2010 was an arduous, yet productive year for the Ethiopian Food Appeal. Let’s start with our fundraising efforts. Because of our wonderful and steadfast supporters we were able to raise almost 40,000 dollars. Although the amount was less than last year, given this era of multiple crises, food, finance, and economic, we remain grateful for the generosity of our supporters. As always, the EFA does not ask for handouts but tries to offer something of aesthetic beauty from Ethiopia and other parts of Africa and the developing world, for supporters to buy.
The jewelry, scarves, baskets, and other handicrafts thus stand as keepsakes to be worn, admired and shared and to remind us all that although Ethiopia and other least developed countries have economic challenges because of poverty, they also have so very much to offer.
Last year we held two bazaars, one in May and one in December as well as participated in the WHO Solidarity Day Christmas bazaar. Our spring bazaar not only featured artisanal products from Ethiopia but from Haiti as well. We wanted to honor the many Haitian children who have seen so much devastation and loss in their very short lives. The EFA was able to donate 4,000 sfrs to two Haitian projects which included re-building a school and ensuring the pay for the teachers as well helping rural farmers. You can read more about these projects on our website.
All the bazaars entailed a great deal of planning and hard physical work and I wish to thank all the volunteers who helped me with the bazaar and who gave of their precious time and ideas to make the bazaar weekends memorable. I am always touched by the kindness of so many friends and strangers who believe in the EFA and also wish to, in some small way, make a difference in the lives of the children it supports.
I also wish to thank our diehard supporters who came to Awash Restaurant in Geneva on a frigid and icy Saturday in December to buy their Christmas presents from the bazaar. Although we did not have the usual crowds, I was reassured by their perseverance. On Sunday, my faith was restored. The sun returned and we had a great turn out! Special thanks to Ms. Brigitte Benaissa who once again managed to turn my shopping sprees of antique crystals, Ethiopian silver, African beads from Ghana, Kenya and South Africa, and semi-precious stones and sea pearls into beautiful pieces of unusual jewelry which were admired, appreciated and now worn by so many. Twice a year she faithfully designs a new collection in her spare moments late at night to keep supporters constantly interested.
On December 15th I travelled to Ethiopia with my husband, Kebret, to make the deliveries of food, school supplies, clothes and books to the nearly 1,000 rural school children which the charity, the Ethiopian Food Appeal has supported for more than ten years. The EFA provides support to two rural schools located in an isolated area about three hours from the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa. The Sodorre school has about 600 children and the Melka Oba school has close to 400. Both schools have no electricity or running water and are located in areas which suffer from dry and arid climatic conditions and cyclical droughts. Children are often too hungry and too weak to walk the several miles to school. Their parents herd cattle or engage in subsistence farming and have no access to clean water or medical facilities. The children only attend school half day since they have to help their parents with herding cattle ( cows, sheep, goats and donkeys) in the afternoon.
Last year the Ethiopian Food Appeal built two new classrooms for the Melka Oba school. This resulted in increased attendance of 60 students at the primary level (ages 4 to 6). The classrooms were built using local traditions and techniques and thus, were very simple structures made from mud and bricks with tin roofs and metal shutters. This year, the EFA was able to build a teachers’ quarters for the Sodorre School. This is a very important building because it enables teachers to live in the rural area during the school week. Otherwise, teachers have to travel long distances every day to reach the school. Since there is no main road, they hitchhike or take a local bus from the neighboring town and then walk several miles on a dusty path to the school. They often arrive late, if at all, and always tired from the long walk and thirsty from the hot sun. The new quarters allow six teachers and their families to live full time at the school. The building is made from local materials (mud and bricks) and has six rooms We were able to inaugurate the new teachers’quarters, deliver thousands of books and supplies to the students and provide both schools with a library of books in Amharric, Oromifa and English. traveled to Ethiopia with a heavy heart following the devastating lost of my wonderful cousin, Ronald D. Cooper. I was very sad not to have been able to attend his funeral and I wanted to do something that would honor his memory. I recalled how giving and sharing Ronnie was and how he had helped so many. He was proud of my work in Africa and always commended me for my efforts. He loved to travel but in later years, did not like traveling by airplane. Yet, I knew that he would have loved to have visited Africa and to have been able to help children on the African continent. With this in mind, I donated five hundred dollars to the Ethiopian Food Appeal charity in Ronnie’s name and dedicated the new teachers’ quarters to the memory of Ronnie. We had a wonderful ceremony with the teachers and children alike.
Itraveled to Ethiopia with a heavy heart following the devastating lost of my wonderful cousin, Ronald D. Cooper. I was very sad not to have been able to attend his funeral and I wanted to do something that would honor his memory. I recalled how giving and sharing Ronnie was and how he had helped so many. He was proud of my work in Africa and always commended me for my efforts. He loved to travel but in later years, did not like traveling by airplane. Yet, I knew that he would have loved to have visited Africa and to have been able to help children on the African continent. With this in mind, I donated five hundred dollars to the Ethiopian Food Appeal charity in Ronnie’s name and dedicated the new teachers’ quarters to the memory of Ronnie. We had a wonderful ceremony with the teachers and children alike. I think Ronnie’s family is pleased and touched to know that in the middle of a very isolated countryside in Ethiopia, surrounded by acacias trees, mountains, and the scorching sun, stands a bright blue building with a sign made simply and by hand, stating ” In loving memory of Ronald D. Cooper”. Ronnie would most certainly be pleased to know that Ethiopian school children and their teachers are benefitting from a building which carries his name and, more importantly, represents his lifelong love and interest in giving back and sharing with those less fortunate. While in Addis, I fell ill and had to be hospitalized for five days. I spent the European Christmas holiday in bed at the UNECA clinic suffering from severe back spasms as a result of too much heavy lifting while organizing the bazaars in Geneva. It was a tough and painful experience but as soon as I felt better, I still managed with the help of family and friends to carry out the deliveries to the schools.
Building two new classrooms for the Sodorre School and teachers’ quarters for the Melka Oba School – Special thanks to Mr. Adnew Gossa who oversaw the construction of all the buildings at the school and without whom this work would not have been completed. Just in: The two new buildings are almost complete.