organising health workers, maternity visits, the building of a new hostel for students, checking the status of four young girls who arrived in the nearby hospital with severe infections caused by Type III FGM, filling in accounts and donor reports and preparing for the possible arrival of Acute Watery Diarrhoea.
8.00: Hotel Nondescript, Semera. No water!
Written by Sara Loxton
Introducing… Dignity Period!
Posted by sharon on Friday 7th October 2016
We are very excited to announce our partnership with three new Ethiopian organisations!! Over the next month we will be telling you all about our wonderful new partners right here on our blog.
First of all, let us introduce - Dignity Period!
Dignity Period believes that no girl should be forced to sacrifice or miss significant portions of her education due to lack of adequate menstrual hygiene management resources, nor due to the presence of negative cultural attitudes towards menstruation and female reproductive biology. We at Ethiopiaid Australia mirror this sentiment and at the beginning of FY 2016/17 committed to funding this incredible NGO for a 12-month pilot program.
Together, we can give girls in Ethiopia the best possible chance of staying in school.
The Rural Outreach pilot program will be implemented in rural areas of Tigray, in Northern Ethiopia in FY 2016/17. It will tackle menstrual hygiene management in two ways; by easing financial burdens of menstrual products and breaking down taboos surrounding menstruation. It will also decrease the chances of health risks associated with using makeshift sanitary products, as well as the humiliation experienced by young girls who are unable to manage their period efficiently at school.
Dignity Period will provide 1,777 menstrual hygiene management kits to girls who lack the financial resources required to adequately manage their periods. The kits will include a year’s supply of menstrual hygiene supplies, including four environmentally friendly, reusable sanitary pads, and two pairs of underwear. The kit also contains a comprehensive educational booklet regarding puberty and menstruation, which will also be distributed to the 1,742 boys who attend the schools in this area.
It will also be a priority to address the underlying cultural stigmas and taboos tied to menstruation, encouraging adults to openly discuss human sexuality and reproduction with their children. This will prevent girls in Tigray from entering into their menstrual years feeling confused, ashamed and embarrassed as a result of changes in their bodies that they don’t understand.
To donate, click here.
Click on the video above to learn about Dignity Period's work
Video credit Dignity Period // Photography Joni Kababa
Eradicating obstetric fistula, together!
Posted by sharon on Tuesday 20th September 2016
Our latest blog outlined some of the incredible work of our partners, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia and WAHA – who both provide free obstetric fistula surgeries for people like Alga.
But that is not all they do…
For many women, their fistula prevents them from participating in daily life. This means that there is little opportunity for them to earn an income, leaving them without hope or financial support. After they are treated at WAHA’s hospital, women are offered the opportunity to take part in a 3-month skills-based training program at their Ploughshare Women's Crafts Training Centre. Tsehai, 23, is one of those women:
“The day I was asked if I wanted to be part of this training, I regained a sense of hope. After the training, I will start my own business. I now know that I can turn my life around. I can’t wait to pay my parents back for everything they did for me, when the whole world had turned its back on me. And it’s not just me, you know...all the other women here are excited about this training opportunity... even at night, we stay up late to discuss our future plans...”
And… they are also training the next generation of Ethiopia’s medical professionals.
Ensuring that mothers have access to a skilled attendant during labour can dramatically reduce the risk of death for the mother and newborn child and the incidence of obstetric fistula. Adem recently qualified from the Hamlin College of Midwives and has been posted to a health centre in Jarso, a remote community in Ethiopia.
Before her arrival, the community's awareness of maternal health was minimal. The health centre only saw three to seven live births a month – with the remainder being performed in unsafe environments, without
In just one month, Sister Adem attended an incredible 93 births! This highlights the incredible difference that having access to just one midwife can make. These midwives save lives. Since 2010, there has not been one maternal death where Hamlin midwives have been in attendance!
Two are better than one!
Posted by sharon on Monday 5th September 2016
Eradicating obstetric fistula by 2020 is a team effort and two of our partners are leading the charge.
In 2014, the Ethiopian Government committed to eradicating the devastating childbirth injury, obstetric fistula by 2020. This is an enormous task, with an estimated 30,000 women still living with the condition, largely in rural and isolated areas. But with your help, we’re proud to be able to support two of the key organisations leading the charge: Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia and Women and Health Alliance (WAHA). Each day, your generous contributions are used to provide treatment, rehabilitation, reintegration and prevention for women who have lost everything.
Both Hamlin Fistula’s Hospital in the regional community of Metu, and WAHA’s hospital in Gondar provide free obstetric fistula surgeries to women desperately in need. Alga, 40, was one of those women:
“Around 20 years ago during my first delivery I had an obstructed and prolonged labor. This resulted in a fistula with fecal and urine incontinence. The worst for me was to not be able to attend any ceremony in my community. I couldn’t wear any new clothes because I would have destroyed them. Can you believe that I spent 20 years without going to a wedding or to the church? I even stopped eating and drinking fearing the leakage. I thought that this kind of medical repair was too expensive. But when I heard it was free in Gondar, I jumped on the opportunity.
