Eric and Hervé were able to travel to Ethiopia from March 13 to 25, 2022. The conditions in the country are very difficult and the obstacles are piling up. Sanitary crisis of COVID 19, extreme drought in the southeast and war with the TPLF (Tigrayan People's Liberation Front in French), Ethiopians are living dark days... The fighting is now taking place in two large Ethiopian regions: the Afar and Amhara regions, bordering Tigray. Unfortunately for the children of Sona, their school is located near the front line. It has been closed since the beginning of the school year in September and occupied by the Amhara Special Forces, the regional militia fighting alongside government forces against the TPLF. However, the finishing work on the school is still in progress and we had to go and supervise it and meet with providers, partners and our team.
Visit to the school of Sona
With a pass, we were able to spend a day on the site of the school of Sona. A school empty of children and teachers, replaced by soldiers, but where the team of our contractor Kedir Hassan continues the work. Well supported by Mihret, Agere and Baye, our Ethiopian collaborators, he has just finished the technical room of the water and the fence of the school.
A complete technical inspection was carried out to identify the remaining work to be done in order to achieve a complete finish, down to the last detail, of the school.
We also met the new principal of the school who made a strong impression on us by his determination, despite the difficulties, to bring the children back to the school in the best conditions. The authorities of the District (Woreda of Janamora) had also made the trip to Sona to mark their attachment to the project and their will to find a solution to return the school to its children and their teachers.
Our visit to the Sona school site ended with a festive time in which all the children and their teachers participated, returning to their beloved school for a day.
The secondary school of Chirolaba
The second big piece of our trip program was working at the Chirolaba high school. It is here that we built the premises which welcome the 10 children of our sponsorship program implemented last summer for the start of the school year in September 2021. For a detailed report, you will find at the end of the article the "#1 newsletter" sent to the sponsors of the 10 children of Chirolaba of the 2021-22 class.
The construction of a four-room building for the accommodation of children in boys' and girls' dormitories. It has been designed to accommodate 2 or even 3 classes, i.e. about 30 children for the period 2021-2024. It is completed by a kitchen and storage building for the 2 nannies and the guard who take care of our children.
During our stay, we were able to complete their school equipment with school bags, pencil cases, clothes collected in Switzerland and in France and school supplies collected by the students of the Pierre Dubois College in Seyssinet-Pariset (France). Electricity was also installed in the two dormitories to increase the working day. Despite our efforts, the students missed the first term. The construction took longer than expected due to the lack of materials and transportation because of the war. Remedial courses were also financed by the Foundation so that our 10 godchildren could fully succeed in their year.
Here also the authorities of the District have been present at our side and support the operation as well as the authorities of the City of Chirolaba (Kebele). All of them are present in the sponsoring committee together with the school management, the Foundation and the Simien Mountain National Park (SMNP).
Before leaving for Addis Ababa, we had the pleasure of receiving from Brian McBrearity (AWF – African Wildlife Foundation), a major partner of the Simien Mountain National Park, a first endowment of about fifty textbooks for children of Sona (Grade 1 to 8) or Chirolaba (Grade 9 to 12). A precious help in a country where books are rare! Another delivery, more important, is planned by July.
Work in Addis Ababa
We leave the north of Ethiopia after this first week of work in a somewhat heavy and not very reassuring warlike atmosphere. But what can we do except hope that peace will come back quickly? In Addis Ababa, we find a lighter atmosphere where we have a series of meetings with our partners:
- Kedir Hassanour contractor, with whom we have a complete review, following our visit, on the end of the construction site
- Mullege CoffeeOur administrative partner in the Ethiopian capital with whom we are discussing the continuation of this partnership and the renewal of the lease (free of charge) that they offer us to house the Foundation's headquarters in Ethiopia.
- Melat Tekelemanager of her company Ferasula, which ensures financial control over Addis Ababa
- TheEmbassy of Switzerland for a full update and prospects of support for the coming years in the person of Ambassador Tamara Mona.
- TheAustralian Embassy for a complete update on the operations, including those financially supported by the Embassy, and the prospects for the continuation of this partnership, in the person of Ms. Nardos Mulugeta, mission manager.
- a meeting was scheduled at theEmbassy of Francewhich cancelled the event without any possibility of postponement on our part.
This trip to Ethiopia in March 2022 was therefore fruitful in many ways. We have made every effort to ensure that the children of Sona will be back in school next fall, but unfortunately we do not have all the parameters under control. Notably not those of the political crisis that has been hitting the country for two years now. To finish reporting on this trip, we still have to edit the images shot during this trip to offer you an illustrated summary in video.