Photo Journey: Our Sponsorship Coordinator’s first visit to Ethiopia!

 

After a long delay at Heathrow on an unusually sunny Sunday in London my plane finally takes off – off to Ethiopia!

Kindu Trust manager Marta comes to collect me from Gondar Airport after having missed my connecting flight in Addis Ababa and takes me to Yohannes Guesthouse. We visit the Kindu Trust office which we share with our sister charity Link Ethiopia. That evening I have a meal with the Ethiopian staff of both organisations and UK volunteer Sabina.

The next morning I walk to the office; passing AG Hotel and Dashen Bank, down the steps (each afternoon, climbing those same steps leaves me out of breath – Gondar is on 2,133 meters altitude), passing Oil Libya gas station on the way to the Piazza. After a fresh mango juice for breakfast at Tele Cafe, under the post office, I pass the old Pepsi Factory and then turn left on the corner of Coffee House Cafe. At the end of the street lays the compound with Cafe Valentine in the garden, where staff members frequently have an afternoon coffee or breakfast injera.

Snowy is the “guard” dog who enjoys her days being petted by children and sleeping in the shade the bajaj provides. The grand tour of the compound included the Kindu Playgroup headed by Chekula and her 3 year old daughter Yabsera. The kitchen, ruled by Wubit, the kitchen manager, who cooks up a storm with the help of cook Askalech every lunch time and prepare meals for children visiting the Kindu Klub and Playgroups.

One the first floor are the shared Kindu and Link offices and on the top floor is the Kindu Klub, a big space with computers and book cases filled with reading materials. Asfew, the Kindu Klub worker, teaches English and oversees the Klub, which always finishes with a communal meal and lots of giggles.

The office is busy, the sounds of children playing nearby is constant and there’s a continuous stream of sponsored children and their family members walking through the door. After a day in Ethiopia, I start to run into sponsored children or their parents on the streets. Gondar feels like a small and friendly town.

My two weeks working from the Gondar office are over before I’ve learned to say “amesegnalehu” (thank you) without a stutter and the end is celebrated with a coffee ceremony.

I can’t wait to return to Gondar, and in the meantime I’ll use the smell of freshly roasted coffee beans to take me back whenever I want to be reminded of the two weeks spent in Ethiopia.

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A Day Training with the Girls’ Football Team

This June our Sponsorship Coordinator, Michou Gerits, who joined our UK team in May 2017, made her first visit to Ethiopia! We will be sharing her experiences of the trip soon but below she tells us what it’s like to join our Gondar Girls’ Football Team for a day of training.

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“On Saturday afternoon at 3pm I walked into the compound of Hibret Elementary School, close to the Commercial Bank and AG Hotel. A barren football pitch with goals made out of wooden poles was what I found along with 18 girls in Arsenal jerseys (and two goalies in Chelsea jerseys) and a strict but motivated football coach.

Coach Aster is a PE teacher at a nearby primary school and strongly believes in the benefits football and team sports for these young girls.

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The girls started their warming up under the watchful eye of Coach Aster, who explained the first time in 8 months she wasn’t warming up with the team. She wanted them to do it on their own and give the team responsibility over the warming up. She would occasionally shout directions at them while we stood in the shade of a tree and the team ran up and down in the sun.

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After this they did dribbling exercises and practiced heading the ball, some fearless and successful – others more hesitant. Then Coach Aster, also known as “Mama Football”, divided the girls into two teams who played each other.

The training lasted for 2 hours and by the end the sky was overcast and it started to rain. We packed up the balls and a few of the girls dropped them at the house of one of the team members whose home moonlights as a storing facility. We all walked together to a local hotel where the girls shared a meal.

There are many cafés and restaurants in Gondar where locals eat and meet for a cup of coffee or a local beer. For most of these girls eating at a restaurant is rarity and a luxury they enjoy very much. They all got a bottle of Coke or Fanta, another luxury, and a big plate of pasta, there was a choice of macaroni or spaghetti with a little baguette. Chatting with the girls, they confirmed that they enjoyed being part of a team very much and hope to play official matches and attend tournaments in the future.

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All the team members are sponsored children or siblings of sponsored children and therefore from vulnerable families. Coach Aster explained to me that she believes being part of this team helps the girls not only with their football skills, physical fitness and health but also with concentration and discipline in school. Coach Aster worries some of these girls suffer from inferiority complexes or feel embarrassed about their poor background and hopes the Kindu Team will give them the confidence to succeed academically too.

The girls train twice a week, Saturday at 3pm and Sunday at 10am. On Sunday mornings, after another 2 hour training session they take a shower and get another meal.

