Volunteer trip – April ’17
12 volunteers from Australia, USA and UK travelled to the Hudad to commence construction of the school building and to continue work on the water system. Everyone brought different skills to the project, as well as a heartwarming amount of energy and enthusiasm. We had people like Dean and Bob who have many years’ experience as bricklayers taking on the challenge of building in stone, while others like George, Lucy and Alex came as unskilled volunteers, who put their hearts and souls into working as builder’s labourers and achieved amazing results. Brahn put his previous experience working on road building in the NT to good use, and almost kept up with Esubalew (aka ‘The Machine”) who also doubles as the Ecolodge manager by night!! With additional help from “Rasta” Temesgen, “Young” Temesgen and Workeye who all provided excellent translating and guiding skills as well as pitching in with the construction work – we made an impressive start to constructing the first 2 classrooms over a period of 3 weeks, working together with the community under the supervision of Belay, the local foreman, and at times the local school children. (Each morning before school started, and during recess, the students would enthusiastically carry black stones from the temporary school to the building site). Nic, Walt and Jennifer made the almost daily trek to the reservoir site to measure and design the solar panel frames, along with some help from Conrad and Madge. The panels will sit atop the reservoir and power the submersible pump to transfer water around the edge of the escarpment for 2.5 kms to the school reservoir. They also completed the plumbing connections from the springs to the reservoir and what joy for the locals when water finally flowed through the collection system into the recently constructed cattle trough. A great moment for FOTH also, as the water system, critical to the success of the school and sustainable agriculture programs, finally nears completion.
Volunteer trip October ’17
We had another hugely successful trip to the Hudad in October. We had volunteers from Seattle, Australia and the Netherlands spending a productive time continuing work on the first classroom and the water system. It was very exciting to be back at the Hudad for many of the FOTH members and volunteers who had been there before and super exciting for new volunteers to experience time in the breathtaking landscape and getting to know the local people.
Great team work was done by all with the volunteers, who were formed into groups and had team names; there was the “Wall Team”, the “Truss Team”, the “Window Team” and the “Steel Team” – later to be re-named “Team Water”.
Over three weeks great progress was made on the classroom. The walls were completed to roof truss height with much time spent on shaping rocks and placing the stonework. People from the nearby communities worked hard with the volunteers to get the walls up, stone by stone.
Thanks to the Seattle window team eight windows were made back in Seattle, broken back down into components and carried in suitcases to Ethiopia. They were then re-constructed on site at the Hudad. The window panes are made out of clear polycarbonate making the windows durable and safe. We had this tested one day when a grazing cow accidently stood on one of the windows lying on the ground!! Go Team Window.
It was quite a sight to see the trusses come together, made from Eucalyptus poles grown locally and worked with handtools. It was intensive but effective work and 5 very strong trusses were fabricated over a number of days. During this trip all trusses were completed and lifted into place. It’s now ready for the roof.
We’re hoping to put up a temporary roof on before the next trip so the students can start having their classes in the new classroom, which is much more spacious than the temporary school they’ve been using for the past 18 months. All going well this should happen before Christmas.
Local children are still attending the temporary school with one teacher providing morning classes to around 40 children. This trip we gave out beanies, photos and exercise books to the children and all 35 of the children that had photos taken last year, were there this year, which goes to show the commitment of the families for their children to get an education.
The local committee is made up of 13 members nominated equally from each of the four villages. FOTH Headquarters met with the local committee to establish regular meetings and discuss a plan to hand over control of the school project. FOTH are committed to supporting the community to make decisions on the project and seek advice on local protocols and community feedback. Members of the committee are passionate and committed to the school project, they are also interested in the design of the site and supporting the development of a community garden.
This trip we had a visiting water expert Daniel Ndege who has been working in Ethiopia for the past 3 years as a WASH consultant. He has extensive community engagement experience, so it was great for Daniel to speak with the committee about what a valuable asset the water is for them, and how important it is to start planning for how to use it wisely and productively within the community, and how it could be a source of income when the community garden gets going. Daniel will be writing a report for FOTH on the water system which will be invaluable in planning for the next phase of the project now that the school is almost operational.
INFORMATION FOR VOLUNTEERS
- Sign the FoTH Volunteer Agreement
- Sign the FoTH Child safety policy and Code of Conduct
- Complete a “Working with children” check