Our mission is to support the Jewish community in Gondar by helping them to be more financially independent.
Meketa was launched in September 2013 by Rabbi Sybil Sheridan and Hila Bram. They first came to Gondar in 2009 to volunteer at the Jewish school teaching Hebrew, Judaism and other Jewish topics to the school teachers. While they were working in the school, they became aware of the great educational and economic needs of the Jewish community.
Most of the adults in the Jewish community moved to Gondar from rural areas in the hope of emigrating to Israel. They did not have suitable skills for finding work in Gondar when they arrived there. They obtained support in the form of food for their families and education for their children from an American NGO and the Jewish Agency in Israel. When the charities stopped operating in Ethiopia, the community was left without the support it depended on. Years of waiting in Gondar created a dependency culture for some families and inability to plan for the future. You can read a summary of the community's history here and for further details here.
Our programmes are designed to support education and provide training so that the participants can become self-sufficient and support their families.
We facilitate microloans that create subsistence level businesses for the poorest families in the community, encourage children and young people in their education through our After School Club, and sponsor further education and training to enable people to enter employment. However age, illness or disability prevent some families from participating in these programmes. We help them through sponsorship, grants and stipends.
OUR LOCAL PARTNER
Meketa works with a local organisation called Shutafut to operate our programmes and projects. Meketa is the primary source of funding for Shutafut. The trustees of Shutafut include members of our staff in Gondar, as well as volunteer members of the local community. We are delighted to have such a committed local partner in our work. Read more about Shutafut here https://avi6651.wixsite.com/shutafut
Our Staff in Ethiopia
Front row from left to right; Sisay Zeleke, Zelalem Mihiret, Gech Tekeba
Second row from left to right: Eshetu Berihan, Chalachew Ejigu, Seble Mandefo, Abraham Getachew, Ambanesh Biru, Mengiste Kume
The Livelihood and Economic Team
Ambanesh Biru was born in Dembiya and moved to Gondar with her family. She studied at the Hebret school, and Fasiledes Secondary School in Gondar, obtaining a certificate in IT. Ambanesh worked with NACOEJ as the Controller of Food at the daily feeding centre. She was the Chair of the Jewish community in Gondar for 4 years. She is our head community worker and responsible for choosing our beneficiary families.
Eshetu Berihan was born in Dembiya. He came to Gondar in 1990 to study and learn. He is a qualified midwife with a degree from Gondar University. Eshetu is jointly responsible for support and follow up of sponsorship families with special responsibility to support families with severe medical problems. He also works part time in the After School Club focusing on the sciences, and health and hygiene.
Abraham Getachew comes to us with considerable experience of working with NGOs. He studied geography and the environment for his first degree and did a post graduate degree in social work. Abraham is responsible for our economic projects, in particular, Microloans and Training. He also maintains strong relationships with local government office (such as the local government's micro-enterprise office), securing their support for our work.
The Education Team
Gech Tekeba was born in Gondar and went to the Hebret school and Fasiledes Secondary School there. He has a certificate in Electricity and IT. His previous positions were as librarian in the NACOEJ library and as a kindergarten teacher for the Jewish Agency. Gech runs the After School Club and is a mentor and friend to the children.
Seble Mandefo is a member of the After School Club Staff. She was born and raised in Gondar and is an active member of the Synagogue. She attended Fasiledes Secondary School in Gondar and also has a Level 4 Diploma in Surveying from Gondar Polytechnic. She particularly enjoys celebrating Shabbat with the After School Club.
Zelalem Mihiret is the librarian at the After School Club. He was born in Dembiya and he attended Dembiya Elementary School, until he finished grade 7. He came to Gondar 14 years ago to register to make Aliyah. He attended Fasiledes Secondary School and graduated from the University of Gondar with a degree in Marketing Management. He also has a certificate in General Computing Knowledge and English Communication. He previously worked as a quality control expert.
The After School Club
Sisay Zeleke is a member of the After School Club staff. He was born in Gondar and he registered in 2001 to make Aliyah. He studied at the Tsadiku Yohanis Primary School until grade 6, and then he studied at the Fasiledes Secondary School. He worked in NACOEJ for 10 years as a culture teacher and he worked in the Jewish Agency for 5 years as a Hebrew Teacher.
