February 2023 trip

opening of simian school ethiopia

In February 2023, no less than four volunteers from the Foundation travelled to Sona for a trip that was as full of work as it was emotional. The aim was to finalise the installation of the school's water supply, storage and treatment system, and finally to officially inaugurate it. So there were not too many of us to ensure an 11-day mission on site.

The detailed report of the mission can be read below. You can also watch the traditional video of the trip.

The video of the trip

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Detailed report

General situation

The trip took place from 13 to 26 February, with 2 days in Addis at the end of the trip. Eric, Ignacio, Florian and Hervé participated.

The political situation has calmed down and some tourists have returned to Simien. The military forces are much less present in the North Gondar region. The federal army is absent, only the Amhara militia is present, the federal government having demanded the withdrawal of its troops from Tigrayan territory.

The economic situation is still tense with high inflation and many shortages.

Monday 13 February 2023

Direct arrival from Geneva (departure on the 12th in the evening) in Debark, via Addis Ababa and Gondar. In the afternoon we meet the whole team (Mihret, Agere, Baye and Branu) to prepare the stay which is going to be very busy. It also allows us to take the latest news from Sona and Chirolaba to adjust our action plan. Long passage through customs in AA to obtain the authorization to enter with the drone.

Tuesday 14 February 2023

Debark -> Sona (arrival at 13.00)

Eric, Florian, Agere and Hervé, accompanied by Mulali, walk the rest of the way from Gultu.

After a quick installation, work began at the source in the afternoon. Preparation of the connection of the upstream tank to the school pipe. Hervé and a team stay behind to dig the twenty or so metres of trench that are missing. The rest of the team goes down to prepare the downstream station.

Overnight at Sona

Wednesday 15 February 2023

Connection of the upstream station to the school pipe, closure of the trench and creation of an overflow for the community surrounding the catchment (photo below).

Downstream station: installation of water inlet equipment on a board: valves, pressure breaker and 5 then 1 micron filters.

Final connection of the pipe at the school entrance.

Installation of a temporary overflow to allow the cleaning and testing of the pipe, which was laid 2 years earlier.

The test is successful, it will be the first big emotion of the stay!

Preparation of work on storage tanks.

Overnight at Sona

Thursday 16 February 2023

Creation of the water circuit to the reservoir, which is finally unique (as opposed to 2 planned). Creation of the temporary overflow. The reservoir was filled with water at noon.

Start of installation of UV sterilisers and drilling of walls for new valves. Removal of taps installed by Kedir Hassan.

Overnight at Sona

Friday 17 February 2023

Branu and Ignacio partially install the electrical system + water + UV sterilizers in the water room. The taps (photo opposite) are operational (except for the UV) for the inauguration.

Development of the downstream overflow with the 2 old reservoirs for gardening. Construction of dry stone retaining walls and a water distribution point.

Preparation for the opening of the next day.

Overnight at Sona

Saturday 18 February 2023

Inauguration day in the presence of many personalities for a total of about 150 people.
Opening party at Sona school!
Overnight at Sona

Sunday 19 February 2023

Ignacio and Branu finish the UV installation. In the afternoon, the first glasses of purified water are drunk!

Completion of the set-up for the agricultural part.

Overnight at Sona

Monday 20 February 2023

Travel Sona -> Chirolaba

Visit to the school and boarding facilities of Chirolaba

Meeting with the authorities of Janamora (Asrat + Director of Administration) and the interim headmaster of the secondary school (Ambatchew is in prison for an unknown reason).

Meeting to review the Sponsorship Management Committee, which needs to improve its functioning. An account must be submitted to Mihret every month, and the half-yearly results must be transmitted.

The 2 buildings with 8 classrooms accommodate 1200 students in 2 shifts, some classes have more than 100 students. FCC will be fundraising for the construction of 4 additional classrooms

Visit of the boarding facilities with the authorities of Janamora. FCC will build 2 additional rooms of 5.4 x 4m to accommodate a total of 40 students from Sona. Approval is given to install an electric kitchen for the boarding school at a cost of 20'000 birr, much cheaper than the scarce wood used in the region.

Yared is moved back to Sona because she cannot stand Chirolaba. She is allowed to continue her studies in another school without losing her place if she decides to return. The costs involved are not covered by the Foundation.

Back to Sona.

Overnight at Sona

Tuesday 21 February 2023

The School Committee meets and takes the following decisions:

Melish will be able to claim a small fee for her care from the community. The children at the school are free of charge.
The selection process for further study at Chirolaba with a scholarship will be based solely on the academic results of the top 5 girls and boys, followed by an interview with the selected students and their parents.
The water is reserved entirely for the school for pupils, hygiene classes, and for the community's drinking water needs, excluding other uses. The surplus water will be used for the school's vegetable garden and plantations. Jenamora woreda is studying a new water catchment for the community, which will be independent of the school.
The 3 pillars of Education, Agriculture and Cultural Tourism to ensure the future autonomy of the school are confirmed by the committee.

Work on the agri-environmental action plan by Baye and Hervé.

Overnight at Sona

Wednesday 22 February 2023

Travel Sona -> Debark.

We meet Hawltu from the SMMMS to urge him to give us the 2 first aid kits we bought and promised to us 2 years ago! He undertakes to do so the next day in Gondar.

Eric will confirm with Brian Lovatt a salary of 1050 birr for Melish. A nurse from Kait will be present every Friday at Sona.

Hawltu will propose to the Woreda of Jenamora the provision of a full time nurse, paid by the State thanks to the room and bed provided by FCC, who can cover from Sona the whole Kebele.

Very nice evening at Lima Limo Lodge.

Overnight in Debark.

Thursday 23 February 2023

Team meeting at Mihret's premises. Remuneration of the kitchen team.

Communication of new wages from March, covering 32% of inflation.

Travel to Gondar and then fly to Addis. Ignacio continues to Geneva.

Overnight at the Meskel Flower hotel in Addis.

Friday 24 February 2023

Meeting at the Swiss embassy in the morning. We need to prepare a funding application for training for 2024. File to be finished by June. Invitation to participate in the same forum as last year in Addis, in April. A similar forum will take place in September in Switzerland.

Meeting at Kedir Hassan with Isayas and Andualem in the afternoon. The list of tasks to be finished before payment of the retention fee was accepted by Kedir Hassan: painting the roofs, finishing the interior paintings and installing 30 mA differential circuit breakers.

Saturday 25 February 2023

Approval from Saada Mullege for a collection of clothes at the International Community College, as well as storage and transport to Sona by truck. Hervé contacts the French Embassy to include the Guebre Mariam High School and the Alliance éthio-française if possible. The distribution on site will be done with Mahabaw and Mihret.

Tourism in Addis. Then flight to Geneva in the night.


It was another intense trip, and there were not too many of us to complete all the tasks scheduled. We can say the construction of the Sona school is completed, confirmed by its official inauguration with great pomp and ceremony. It is the end of a big challenge for which all the participants can be proud. Other challenges are now open to us.

First of all, the maintenance of Sona, which requires the involvement of local authorities and teachers in operating the school. We still need to find the magic formula in this respect...

The challenge of Chirolaba and the secondary school sponsorships is to be carried out. The operation on site still needs to be improved, as does the selection process. A new 2-bedroom building will also be created in the next few months as a sign of our faith in the future.

Finally, the challenge of the next steps at Sona, those of implementing the tourism and agri-environmental pillars.

To meet all these challenges, we know we can count on our local team, which is developing ever greater competence and energy, mission after mission.