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HOW WE BEGAN AND HOW WE HAVE DEVELOPED

Following an initial visit to Ethiopia by our member Richard King in 1987 a link was set up with the  the Mekane Yesus Church (EECMY). Although the Exeter group is not church based, it has continued working through the EECMY Central Synod, based in Nekemte, as they have a good organisation and a well established Development Department.

Initially funds were sent from England to set up a tree nursery and vegetable garden project at Hareto High School. This project collapsed when the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front army came through in 1991 at the time of the overthrow of the Derg, the group that took power following the ousting of Emperor Haile Selassie .

Because of communication difficulties with Hareto it was decided to develop connections with Nekemte, the provincial capital of Wellega, and equipment was provided to two schools there. Communication difficulties continued and in late 1995 the Exeter-Ethiopia group, at an Extraordinary General Meeting, was about to pass a motion to close the link, when two Ethiopian friends – Alemu Nega and Alex Berhanu - encouraged us not to give up.

Contact continued at a modest level until 1999 when a group of five people from Exeter visited schools in Hareto and Nekemte, the clinic at Hareto, and the former Swedish Mission Hospital in Nekemte. The Exeter group resolved to raise funds to renovate the plumbing to the Gynecological and Paediatric wards and raised nearly £3000 for this Stage 1 Project which was completed in March 2001. The remainder of the renovation, including a 10,000 litre storage tank, was carried out using a £5000 grant obtained from the British Embassy the following year.

Since 2002 the Exeter-Ethiopia Link has gone from strength to strength. In 2006, we were awarded a £150,000 grant by a UK Charitable Trust to set up an Eye Clinic in Nekemte. In 2014 we secured a grant of £78,213 from British Aid-DfID for a 3-year Inclusive Education Project, and in 2015 we were awarded £108,012 over three years by Comic Relief to extend our School Libraries and Reading Centres Project into rural areas.

More information on all our activities is available in our What We Do section.