We are delighted to be developing a relationship with Ethiopiaid, the charity which provided match funding for the Big Give fundraiser at Christmas, enabling us to reach such a fine total raised.
Separately, Ethiopiaid have recently made a grant of £16,000 to SENTigray for the appointment of three strategically placed staff at the Mekelle Blind School. These staff will take roles in Safe-guarding (supervising guards and proctors), IT management (setting up and managing a computer room and system) and Resources, and should improve the lives of the children immeasurably. The funding will cover costs for 2 years.
Our Thanks to Ethiopiaid for their support on both these fronts.
Pete and Gary returned (coincidentally) from 2 weeks in Mekelle only a day or two before the Big Give donation days, training the permanent SENTigray team in Mekelle to edit, configure and upload the audio to the MP3 players, and giving guidance on how to run the project overall. With perhaps 2,500 visually impaired students spread across Tigray province (an area twice the size of Wales but often remote and inaccessible), managing distribution, tracking and maintenance of the hardware will be a project in itself. But everyone we spoke to there has said what a lifeline these Talking Textbooks will be for the VI students, and your donations have helped us to give them that lifeline.
In the three months since that visit, Masho and his team in Mekelle have completed recording and editing all the textbooks for Grades 5 and 6 (six for each grade, in Tigrinya, the local language), and two of our supporters, Robert and Kathy Graham-Harrison have taken another 100 MP3 players out to Mekelle for us. Our thanks to them for acting as our mules! And the adage about who you know being more important than what you know was brought to mind when Kathy and Robert revealed they’d be visiting their friend Gillian Mellsop, the head of UNICEF in Ethiopia, and Masho arranged for them all to visit the Blind School and see some of the work we’ve done and the problems still to be addressed.
Clearly the mule delivery system isn’t suitable for larger numbers, so although another small batch will go out at Easter with our volunteers, SENT is discussing scaling up the operation with the Regional Education Bureau.