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posted 13 March 2015





Freelance BBC journalist and media trainer Sarah Parfitt has just come back from visiting the village of Gende Tesfa in eastern Ethiopia which is the focus of the charity Partners For Change Ethiopia's fundraising campaign - she has been setting up a community journalism project there and the charity will now follow the lives of 5-6 individuals and families. Sarah and her colleagues are  also launching a  family partnership project between the UK and Gende Tesfa. Partners For Change Ethiopia would love to hear from you if you are interested in getting involved.


IThe team at Partners For Change Ethiopia has also set up a link between Holy Trinity School in Cookham and Gende Tesfa School in Cookham. Teachers Mrs Nicol and Mr Burn sent a folder of the children's work and a video about an average day at Holy Trinity School in Cookham to the children in Ethiopia. They also recorded Frère Jacques in English, and the children in Ethiopia have since done the same in Amharic and Oromifa. Each school has been given a monkey mascot, and the children will share their monkey's respective adventures with one another. Holy Trinity School has named their mascot Monty, and Gende Tesfa School is naming theirs this week.


Sarah has been working as a journalist for nearly 25 years and moved from London to Cookham in Berkshire after the birth of  her second son Jack in 2010. She first met  Pete Jones from Partners for Change Ethiopia at the Belgian Embassy in October 2014, and was invited to go to Ethiopia in November 2014 and come up with a media strategy for the charity. She was very moved by the work the charity was doing on the ground in Bahir Dar.

In October last year she organised a 30th anniversary launch for the charity at the House of Commons which  Princess Alexandra and Michael Buerk attended.

London Marathon

Sarah is also running the London Marathon to raise money for Gende Tesfa school. You can sponsor her at or if you're a local company and are able to donate something to the school in Ethiopia, do get in touch with Sarah:  or phone: 07900 4117 15.

The community of Gende Tesfa in Ethiopia

It's now 30 years since the Famine in Ethiopia, and although the situation on the ground has improved, there is still a lot more which needs to be done. The charity Partners For Change Ethiopia has been working with children and their communities across the country for the last 30 years. For the 30th anniversary fundraising campaign, they will focus on the community of Gende Tesfa.


Around 16,000 people live there and it is on the outskirts of the eastern city of Dire Dawa. Partners.

The community was founded by a Canadian Jesuit in the 1950s / early 1960s.  He set up a medical treatment centre for leprosy and brought people suffering from the disease from the surrounding region to the community in order to access medical assistance and support each other.  Gende Tesfa , at the time, 15 - 20 kilometres from Dire Dawa city centre. As the city has grown it is on the outskirts of the city. The community was first settled by 104 households – they cleared the bush and started farming. It appears this met with some success and many houses were built for the residents. Gende Tesfa means Village of Hope (Gende is a Oromifa word (the local language) and tesfa is an Amharic word).

The army set up a base near to the community and put pressure on the community to leave because they wanted the land to extend their base. Many people were beaten and life was difficult for the residents. Because of the leprosy the people were shunned by the inhabitants of Dire Dawa and were not able to access education, employment or any other services. Father Pail constructed a road between Gende Tesfa and Dire Dawa. During the Ethiopia / Somalia war of 1976 /77 the Somali army used the road to drive their tanks into Dire Dawa. Once the Somalis were beaten back, the Ethiopian Airforce bombed the road and blamed Father Pail for enabling the Somalis to enter the city. Father Pail was ordered to leave the country and there is no record of what happened to him after this. He was clearly a remarkable man and it seems the community went downhill after he left.

Every family in the GT community has been affected by leprosy – they will have at least one family member who has leprosy. Most people have received treatment but the discrimination continues. It is impossible for people to marry outside of the community e,g.  recently a young woman from Gende Tesfa wanted to marry somebody from the city but his parents did not allow it  for fear of the disease entering the family.

Most men are unemployed as nobody in the city will employ them. Many women are forced into prostitution because they cannot earn income in any other way.


See Sarah's blog at


London Marathon blog: 

Also follow the charity on Twitter @pfcethiopia and Facebook? Partners For Change Ethiopia. 

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