The Genda Tesfa Story

We first visited Genda Tesfa in 2015.  Genda Tesfa means Village of Hope in the local languages.  The village was set up in the 1960s by a Canadian priest as a model village for people with leprosy.  But gradually conditions deteriorated, it was caught up in war between Ethiopia and invading Somalis.  In 2015 the population had grown to16,0000 people, every family affected by leprosy.  People avoided them and many couldn't work because of their disabilities.  800 children were identified as orphans or vulnerable.  The situation was desperate.  

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 We worked with the community to set up a development team.  There was a Community Development Association of local people - chaired by Abdul, a part-time school caretaker with a huge smile and enthusiasm.  Four community co-ordinators to visit and work with families in their homes.  The school worked with them to identify the poorest children and their families.

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The community association and the school decided on a breakfast club as a way to address the problem.  The school provided a place and volunteers and the community association worked with the families.  There were two aims - to support the children at school with a meal at the start of the day and school materials; and to train and support families in setting up small businesses to give the whole family a sustainable income.  

A school at Cookham Berkshire, and other groups in the area, decided to link with the school in Genda Tesfa and support the breakfast club.  They arranged some great fundraising events.  Sponsored swim disco - collecting pennies through the Lent term - brining old clothes to school and selling them by weight - and much more besides.  Many children took on the role of Ambassadors, to represent Partners for change.  Several of the children went to visit the school and experienced classes - and breakfasts - for themselves.  They raised over £30,000 in five years - paid for a new sports field - covered costs of the club - and the training and business loans for families. 

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Meet one of the beneficiaries - Fayo, aged 20.

Fayo was caring for her mother, who has a severe mental illness, her younger brother and her own child.  Her partner moved away tofind work and wanted Fayo to come with him, but she felt she could not leave her mother.  They live in a builder's hut.  The mother burns the children's clothes and throws away the food Fayo cooks.  Fayo often takes the children to sleep outside because she is frightened of what her mother might do.  The situation seems hopeless.

One year later

After the community cared for her. 

The community co-ordinators arranged for neighbours to repair her house.  She received training and opened a small coffee stall in the street with her sister.  The children are going to school.  While the mother is still disturbed, her psychotic episodes are more manageable with support from the community.   

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The pictures show the chair and members of the Community Development Association; a view of the school; Wendu Fekade,. the school's principal