November 2021 - Update on the situation in Ethiopia

child ethiopia simian

You have probably heard it on your daily media: the political and social situation is very confused in Ethiopia and tensions are very high between the central power and the Tigray region. Despite the difficulties this causes, the work on the school in Sona and its annex in Chirolaba is progressing. Here is what we know about the situation on the ground.

Political crisis in Ethiopia

For a year now, an armed group from the Tigray region, the TPLF, has been rising up against the central and federal power in Addis Ababa. The fighting is intense in the Tigrayan region but also in the neighbouring Amhara and Afar regions. The outcome of the fighting is currently very uncertain, with no political solution in sight. For more information on the situation in Ethiopia, we invite you to follow the regular coverage of the newspaper Le Monde or the RTS.

Many refugees from Simien have flocked to Debark and are in great distress. In addition to the work on the school, the Board of Trustees has decided to provide emergency food aid for this population. A budget of 120 000 birr (about 2200 € or 2400 CHF) has been allocated to the purchase of 5 000 kg of Sorghum and 120 liters of oil in addition to the aid provided by the United Nations and the High Commission for Refugees (HCR). It is likely that we will have to renew this aid to the population of Simien in the near future, so if you can, please do not hesitate to support us with a exceptional donation !

The work of the school of Sona

Once used as a refuge by the Amhara armed militia, the school was evacuated as the start of the school year in September. Since then, our team in Debark has ensured the resumption of the works by the contractor Kedir Hassan. The work has resumed since mid-October, given the difficulties of supply due to the scarcity of means of transport in Simien. The bulk of the work has already been completed and is at the finishing stage. These include the following.

Water storage, filtration and distribution

The water storage and filtration room - photo Melash Belete

The water storage and filtration room is being finished (the photo is from September 20, 2021). It is a reinforced concrete structure to support two tanks of 2000 litres each. The height will ensure distribution by gravity. In an adjacent room, sheltered from the slab and walls, will be the UV filtration system, powered by solar panels installed earlier this year (see our article on theelectricity supply).

Sona School Fencing and Security

The school grounds are also fenced off for the safety of the children and for access control.

Sona school fence - photo by Melash Belete

An access gate is also provided to the east of the field, where most children usually arrive.

The gate under construction at Sona school - photo by Melash Belete

When these tasks are completed, which will be soon, as the photos are all dated September 20, the last major work will start: the final earthwork of the school grounds and its cleanliness. The rest of the work can then be programmed: agricultural planting and building the campsite to welcome the trekkers when they return.

But another front is opening up at the same time for the Foundation with the beginning of the work for the reception of the sponsored children at the secondary school of Chirolaba! For more information, please consult our section on sponsorship.

The Chirolaba project

Thanks to your generosity, 10 deserving children (5 boys and 5 girls) from the Sona school who have completed their grade 8 will be able to attend the Chirolaba secondary school. An agreement has been established between the Foundation, the secondary school and the Town Hall of Chirolaba for the optimal reception of the children: accommodation and food, pedagogical supervision and security. Each party is responsible for one aspect of this operation. It is within this framework that the Foundation has released a budget to build an accommodation for about twenty children, anticipating the arrival of 10 more children in the 2022 school year. The secondary school, whose construction is very recent and whose land is vast, has made available a plot of land within its secure perimeter to build the reception building for the children of Sona.

Chirolaba Secondary School built in 2018

The work has just started and unfortunately we don't have any pictures yet. The one above was taken in April during our last trip. We will keep you informed of the progress of the construction.

Staying the course in the storm

Between COVID and civil war, Ethiopia and Ethiopians are once again facing adversity. More than ever, our presence and your support are useful. We are in weekly contact with our local team who are doing their best in view of the difficult conditions. We do not lose sight of our common objectives in the service of the children of Sona and their families and ensure that our commitments are respected. We also do not hesitate to expand the scope of our support when the need becomes absolute and we are convinced that you share this responsibility with us. And we are happy and proud to be able to count on you.