The Anglo-Ethiopian Society

Saturday 29th June 2013

Charity Self-Help Group

Given by - Chris Grant

Reviewed by - Geoffrey Ben-Nathan


It was something we felt we should do. It was something we felt we could do. So we did it. Your committee knows that the Anglo-Ethiopian Society has many members who make a difference in Ethiopia. It was time for a forum, time for experience to be shared. Good idea! But who would come?

Chris Grant of Link Ethiopia agreed to front the event. If ever there was an example of acorn to oak, Chris is it: a chance reading of an article on Ethiopia inspired him to initiate a pen friend association between students in Amersham and Gondar. That was several years ago. Now with an office and staff in King's Cross, twelve paid staff in Ethiopia, many links with Ethiopia, and a development programme growing exponentially by the day, there is very little experience that Chris has not had, and very little Chris does not know about charity work in Ethiopia.

In fact Chris remained in the background. He has gone 'second generation,' and was rep-resented by the head of Link Ethiopia's London office Matt Stockdale. Matt told us about the ins and outs of dealing with Ethiopian bureaucracy which is, surprise, surprise, growing exponentially by the day.

Who came? Well, not everyone, but far more than expected.

There was Pete Jones, Director of JeCCDO (www.jeccdoethiopia.org). JeCCDO manages over 450 volunteers who work with 148 community based organisations in Ethiopia. Then there was Ken Grant, a certified accountant, who is interested in NGOs achieving sustainability through good financial management. Tsige Birru-Benti (www.bcethiopia.org) spoke movingly of the uphill battle to fight cancer in Ethiopia. The Black Lion Hospital, she said, is the only referral hospital in Ethiopia (population 80 million) for cancer patients. Tsige came for new ideas on fundraising.

These were forthcoming from Tsehay Amha, someone with experience of professional fundraising and John Broadbent. John and his wife, Jean, have eschewed bureaucracy - by not formally establishing their project as a charity under UK or Ethiopian legislation. They just get on with it. Their village modernisation project (see the report on their Water, water everywhere lecture) is a model of what can be achieved on a shoestring. John's fundraising techniques are simple and effective: write a letter clearly setting out the objective, ask for a donation, send a stamped sae.

Margaret Lawrence (www.visionaidoverseas.org) is a professional ophthalmologist who works voluntarily in Ethiopia training students to follow in her footsteps. Stella Headley is pioneering a bead project for the Rastafarian community in Shashamene and was glad to pick up on all the ideas flying around the room. Also with us to pick up hints and tips on fund raising and charity law was Sybil Sheridan (www.meketa.org.uk) working for Ethiopian Jews.

Make no mistake! There was a lot of knowledge and experience in the room. For instance, if you wanted to know about Ethiopian Proclamation 621, this was the place to be. If you want tedious admin done for you, Chris Grant recommended www.justgiving.com. They will make sure you get your Gift Aid. Financial management advice can be found at www.mango.org.uk/Guide/Usage.

Our thanks to Jean Broadbent for chairing the meeting so firmly and effectively. Will we do the event again? You bet we will, and if you would like to be there just email us for further details.

By holding this event, we - The Anglo-Ethiopian Society - made a difference. Long may we continue to do so.


First Published in News File Winter 2013

Opinions expressed in the articles are those of the authors and not necessarily the views of the Society.
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