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During a visit at the Abay Mado project in February 2017 it was decided to build three large, open huts on the area about the school buildings. The huts will hold each 120 students who can eat their lunch here, sheltered by a roof and thereby protected from both sun and rain. The building of two of the huts has already started.
For the moment most of the children sit on the ground with their food. Earlier the smallest children had lunch in the round buildings at the kindergarten, but these buildings have long been used for education.
Some of the children can still find room for eating in doors, for instance is a room for practical subjects each lunchtime changed into an eating room for more than 100 small pupils. But this will all be past when the large lunch huts are ready for use.
Another business at this visit was delivering a greater number of computers, payed by the Rotary Club in Odder, Denmark.
I November 2017 the new huts were inaugurated. Now there is room for everybody to eat lunch under a roof, if they want it.
On the web site Google Earth it is easy to se how far we have reached with the large education project Abay Mado Education Centre by The Blue Nile outside the city of Bahir Dar.
The construction began in 2010, and in 2011 the first section - the kindergarten - was finished. Later on the sections for the elementary school - 1. to 8. grade - and the high school were built. As the latest we have built a magnificent sports field. The whole area is surrounded by a stone wall with a watch tower.
The three slides on the opposite side show, how the project looks from above when you close in more and more.
On the first slide the red arrow marks the location of the education center east of the river. Among the city's plans is a new southern bridge over the river Nile, in effect connecting the Abay Mado Education Centre to the university of Bahir Dar.
Closing in on the next slide you will notice that what once was a very poor neighbourhood is now transforming into a new suburb to Bahir Dar with the education centre as the pivotal point.
Closing further in on slide number 3 you will see clearly (from the left) the kindergarten, the elementary school and the high school. In the front you see the games and athletics area.
June 17th was the day of inauguration of the games and athletics area at the education project Abay Mado in Bahir Dar – a very impressive and very suitable area, which will make a large number of children very happy in the years to come.
The day started with a small ceremony where all children and adults from the school stood full of expectations and greeted us, when we – together with pupils and teachers from Odder Højskole – arrived in order to participate in the different activities over the next couple of days.
The first activities were football games, where the school presented two teams. The opponents came from St. Michael School and they also presented two teams. And they really went for it – both the players and the audience, consisting of children and adults as well. After the games prizes were awarded.
Then we had a break with soft drinks and cakes to everyone who had showed up. After the break the program continued with the teachers from the two schools competing in football, basketball and volleyball.
Finally a football match was arranged between the pupils from Odder Højskole and the teachers from Abay Mado School.
It was a really good day, which in a perfect way marked the presentation of the magnificent sports area to the school.
At the start of the school year, on September 11, 2016, the number of pupils will reach 700. And another 10 teachers will be employed, bringing the total number of teachers up to 33.
Evening school teaching of adult pupils will be continued, following the success of this in 2015, where 20 women learned to read and write, and already at the end of the school year there were a number of applicants for participation in the new school year.
So all in all it has been a success with the education project in the local area.
Once more I would like to thank members and donors for the support they give us, and thank the many artists, who over the years have supported us by donating a piece of art. Without this we would not have come this far, and I hope, that everybody is proud of what we have achieved together. And I can only urge you to come down there and see for yourselves the joy and happiness, that you all have a part in.
Education is the future for Ethiopia
At the end of November / beginning of December 2015 another visit was made to Abey Mado in order to oversee the upstart of a larger construction work around future sports- and athletics-facilities. This has been financed by the funds generated from the last art auction held at the art museum in Aarhus in September 2015. Without the support from Danish artists realizing this great wish from the school had not been possible.
As the sports field necessarily had to be built on a slope, the area first had to be levelled out, and this meant that more than 100 large truckloads of earth had to be removed. Hereafter a football field plus a basket- and volleyball field was made. Around these fields a three meters broad running lane was made. Add to this covered spectator areas, built in granite, then you have a fantastic sports arena, which will attract many schools from the area to sports arrangements in the time to come.
The visit was all in all very exciting. A new, professional management had been appointed, and it was clear, that both teachers and pupils were happy. E.g. in the breaks, where several of the teachers were together with the children, doing different activities.
Today the school has app. 650 pupils and 28 teachers and pedagogues, and classes up to 7th grade. 650 is around half of the planned number of pupils, distributed on up to 12th grade.
The school has acquired a bus to gather and bring a part of the pupils in the area, but many of them are also gathered and brought by the small three-wheeled taxies.
We talked with several of the parents who came to collect children. They were very happy having their children at the school, and they also knew that the pressure from parents for having their children admitted to the school was high, as it was limited how many children could be admitted per year.