During my visit the Kindu Trust also delivered extra resources we had brought for the the Girls’ Football Team: re-usable period packs as part of our partnership with Days for Girls UK, so that the girls don’t have to miss out on school or training during their period, and sports bras – which we hadn’t included in the budget based on the boy’s football team!”

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The Girls’ Football team is part funded by a grant from TUUT and the rest is covered by general donations. If you would like to support the project, click here to donate. Thank you!

The Selection

The Girls’ Football Team selection has been made… A little over a year after announcing our plans to fundraise the project has commenced.

We started by hiring a professional female football coach. Aster is a sports teacher who now spends two afternoons a week with the team.

Some sports clothing was donated and, and some informal training with Coach Aster began with 20 girls all aged between 13 and 17 years old. Once the project began the funding enabled us to buy a complete new kit for each of the girls, including shoes – they were pretty pleased to be able to swap their flip flops to football shoes! The team now has access to a local school’s football field and trains twice a week. After each training they are given soap and have the opportunity to shower. None of the children have showers in their homes, and they would usually have access to a communal shower once a week. The team also enjoys a communal hot and nutritious meal after each training, to keep their strength up!

The team and our Project Manager, Zemene, sat down for a group discussion. Most of the girls explained they were most excited about being part of team as well as the opportunity to keep fit and healthy.

“I am happy as a member of this team, to be with my friends and getting equal opportunity”

We will be sharing more about the Girls’ Football Team and their progress over the next months. Our football team is the first girls team in Gondar, and the only one we know of there. We are currently looking for Girls’ Football Teams abroad to link up with the team for solidarity and to show that they are part of a wider network. Do you or your children in a girls’ football team? Share your team photo, send your match report or organise a fundraiser for the team. We have posters and materials about our team that can be shared and would love to work with you – contact us for more details! 

The football team costs £175 per girl, to run annually. You can make a donation to the team here.

Using Art to Improve Hand Washing

Hygiene is important in Ethiopia. Sanitation facilities can be scarce and soap is expensive for many families. Like anywhere in the world, if basic sanitation is not cared for, it can lead to the swift spread of bacteria, causing illness.

At the Kindu Trust, we teach children the importance of hand washing, especially after using the toilet, and before handling food or eating.

Sandra Kemp, a nurse from Leicester, runs a project to improve hygiene practice at the nearby Gondar Hospital and is a long-time supporter of the Kindu Trust. She took time off from this vital work to visit Kindu this year bearing pencils, pens and paints. 27 children, mainly from grades 6 and 7 (aged 12-14) were eagerly awaiting her, sheets of paper at the ready.

After a brief reminder of the importance of hand washing, the children were asked to draw or paint something to illustrate hygiene. To provide some inspiration, volunteer Alan posed while Projects Manger Rory sketched his hands being washed under a running tap on the whiteboard.

Several of the children made similar drawings, but others used the opportunity to indulge their creativity. Silence reigned and at the end of the afternoon we had friendly lions, a number of beautifully executed flowers, several houses, and scenes of social interaction.

The project team in Gondar are planning to visit local schools to help them spread the message of good hygiene as well as getting creative with paint and crayons!

How do we end the cycle of girls dropping out of school?

  The answer is in the question.

1 in 10 girls in sub-Saharan Africa misses school
when she’s on her period.

With menstruation lasting an average 5-7 days per month, that means a girl could be missing 60 days of school a year.

In some cases, girls drop out of school altogether
once they start their period.

The Kindu Trust’s sponsorship is designed to enable disadvantaged children to go to school and continue their education to their full potential. Puberty, and starting your period, is difficult for girls anywhere in the world. For the girls we support this phase is even harder as many cannot afford disposable pads. Even when they can, many schools do not have toilets, so there is nowhere to change during the school day. This leads to girls choosing not to go to school while on their period, and their educations suffers.

So, we asked ourselves, what can the Kindu Trust do to stop the cycle of girls dropping out of school? And the answer is in the question – to help girls get back to school, we first have to help them manage their menstrual cycle.

This autumn we are starting a new project to address this problem, in partnership with Link Ethiopia, our sister organisation that works with schools in Ethiopia, and in conjunction with Days for Girls (DfG), an international charity that provides hygiene packs for girls to “ensure she has what she needs to succeed”.

Days for Girls is an international charity that has been operating since 2008 providing re-usable menstrual hygiene kits to thousands of girls across hundreds of countries. We are benefiting from their experience as the packs have been trialled and evaluated, and are made to very clear specifications to ensure that they are comfortable, secure and attractive. Days for Girls also has a model of training which has been tried and tested. When kits are distributed they are not just handed over, the girls who receive them are trained on how to clean and maintain them so that each kit lasts at least 3 years.

