Corvallis Sister Cities Association — Gondar Council

2018 Annual Report

The mission of the Corvallis Sister Cities Association—Gondar (CSCA-Gondar) is to collaborate with the people of Gondar to develop sustainable solutions and promote cultural awareness, respect, and understanding.

History

The initiative to develop a relationship with Ethiopia originated with a Corvallis resident who was raised in the Gondar region. He envisioned a partnership between interested community volunteers in Corvallis and City government and community leaders in Gondar. Corvallis volunteers worked with the Corvallis Sister Cities Association (CSCA) and representatives in Gondar to create a sister city relationship in April, 2005. The groundwork for a mutually beneficial partnership was accomplished during a visit to Corvallis by the Gondar Mayor in 2006 when goals were developed to initiate a long-term partnership. Since then reciprocal visits of volunteers and extensive online communication have led to significant activities in education, natural resource protection and improvement in drinking water access.

From the Chair:

Thank you to our members, donors, work groups, volunteers, Council members, CSCA Board members, the Corvallis City Council, the Mayor of Corvallis, and the Mayor of Gondar!

Because of you CSCA-Gondar has had a productive and exciting year! We hosted a “Taste of Ethiopia” cultural din- ner for the Corvallis community, provided the opportunity for Corvallis students to produce illustrations for bilingual books written by author Jane Kurtz. The books will be distributed to children in Gondar and beyond. We raised funds through the annual Walk for Water to continue our programs of well construction and watershed restoration, and we are collaborating with the Saina Sabia village build the district’s first kindergarten.

In September we hosted a visit from Tekeba Tebabal, Mayor of Gondar. It was a great opportunity to introduce him to Corvallis, hear first hand about developments in Gondar, and exchange ideas for future cooperation.

I hope you enjoy our annual report. We are looking forward to another year of excitement as with Gondar as we learn about each other’s cultures and nurture our friendships.

In gratitude and appreciation, Ari Grossman-Naples

Mayor’s Visit

Corvallis was honored to host Gondar Mayor Tekeba Tebabal in early September. He toured the city; met with Mayor Traber; spoke to the City Council; visited Lincoln Elementary School; toured OSU; and spent time in some of our city parks including Central Park where the Sister City Flags are flown. We all agreed his time with us was too short, but we are grateful for his visit and the personal connection we feel was made. He shared his appreciation, hopes and vision for our continuing Sister City relationship. He invited all of Corvallis to visit Gondar, especially during the celebration of Timket in January.

Education Programs

The education work group is committed to supporting literacy in Gondar and the development of relationships and understanding between our communities’ educational and general population. To that end in 2018 the EWG has supported the following activities:

  • Invited Jane Kurtz, an Oregon author who grew up in Ethiopia, to be guest speaker at the Taste of Ethiopia dinner in January 2018. Ms Kurtz spoke about her childhood in Ethiopia and the publication of bilingual early childhood readers through her non-profit company, Open Hearts Big Dreams.
  • Facilitated a project with Ms. Kurtz and Wilson Elementary School 5th graders to draw illustrations for a set of bilingual children’s books set in Gondar, Ethiopia. 75 children participated in the art project, to draw illustrations for two new early readers: “The Glory of Gondar” and “Gondar City of Kings”. The two books will be distributed in Gondar by Link Ethiopia, our NGO partner in Gondar. The children’s pictures were displayed at New Morning Bakery in December 2018.
  • Cooperated with Link Ethiopia to develop a proposal to the US Embassy for a grant to fund the development of an early childhood education program in Sabia Saina village. The grant was recently approved and $12,000 awarded to Link.
  • Contributed $10,000 to the fund to build a kindergarten in Saina Sabia village, a long time project partner of the water and watershed work group. The kindergarten in the village will serve an estimated 100 children.
  • Contributed $2,000 to the Open Hearts Big Dreams Fund, a non-profit organization that supports literacy in Ethiopia through publication and distribution of bilingual readers.

Water and Watershed Activities

The water and watershed work group has focussed its efforts on providing sustainable sources of clean drinking water in the Gondar region and on improving conditions in the Angereb watershed, Gondar’s water source, to reduce erosion and provide local farmers additional sources of income. Activities in 2018 included:

  • Developed a contaminated natural spring into a clean water supply for the Abo Tebel Gote village in rural Gondar serving about 75 households. A separate watering trough was also built for their animals.
  • Conducted the eighth annual Corvallis-Gondar Walk for Water on May 19 at the Benton County fairgrounds. Participants enjoyed a pleasant walk in lovely weather followed by music and Ethiopian food on the lawn at the Floral Courtyard. The event raised $2,450 for well construction including $350 for tree planting.
  • Partnered with the children participating Vacation Bible School at St. Mary Catholic Church who chose Walk for Water as their giving project for the summer and raised $598 to support well construction in Gondar.
  • Funded the planting and transplanting of approximately 205,000 trees in the Angereb Reservoir watershed to address issues related to erosion and water quality. The seedlings were raised in a nursery by local women paid through funds from our organization and were planted in the watershed by local volunteers
  • Expanded the revolving loan fund program in Sabia Saina village by an additional $1,000 to include five more families bringing the total to 30 families. These low-interest loans allow subsistence farmers topurchase income-producing farm animals, crop seeds and better farming equipment and tools. Priority for the new loans was given to households headed by women.
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    Recent political changes in Gondar

    Between mid 2016 and early 2018, many people in several Ethiopian cities, including Gondar, engaged in protests and general strikes which led to declaration of a nationwide state of emergency. This unrest caused a decline in Gondar’s tourist industry. In April 2018 Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn stepped down and a new PM, Abiy Ahmed, was installed by Ethiopia’s ruling party.

    The change has generated cautious optimism among Ethiopians around the world. Abiy visited Gondar to deliver well-received messages of unity and Ethiopian pride. He also negotiated an end to the cold war between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Now people with family across the border—including many residents of Gondar—can reunite for the first time in decades. The new PM also ordered that political prisoners be released and political opponents be given more freedom to organize and speak out. 50% of Ethiopia’s new ministerial cabinet are women, making Ethiopia one of only a few countries in the world with such a high level of female leadership in government. There is still some social strife in Gondar and the Amhara region, but currently there is relative calm and much hope for further peace and prosperity.

2018 Financials

1 July 2017 through 30 June 2018

Total Revenue Fiscal 2017-18: $12,290 Total Expenditures Fiscal 2017-18: $9,389 Current Assets (Oct 31, 2018): $38,207

Our Partners in Gondar

LINK ETHIOPIA, an NGO located in Gondar, has been an essential and responsible partner for our educational projects. Elsa Kebede, Regional Manager, acts as our representative in Gondar to implement initiatives such as teacher training, school improvements, and distribution of donated materials.

BRIDGE OF HOPE, another NGO in Gondar, represents the interests of CSCA-Gondar in the development of water sources, administration of a revolving loan program and restoration efforts in the Angereb watershed. Binyam Tekeste is our primary contact at Bridge of Hope. He manages our donated funds, negotiates contracts, monitors projects, coordinates with City government officials, and provides us with reports.

Opportunities to Help

• Make a donation.
• Volunteer to serve on the Council or one of our committees.
• Attend our Ethiopian cultural dinner.
• Attend our annual Walk for Water event in May.
• Encourage friends and family to become involved with our sister city!

For more information on about our organization and how to help, please visit our website

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Corvallis Sister Cities Association—Gondar, P.O. Box 424, Corvallis, OR 97339-0424. CSCA-Gondar is a program of the Corvallis Sister Cities Association,

a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, EIN# 94-3130769.

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