What A HOPE-Filled Experience!! - HOPE (UK)
Cath Hickman, a supporter and campaigner on behalf of HOPE UK, reflects on the experience of a recent, first-time trip to Ethiopia to witness for herself the work HOPE is doing in and around the capital, Addis Ababa, and to take part in a fundraising venture – The Great Ethiopian Run.
After a long and sleepless overnight flight, we arrived at Addis Ababa. It is a city of contrasts - as most cities are – with huge high rise buildings standing alongside shanty towns made from cob and corrugated iron. There are people everywhere, sat on the roadside, standing around in groups chatting, sleeping on the pavement, begging at road junctions. Shops are open fronted to the street, which adds to the hustle and bustle.
We spent all our time with HOPE Ethiopian staff, who I found so inspiring. HOPE works predominantly in water development in Ethiopia, providing mainly gravity fed water supplies to rural communities. These projects are long term commitments, lasting many years due to the complexity and the distance that the water has to come. Although primarily it is expensive to put in gravity fed water supplies, they are sustainable, affordable and easy to maintain by the community. The HOPE staff live in the villages and get to know the community, working alongside them as they help build the water supply. They provide health and sanitation training and a water committee is set up from the communities to maintain and look after the supply.
The Derashe project in Southern Ethiopia has been completed recently after 17 years. Access to clean water has risen from 7% to 84% - better than the urban access in Addis! The neighbouring region, containing 33 villages, have asked for help, and HOPE plans to implement water and sanitation projects there, providing clean water to some 180,000 people.
Due to our short trip, we didn’t have time to visit the water projects, but we did spend two days volunteering at a HOPE supported project - Save Lives Ethiopia - that works with children who are affected by HIV/AIDS. The project works with poverty-stricken families, providing community-based care, sponsoring children through school, providing health and sex education, a HIV clinic, and a study centre. The centre that will provide study rooms and a library plans to open in the next 2 months. We catalogued books to help set up the library. We also visited some of the families being helped by this project.
Save Lives Ethiopia sponsor one child per family to go to school. At present, they are able to help about 400 children. One child, Natty, was proud to show off his school jumper, bag and books. My heart went out to the other siblings who can’t get a place at school. The need for a study centre was all too obvious as five of us squashed into a one roomed house where one child lived with his mother and grandmother. Children who are orphaned live in group houses with a a community worker (who come from the area but work for SaLE) visiting them daily to help with homework, washing, food etc.
On the last day of our visit, we participated in the Great Ethiopian Run (see pic). I had been secretly dreading this part as I’m definitely not a runner and feared letting the team down as I crawled along behind! I shouldn’t have worried. 33,000 people filled Meskil Square and the race was started by Haile Gebrselassie and Paula Radcliffe. The whole atmosphere was electrifying and you couldn’t help but join in with the singing and chanting as the huge crowd of green T-shirted runners snaked though the city. Our HOPE team finished in 1 hour 40 minutes.
I felt very privileged to be able to go and see firsthand what HOPE International Development Agency is doing. Thanks to the kindness of those people who sponsored me, the money I have raised is going to make a significant, life-transforming change in people’s lives.