Hello everyone … and welcome to our July newsletter. We send this letter all over the world, so usually we don’t talk about the weather because our experiences are all different. But here in the UK it almost seems as if the Ethiopian rainy season is upon us! It’s supposed to be our dry summer season, but numerous UK cities have been experiencing the worst floods on historical record.
But enough about the weather – let’s tell you what Link Ethiopia has been getting up to recently.
News from Ethiopia
- We understand that “Lucy”, one of the world’s most famous skeletons, unearthed in Ethiopia in 1974, is to tour the US on exhibit for the first time. National Natural History Museum Spokesman Randoll Kremer said, “This is one of the most important specimens relating to human origins in the world.” Lucy goes on display at the Houston Museum of National Science on August 31 through until April 20, 2008.
- Meanwhile, Starbucks has agreed a wide-ranging accord with Ethiopia to support and promote its coffee, ending a long-running dispute over the issue. The US retailer will market, distribute and, in some cases, license Ethiopia’s range of high-quality coffee brands and it is hoped the deal will act as a catalyst to raise prices and, at last, improve the livelihoods of Ethiopian farmers.
Meet the Team: Matt Stockdale
Matt Stockdale is the Assistant Director of Link Ethiopia, and now works full-time to bring about the success of the organisation. He has lived and taught in Ethiopia, and has been back to visit on many occasions.
A cultural piece – Shall We Dance?
Traditional dance is an important part of the colourful Ethiopian culture. Watch TV and you will be mesmerised. Juddering shoulders, up, down, backwards, forwards, always rhythmic. No hip movement. Sharp intake of breath sounding like ‘Iskista’. And what you have is the best known dance in Ethiopia also of that name!
Dance is everywhere – social, ceremonial, religious, happy, sad, in praise of nature, fertility, fighting spirit. Once a fierce prelude to battle, now it is more a symbol of identity and togetherness. There is huge variety, always agile and sometimes extreme athletic. To win a friend, suppress shyness and dance away!
School Link focus
For the past few years Robertswood School in Buckinghamshire, England has had a very fruitful link with Hibret School in Gondar. Students have been involved in some innovative ways of enlivening their link, such as coming to school dressed up in the colours of the Ethiopian flag! The local communities in both countries worked hard to raise money towards new water taps for Hibret, which has suffered from a severe lack of resources ever since the school was first built during the 1930s. The taps are now functioning, and students and teachers alike at Hibret are enjoying the use of such a basic facility as clean running water.
Members of the community around Robertswood recently made beautiful knitted blankets for street-children in Gondar, which we transported with our book shipment earlier this year.
Staff on both sides have been very positive, which is why the link has worked so well. A special thank you must go to Marylou Slupek, who has been Link Coordinator at Robertwsood, and who is now retiring this year. Thanks to everyone’s efforts, the link is excellently placed to progress well into the future!
Resourcing Project news
We work alongside a wide range of schools in Ethiopia, from the most basic of rural schools to the more sturdy secondary schools in urban settings. Our urban secondary schools are bustling with between 1,000 and 1,500 students in each year group! Their needs can be very different from those of our primary schools and one area we have been supporting them is through the provision of computers and associated technology. Computer skills are increasingly becoming a requirement for modern business in Ethiopia and until recently only very few students were able to leave school having had any computer practice whatsoever.
Over the last three years we have shipped 70 computers to the schools in the Gondar region of Northern Ethiopia and this has helped not only the many students who have been able to advance their computer skills but also the administration of school records which would otherwise be undertaken solely by hand.
There is still so much more that we can be doing to support the needs of these secondary schools and if you would like to support us or if you have any suggestions we would love to hear from you.
Our Gap Ethiopia scheme
We are delighted to have two young ladies from the Bristol area taking part in our Gap Ethiopia scheme in the coming academic year. Cassey North and Hannah Ray, who have just finished their A levels at Backwell School, will take up their placements in the north of Ethiopia next February and will be the first female teachers at the Fasiledes Secondary School in Gondar. They are already brimming with enthusiasm, and we look forward to working with them in preparation for their experience.
If you know anyone else interested in such a placement, get them to get in touch with us.
We are still looking for an office space in the London area, and would be very happy to hear from anyone who thinks that they can point us in the right direction. We know very well that we could find somewhere suitable at a price – but we would so much rather spend Link Ethiopia’s money on helping the young people and schools in Ethiopia IF we can find someone who can help us out.
Do you know of a business or indeed an individual with unused space in North or Central London? Or do you know anyone who would sponsor us with their generosity by funding an office space on our behalf? We know many young people who would love to help us by volunteering with some regular time each week, or a limited period of concentrated effort. But we do need a welcoming (if basic) space where we can work alongside them and focus their enthusiastic efforts.
Coming up on Television
- Air Crash Investigation
An Ethiopian aircraft is hijacked in mid-air with disastrous consequences
Wednesday August 8th (National Geographic)
- Tribe – Nyangatom
The warrior tribe deep in the Omo Valley
Monday August 13th (UKTV Documentary)
- The Nile – The Great Flood
A wonderful programme showing life in the Ethiopian Highlands
Wednesday August 22nd (UKTV Documentary)
Proverb of the Month
“ A stone is never small ”
Website Link of the Month
All the up to date news – www.allafrica.com/ethiopia
and of course our own colourful website at www.linkethiopia.org
As always, if anyone reading this would like to offer us expertise, knowledge and help with our work or would like to associate yourself with one of our school projects (classrooms, water, toilets, books, etc) then please get in touch. You can donate via the following link, or by contacting us – details at the bottom of this email.