Volunteer in Ethiopia
We welcome volunteers who are interested in offering their skills directly, to help out at the After School Club, or to provide medical and other services for the community. We organise tailored volunteer experiences for suitable individuals or small groups depending upon skill set and opportunities available.
Volunteering provides a unique opportunity to see a fascinating country, experience a different Jewish culture and really make a difference to one of the most disadvantaged Jewish communities in the world. The project is based in northern Ethiopia, in the bustling city of Gondar, population 150,000. It is home to one of Ethiopia’s major universities and its leading teaching hospital. Gondar town has many modern amenities but venture a little outside and you will experience rural Ethiopia and the stunning Simien mountains.
Sylvie, who spent three months teaching the After School Club children in Gondar, said:
Coming from British schools where I have come to expect one chair and desk per pupil, it was a bit unexpected to see the kids here sitting on plastic garden chairs with small occasional tables or no tables at all, and on occasions to go through days without any water for them to wash their hands or paintbrushes or any electricity for lighting. The kids have also sometimes looked too tired or hungry to concentrate, so flexibility has always been a must but once the logistics were in place and once the problems of communication were solved - when one of the ever patient Ethiopian members of staff came in to translate or when one of the cleverer children understood what I wanted to teach and explained it to the others - my classes finally got moving.
I have had some of my best ever teaching moments in this little after-school club. For example, I tried for a week to teach the children a simple Hebrew song and thought I had failed miserably. After locking the club at the start of the following week, I started to go back into town feeling rather deflated, when two little girls took hold of my hands and others arrived to form a circle and right there, in the middle of the street, we sang and danced on that very song.
I am very happy to have come to Gondar to volunteer for Meketa. The dedication, talent and care of my colleagues, the warmth and enthusiasm of my students and Ethiopians’ sense of identity and hospitality have made it a joyous and fascinating experience.