Founded in 1996, Link Ethiopia (then called GondarLink) began as a single link between Dr Challoner’s Grammar School in Amersham, UK, and Fasiledes Comprehensive Secondary School in Gondar, Ethiopia.
Since then it has grown, not only to manage links between 110 schools in the UK and 80 in Ethiopia, but to include a child sponsorship programme and volunteer teaching scheme as well as infrastructure, resourcing and training projects in schools in Ethiopia.
Link Ethiopia now benefits around 100,000 children in Ethiopia through school linking and projects, and 30,000 in the UK through cultural exchange programmes.
Kera Hora Elementary School is located in Bishoftu, a town about 60 kilometres southeast of the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. Around 1570 pupils from Grades 1 to 8 (ages 7-15) are taught in a shift-system, whereby half attend school for four hours in the morning and the other half attend in the afternoon.
Adequate sanitation is essential to prevent the spread of intestinal parasites and diseases (chiefly bilharzia, or Shistosomiasis) which are currently widespread among young Ethiopians and are seriously life threatening. Before the implementation of this project, teachers and students shared a single small, insanitary toilet block – a corrugated-iron hut covering a few holes in the ground. The doors did not shut properly, there weren’t separate facilities for males and females, and there was no access for disabled students.
Now, thanks to the support that the Mandala Trust gave to Link Ethiopia in this project, the teachers and students of Kera Hora have brand new concrete toilet blocks, with separate male and female cubicles and a larger cubicle for disabled students. Not only have the new blocks improved the working environment for staff and students, it has allowed the school to attract more disabled students and cater for them more effectively. It has also reduced absenteeism, especially amongst girls.