In June 2016 the International College in Odder has plans for visiting the school again. Their last visit - which was here in 2015 – was a big success for them, and at the school they are looking forward to the next visit. A big sports event is being planned as an inauguration of the sports area, where other schools are to participate in a full day event with different sports.
Once again we would like to thank everybody for the support that members and donors give us, and we would also like to thank the many artists who have supported the project throughout the years by donating a piece of art. Without this we had not come this far, and we hope that everybody is proud of what we have achieved, and we can only encourage everybody to come to Ethiopia and see the joy and happiness that you all have part in.
How exciting to go to school
On May 24, 2012, we signed a new contract with the Catholic administration (ACS) in Addis Ababa. This was the beginning of the next construction phase at the education project ABAY MADO, situated in Bahir Dar.
The buildings are now ready to house grades 9 to 12, around 320 students. Initially, some of the classrooms will be used by grades 1 to 4; these children are later to be moved to the elementary school buildings, once they have been finished. Later the buildings are to be the base of grades 9 to 12. From the beginning, the rooms are fully equipped with good quality furniture, manufactured locally.
On Tuesday September 30, 2014, a big celebration marked the inauguration of the new buildings. Bishop Abune Lesanu, the school management and staff, workers, parants and children participated. It was with a sense of pride that we declared the second phase of the education project completed, the first phase being the kindergarten, inaugurated in november 2011.
Throughout the day an Ethiopian film crew recorded events, later to be shown on television.
Speeches were given by Bishop Abune Lesane and ELSA's chairman, Gert Jensen, who subsequently unveiled a fine marble plaque with the names of organisations and donors; after this he handed over the keys to the school management, signifying that the building are now their responsibility.
There was a performance of traditional music and dance. During the presentation of the buildings, an ”art lesson” was given by Danish artist Steffan Herrik, resulting in a great number of pretty children's drawings.
A powerpoint-show contained pictures of the entire project from beginning to finish.
The whole event was a good way to celebrate the completion of the large construction project that ELSA has been in charge of for about five years.
The high school consists of four separate buildings, forming a unity: one building forming the back contains four classrooms and toilets for girls and boys; two wings, one containing two classrooms, lab and teachers' toilets, the other two classrooms, the staffroom and a storage room; in the middle the library and the school office..
17 teachers are employed at the kindergarten and the school. Authorities and parents alike are very eager to have more children enrolled at the school, and several children have been moved here from overcrowded schools.
Since ELSA began the education project the whole Abay Mado area has undergone a big development. Many houses and shops have been built, as a sign that people find the area worth moving to and building a future on. This, of course, makes us happy.
The Danish and the Ethiopian flags fly high together above the kindergarden
In the spring of 2009 the planning of the kindergarden was finalized. Construction started in the early spring of 2010.
One of the most important elements in the project has been the focus on Ethiopian traditions in the use of materials, the local work force primarily consisting of women, and in the harmonious architecture, which comprises two round buildings connected with the activity rooms. The two round houses are shaped as the traditional rural houses.
In December 2010 and January 2011 three Danish artists visited the project to make the internal decoration of the kindergarden's two round buildings - the "rotundas". The painter Gunnar K. Hansen was responsible for this together with Birgitte Thorlacius and Frede Troelsen in cooperation with the Ethiopian artist Mulugetta. The result was magnificent.
The interior of the round houses is decorated with motives designed to motivate and stimulate the children: animals, plants and objects from their everyday life. The paintings were completed in close cooperation between three Danish and one Ethiopian artists.
Furthermore, we asked Gunnar K. Hansen to choose the colours for all of the buildings to fit into the surroundings.
On July 14 a festive ceremony took place in Abay Mado, where ELSA handed over the keys to the finished phase 1 - the kindergarden - to representatives from "the Archdiocesan Catholic Secretariat of Ethiopia" (ACS). The ceromony was performed by bishop Abune Lessane Christos Matheo - the very person with whom ELSA made the agreement of building and running an education centre in Abay Mado.
On November 5 we could officially inaugurate the kindergarden. We held a party for parents, children, teachers and partners. The Ethiopian national television was also present.
It was - as always - a memorable day with a lot of happy faces and many solemn promises for the future, not least for our partner in the teaching area, the catholic church. Everybody expressed admiration for the finished result.
Today (November 2013) the kindergarden has 11 teachers and about 150 students. There is a pleasant atmosphere between them, which works perfectly with the daily mix of play and training. The teaching method is the Italian Maria Montessori method.
