In Ethiopia only 1 in 5 girls reach secondary education, 74% of women face harmful practices such as female genital mutilation, and almost half of the female population experience violence and abuse. Women and girls deserve better.
An unassisted, prolonged and obstructed child labour can cause an obstetric fistula – a hole torn in the bladder, vagina or rectum. This injury has devastating physical and social consequences for women. This injury is both treatable and preventable.
Accessing quality education remains a challenge for so many in Ethiopia. There are many barriers to overcome; the expense of uniforms, food and equipment, the attitudes of parents, and the stigma of menstruation. Every child and young person should be able to fulfill their potential.
People living with disabilities are routinely denied their most basic human rights, and are cut off from education, employment and healthcare. In Ethiopia, many live in extreme poverty.
In a country with no welfare state the most vulnerable persons live hand to mouth on the margins of society. Access to basic healthcare or support is impossible for so many. No one should be forgotten.
Ethiopia has faced multiple emergencies in the last few years. Without support, these challenges not only threaten education, health and livelihoods of thousands of people, but compromise the well-being and opportunities for generations to come.
Stigma surrounding menstruation means that many girls in Ethiopia are ashamed to ask for help when they start their period. Over 80% of girls drop out of school before age 14, often because they don’t have access to sanitary products. Based in Addis Ababa, Studio Samuel’s project supports vulnerable girls to stay in school by distributing free re-usable sanitary kits, and delivering presentations at schools to break the taboo and normalise periods. They also offer extra-curricular after school courses in IT and business skills, sewing, life skills and creative arts, helping girls continue their education and develop important skills for future employment. Support is given to access healthcare, tutoring and scholarships that they otherwise would miss out on.
With seven safe houses across Ethiopia, AWSAD is a beacon of hope to those who have experienced domestic violence or abuse. They offer more than a safe place to sleep for women seeking refuge with babies and young children. Along with food and medication, AWSAD provides counselling and legal follow-up, basic literacy courses, art and dance therapy, self-defence classes and vocational skills training so that women can build a life beyond their recovery and leave the shelter as confident, independent individuals.
APDA was created alongside local Afar leaders who felt their needs were not being met by formal government services. APDA is dedicated to ending harmful practices, including female genital mutilation (FGM), child marriage and the lack of rights for women in marriage. They also run life-changing projects in water harvesting, mobile health and education, and have been providing life-saving emergency support, in response to the recent locust plagues and conflict in the region.
Two decades ago, the Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa was the only place where fistula patients could be treated. Today, not only can patients access the treatment they need through six fistula centres across Ethiopia, but they can also access complete physical and social rehabilitation facilities. Hamlin’s College of Midwives actively recruits and trains new midwives and then deploys them back to their own rural communities to provide maternal healthcare and support in the regions they’re needed most.
Healing Hands of Joy (HHOJ) works to end obstetric fistula in Ethiopia in two ways: first to identify, refer and rehabilitate women living with obstetric fistula, and second to break down the social stigma behind fistula and show how communities can support sufferers. HHOJ trains ex-fistula patients as Safe Motherhood Ambassadors who return to their communities to identify new cases of fistula and educate expectant mothers on safe delivery. HHOJ also works on a wider community level, hosting community workshops, religious leader training, film screenings and male sensitivity training to raise awareness and change attitudes for this socially-isolating condition.
Hope of Light provide obstetric fistula treatment at 3 fistula health centres in Gondar, Jima and Assella. They were founded by Dr Ambaye, a fistula surgeon with over 27 years’ experience, who was trained by the awe-inspiring Dr Catherine Hamlin. As well as providing medical supplies for fistula care, Dr Ambaye trains doctors in fistula surgery, raises awareness with health professionals and her team provide post-operative counselling for patients.
