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On The Ground(OTG) began an initiative three years ago to make a positive difference in the Ethiopian communities. After seeing village after village with no educational system and thousands of children, Chris Treter, founder of OTG, knew something had to be done. “Fair trade coffee simply isn’t enough. We need to do more,” he told a group of friends.
More than 600 years ago, merchants trekked through the mountains and valleys of Ethiopia to export the world’s first cultivated coffee beans—thus beginning what has since become a multi-billion dollar industry. But in modern-day Ethiopia, despite the country’s coffee exports accounting for nearly 60 percent of the national GDP, many coffee farmers and their families live in dire poverty. Education, health care, and access to water are all very limited. In the Yirgacheffe region, where some of the world’s most unique and sought-after coffees originate, little more than half the region’s children complete primary school. The adult literacy rate is 36 percent. Life expectancy is 53 years.
But at the Ethiopian fair trade coffee cooperative of Negele Gorbitu, in the town of Afursa Waro, coffee farmers are taking their future into their own hands. They’ve used the premiums from the sale of their fair trade and organic coffee beans to build a health clinic and primary school. These were big steps, but they’re still not enough: the primary school is already overfilled with students and understocked with school supplies. Access to water and nutrition are minimal, at best.
THE SOLSTICE RUN
The Solstice Run is collaboration between On The Ground and Endurance Evolution, to raise money and build awareness for education in Ethiopia. The run began at sunset on Thursday, June 20th, 2013 in beautiful Leelanau County. It continued south through the night, approximately 40 miles, ending at sunrise over the breathtaking Lake Michigan in Traverse City.
In 2013 we reached our goal of raising $18,500 for the Hase Gola Library Project. Thanks in large part to our overnight Solstice Run participants and your support, we are able to complete the project.
The funds raised will be used to complete the construction of a library in Hase Gola, Ethiopia. Funds will also supply age-appropriate literacy materials for learning to read and health-related educational materials such as information on AIDS and typhoid. The Hase Gola Library will also offer a meeting and centralized space for community issues.
RUN ACROSS ETHIOPIA
The Run Across Ethiopia was formed in January 2011. 10 American and 6 Ethiopian runners ran 400 kilometers (over 250 miles) across Southern Ethiopia as part of a campaign to generate awareness and funding for education.
The Run Across Ethiopia was a great success, raising over $200,000 to:
• Construct three schools that will directly serve over 1500 children. [Update 4/6/12: 3rd school nearly complete!]
• Fund a school nutrition program for the Mercato Kindergarten, where over 40 children will receive a nutritious meal each day they attend school.
• Provide job training, experience, and wages for 10 street teens as part of the Gorumsa Project.
• Support the work of the Tesfa Foundation and the Oromia Cooperative Farmers Cooperative Union (OCFCU), a union of 129 fair trade coffee cooperatives that, together, represent some 800,000 families.