Charity profile: Ethiopiaid


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, 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.



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


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’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.


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 –

Ethiopiaid logo with stapline 2012






Making the world a better place: The man who rebuilds the lives of women and children in the rape capital of the world

Dr Denis Mukwege at the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, eastern DR Congo © Endre Vestvik

When Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 for his ‘extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples’, he had been inaugurated less than two weeks before the 1 February nomination deadline. Many thought this premature, especially as he was up against Columbia’s ‘woman of peace’ and the father of Chinese democracy, but one man stood out on the nominee list for me, a man whose selfless commitment for the last 14 years has ensured that thousands of women have been able to rebuild their lives in what has been described as the worst country in the world to be a woman.

Healthcare was poor in rural areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo when Denis Mukwege was a child. His father, a pastor, would often take him to visit the sick and together they would pray for them, but Denis couldn’t understand why his father didn’t give out medicine or prescriptions to help the patients. When he asked his father the question, he replied that he wasn’t a doctor. This experience made Denis realise that prayer alone was not enough.

He travelled to Burundi to study medicine and a few years later returned to the DRC to work as a general practitioner at the Hospital of Lemera in Kivu. But after witnessing the lack of pre and post natal care in his country he went to France to study gynaecology and obstetrics and came back to Lemera where he created a special maternity ward.

Panzi Hospital, Bukavu DRC © cyclopsr http-_bit.ly_NYUhoW

In 1996 though, during the first civil war of the Democratic Republic of Congo, it was destroyed by Banyamulenge militia and Mukwege left for the city of Bukavu where he built a new maternity ward with an operating room at the Panzi Hospital.

Scores of women started arrive at the hospital everyday, travelling for hundreds of miles to seek help from Dr Mukwege. Most came for the repair of fistula’s (a hole in the tissue between the vaginal wall and bladder) which cause the women to leak urine and faeces. The two main types of fistula’s he came across were those caused by childbirth – usually from prolonged, obstructed labour in areas with no adequate access to healthcare – and those caused by a new epidemic sweeping across the DRC, that of sexual violence, a weapon of war used against women and children in the ongoing conflict.

Mukwege was soon operating on 10 women a day, dealing with some of most horrific acts of sadism imaginable. Women who had been raped with bayonets, sticks and rifles, bullets shot into them, destroying their reproductive organs. In the worst case he has ever seen, one woman lost her colon, bladder, vagina and rectum after a man shot a cartridge into her. Miraculously, she survived.

Ross Kemp visited the hospital as part of his Extreme World series in 2011. He met Dr Mukwege and some of the survivors being treated at the hospital. Here’s what happened on his visit:

Ross Kemp meets Dr Denis Mukwege at the Panzi Hospital

Eve Ensler, writer of The Vagina Monologues, visited the hospital a few years ago and wrote an article for Glamour Magazine based on her trip. While at Panzi she met a young woman called Nadine who told Ensler her story: “I’m 29,” she begins. “I am from the village of Nindja. Normally there was insecurity in our area. We would hide many nights in the bush. The soldiers found us there. They killed our village chief and his children. We were 50 women. I was with my three children and my older brother; they told him to have sex with me. He refused, so they cut his head and he died.” They then murdered Nadine’s three children, all under the age of 5, and gang raped her causing a massive fistula. “When I got away from the soldiers, there was a man passing. He said, ‘What is that bad smell?’ It was me; because of my wounds, I couldn’t control my urine or faeces. I explained what had happened. The man wept right there. He and some others brought me to the Panzi Hospital.”

Nadine is just one of over 20,000 women Dr Mukwege has helped in the last 14 years and he has ensured the work will continue by training four other doctors to perform fistula surgery. Last year they completed over 1,000 surgeries.

In 2011 Mukwege, Ensler and Christine Schuler Deschryver, winner of the Guardian‘s Women of the Year award, opened the City of Joy in Bukavu after becoming fed up with countless broken promises of help from well-meaning visitors to the Panzi.

They built a centre at the City of Joy where survivors have the opportunity to take a six month intensive educational course, learning self-defense, literacy, human rights and many other skills ensuring a brighter future for the women of Congo.

Left to right: Eve Ensler, Denis Mukwege and Christine Schuler Deschryver at the City of Joy © Photograph: Paula Allen Guardian

Denis Mukwege, now 57, has sacrificed a great deal to make his country a better place for women to exist. He’s received death threats, treated rape victims as young as 3 years old and endured long periods away from his family, but he continues to work 16 hour days to repair not only the bodies of the survivors of sexual violence but their souls too.