In November 2011 we further delivered a gift of approximately 25 knitted sweaters to children in a home for orphans run by the Catholic Church. The children were very pleased with the colourful sweaters, because - contrary to what you might think - it can be cold in Ethiopia, especially in the evenings and in the mornings where a cold windis often blowing. During subsequent visits approximately 200 sweaters have been handed over to children’s homes in Bahir Dar and Addis Ababa.
Sign at entrance to the site
Bahir Dar is one of Ethiopia's most important industrial centres and the country's fifth largest city with approx. 180.000 inhabitants. The city is situated very beautifully at Lake Tana, 560 km north of Addis Ababa.
Here ELSA started up a large project in 2010 regarding a new education centre, which will be expanded gradually over the next 4-5 years. The name of the project is "ABBAY MADO", which means "on the other side of the Nile" (in relation to city centre) in Ethiopian (Amharic). The centre is built at a 30.000 m2 big site approximately 7 kilometres from the centre of Bahir Dar and with a short distance to "The Blue Nile".
The centre will be surrounded by a number of poor villages and the prime purpose of the project is to make sure that all the children from these villages receives a school education. The children normally have a transport time to/from school of 3-4 hours, and since there always is a need for the children in the daily housekeeping they often stay at home!
First phase of the project consists of a kindergarten for 160 children plus sanitary installations, and this phase will be finalised mid 2011. Phase II is a school for grade 1 to 4, phase III is for grade 5 to 8, phase IV is a high school, phase V a technical school, and phase VI is shop and youth club.
In order to make sure that the centre right from the start - and in all years ahead - and is used according to plan, we have entered into a cooperation with a local NGO under the catholic church. This new cooperation-partner has a long experience with school- and health projects and all of its teachers are highly qualified.
Written agreements have been entered into by ELSA and the local NGO which ensures that the centre right from the start and in the years ahead will be used primarily for education of the poor local population, and that this will take place at no cost to them. After the different phases have been taken into use the local NGO will undertake all future costs in connection with teaching and maintenance. This means that ELSA will have no financial obligations after hand over.
It is an important part of the agreements that the centre will encompass and welcome all religious convictions, since there will be no demands made in this respect vis-a-vis the children, and no religious influence will be made during schooling.
This project represents a big step for ELSA, since it is our first project outside the capital Addis Ababa, and since it also will be of big importance to the future of hundreds of children. We hope for financial support from private individuals, from corporations and from funds in order to be able to complete this large project.
It will be possible to participate in voluntary work at the school.
Gert Jensen and Mulu at the entrance to Girar School
In the fall of 2007 another significant school extension, this time at the Girar School, was inaugurated. It is a combined school and kindergarten with app. 450 children. The school goes up to the 4th grade.
Besides giving education to children during the day, the new building also gave school the possibility of offering grown-ups classes in the evening.
In 2009 we carried through another important project at this school: replacement of the directly healthtreathening sanitary installations. A new toilet building, including a septik tank, was erected and new washing facilities established.
This is one of the largest children's homes in Addis Ababa. It was erected in 1995 as a rehabilitation centre for orphans, and it has continuously housed app. 200 children.
Over the years 1955-2005 the buildings was completely run down and became totally unfit as residence for children.
I April 2005 ELSA - in cooperation with the artist Olafur Eliasson - started a complete renovation of the institution?s buildings: main house, kitchen house, library, porter house a.o. Furthermore a 850 long and 2½ meter high granite wall was built, completely encircling the home, for the purpose of protecting the children against uninvited intruders.
This large renovation and extension project were finished and celebrated at a festive inauguration on Saturday, June 7, 2008. The buildings will be used by the Kechene children as well as children from the neighbourhood. At the same time all the remaining renovated buildings, the main kitchen, the library, the guards? house, etc., were also handed over. Thus 3½ years of construction and renovation were finished to the benefit and great joy of all the children at the home. It is with a somewhat heavy heart that we end our wonderful cooperation with the lovely children.
Gert Jensen at the inauguration of the new school building
In October 2005 we were able to inaugurate a fully-equipped teaching building.
Of the approximately 1,200 pupils at the school, 80% are girls. Several of the children are orphans or children of chronically ill parents. The projects carried out at this school total DKK 500,000 (EUR 67,000).
The new school building Mezegebe Birhan Primay Public School
In 2003 we started a new project at another school in the capital. This project affected 300 children, several of whom were children of former soldiers. The school building, and inventory, was inaugurated on 8th November 2003.
The projects carried out at this school total DKK 550,000 (EUR 74,000).
