Charity profile: Ethiopiaid

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I recently had the pleasure of doing some volunteering for a fantastic charity called Ethiopiaid. I was lucky enough to be contacted by them about some information on my blog and after researching their work I was really impressed at how much of a difference they’ve made in Ethiopia over the last 25 years in areas such as poverty alleviation, healthcare and education.

They are a small charity with a huge passion for making a difference to those in need.

The charity was founded in 1989 by Sir Alec Reed. He had recently been to Ethiopia and seen for himself the poverty suffered by many Ethiopians, so starting with an investment of £1m, hardworking staff and donated office space Ethiopiaid has grown into a charity that has raised over £28 million for trusted community partners in the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa. In 2011, Sir Alec received a knighthood for his services to charity.

Ethiopiaid raises funds for trusted community partners in the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, and only work with the best local charities, valued for their expertise, skill and ambition.

The charity has very low admin expenses as they only have three members of staff in the UK and their office space is donated. The % of the donors £ that goes to admin costs is between 5-6%. So for every £1 you donate, only 5-6 pence of it goes on admin costs – the rest goes to those who need it.

The amount they donate to projects depend on the partner’s needs so this varies from year to year. In 2013, they donated £1.1 million of public funding to partner projects in Ethiopia.

Ethiopiaid are very realistic, they will not promise to change the entire world or all of Ethiopia. What they can promise is that together they will make a significant difference in the local areas that they do support.

Here are just some of Ethiopiaid’s community partners:

Eneredada

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Eneredada, which means ‘Let’s help each other’, is a day centre for elderly people. A lack of pensions in Ethiopia means that life can be especially difficult for the elderly and often they have no living family to care for them and many are left trying to scrape together enough to survive from one day to the next.

Eneredada addresses basic needs by providing food, clothing, medicine and house repairs to those who require them. The volunteers also work to inspire confidence and a sense of belonging and self-worth amongst the members, many of whom consider themselves a burden.

HOPE

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In Addis Ababa, there are an estimated 60,000 children living rough on the streets desperately looking for food and shelter. Many are forced to beg, steal or prostitute themselves, simply to get money for their next meal. For these children, education is a luxury they simply cannot afford.

Since 2000, HOPE has been working with Ethiopiaid to feed and school hundreds of street children who are rounded up by the dedicated project staff from doorways, bus stations and derelict hovels. The breakfast (two pieces of bread, milk and a banana) provides an incentive for attending informal classes in basic literacy and numeracy which are held afterwards. A social worker and project officer are actively working to re-unite targeted children with their families.

Just £100 will provide a street child with breakfast AND schooling for an entire year. In 2008, the results recorded by the school for its national examination takers was one of the best in the country.

Addids Ababa Fistula Hospital

Fistulas occur in Ethiopia for two main reasons. Pre-natal and maternal healthcare is often unavailable and in Ethiopia girls as young as 4 or 5 are betrothed and intercourse often takes place before their teens. Many of these girls are simply not ready to carry children and so complications arise when labour starts.

A fistula is a hole in the tissue between the vaginal wall and bladder which causes women to leak urine and faeces. This can be repaired with a simple operation, which lasts less than an hour, the cost of which is £400.

The nurse aides at the hospital are all ex-patients and the hospital trains women who are recovering from their operations in tailoring skills to help them to find work making dresses and uniforms after returning home. When a woman has fully recovered she is given a new dress and the means to get home. She is also instructed in how important it is to get to hospital for any future births. Each patient is provided with a card they can present to doctors on their arrival, explaining that they may be in need of a caesarean section.

The Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital has also opened four outreach centres across Ethiopia and the new midwifery college trains midwives to work in rural areas where antenatal care is desperately needed. After training, the midwives work in clinics in remote areas providing ante-natal care and attending child-births. In the case of obstructed labour the midwives will refer the women to the nearest hospital, improving the chances of a healthy childbirth and decrease the number of women falling victim to injuries such as fistula and worse.