If you would like to find out more about the Panzi Hospital or donate, here is the link –

The origins of the recent troubles in the DR Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo has been taken advantage of many times, over many years and for two reasons: money and power.

In the late 1800s King Leopold II of Belgium and his army laid claim to the country and for their own financial benefit they extorted forced labour from the natives for the collection of sap from rubber plants. Due to global demand, the sale of rubber made Leopold a small fortune but at the cost of the lives of millions of Congolese natives who were killed and mutilated by Leopold’s men for not meeting unrealistic quotas.

Many years later, after their independence from Belgium in the 1960s, president Mobutu Sese Seko changed the country’s name to Zaire and used the country’s money to lavish himself with expensive clothes and trips while his country crumbled around him. Mobutu spent the rest of the money to ensure he stayed in power for the next 30 years but his rule came to an end in the mid 1990s just as ‘Africa’s World War’, the deadliest conflict since World War Two, began.

Mobutu Sese Seko ©

In April 1994, the president of neighbouring Rwanda, Juvenal Habyarimana, was assassinated when his plane was shot down in the Rwandan capital Kigali. An ethnic Hutu extremist regime took control of the country and over the next 100 days they murdered 800,000 ethnic Rwandan Tutsis in the last genocide of the 20th century.

Tutsi rebels, led by the current President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, managed to overthrow the Hutu extremists and drove them across the border into Zaire where they received growing support from President Mobutu.

Paul Kagame © ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images

Hutu rebels attacked Rwanda from refugee camps across the border, killing Tutsi’s and forcibly recruiting Hutu men into their growing army. They started to attack native Tutsi’s in Zaire and when the Rwandan army got word it began to back rebel groups in Zaire who were now fighting both Hutu militia and Mobutu’s government troops.

The leader of the rebels in Zaire, Laurent Kabila, and the Rwandan army soon took control of the capital Kinshasa and President Mobutu was forced to flee. Kabila was put in charge of the country and he changed its name back to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

But the relationship between Rwanda and the DRC didn’t last long when Kabila ordered all Rwandan military to leave the country and failed to expel Hutu militia.

Laurent Kabila ©

With the help of Uganda and Burundi, Rwanda tried to topple Kabila and almost did but the DRC had help from five other African nations including Angola and Zimbabwe.

The foreign armies, though, were more interested in money and plundered the country’s most valuable commodities –  diamonds, oil, gold and coltan/tantalum (a prized mineral used in mobile phones and mainly found in the DRC) – for their personal gain.

A peace agreement followed and saw the withdrawal of foreign troops but rebels with ties to the Rwandan army still controlled much of the east of the country and Hutu extremists including the men responsible for the genocide in Rwanda, started a new group, the FDLR, to drive the Tutsi’s from power.

Laurent Nkunda © AFP

Notorious warlord General Laurent Nkunda led a rival rebel group to protect the Tutsis from the FDLR, who he accused of being supported by the Congolese government, but he was overthrown by ‘Terminator’ Bosco Ntaganda, a man with a reputation for killing people easily. Both men are currently wanted for war crimes by the Congolese government and the International Criminal Court respectively. Ntaganda is wanted on counts which include mass murder and rape and is currently a fugitive living in the hills overlooking Kinshasa.

Nkunda was handed over to the Rwandans by Kabila’s government after they again switched sides to support the Tutsi rebel group. Nkunda is currently being held at an undisclosed location in Rwanda.

Bosco ‘The Terminator’ Ntaganda © Amnesty

After president Laurent Kabila was assassinated by his own bodyguard 11 years ago, his son Joseph Kabila took over and was elected president in 2006 in what was the first democratic elections for more than 40 years. Kabila Jnr has managed to assert some kind of control over the country during the last 6 years, but battles in the east of the DRC still continue and the government army have been accused of supporting the Hutu’s FDLR rebel group in their quest to control the country’s mines. Reports of mass rapes and killings committed by rebels and government troops still continue. Kabila has commented on the situation stating “It’s shocking. These kinds of acts are simply unforgivable.” He even visited the Panzi hospital back in 2010 but it remains to be seen what positive changes he will make in a country where rape is becoming ingrained as part of the culture in the east.

President Joseph Kabila, left, and Denis Mukwege at the Panzi Hospital © Panzi

But he needs only to look to Denis Mukwege to see what hard work and dedication can do in transforming the lives of others. Let’s hope he is inspired to make his country a better place after meeting a man who is, in my eyes, a hero.

Thanks for reading.