Ethiopian Trip

Roger Osborne's trip to Ethiopia.

I was invited by The Yirgaalem Trust to join a privately funded trip to visit Ethiopia.

The trust was set up five years ago to fund the building and running of a school for street children in a small town called Yirga Alem. Since the start the charity has expanded its interest to other schools in the area and has also set up a house for eight older boys, who are looking to go on to higher education.

On the Trip with me were Glyn and Jayne Charlton from the trust, four Kent farmers who have supported the trust from the early days and a party of students from Hadlow Agricultural College who were on a study & project tour.

A few days before we left, Elham Valley & Wye Lions Club organised a quiz night which raised 900 and the club made it up to 1000 for me to be able to spend on projects at the schools. We flew out from Heathrow at 9pm and arrived in Addis Ababa in time for breakfast. Then having met up with our vehicles, we set off for Yirga Alem.

On the way down we visited two agriculture projects, one was a 12 hectare greenhouse growing roses for export to Europe, including the UK (& I thought food miles were bad enough!). Finally we arrived at our hotel about 8.30pm.

During the six days we spent in Yirga Alem we visited the school for the street children twice, on both occasions the Hadlow students played and lost football against the older school children. With 300 of the Lions club funds I purchased exercise books & pens, as sourced locally you can buy a lot of books for this amount of money. These were then divided between the three schools, two in Yirga Alem and one in Dongora. Dongora is a very remote village, where the school teaches six hundred children in two shifts: 8am until 2pm and 2pm until 8pm, unfortunately half of the second shift was in the dark and the staff also stayed on site with no electricity.

I was very pleased that with the remaining 700 of the Lions Club money, solar panel lighting was put into two of the class rooms and also the staff quarters. This had been investigated and arranged by the Hadlow students before we left the UK.

While we were on the trips with the students we visited several small farms showing Ethiopia ways of agriculture, a coffee washing facility and also a coffee grading, bagging & exporting facility. We also visited the Awassa Collage of Agriculture, which was an interesting day comparing the two colleges.

I would like to thank the Hadlow college students for the good humour and hard work they brought to the trip and also putting up with me (it took me all the time to remember their names) I would also like to thank the trust for allowing me to see the works they are doing in Yirga Alem & I was impressed with the behaviour, manners and enthusiasm of all the children I met, in particular the eight older boys that were in the house at Yirga Alem. These young men all knew what careers they wanted to do, whether a farmer, doctor or airline pilot, their inspiration was a lesson to us all.

I feel that any increase in general living standards will be made through education, which impressed upon me the work The Yirga Alem Trust is doing and I personally would like to be of some help to them in the future. P.S. Three of the students & I stayed on a further 4 days to visit the Lalibela churches.

Roger Osborne Welfare Chairman

Website for the school and charity.

Click on link below!