Teaching material is drawn on the walls in the classroom
The project group's first task was to raise money for the Ewiket Lehibret primary school. This resulted in the construction of a fully-equipped school building for 500 children, bringing the number of children attending the school up to 2000. This building was completed in 1998, and on 10th June 2000 we inaugurated the next school building, including a toilet block and drinking water. The project group has also procured a number of teaching aids.
The projects carried out at this school amount to approximately DKK 1.3 million (EUR 175,000), and the following figures clearly show the effect this has had:
Approximately 65% of the children in normal Ethiopian schools in the capital of Addis Ababa continue in further education after the 8th grade, but at Ewiket Lehibret no fewer than 98% of the children continue.
ELSA has sponsored several small groups of women at the cooking school
In Addis Ababa we are now concentrating on giving women, many of them single mothers, a vocational education (as cook, hair dresser etc.), which enables them to support themselves and their children.
The cooking school we are cooperating with is named "Bama International Food Preparation and Catering Institute", and here we have sponsored education of several small groups of women.
Also in 2014 we had a group of women at the cooking school. During the last five years more than 40 women have been educated as cooks, paid for by ELSA, and many of them have got a job and are now able to support themselves.
In the year that is almost over now we have seen many different activities in Bahir Dar. In March 14 stationary PCs were delivered and installed at the school, plus other important teaching materials. During the same visit it was decided to build 3 so called “tukuls”, which are large, round covered sitting areas, in this case about 120 m2 each. They had been finalised up to our visit here in November, and are used as both classrooms and “lunch rooms”.
During our stay here in November we also had a visit by the Danish Ambassador to Ethiopia, Mette Thygesen, and that turned out to be a very good experience for everybody. The Ambassador visited most of the classes and expressed big positive surprise over the enthusiasm with the pupils as well as the teachers.
As at previous occasions we here in November had a Danish artist, namely Gunnar K. Hansen, with us to Abay Mado, where he taught at the school in drawing and in understanding art.
This year the number of pupils at the school has reached 875, with 240 children in the kindergarten and 635 distributed on 1st to 8th grade. There is a very high pressure from parents in the whole eastern part of Bahir Dar to have their children enrolled in exactly this school. Therefore, the number of pupils will increase, up to app. 1.500 pupils, at the speed in which funds can be raised for further construction of school buildings.
We shall therefore state, as we always do: All of this can only be continued, as long as we can raise the funds for it. Therefore, we shall not only kindly ask you to renew your own membership but also to encourage friends to become members. In that respect we shall be happy to receive e-mail addresses from interested persons, so that we can distribute information about our work.
You can become sponsor for part of a school building, for education materials, or for education of a single adult pupil; any amount is most welcome. This can be illustrated by the fact, that we this year also has sponsored the education of one person as a medical doctor. And should an interest for visiting Ethiopia and see our common project emerge, then we are of course also ready to support and advise.
We would like to thank everybody for the interest and support, that you show our work. Many children and adults as well have enjoyed large benefit from that through almost 24 years now. As you know our work is comparable to a drop in the ocean, but where this drop falls, joy, hope and energy grows immediately. Without your help we could not continue to give these children a chance and a hope for their adult life. Sadly, we have to realize, that this type of long term help to self-help is bigger than ever, considering the unstable world around us.
Read more about – and see photos and film from -the project at ELSA’s homepage, www.knowledgeforeveryone.org.
Membership fee and donations can be transferred to our account in Nordea, Denmark, branch no 1944, swift code NDEADKKK:
EUR: account number 5036-307-813, IBAN: DK0520005036307813
DKK: account number 4373-884-486, IBAN: DK5620004373884486
The date for the general assembly is Wednesday, March 7th, 2018 at 6:30 PM, and it is held in Gert’s home Rosensgade 48, 8300 Odder.
DEAR MEMBERS AND SPONSORS
THE YEAR that is almost passed has been full of events. We have had an art auction with local artists from Odder; we have again had a large addition of pupils to the education centre in Bahir Dar – the number of pupils is now 724, with 41 teachers and administrative personnel allocated to 6 kindergarten classes with 236 pupils plus 14 classes from grade 1 to 8 with 488 pupils in total.
ADULT EVENING CLASSES has been a success which shall be continued. 20 women have learned to read and write. The pupils are almost all single mothers who have had short or no schooling, which are without employment, no social network and have no work experience, so we hope they can get chance to a better life.
As previous we shall continue to offer higher education to individuals. In the New Year we shall see one person finish her medical studies – her dream is to start a medical practice.
IN JUNE, we held an inauguration of the large sports and gymnastics area. The inauguration was with a number of sports activities where we had invited other schools from the area.
