Catherine Corcoran, a member of Fethard & Killusty Community Council and Fethard Business & Tourism Group, earlier this year availed of the wonderful opportunity to take some time out and work with Concern in Ethiopia. Ethiopia is a really fascinating place full of so many contrasts. There is a huge amount of construction going on everywhere – huge glass buildings being built from medieval wooden scaffolding – like on the North Gate I suppose.
And in front of all these glass buildings are holes in the road, herds of sheep and goats, beggars and blind people, hordes of people in white robes going to church, kids selling everything, shoe shiners galore, kids in hoodies on mobiles, a few bewildered looking tourists-you name it, its here. It is certainly vibrant and exciting if tiring too with traffic and all those contrasts you have to brace yourself a bit.
Concern has a big programme here – over 250 staff involved in nutrition, agriculture, income generation, soil conservation, water and HIV/Aids.
There is a very good and experienced team who seem to know what to do in most situations – which I suppose is no surprise as the organisation is here 40 years and there are lots of very talented Ethiopians working in development work. Just as well as the problems here are huge – 85 million people depending mostly on agriculture; tiny land holdings; droughts and floods happening one after the other; very poor services and a huge young population to serve.
On the plus side Government staff work hard generally at their jobs and we assist where we can; there are 2 harvests every year of wonderful produce; the largest livestock herd in Africa is here and set to grow and most importantly it is peaceful. And the people are very warm and lovely – very proud of their culture.