Tinsae Kassie is head of the Kindergarten. She was born Amhara region waghemra woreda around Lalibela. She came to Gondar when she was 7 years old. She studied her elementary at kebele 10 in Gondar and she finished her high school in fasiledes high school. She graduated with an Accounting degree from Othoniel private college.
Tikidem Gizachew is a Kindergarten assistant. She was born in Bahir Dar, and came to Gondar aged 5 with her family, hoping to emigrate to Israel. She studied in Meseret elementary school, and then Fasiledes High School. She graduated from Gondar university with a degree in horticulture.
Bezaw Yesmaw is a Club staff member. He was born in Dembya, and moved to Gondar aged 13. He studied his elementary at Azezo Red Fox missionary school. He then studied at Fasiledes High school. After he finishing (grade 12) he took responsibility to look after his siblings as his father went to Israel, so he started working as a shoeshine boy. He worked for one and half year in this job before becoming employed in the After School Club
Manalew Nibret is a club staff member. He was born in Shahura, a village near Bahir Dar. He studied his elementary and high school in Shahura school. He graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from Gondar University, and joined the Ethiopian army as an professional engineer. After two years' experience the war started in north Ethiopia and he left his job.
Zemene Esubalew is a club staff member. He was born in Shahura, and studied his elementary and high school in Shahura school. His family went to Gondar, hoping to migrate to Israel, but he stayed to finish his studies in Shahura. After high school he joined his family in Gondar and studied in Gondar University, for a degree in biotechnology. He has also a Certificate of Education, and has worked with farmers' children in rural areas providing education in the summer holidays.
Tefery Tekle is the sports teacher. He was born and brought up in Gondar, and studied his elementary at Hibret school, but moved to Harar due to unstable political situation at that time. He finished his high school in Harar. After this he went to Addis Abeba to join a sports team. He has an international level one coaching qualification from the International Volleyball Sport Federation. He has also a qualification from the Sport Aid program. He has 14 years' experience of coaching children in both volleyball and football.
Chalachew Ejigu helps the students with mathematics in the After School Club. He was born in South Gondar and graduated from Adams University with a degree in Mathematics and Information Technology. He also works as a teacher of Information Technology in a government school.
The Facilities Team
Yetnebersh Mitiku is the cleaner. She was born in Dembya. She came to Gondar 1999 hoping to go to Israel. She had worked about 9 years as a day labourer, but to provide for her children she started making kippot and embroidery as well.
Sybil Romain is a founder member of the charity Meketa and currently Chair of the Trustee Board. She works freelance as a Rabbi in the UK and is involved in a number of charitable ventures largely connected to interfaith and social action. Rabbi Sybil visits Gondar regularly and arranges tours of Northern Ethiopia with special emphasis on meeting the Jewish community.
Hila Bram is the Community Development Officer for Oxford Jewish Congregation. Along with Sybil, she taught at the Jewish school in Gondar, and together they founded Meketa in 2013. Having lived in Israel for many years, Hila was aware of the difficulties faced by Ethiopian immigrants to Israel, and wanted to help the economic wellbeing, educational potential and self-confidence of those left in Gondar.
Avi Bram is a development economist, working in Ethiopia for the UK government aid programme. He first visited in Ethiopia in 2007, where he spent 3 months teaching in a governmental high school and ended up volunteering with the Jewish community. He has worked on educational and livelihood projects with the community ever since.
Paul Kennet is a chartered chemical engineer. His is Managing Director of the UK division of an international company supplying specialist equipment mainly in the food, chemical and agricultural industries. He is a trustee of his local synagogue and an educational charity. As a trustee of the North American conference for Ethiopian Jewry, he visited Ethiopia and the compound in Gondar in 2012.
Jeff Curtis is an accountant. For 35 years, he led global project teams for international banks. He retired in 2018 to travel the world continuously and nomadically. At the end of 2018, he spent three months volunteering for Meketa in Gondar, helping the community to develop trades. He continues to volunteer for charities in developing countries.
Gali Kolt works as a doctor in East London and is completing his training in paediatrics. He is originally from Melbourne, Australia. Gali has been involved in Meketa since 2017 after visiting the Jewish Community in Gondar in 2016.
Keven Darvill is head of sales and marketing for a UK holiday company. He first heard about the Jewish community in Gondar and the work of Meketa at a Limmud talk by Sybil in 2018. Moved by the story he first became a supporter, then a volunteer before becoming a trustee. Kevin visited Ethiopia and the Gondar community in 2019.