Atsede’s Maternity Clinic’s ‘Midwives on the Move’ project provides home visits to pregnant women living in the mountainous terrain of the Gurage Zone – where many of the women they work with either aren’t able to travel to health facilities for antenatal appointments, or do not think they are important enough. Alongside the antenatal, delivery and postnatal care they provide, they are working to change attitudes in communities, emphasising the importance of maternal health care and empowering women to make informed decisions about their own health. Atsede’s Maternity Clinic was founded by 2019’s International Midwife of the Year, Atsede Kidane, and British midwife Indie McDowell.
Wings of Healing is led by Dr Onzy, and has established four emergency clinics in Axum and Adwa Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps. These clinics provide emergency and essential medical care for displaced persons, particularly mothers, pregnant women, and young children. They are working to prevent communicable diseases and the spread of infectious diseases, reduce malnutrition, provide access to basic pharmaceuticals, and provide care for victims of gender based and sexual violence.
SMMMS work to provide essential medical and healthcare services to communities who have little to no access. Working in the remote, rural, and challenging landscape of the Simien Mountains they have a series of health centres and teams of outreach health workers, who together provide reproductive, maternal, natal and child healthcare along with emergency care and transport to health centres and hospitals. SMMMS have carried out essential emergency medical care throughout the recent Pandemic and on-going conflict.
Hope Enterprises’ programme helps vulnerable young people to climb from poverty to prosperity. Their Technical and Vocational Training (TVET) equips young people from impoverished families across Addis Ababa with valuable skills for meaningful employment in electronics, auto mechanics, hospitality, catering and tailoring. Learning skills which are in high demand by employers means that they can find jobs after graduation, earn a reliable income to support themselves and their families and confidently contribute to their communities. Hope Enterprises also works to fight hunger and malnutrition by providing free meals to vulnerable adults and children living on the streets of Addis Ababa and Dessie.
Young people with limited opportunities are able to access higher education through HEUC’s sponsorship programme. Bursaries are provided for the poorest students, removing many of the practical barriers to education and enabling them to gain qualifications that will lead to professional employment.
Cheshire Services is working towards a future where all children living with a disability in Ethiopia can access healthcare, education and live with dignity. They create community awareness to remove the stigma associated with disability and create inclusive and accessible communities. Their Menagesha Rehabilitation Centre in Oromia region is their flagship site, providing both resident children and outpatients with corrective surgery, physiotherapy and custom-fitted prosthetic limbs and mobility aids. For children living in more remote areas, Cheshire Services run a mobile outreach service, and through their Sustainable Livelihoods Project, they support families with a parent or child living with a disability with agricultural and basic business training, so they are able to support themselves bringing about better social inclusion, especially for mothers of children with disabilities.
Hospice Ethiopia is the only organisation in Ethiopia providing community-based palliative care for people who are terminally ill. Their project provides in-home care, including pain management and counselling for patients, and grief support and financial assistance for family members. Currently operating in Addis Ababa, the organisation also works to create greater awareness about palliative care – something not widely known about – by training health professionals in pain assessment and control, encouraging referrals to hospice care from general health clinics, and undertaking and sharing research in palliative care across Ethiopia.
SCWOP provide a lifeline for vulnerable elderly people and the children in their care. Based in Addis Ababa, SCWOP provides a basic monthly pension to help cover essentials such as food, clothes and medical bills. They also provide extra support for those who are caring for orphaned grandchildren, so they can continue their education.
NaPAN’s goal is to see an Ethiopia free from podoconiosis (podo). Podo is a debilitating condition caused by barefoot exposure to irritant minerals in the soil, resulting in painful swelling of the feet and legs. It afflicts an estimated 1 million people living in the agricultural regions of Ethiopia, leaving them struggling to walk, work or have a normal life. NaPAN work in communities, educating people on prevention, treatment and self-care, so that people living with the impact of podoconiosis can manage their symptoms, continue their education, return to work, and participate in their communities once again with dignity and without shame. They also raise awareness of prevention, spreading the message of what people can do to help eradicate podoconiosis altogether.
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