Last year the doctors treated over 2,500 women.

Cheshire Services

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For a disabled child in Ethiopia, access to education is almost impossible. Physical disability is often considered a curse from God and many disabled children and adults spend their whole lives hidden out of sight by their ashamed families. In addition, the lack of adequate healthcare in Ethiopia means mobility aids are not widely available. Those who are unable to walk unassisted are left to crawl or drag themselves around on the floor.

Ethiopiaid has been working with Cheshire Services since 1998 to provide thousands of disabled children and adults with walking appliances, corrective surgery and physiotherapy. The causes of their disabilities vary; many have suffered from polio, others have lost one or more limbs in land mine explosions and some have been involved in work place or traffic accidents. But there is hope of a brighter future for all of them.

AWSAD

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AWSAD’s objective is to educate all Ethiopians – men, women and children – about the issues and injustice surrounding gender-based violence. They run two safe houses in Ethiopia, where victims of rape, violence and abuse can find shelter, food, medical care and counselling. The safe houses are supported by professional lawyers who provide legal aid to the women that have suffered gender based violence, in order to fight for justice.

At the safe house, the women have access to life skills training consisting of one to one sessions, group therapy and self defense training, in order to enhance the women’s confidence and psychological wellbeing. The women and girls also get training in food preparation, hair dressing and embroidery which will enable them to generate their own income and work towards an independent future once they have left the safe house.

Meron’s story…

This story starts back in 2001, when Meron, a five-year-old girl from Addis Ababa lost her mother. She was raised by her father but was brought up in isolation and never given the love and support she needed to flourish. Much worse was to come, and when Meron turned sixteen last year, her father – the one person who was meant to protect her – violently raped her.

So scared was Meron of her father that she believed he would kill her if she told anyone about this disgusting abuse. And so the rape continued for months and months. Before long, Meron’s belly began to grow. She was terrified and in denial. It was only when a neighbour encouraged her to have a check up that she fully realised the truth: Meron was pregnant.

The news broke her and Meron attempted suicide by drinking poison in her school playground. This was to be the turning point in her story. She was rushed to hospital by her teachers and it was there that she was referred to AWSAD, who took her to a safe house. She was given counselling to help her come to terms with her abuse, as well as medical attention to help her look after her unborn child. But the support did not end there.

AWSAD have helped to turn Meron’s life around. While under their care, she has safely given birth to her child and been given shelter, food, training in business and self-defence – even legal assistance. As a result, Meron’s father has been sentenced to over 21 years in prison.

Please, Give Here to support victims of rape and violence today.

Your gift could help pay for training for a victim – just as other supporters’ generosity did for Meron, who learned embroidery and business skills. She is now looking forward to starting her own company.

Ethiopiaid

By targeting the areas of poverty alleviation, healthcare and education Ethiopiaid are helping the poorest to find their way out of unnecessary suffering.

The charity visits Ethiopia at least once each year to conduct project field visits and as you can see from some of the examples above, their partners operate effectively and achieve visible results.

If you would like to find out more about this fantastic charity, please visit their website by clicking here.

If you would like to donate, please visit – http://ethiopiaid.org.uk/support/donate

Ethiopiaid logo with stapline 2012

 

 

 

 

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Bogaletch Gebre: The woman fighting female genital mutilation in Ethiopia

Bogaletch Gebre ©KMG

Bogaletch Gebre ©KMG

“Change takes commitment, not a miracle.”

Hidden away in the Africa section of the BBC news website yesterday there was a wonderful article about a woman who is trying to make the world a better place.

Her name is Bogaletch Gebre and this week she was awarded the King Baudouin African Development Prize in recognition for her work in women’s rights, specifically her campaigning to eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM) in Ethiopia.

Also known as female circumcision, female genital mutilation is practised mainly in communities in Africa and the Middle East. It is the deliberate, non-medical removal or cutting of female genitalia and is often considered a necessary part of raising a girl “properly”, and a way to prepare her for adulthood and marriage. In many communities it is also believed to reduce a woman’s libido and therefore believed to help her resist “illicit” sexual acts.

