2013 – Update

I just returned from Ethiopia, having spent the last three and a half months completing my sabbatical project on organic agriculture in collaboration with the Ethiopian Institute for Sustainable Development, headed by the lovely and venerable Sue Edwards.

I was able to make the delivery to Melka Oba and Sodorre schools accompanied by nine dear friends from abroad including my godson, Issac, as well as my son, Hiruy, and representatives from Ethiopia Reads. Michael, his brother Nicolas, and scores of family and friends were also in tow. All toll, we were more than 40 people including children, ages 5 to 8.

We delivered the usual school supplies and inagurated two reading rooms. We gave each family a solar lantern which will help their children to be able to read and study in the late evening. We toured the refurbished health clinic which now has solar panels and visit the farm which we established with the help of the Institute for Sustainable Development.

The children had their first harvest in October and are now growing their own vegetables and have received training on how to take care of the farm.  New projects are vocational training for graduating students, soil conservation training, expanding the farm, purchasing  a water pump and installing drip irrigation. Forty friends and family members spent Orthodox Christmas with my surrogate grandchildren who have not let HIV stop them from achieving their dreams. One granddaughter started university in Nazareth in September and another is interviewing for scholarships at universities in the U.S. including Brown University.

My grandkids had a wonderful exhibit of their artwork at the University of Addis Ababa in February and special thanks goes to the Fotis Foundation for agreeing to fund their schooling till they graduate high school and for Max who came from Geneva to spend two weeks tutoring them. As usual, I spent a great deal of time with them just hanging out and also took them on a shopping spree to purchase their Christmas gifts.

The Yule Family also supplemented our Addis shopping by buying lots of their ‘hard to find’  gifts in London and personally delivering them. Honorable mention to Steve, who spent two weeks with them last year and donated money to help me buy them a computer and ping pong table for the home.

I was able to make more than 150 necklaces while in Ethiopia and I have started the Schoolery: jewels for schools’ collection. All proceeds from the sale of jewelry will go to continue supporting rural schools. The collection will be available at our next bazaar on 23rd June and Schoolery: Jewels for Schools at Etsy.com … Hope to see you soon and thanks for your continued support and read the latest update from us in the UN Special here.

Thanks to all of you who particpated in the fundraising bazaar on 23 June at Espace 99 in Geneva.

It was a lot of fun and a great success. Over 200 friends stopped by to hear the band the UNdersigned with singer JJ and to see Nathalie’s great fashion show with original clothes made by her as well as several Ethiopian stylist.

There was an Ethiopian dance performance, beading classes for children and great Ethiopian food, cheesecakes from Cheescake company of Geneva and a day long Ethiopian coffee ceremony.

Jo Eliabeth Butler

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