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.
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.
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.
Sarah is also running the London Marathon to raise money for Gende
Tesfa school. You can sponsor her at https://www.justgiving.com/Sarah-Parfitt1
or if you're a local company and are able to donate something to the
school in Ethiopia, do get in touch with Sarah: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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).
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.
Sarah's blog at www.diaryofamarathonmum.wordpress.com
Marathon blog: www.diaryofamarathonmum.wordpress.com
Also follow the charity on Twitter @pfcethiopia and Facebook? Partners
For Change Ethiopia.