January 2009

Welcome to the January news update!

Hello to all our friends out there in so many countries of the world!

Another New Year has dawned here in Europe while another festive Timkat (Epiphany) season is being celebrated in Ethiopia. For Link Ethiopia and all of the varied organisations working to put right some of the wrongs of this rather inequitable world, the tightening of financial belts is likely to make the going rather tough in the coming months. This is bound to be a major focus of our attention while we try to pursue the many ambitious new projects that are in the planning stage for this year.

This issue of our News Update focuses on our School Links scheme, expanding and becoming more adventurous all the time. Read on …!

Focus on… School Linking

More and more schools are joining with Link Ethiopia in forming a link of friendship and support between our two countries. A visit by the UK school, either the coordinating teacher or a more senior group of students, can often inspire and motivate a partnership like nothing else! Here we want to tell you about one of our school links and the recent group visit that took place in October.

Halliford School’s visit to Ethiopia

On the most recent school visit to Ethiopia twelve students from Halliford School in Shepperton visited Edeget Feleg School in Gondar.

Prior to leaving, the boys, their parents and their teachers worked hard to collect books and sports kits and to raise money for their link school. They ran a series of enjoyable events including a quiz night, a classical concert and a non-uniform day. Michael Gray, the Link Coordinator at Halliford, also organised a series of information sessions over the six weeks preceding the visit so that students could learn about the history, culture and customs of Ethiopia.

Following a warm welcome in Edeget Feleg, the students from Halliford set to work painting a beautiful mural outside the library and inside a classroom which will be equipped with computers that are to be funded with money raised in the UK. Students and teachers from both schools also took part in a series of mutually beneficial activities that were not only fun but also helped to build friendships and increase cultural awareness. A very exciting football match, together with some formal debates, enabled students from both schools to show their skills both on and off the sports pitch. Solomon, a student at Edeget Feleg, said: “We really appreciate the effort that the boys have made to visit us in Ethiopia. It has been a great chance for us to improve our English skills and learn all about British culture”.

Michael Gray, who put lots of effort into organising the visit, said: “The trip has been a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness of the link in our school. Students keep on coming up to me and asking me all about Ethiopia and when the next trip will be”. He added: “The biggest lesson that the boys learned was that, although we have different levels of material wealth, we all have the same aspirations and outlook on life. Hopefully the trip will become a regular feature in the school calendar”. Judging by the success of this trip, we hope so too!

How to get involved

If your school is interested in partnering with an Ethiopian school please let us know! We have dozens of schools awaiting a link so now couldn’t be a better time to start. Email Chris at [email protected] for more information – thank you!

News from Ethiopia

  • Ethiopia marches inexorably forward! It has just been announced that the ubiquitous Dashen Bank will now accept Mastercard in all its branches, having recently started accepting VISA. For years the lack of ‘plastic power’ has been something of a problem for tourists visiting the country, so large amounts of cash or travellers’ cheques deep in the pocket were the only options. Now that is a thing of the past, and a tourist or businessman can nip along to get crisp new notes fresh from the ‘hole in the wall’ (ATM).
  • In other news, at the very moment that we are planning the creation of a Donkey Library in the Gondar region to take reading materials to the most rural schools in that area, we learn from Elizabeth Blunt at the BBC of a similar scheme that has just been launched way down in the south of the country, in Awassa. Our own scheme will not be able to match the colourfully painted yellow cart that is being used there because we are going to be servicing communities far from any decent roads. Our donkeys will have waterproof panniers and they will meander between rural villages at a steady pace to deliver their educational loads.

Meet the Team: Belayneh Shewaye

Belayneh Shewaye is our Country Manager, based in our main Ethiopia office in Gondar. He is an experienced teacher and administrator and works full-time to coordinate our school projects, school links and volunteering scheme in the north of the country.



Geography spot: The road to Gorgora

In the north of Ethiopia is a huge and beautiful lake called Lake Tana, an area with an ancient and colourful history. Most tourists see this huge expanse of water from the southern tip, the now important regional centre of Bahir Dar with its tree-lined streets and fine hotels. But at the other end of the lake, far to the north, is a much smaller and more modest village called Gorgora.

Gorgora is reached from Gondar, where the main Link Ethiopia office is based, via a stony and countrified road that cuts through swathes of attractive farmland and which passes through several small welcoming roadside towns. The main one of these, Kola Diba, has schools and houses, cafes and shops, all hugging closely to the straight road that continues single-mindedly on its way to Gorgora and the lake.

There are many signs of past history at Gorgora. The ancient monastery of Debre Sina Maryam is one focus for those tourists who manage to reach there, while not far away are the ruins of Emperor Susenyos’s palace at Old Gorgora. But today the town’s main features are the extensive Lake Tana Transport Authority compound, which serves as the terminus for the large passenger boats that cross the lake from Bahir Dar in the south, and a particularly fine and welcoming lakeside hotel where visitors can while away many pleasurable hours watching the water and the plentiful and varied birdlife.

Link Ethiopia has just linked a school in the UK with the secondary school here in Gorgora, so we shall be visiting this beautiful spot frequently in the future.

Coming up on UK Television

  • Africa Trek – EthiopiaTribal Realm, Christian Empire
    Thursday January 29th (Travel Channel)
  • Tribal wives – EthiopiaA Scottish airhostess amid the Afar tribewomen!
    Friday January 30th (UKTV Documentary)
  • Ethiopian wolfAn enchanting story of survival
    Thursday February 19th at midnight(Animal Planet)

Ethiopian proverb

When they work together strings of a bark can tie up an elephant

English proverb

Don’t have thy cloak to make when it begins to rain

Website link

Lots of information to discover at the wonderful Africa Guide’s pages on Ethiopia

and, of course, our own colourful website at

Help us?

As always, if anyone reading this would like to offer us expertise, knowledge and help with our work or if you would like to associate yourself with one of our school projects (classrooms, water, toilets, books, etc) then please get in touch. You can donate via the following link, or by contacting us – details at the bottom of this email.


Together We Learn - Ethiopia