Baregota Village project completed!

We are done!

After almost 11 years, and with the support of several hundred generous people throughout New Zealand and across the world, Bricks for Life Inc has now concluded its support for Baregota Village in Ethiopia.

Why? Because our work is done, and the villagers are now moving forward under their own steam with energy, enthusiasm and initiative. How great is that!

When Amlaku Yaregal Teshome first met Ric Foxley way back in June 2009 he shared his dream - to bring his village some 200 years into the modern age agriculturally. For that to happen, he needed an education, and then ongoing financial input for a number of years in order to make that dream, that vision, a reality. Now, with well over $200,000.00 dollars invested into the community, the village, under Amlaku’s wise and enterprising guidance, has reached a point whereby they can have confidence in moving forward under their own steam, without further input from us here in New Zealand.

   Amlaku.JPG          Ric overlooking village.JPG          Kids.JPG

                                                                 Ric's first visit to the village in 2015

The results have been outstanding, with the entire community of some 70 families enjoying a whole new standard of living, one that as best we can see is both sustainable and also replicable in neighbouring communities.

Some of the highlights are:

  • Main crops have doubled with the villagers buying their own fertiliser and improved seed last year, a whole 12 months ahead of where we had hoped they would be. With a good growing season, their harvest in 2019 was way up on anything they had previously experienced.

          Crops.jpg             Farmer with crop.jpg             Harvesting.jpg

  • A diesel-powered grain mill which can do in 15 minutes what used to take local women 10 hours’ backbreaking labour.

        Grain mill.JPG                 Grain mill recipients.JPG

  • A sustainable supply of clean water, safe for drinking, and available for everyone.

         Water supply.JPG                Water for everyone.JPG

  • Hippo Rollers provide an effective way of transporting water around the village.

        Boy carrying water.JPG         Hippo rollers.jpg          Amlaku & Yaregal with hippo roller.JPG

  • Irrigation canals, which run from the river that bisects the village, provide water for the vegetable crops that they are now growing year-round so successfully.

       Canals.JPG   Canal bridge.JPG   Yaregal and veg.JPG 

  • The vegetables that they can now grow because of these small irrigation canals have been a real game changer, providing a good cash income throughout the year. They sell their produce to the hotels in Lalibela, some 8 kms away, and are nowhere near meeting the demand.

         Veg gardens.jpg    Transporting veg to market.jpg    lettuces and carrots.jpeg

  • Alan & Jim, 2 Wairarapa farmers, went over last year and worked with the locals to construct a 10m long eucalyptus log bridge across the river that divides the village in two.

        Bridge building.jpg   Bridge work.jpg   Bridge.jpg

  • They are now manufacturing the Days for Girls reusable sanitary towels (these last for more than 3 years) in the town, employing 20 youngsters from the village, who would otherwise struggle to find work. They each walk the 8 kms to and from the town every day. They are turning over $9,000.00 a month, so this is proving to be hugely successful as well as meeting a major social need.

        DFG Manufacturing.jpg                   DFG training.jpg      

  • Families all have bank accounts now, and are able to save money for the next year's seed and fertiliser. 

  • They also have food security. However, just like here, they can never guarantee what sort of season, weather wise, they are going to have, so there is always a risk there, but with money in the bank they should be able to get through the hard seasons that will inevitably come.

   Harvest.jpg       Happy farmers.jpg        Amlaku's dad, Yaregal, with beautiful loaf. (2).jpg

At the time of writing, Covid-19 is rampaging its way across the world. As of mid-April 2020, Ethiopia has fewer than 100 cases, all from people coming into the country. The borders are now closed, and the cases are, thus far, well contained in Addis.  Social distancing is encouraged, not easy in a developing world country where community markets are part of the fabric of life. The whole country too is united in prayer for deliverance from this plague - as they see it.

The situation as of mid-April 2020:

  • Amlaku has now returned to Lalibela from Addis, and will stay there for the duration.
  • The villagers have ordered and paid for their fertiliser and seed for the new growing seed, with delivery expected shortly.
  • With the hotels empty, farmers are selling their vegetables in the market in Lalibela. Because Ethiopians do not normally eat meat during Lent (the 40 days prior to Easter), vegetables have been selling very well for top prices.
  • The Days for Girls manufacturing operation has been closed down for the moment because of the virus, with all the workers there home in the village preparing the land for planting.
  • The Government has announced plans to build a road from Lalibela that will pass very close to the village. With that in place, there is a good possibility of electricity becoming available to the village. It will also assist in the transporting of goods to and from the village.

Thank you.

As our almost 11-year long involvement with the people of Baregota Village winds up, I would like to extend my personal thanks to everyone who has supported us with this project. When Amlaku first plucked up his courage way back in June 2009, and said to me – a total stranger – ‘’Please Sir, I want to go to university’, neither he nor I could have had any idea of the journey we were unknowingly embarking on. For both of us, it has been a ‘God-journey’ from the very outset, but whether you look at it that way or not, it has been a most extraordinary journey, a journey which could not have happened in the way it has without the support of many people right across New Zealand, and to a lesser degree, beyond.  Gifts have ranged from a few dollars right up to many thousands of dollars. Each is equally valuable and equally appreciated. I am not quite sure who I am quoting here, but ‘together we have done it!’

I would particularly like to thank the Bricks for Life Committee members for their unwavering commitment to the project – the late Brent Costley (our first Chair), Hamish Blyth, Neill Smart (particularly for his tireless efforts with the website), and Ken & Helen Pratt, along with Stewart Picken, the most recent members of the group.

Many other people, too numerous to list here, have encouraged us to keep going, even when faced with some pretty daunting challenges. Others have prayed consistently for us. We appreciate and thank you all.

I personally will stay in close contact with Amlaku for the rest of my life, and would be happy to share news of him with anyone who would like a periodic email about him – just let me know, and I will add you to the list.

Ken & Helen Pratt and I still have a 3-week trip to Ethiopia booked for October/November this year. The chances of it coming off are obviously minimal, but we would hope to be able to go next year, assuming life has returned to something like normal.

Amlaku himself has great plans for his tourism business. Obviously, that is all on hold at the moment. You can read about this in the accompanying article entitled ‘Amlaku’s future’. (Click on the links below this photo.)


                                     Ric & Amlaku.JPG