We have an ambitious plan that will 1) respond to the immediate problem by providing kits to girls in school and 2) empower women to make the kits locally.

Meeting the Need

In the first phase we will distribute DfG kits to our sponsored girls through the Kindu Klub and other school clubs. Each kit includes two pads, 8 liners to change the pads, soap and flannel for cleaning the kit, knickers to hold the pads, and Ziploc bags to store the liners once changed, until they can be washed. All bits of the kit are made in just the right fabrics that will be as absorbent as possible or as waterproof, as necessary, while being comfortable to wear. They are all made in brightly coloured, patterned fabrics so that girls can hang them out to dry and carry the container bag around with pride!

Rather than distributing the kit ourselves, we will provide training to local staff and club leaders so that they can give the full distribution training when giving the kits to girls. This means that they can then continue to distribute packs well into the future, and can share their training with other leaders in Ethiopia. We are very pleased that a qualified volunteer from the Days for Girls team in the UK, who makes the kits here, will come to Ethiopia to ‘train the trainers’. She will teach the Girls Club Leaders how to give training when distributing the kits to girls. So when packs are distributed the girls are taught how to use and maintain the DfG kit, and learn about puberty, the menstrual cycle, and related sexual health.

Kits ready to be sent in our London office!

What each kit includes.

Building a sustainable solution

Image from Days for Girls. A girl makes kits at a local enterprise.

In the second phase we will focus on setting up a social enterprise in Ethiopia to produce DfG kits locally. We will provide women with the tools to make DfG kits to sell. By reinvesting part of their income to purchase their next batch of materials, women can create a sustainable local source of hygiene products as well as generating an income for themselves and their families.

We will research materials available in Ethiopia in order to make the pads locally, and identify motivated women who will be sent to the Days for Girls University in Uganda to receive complete training on sourcing materials, making the packs and running a business. We will be working closely with DfG for this phase of the project, who have extensive experience in establishing regional hubs to train local women in aspects of production, sales, health education and management of supply chain. This will ensure the sustainability of the programme as women can produce the materials they need for menstrual hygiene themselves, out of local materials, rather than relying on external donations. It will invest in the local economy and build up a new business, providing a profession and income for female entrepreneurs.

If you want to help get these projects underway, you can make a donation!

Skilled with a sewing machine? You can get directly involved in sewing the DfG kits which we give to girls in Ethiopia through one of Days for Girls’ local chapters click here for more info.

All this will empower girls to manage their menstrual health with dignity, knowledge and pride! It will give them back their school days, put them on an equal footing and enable girls to take advantage of each school day!

Thank You!

 

June at The Kindu Trust

Last Week In Numbers

93 children ate a hot meal at The Kindu Trust
36 toddlers got to play with an exciting range of new toys at Playgroup
10 children used the Kindu library for extra study
8 kids saw the weekend in with the Friday football game
10 families were visited by our Sponsorship team to see how the children are doing

Kindu UK Office Move

The UK office has relocated to a new office in Finsbury Park, London! Our new address is:

The Kindu Trust
225-229 Seven Sisters Road
London
N4 2DA

IMG_6494We were very sorry to leave our old offices in the Peel Community Centre in Kings Cross, which has now relocated its activities, but are pleased to have moved to another Community Centre, Finspace. We had been at the Peel Centre for 5 years and moved with our sister charity Link Ethiopia to Finspace where we continue to share an office. Thanks to the move we are also able to save on our overhead costs which we are always pleased to achieve!

The building hosts several other small African and local organisations who we look forward to getting to know. The Kindu Trust plans to remain here for the foreseeable future, and not just because we’ve found several delicious Ethiopian restaurants nearby!

Update on the Drought

Since April this year, Ethiopia has experienced it’s worst drought in 50 years, now reaching its peak. The dry spring has turned into traditional ‘lean season’ with occasional summer rains in some regions. They are welcomed with relief by many, but still are not enough to prevent people from suffering from lack of clean water. About 18 million people remain in need of food aid, including 6 million children, many of whom are suffering from severe malnutrition. Farmers are losing their crops and water sources are drying up, which results in families struggling to keep themselves and their animals alive. National and international efforts mean that 5 kg of wheat is currently supplied to each family in the drought zone, however this is only one third of a human being’s nutritional requirement.

