Omo Valley, Ethiopia
We live with the Hamar, a traditional but modernising indigenous community in southwestern Ethiopia. Hamar are one of 16 different minority ethnic groups inhabiting the most rural and poorest but culturally diverse region of the country (possibly even the world!), the Lower Omo Valley.
Due to their remote geographical location, for centuries the Omo Valley communities were isolated and survived purely by their skilful management of nature and natural resources, ignored and neglected by the outside world.
This has changed in recent decades. Today, Ethiopia's fast economic growth is rapidly destroying their home, and they have been exposed to modernisation at such a pace that it's clear the potential impacts have not been fully considered.
We've gained a real insight into some of the problems and listened to the local community's perspective on their situation. They are deeply concerned about the changes taking place, especially with young people choosing non-traditional paths through education and employment. A high number of local youngsters are forfeiting cultural life and responsibilities for school but face many challenges and dropout early.
In and out of school, in towns, young people experience everyday discrimination, social disintegration, exploitation and become high risk to alcoholism and drug addiction.
"We don't know how far we will get in education, which level we might have to stop. We try and help the Hamar girls who are new to town, when they first come we look after them at our house and share our food." - Kerro Ayke, Grade 9
"Sometimes the girls are taken in by men and promised money and materials but after they are pregnant and once they have children, the men leave them to look for new girls.' - Mali Kotto, Grade 5
'If you don't go to boarding school, it's expensive to stay in the town. Renting a house is up to 500 ETB ($17) a month and you have to buy your own food. Sometimes I sell shickeney (traditional jewelerry) to make some money and I guide the tourists visiting the villages' - Bitta Bonna, Grade 4
Women living closest to town are more integrated in non-traditional Hamar lifestyles and become vulnerable and dependent on the government for aid and help from others to provide necessities for their children such as food, clothes, medicine and shelter.
We believe that this should not be the case and know that there are other people who might feel the same way. If you've travelled in the Omo Valley as a tourist and seen the situation yourself, this is an opportunity to give back to the local community you visited in a sustainable and positive way.
The idea for Origin came about to be able to provide genuine support for the Omo Valley communities and together with the Hamar people, we have come up with a vision for their future which aims to reduce inequalities, discriminatory barriers and help them benefit more equitably from developments taking place around them.
Skills for the Future
Very few organisations are dealing with the capacity-building aspect of community development down here and the local government have extremely limited resources so we'll be working at grassroots level in 'katima-kebeles' (town-villages) and through the schools, with individuals who are eager to grasp new opportunities but lack basic 'modern' skills such as literacy, numeracy, language, digital and knowledge of the wider world, to do so.
Positive Youth Development
We know that we can make a HUGE difference to local lives if we reach our fundraising target. In year one alone we will be able to help 600 local young people in the Hamar tribe who would otherwise be unsupported, through providing skills training and extra-curriculum learning clubs to help them stay in school;
- 600 students will access educational support through weekly clubs, skills training and workshops, language, digital, life, CV
- 135 students will participate in entrepreneurship training
- 12 apprenticeship placements will be created for eligible young adults
- 9 entrepreneurship start-up grants will be awarded to groups with viable business ideas
Invest in Indigenous Women
Hamar women are some of the most marginalised in the world. Through our women's enterprise project we aim to build the capacity of indigenous women to withstand food insecurity through creating sustainable income generation opportunities, tackling some of the root causes of vulnerability such as inequality and inadequate access to alternative livelihoods. In year one;
- 200 women will receive basic and ongoing business training and mentoring
- 9 seed capital grants will be awarded to groups of women to enable them to implement proposed income diversification activities such as poultry farming, traditional crafts, morigha etc.
- 2 traditional workshops will be constructed in villages to facilitate group training and act as a sales and info point for tourists giving back the community some control and ownership of tourism
Where we're at now?
The Origin Charity is now officially registered and set-up as a charitable organisation in the UK (1178150). We’ve spent a lot of time in the field researching the changing needs of the Hamar community and have full support of the local government in Ethiopia to launch our Skills for the Future project starting in Hamar in 2019.
Up to this point we’ve been entirely self-financed and supported by friends and family but we now need to open to a wider community of supporters who believe in our vision and want to help the Hamar people move away from dependence in the future, hence this Crowdfunder shout-out!
Our goal is to raise £15,000 which will enable us to start The Origin Charity in Ethiopia and roll-out crucial skills training with two groups of young people and women for the first year in Hamar. We need to raise enough cash to;
- Recruit a local team of trainers (ideally most will be women) who can speak Hamar, Amharic and English language to run the ongoing activities
- Provide start-up and entrepreneurship grants to groups who have completed training and have viable small business ideas
- Purchase teaching equipment and business club product/marketing materials
- Buy two local motorbikes to transport the project team around remote areas
- Communications kit
- Plus cover all the crucial behind-the-scenes running costs to ensure the project is a success
People in the Omo Valley are vulnerable, remote and the timing to take sustainable action through capacity building is critical now. Supporting our community project will help provide the Hamar people (with the potential of rolling-out to more Omo Valley communities in the future) with new opportunities to gain valuable skills, build resilience and benefit more equitably from the rapid developments taking place around them.
Our deepest thanks for your support getting this important project off-the-ground!