Archive for December, 2016

Best wishes for the festive season

What a year 2016 has been for our projects in Tigray! Our long-year Hagereselam project has reached its maturity and will be slowly phased out in 2017, and the Lemlem Baro School project is progressing well.  Our Phase 2 construction ended in autumn and the new buildings were opened in a festive ceremony on October 5th. All our students are now in new classrooms.

Then last week the school enclosure was completed, ending a multi-month struggle to settle school- and farming land rights. This was a most important step for the school and the local community. Now the real work begins.

The board members of Ethiopian Enterprises: Thomas Baumann, president; Tatjana Meier, vice president; André Cardinaux, actuary & social media; and Lesley Stephenson, Mohoni School project leader, would like to extend their grateful thanks to all those who have supported us and the projects this year, not only with donations but with that most precious commodity: time. In this context, our thanks go to the members of our fundraising committee Karin Mathis Broeckelmann; Tatjana Meier and Cathy Kennard and their many helpers. Thank you, too, to Mothering Matters with Andrea Snashall and Carol  McGinty-McDonald and their book team; to Ben Nordemann for his terrific initiative in raising money for the Mohoni water emergency at the end of 2015 – early 2016; as well as Mark Diethelm, Stephan Vollert, and Julia Vollert. Huge thanks go to Simon Quinn and his team at DHL for their support and patience with the book sending earlier this year. The Mohoni community is greatly indebted to all of you.

Since it is Christmas time, we want to end with a little story which shows how people have been touched by our work in Mohoni even if they do not attend Lemlem Baro School.
For the first 6 months of 2016 we were able to assist the regional Raya-Azebo government during the terrible drought with extra financial support for several hundred students from over 30 schools in the region, including the 7 schools in Mohoni town. While such help is not part of the official EE mandate, we simply couldn’t stand by and watch these children drop out of school or -far worse – become severely ill due to malnutrition during the drought.  Many of you helped with this special effort, especially those who attended our sold-out Fish’n’Chips dinner in May.

Our help was limited to  6 months, January to June, and helped many students not only to survive but to stay at school and complete their end-of-year exams. Here is a sequel to this help, related by Lesley who was in Mohoni last week:

“While I was walking down the main street in Mohoni, I was approached by two young men who I recognized immediately: Leuel and Brhan. They were two of the students from the preparatory school where the brightest kids go after high school and from which they can graduate to a university.  I recognized them because they were two of the students we had helped during the drought. Like many students attending school in Mohoni, they live more than half a day’s walk from the town and have to stay in town during the week to attend school. During the drought, their parents were not able to pay for their room rent and food, and the money they earned working when they were not at school was not enough to get through. Like many of the students, they were falling asleep at school from exhaustion and hunger and thirst. They were about to drop out when we intervened.

Anyway, last week they greeted me with big smiles on their faces and said they had been looking for me as they had good news. Leuel explained that they had topped their class in June and had received summer workshop scholarships to Mekelle University in August. Now they were back in their final year of preparatory school and would be going to university in 2017. They both hugged me and thanked me and asked me to pass on their thanks to EE. ‘We will never forget what you all did for us’, said Leuel. ‘We would have had to leave school if we had not had your help. Now we will have a good future’.

Later that week I learned that these two boys were currently coaching weaker classmates in the weekends, free of charge.”

Merry Christmas to you all, and thank you so much.

André, Tatjana, Lesley and Thomas (from left to right)


Enclosure of Lemlem Baro School

Lesley Stephenson returned from Ethiopia today after an unexpected visit to Mohoni to formally accept the new school enclosure. The enclosure was due to be finished at the time of our second building phase completion in October. However, unforeseen delays occured.

For years, the school borders which separated Lemlem Baro Elementary School from the adjacent farming land have been subject to dispute. Although a rough plan of the school land was available, this was not always respected by the farming community and in any case proved to be inaccurate.  It was common for unauthorized people as well as oxen and other farm animals to cross the school compound, leaving a mess in their wake.

Our enclosure project prodded the regional government  to settle the land disputes surrounding the school once and for all. This was a prerequisite for Ethiopian Enterprises to undertake this part of the project. The government fulfilled their agreement, supported strongly by our Mohoni School Project manager, Melkamu Abate. Farmers who ‘lost’ a meter here and there in the negotiations were compensated for this by the government.

The issue of the  border disputes was far larger than we had originally anticipated and led to lengthy delays in the project. However, the school borders are now finalized and the enclosure has been completed. It provides security for the school and its students, and clarity for the farmers. The over-extended regional government would not have prioritized the settling of these disputes if the incentive of the enclosure had not been present.

 It is standard practice in Ethiopia for schools to be enclosed and guarded. This is due to the fact that widespread poverty means that when people are desperate they will resort to stealing resources from any venue which appears to have them. The investment in this school has to be protected and is now secured. The work of the school guard has also become easier as it is possible for him to patrol the enclosed area far more effectively.

We’re very satisfied with the standard of the work, which was completed by Semere Mezgebo Building Contractors from Mekelle The enclosure, comprising a stone and cement section as well as a wire mesh section, is both strong and attractive.– .   

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