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The Kindu Trust’s sponsored families are all based in our project areas in North Western areas such as Gondar, Debark and Lalibela as well as the capital, Addis Ababa in the centre, which means that they have not been affected by the drought. (As you can see in the map above, Gondar is in the light green area in the upper left of the country). However, if you would like to support efforts to find solutions and provide assistance to those affected by the drought, the following organisations currently have appeals that you can donate to:

Save the Children is making an appeal to support Ethiopia with the emergency food aid to supply Ethiopians with all the basic food products they need, to help them go through this extremely difficult period and save lives of many children affected by Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM). Donate to the Save the Children Food Crisis Appeal here.

CAFOD is making an appeal to provide starving families with food. Donations can buy a family either a 100 kg sack of maize, a monthly food basket or 100 kg of wheat seeds for farmers to plant next season. Donate to the CAFOD Food Crisis appeal here.

May at The Kindu Trust

Last Week In Numbers

91 children ate a hot meal at The Kindu Trust
29 parents were taught about early childhood nutrition at the Playgroup
47 children borrowed books from the library
16 kids got together for football on Friday
13 families were visited by our Sponsorship team to see how the children are getting on

Our exciting new project- a football team for the girls!

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This year we want to get our girls playing football! We’ve supported a boys football team for several years, and are very excited to be able to begin a girls team alongside this. The boys have all formed strong bonds and we’d like to see the same happen with the girls.

We aim to give around 20 girls aged between  12 and 16 years old self empowerment and a support network through sport.  The girls are all from disadvantaged backgrounds, with little access to social growth activities. Happily, school enrollment rates for boys and girls in primary/secondary school are largely equal in cities, such as Gondar, in Ethiopia. However, our work with the communities shows us that when school is done, girls carry the burden of the housework; cooking, cleaning, fetching water and firewood are seen as girls’ jobs, while boys are allowed to play. Girls are generally accorded less independence as there is a greater fear for their safety, this means that girls are kept at home without access to outdoor or group play or after-school education or sports clubs while boys are given greater freedom to go out and about at any time. There is also a common understanding that girls will marry and move out of the family to support another family while a boy is expected to get a job and support his family. Therefore, girls’s education is often not prioritised within a family, as the boys’ career is more important, and girls are distinctly more likely to be affected by child marriage.

kindu klub foot ball 2This football team, though a small initiative in itself, will be the first time many of these girls will have benefited from materials, time and resources dedicated to their well-being and happiness. The girls will have a dedicated and professionally trained football coach who will hold training sessions with them twice a week, both building their football and teamwork skills and ensuring their safety. Each training session will be followed by a shower with soap, a hot meal and water. These may seem like common things to us but a shower and soap is not always affordable to these girls and the meal will provide valuable protein after the exercise. 

This football project will help teach the girls teamwork, leadership skills and build their social and support network, as well as to encourage sport as a healthy activity both physically and mentally. Encouraging girls to be involved in sport that the boys also play allows girls the chance to escape gender restrictions, as well as meet in a safe space to communicate and grow.

A full football kit has been donated, so now we are raising money to  fund the balls, coaching, food and water, and a team building activity at the start of the season.

We are currently fundraising for this project! We have received a generous anonymous donation to start it off and need to raise a further £3,000 to support it over the next year. Could your school or community group host a fundraising event to support the Girls’ Football Team Project? Get in touch with us and we will send you a fundraising pack to get you started!

We can’t wait to see our girls on the pitch!

Changing Lives in Ethiopia with Eggs from South Dakota!

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Biruk, the boy whose chickens are changing lives

This story touched us this month. A young boy, Biruk was adopted from Ethiopia, and wanted a few things in his new home that were comforting to him.

“He asked for a few chickens because that’s something he was familiar with from Ethiopia; it was pretty normal to have some chickens and he asked for eight,” says Tami Van De Stroet, Biruk’s adopted mother. As his adopted father, Jerome, is a farmer, he decided that Biruk could have more than a few chickens- he ended up with four hundred! Each chicken will lay about 500 eggs in it’s lifetime, and Biruk realised he could make a difference with these eggs. Biruk lived a life of extreme poverty before he came to be adopted, having to beg and look for money on the floor just to buy bread. He didn’t get time to go to school, as he was too busy trying to find enough food to live.

“Biruk said, ‘I want to send it back to Ethiopia to the kids that are like me.’ Who didn’t have enough money to eat and things like that so have food and clothing,”  So now Biruk’s adopted family, under his close supervision, exchange the eggs for donations. So far they have sent $41,000 back to Biruk’s village, Wuchale, in Ethiopia, all of which which goes to help children like Biruk. One small boys big heart is making a difference.

Which just proves Biruk’s point “You’re never too little or too big to start a project.”

Young girl cuddling her chickens!

Young girl cuddling her chickens!

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