AT HOME, we have had a big challenge raising funds for education materials, which there is a big need for, as well as for further development of the project by erecting a multi-purpose building, which can be the centre for club-life and education: HIV-AIDS club, clubs for culture, music, art, sport and entertaining. This will be a big boost for the school and for the whole local area.
ODDER FOLK HIGH SCHOOL again this year travelled with a group of pupils to the school project in Ethiopia in June. 18 pupils and 2 teachers took part i daily life at the school and in the kindergarten, with huge benefit both for themselves and for the school.
WE SHALL therefore end in the same way as we always do: All of this can only be carried forward as long as we can raise the funds for it. Therefore, we shall not only ask you to renew your membership but also encourage friends to become members. In that connection, we shall be happy to receive e-mail addresses from interested persons, so that we can distribute information about our work.
YOU CAN become sponsor for part of a school building, for education materials, or for education of a single adult pupil – any amount is very welcome. Should an interest in visiting Ethiopia and see our common project emerge, then we shall be of service with any kind of assistance.
WE WOULD like to thank everybody for the interest and the support, you demonstrate in our work. A lot of children as well as adults have benefited from that through almost 23 years. As you know: Our work in Ethiopia is comparable to a drop in the ocean, but trust me: Where this drop lands, joy, hope, and energy sprout immediately. Without your help, we could not continue giving these children a chance and a hope for their adult life. Unfortunately, we realise, that the need for this type of long-term help to self-help is larger than ever, considering the unstable world around us.
Read more about – and see photos from – the projects at this homepage.
Membership fees and monetary gifts can be sent directly to any of our three accounts at Nordea Bank Denmark, branch no 1944, swift code NDEADKKK:
EUR: account number 5036-307-813, IBAN: DK0520005036307813
DKK: account number 4373-884-486, IBAN: DK5620004373884486
USD: account number 5036-307-821, IBAN: DK8020005036307821
The date of the general assembly is Wednesday, March 1 2017, 6:30 PM, in Gert Jensens home at Rosensgade 48, 8300 Odder.
The past year has been eventful, students from Odder Folk High School have been on a tour of Ethiopia, we have arranged an art auction at ARoS, a great number of students have been enrolled at our new school, adult education has got underway, and an area for school sports and leisure activities has been leveled.
The task in Denmark has been to procure the means for education materials and for the extension of the Bahir Dar project with leisure facilities, such as a sports ground for outdoor activities, athletics, football etc. Besides we plan to build a multi-purpose building, housing education and various associations: An hiv-aids club, culture, music and art, sports and entertainment.
One attempt of raising money for all this was a big art auction at ARoS in September, featuring more than sixty artists who had each donated one ore more works of art. The result enabled us to begin the construction of a sports and leisure area at the school project.
Earlier in the year personal computers and education materials were bought for the general education of adults. The school committee has clearly stated that they wanted the buildings to be used in the evenings. The students are mainly single women with children, with little education, without a job, without a social network and without work experience. Moreover, our support of talented individuals' further studies has been continued.
In June Odder Folk High School sent a group of students to the school project in Ethiopia. Thirteen students and two teachers participated in the everyday activities at the school and in the kindergarten. It was of great benefit to themselves and to the school. This succes has resulted in Odder Folk High School deciding to send another group of students to Etiopia in 2016.
We shal finish as we always do: All this can only be continued as long as we can collect funds for it. We should like to encourage you, not only to renew your personal membership, but also to encourage others to become members. We should like very much to receive e-mail adresses of people interested in our activities in order that we can send them information.
You may choose to sponsor parts of a school building, teaching materials, education of an individual adult, etc. All contributions will be received with gratitude.
If you are interested in paying a visit to Ethiopia, we shall be ready with assistance. We should like to thank you for the interest and support you show. Many children and adults have benefitted from that for more than 20 years. It it true that our work can be compared to a drop in the ocean, but also that where the drop falls, hope and energy grow up. Without your support we would not be able to comtinue giving these children a chance of hope of a better adult life.
Regrettably the need of this type of long-term help to self-help is greater than ever, considering the lack of stability in the world around us.
Member subscription and donations can be made to:
Nordea Bank Denmark A/S, our EUR (€) account 5036-307-813, BIC:/SWIFT: NDEADKKK, IBAN: DK0520005036307813.
Nordea Bank Denmark A/S Branch: 1944- account nr: 4373 8844 86 - SWIFT: NDEADKKK. IBAN: DK5620004373884486.
The date of our general assembly is on March 2. 2016 af 18.30, at Gert Jensen's 48 Rosensgade, 8300 Odder.