Chris Acton, a trustee of Accomplish, and his wife Hilary recently visited Ethiopia to explore possibilities for Accomplish to work there. Chris and Hilary were hosted by Moira McLure, a missionary who works with BEZA, a development charity in Gaiynt (which is supported by the protestant church in Addis Ababa and some UK churches). BEZA runs a number of projects in Gaiynt town. Its development arm has a range of outreach workers and project managers, all of whom appear to be highly effective.
One project is a successful kindergarten in Gaiynt for children aged four to seven. There are four classes, each with a trained Montessori teacher and an assistant. Children learn both English and Amharic. There are 110 children registered, half of whom pay a fee, and the remainder get free places. Other development projects include tutorial sessions for older children three times a week. These sessions are for the poorest children in the town, to supplement their school learning. BEZA also operates an impressive empowerment programme for women.
Chris and Hilary visited two local families whose children have disabilities. Nine-year-old Andabet has multiple disabilities: poor sight, learning and speech difficulties, and behavioural problems. These conditions probably resulted from a bleed on the brain when he was 18 months old. As a result, he cannot be left alone and cannot attend school. The family (with two older children) is extremely poor, and the father left several years ago.
Andabet's mother Kirkham has a one-room government house and earns a small amount of money from making and serving local beer. She has to carry the water for this across a busy highway, whilst carrying her son on her back. BEZA include Kirkham in outreach activity and supply Andabet with clothes. They also paid for him to attend hospital in Addis for an assessment (the only centre in Ethiopia for disability assessment), and for six-month follow-up sessions. Medication has stabilised his behaviour and he can walk unsteadily. What the family really needs is a helper to look after Andabet to free his mother up to work and to carry water safely.
Chris and Hilary also met Mastaba, whose third child, Bizuayu, appears to have cerebral palsy (although she has not had a formal diagnosis). Bizuayu is four years old and is very well looked after by her mother and older sister. There is also a new baby who appears to be blind. Mastaba has attended women in empowerment programmes at BEZA and received about £30 to buy chickens. The family receives no other help or healthcare for Bizuayu.
Accomplish is now considering whether to start working in Ethiopia and how to provide support to these two families.