26 July 2010

Gone, but not forgotten.

It's been almost eight months since I left Ethiopia and not a day has gone by where I don't think about my time there. It's virtually impossible to articulate what Assela means to me, but suffice it to say that it's never far from my thoughts. (Admittedly superficial) case in point: yesterday's near-tornado weather has left us without power for nearly a day and a half, but I'm still fixated on the fact that I got a ride out to Maryland so we could work today, during which I also charged my computer and am now amusing myself with Netflix. The fact that my neighbor, who's within wireless router distance, appears to have power, is an issue for another day. I, unlike many of my neighbors, am fully-prepared for two evenings of no power. I was in desperate need of an occasion to catch up on my knitting.

But returning to my original point - Ethiopia. I only spent a brief week or so with Chris and Jess, the lovely couple who took my place in Assela, but that was enough to be certain they were good people. One of my final projects was an attempt to find funding for a disabled cooperative that wanted to start a poultry farm. A Finnish NGO that I approached has apparently dropped the ball on actually paying out their grants, so Jess and Chris took matters in their own hands and have submitted an application to Peace Corps Partners, a grant program that enables PCVs to fundraise for projects outside of their assigned sector. If you're looking for a noble, worthy charitable cause to which to donate, then look no further than Abdiin Halaalissuu. I met them at the perfect time in my service - shortly after my herb garden project fell apart when the women discovered they'd have to work - and AH restored my faith in Ethiopia. They were so positive, and yet so realistic about the project. They incorporated as an organization and applied for a permit for land entirely on their own before they ever approached me about help finding start up funds.

The fact that the Finnish funding never came through during my tenure was one of my big regrets from Ethiopia and I'm so grateful that Chris and Jess have stayed involved with AH. Please read up on their project here. Every little bit helps - when dealing in birr, even 10 dollars is more than most families have to spend in a week. Aside from initial chicken and feed purchase, the majority of the funds will go towards building a proper chicken coop with a fence so that the group can raise chickens and harvest eggs en masse without risk of their chickens escaping or being eaten by local hyenas. The disabled have few rights in Ethiopia and are often sheltered or exploited by their families. The thirty people in AH who had the courage to come together and attempt to support themselves deserve a fighting chance. Every little bit helps, so please consider donating.

Donate Here

If you have any questions about the project, please don't hesitate to email me at jducey(at)gmail(dot)com. Thanks for your support!

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