It is usually carried out by local traditional practitioners without anaesthesia, using instruments such as knives, scissors and razors and causes long-term severe health problems, such as infertility, childbirth complications, cysts, recurrent bladder and urinary tract infections – not to mention the short-term effects such as severe pain, shock and haemorrhaging.

140 million girls worldwide have been affected by FGM

140 million girls worldwide have been affected by FGM

Bogaletch Gebre is herself a victim of female genital mutilation. She doesn’t know when she was born but believes it was sometime in the 1950s in Kembatta, Ethiopia, a region where FGM was endemic. At the age of 12 she was subjected to brutal FGM and also lost one of her sisters to the practice.

Coming from an area where girls were largely uneducated, Gebre decided to run away to a missionary school and became the first girl from her village to receive a primary education. She won a scholarship to attend high school in Addis Ababa then moved to Jerusalem to study Microbiology and this led on to a scholarship at the University of Massachusetts.

Whilst studying for her PhD in Epidemiology in Los Angeles, she set up a charity called Development Through Education and started running marathons to raise money. In total, she raised $26,000 which was spent on books that were sent to universities and schools in Ethiopia.

Not long after this, Gebre returned home with $5,000 in her pocket and a dream. Along with her sister, Fikirte, she founded the Kembatti Mentti Gezzimma (KMG) group with the aim of increasing the trust of the elders in communities where FGM is endemic. They hoped that by developing a dialogue with them and questioning their practices, they might be able to make an impact and lower the rate of FGM.

Through her hard work with the elders, she came to realise that many of them did not know where FGM originated and that it was not prescribed in the Bible or the Koran.

Bogaletch Gebre ©KMG

Bogaletch Gebre ©KMG

“For social change, you must go to the people, to really listen to them and learn from them. It is all about commitment. As a young girl when I spoke to elders, I had to look at their feet, not their faces. As an adult, I stood in front of a congregation of 800 men, women and children. I said female genital mutilation is not prescribed in the Bible or the Koran. So where did the practice come from?”

Gebre’s dedication has paid of because in just ten years of working with the communities, she has managed to lower the incidence of female genital mutilation from 100% to less than 3% in newborn girls – an extraordinary achievement.

Gebre hopes the King Baudouin prize will bring more attention to the issue of women’s rights in Africa. “Today only 1% of all aid that goes to African countries goes to women, just 1%. Yet we are half the population in every country if not more,” she said.

“We started in four districts and now we are in 700. We have developed tools and approaches to how can we eliminate not only FGM but gender inequality. We want a woman to be recognised as a person with human value, with dignity, who can hope and think,” she said.

A short documentary about Bogaletch

Female Genital Mutilation: The facts

Key facts about female genital mutilation from the World Health Organisation (WHO):

  • Female genital mutilation (FGM) includes procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
  • The procedure has no health benefits for girls and women.
  • Procedures can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later cysts, infections, infertility as well as complications in childbirth increased risk of newborn deaths.
  • About 140 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with the consequences of FGM.
  • FGM is mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and age 15.
  • In Africa an estimated 101 million girls 10 years old and above have undergone FGM.
  • FGM is a violation of the human rights of girls and women.

How you can help:

Kembatti Mentti Gezzimma – KMG has 106 employees and 6,000 volunteers.  The organisation is present in 700 villages and about 2.5 million people are touched by its action. Find out more at http://kmg-ethiopia.org/

Orchid Project – A London based charity working to eradicate FGM around the world. To find out more about the charity please click here. To donate please visit: http://orchidproject.org/donate/

Daughters of Eve is a non-profit organisation working to protect girls and young women who are at risk from female genital mutilation. Find out more here: http://www.dofeve.org/index.html

FORWARD – A charity dedicated to advancing and safeguarding the sexual and reproductive health and rights of African girls and women. Find out more here: http://www.forwarduk.org.uk/about. To donate, please click here.