For my future life I don’t expect anything more than to go to the ceremonies with my friends. I don’t need any husband; I am too old for that. I just want to sit with my friends without any fear and hope they will not laugh at me anymore.”
Alga was successfully operated on by WAHA’s Dr Muleta and returned home to her community shortly after.
Keep your eye out for our next blog - where you will learn all about WAHA - another one of our partner's leading the charge to eradicate obstetric fistula!
Because of you, Abeba and her family are looking forward to the future!
Posted by sharon on Sunday 21st August 2016
Our partner JeCCDO recently shared some stories with us about the thriving marketplace in Dire Dawa, filled with happy, confident women selling fresh produce, kitchen supplies and more. As part of their Livelihoods Promotion Program, JeCCDO provide vocational and entrepreneurial skills training for singles mothers.
Upon completion of the training, the women are provided with a small amount of start-up capital to kick start their businesses, with the hope of securing a sustainable income for themselves and their families.
One such woman, Abeba, received her start-up capital earlier this year and established a successful business within three months. She initially started selling just tomatoes and potatoes, but before long she had expanded her business and diversified her produce to include water, herbs, pasta and flour.
With the income generated from her market stall, Abeba is overjoyed that she can finally send her two eldest children to school and is looking forward to the day when she can also ensure a bright future for her youngest, Menelik.
Because of you, women like Abeba have the opportunity to improve their lives, and the lives of their families. Best of all – they’re doing it themselves!
What’s new at Tewabech House?
Posted by sharon on Monday 8th August 2016
Two years ago you helped us open the doors of Tewabech House, a sanctuary for young girls who were previously living dangerously on the streets of Gondar.
Over the past few months the girls sure have been busy! After studying hard for their first semester examinations, all 16 girls passed and a few even ranked in the top 5 of their respective classes – we are so proud here at Ethiopiaid HQ! To continue these great results, Yenege Tesfa staff and local volunteers are now working together to provide the girls with extra tutorials, building upon their previous learning and helping them achieve new goals in the coming semester.
They have also begun to teach the girls a new set of very important skills – generosity and compassion. In recent months, the 16 girls have been giving up their favourite fruits (bananas and oranges), and donating them instead to patients at Gondar Hospital. The girls have developed a strong sense of empathy and enjoy sharing with others who are also in need.
Because of your support of the Homes for Tomorrow Program, the girls have not only escaped life on the street and become part of a supportive, loving home environment, but they are becoming stronger, independent young women. Expect to see even more outstanding results from this bunch!
Water emergency in Ethiopia. We desperately need your help.
Posted by sharon on Wednesday 30th March 2016
Two of the driest regions in Ethiopia will be without water after March 31st.
Ethiopia continues to endure the devastating impacts of its worst drought in 50 years, which has already left a staggering 10.2 million people in need of emergency assistance, including 6 million children.
This morning we arrived at the office to an email from the founder of our partner, Afar Pastoralist Development Association (APDA), Valerie Browning. Valerie and her organisation have been working tirelessly over the last few months to provide food and water to Ethiopians who are desperately in need.
"APDA is responsible for reaching two of the most thirsty districts in the region: Eli Da’ar and Kori. Just yesterday, people jostled to get water and a nasty scuffle broke out – there are simply not enough trucks going to either districts. Since more and more people in the hinterland are facing dried water sources, people are waiting up to 5 days for their turn to collect trucked water. We have 4 trucks servicing these two areas, but as of March 31st, the funds to run these trucks will be all dried up. Please, can you help?"
It costs $350 AUD per day to hire a truck, which can carry 14,000 litres of much-needed water to these communities.
We need to raise $11,000 urgently to secure the delivery of this water for another month. But we can't do it without you.
Please click below to donate whatever you can today. Every little bit will help water reach the most vulnerable, thirsty communities.
We desperately need your help.
Ticking clock on Ethiopia drought
Posted by sharon on Monday 22nd February 2016
The international community has just three weeks to provide $245 million in emergency food aid to help prevent a potentially catastrophic escalation in severe acute malnutrition cases in drought-afflicted parts of Ethiopia from the end of April when the main 'hungry season' begins. This drought is affecting communities throughout the Horn of Africa, from Somalia to Eritrea, Save the Children says.
Ethiopia continues to endure the devastating impacts of its worst drought in 50 years, which has already left a staggering 10.2 million people in need of emergency food assistance, including 6 million children. More than 400,000 children will need urgent supplementary feeding for severe acute malnutrition this year - a condition that can lead to physical stunting and mental development delays. Additionally, at least 1.7 million children and pregnant and lactating women are suffering from moderate acute malnutrition, and are at risk of sliding into further crisis if the food pipeline breaks down.
"In 2016, when we have all the right systems in place to prevent a massive humanitarian disaster, it would be absolutely unforgivable if the international community failed to act. We all said 'never again' after the tragedy of 1984, and again after the famine in Somalia in 2011 – so now is crunch time and we must all step up before it's too late."
Despite early warnings, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's call for urgent support has not been met. Currently, the combined Ethiopian Government and UN Appeal for $1.4 billion to combat the impact of the drought remains less than half funded.
For more information from Save the Children, click here.
To donate, click here.
Drought update - Millions at risk in Ethiopia
Posted by sharon on Friday 29th January 2016
According to the UN millions are at risk as Ethiopia reels from deadly drought. There is serious concern for the most vulnerable people – in particular newborns and their mothers.
The drought will leave millions of people in need of food aid after two consecutive failed rains, the last one triggered by El Niño which hit the globe last June.
One-tenth of Ethiopians (about 10.2 million people) cannot feed themselves because their crops and animals have died despite strong economic growth and development gains over the last decade. The drought has prompted fears of a repeat of the devastating famine in 1984, when nearly 1 million people died.
It is expected that more than 2.5 million children willl drop out of school due to the drought this year.
New Year, New Adventure - Join us in Ethiopia!
Posted by sharon on Wednesday 27th January 2016
Challenge yourself - Raise money for charity - Travel across the globe - and see firsthand the incredible work YOU support in Ethiopia.
This November, Ethiopiaid will give you the opportunity to do just that.
For the very first time, Ethiopiaid Australia will be running a donor trip to Addis Ababa, offering you a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit and volunteer at the charities you help us to fund!
During your visit you will also take part in the Great Ethiopian Run. You can walk, run or jog the 10km through the streets of Addis Ababa, and join in the festivities with 40,000 other participants - singing and dancing the day away!
Despite the high altitude and heat, it really is an achievable challenge for everyone, and an experience that you’ll never forget!
The trip will take place between the 17 - 24 November and you will need to commit to fundraising $4,000 (excluding flights and an upfront deposit of $500).
If you would like more information, or would like to express your interest, please contact Bebe via email firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone 03 9223 7543 by June 30. Spaces are limited so please contact us quickly to secure your place - first come first served.
This really is a once in a lifetime experience, and one that you will share with Ethiopiaid supporters from Australia, Canada, Ireland and the UK.
Join us - and make 2016 the year you went on an adventure!
For more details, download the PDF...
Fun Facts about Ethiopia
Posted by Natacha Soto on Monday 4th January 2016
Lucy, the oldest human fossil who lived over three million years ago, was found in Ethiopia.
Ethiopia is widely considered the site of the emergence of anatomically modern humans, Homo sapiens, in the Middle Paleolithic about 200,000 years ago. The earliest known modern human bones were found in Southwestern Ethiopia, and are called the Omo remains.
Coffee, one of the world's most popular beverages, was discovered in Ethiopia, in the region of Kaffa.
The best-known Ethiopian cuisine consists of various thick meat stews, known as wat in Ethiopian culture, and vegetable side dishes served atop injera, a large sourdough flatbread made of teff flour.
Ethiopia is the only country in the world with 13 months. It is also eight years behind the Western calendar. They celebrate the New Year on September 11th.
Time in Ethiopia is counted differently than in many Western countries. The Ethiopian day starts with the sunrise, usually at 6 AM as opposed to 12 AM, and as such can vary throughout the year.
Traditionally, parents and children do not share a last name. Most children take their father's first name as their last name.
The main sports in Ethiopia are athletics (particularly long distance running) and football.
Ethiopian Abebe Bikila was the first Sub-Saharan African to win gold in the Olympic Games. He finished the 1960 marathon in first place after running the whole race barefoot. He was the first athlete to win the Olympic marathon twice when he retained the gold model four years later in Tokyo.
Ethiopia is a founding member of the United Nations and the African Union.
Ethiopia is a multilingual nation with around 80 ethnolinguistic groups, the three largest of which are the Tigray, Oromo and Amhara.
Every late November thousands of people from around the world travel to Ethiopia to take part of the Great Ethiopian Run.
Posted by Natacha Soto on Thursday 1st October 2015
Last September World Leaders committed to 17 Global Goals to achieve 3 extraordinary things in the next 15 years: End extreme poverty; Fight inequality & injustice; Fix climate change. The Global Goals for sustainable development could get these things done. In all countries. For all people. If the Goals are going to work, everyone needs to know about them.
They call for action by all countries –poor, middle and high-income, and pledges no one will be left behind.
Here in Ethiopiaid we welcome these Global Goals and commit to help in the achievement of those that are of particular interest for our work in Ethiopia:
Goal 1: No Poverty - End poverty in all its forms everywhere.
Goal 3: Good Health & Well-being - Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.
Goal 4: Quality Education - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
Goal 5: Gender Equality - Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
Goal 8: Decent Work & Economic Growth - Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
Check http://www.globalgoals.org/ to learn more about this goals and how you can help achieve them!