How it all started

Back in 1996, when Link Ethiopia began as the first UK – Ethiopia school link, known in those days as GondarLink, there was a simple aim and ethos. We knew that students at Dr. Challoner’s Grammar School and those at Fasilides Secondary School in Gondar would greatly benefit from working together and learning from one another.

Fast forward 20 years and this grassroots mentality still guides our work today. After many successes and a whole lot of learning along the way our programmes may have grown to take in hundreds of schools and tens of thousands of young people but we still keep collaboration and partnership at the core.

First School Link!

1st January 1996

First School Link!

Link Ethiopia, originally GondarLink, was formed as the first full and official school link between an English and Ethiopian secondary school.

Book shipment to Ethiopia – organised with the RAF!

7th January 1996

Book shipment to Ethiopia – organised with the RAF!

We’ve organised a number of shipments over the years – books, computers, furniture and more – but this was the first major shipment and we received help from no less than the Royal Air Force.

First Gap Year visit to Gondar

9th January 1996

Ed Bratton and Sam Grundy became the first two Gap Year students to visit Gondar with Link Ethiopia! They spent a number of months teaching and working in Fasilides Preparatory School.

1st student group heads to Gondar

1st October 1996

1st student group heads to Gondar

12 student pioneers joined Chris on the first group visit to Fasilides School in Gondar.

Founding of our sister charity

20th March 1998

Founding of our sister charity

The Kindu Trust offer holistic support to vulnerable and impoverished families in the Gondar area and beyond.

2nd student group visit to Ethiopia

1st October 1998

14 students from Dr. Challoner’s Grammar School visited Fasilides Preparatory School to meet their Link partners, work on joint projects and donate items and funds raised in UK.

£50,000 raised

12th January 1999

Our first major fundraising milestone.

1st major school infrastructure project

1st January 2001

1st major school infrastructure project

We committed £20,000 towards the construction of a brand new lecture hall at Fasilides Preparatory School in Gondar – the first, but certainly no the last, infrastructure project.

1st Primary School Link

1st October 2002

Brushwood Primary School in Chesham – Meseret Elementary in Gondar.

2nd Secondary School Link

1st July 2003

2nd Secondary School Link

Misbourne School in Buckinghamshire – Azezo Secondary in Gondar.

£100,000 fundraising milestone!

12th December 2003

£10,000 investment in teacher resource centre

1st January 2005

Another major project at Fasilides Preparatory – a fully-equipped resource for teachers to utilise – improving the quality of education for thousands of students.

Bike Ethiopia – cycling from the UK to Ethiopia!

29th March 2005

Bike Ethiopia – cycling from the UK to Ethiopia!

Paul Testa & Kate Williams cycled for 7 months, from Amersham in the UK to Gondar, Northern Ethiopia, raising nearly £13,000!

First Staff Member in Ethiopia

18th September 2005

Belayneh Shewaye joins us to manage our growing school operations in Gondar.

First UK Staff Member

1st September 2007

Matt Stockdale joined the organisation to oversee our operations and growing network.

First UK office!

1st January 2008

First UK office!

Link Ethiopia team moved into its first UK office (St George Church, Tufnell Park, London).

1st major partnership – with Procter and Gamble

1st January 2008

Beginning of a partnership the “Wash & Go” brand to promote football in Ethiopia! A football kit design competition between UK and Ethiopian schools was one highlight – and John Barnes joined the campaign as an Ambassador!

Sponsorship scheme gets off the ground

4th February 2008

The first students were enrolled in our new Child Sponsorship scheme – supporting vulnerable & disadvantaged children to stay in school.

UK teachers visit link schools in Ethiopia

1st April 2008

UK teachers visit link schools in Ethiopia

Five teachers from three UK schools visited their link schools in Ethiopia (Backwell Secondary, Dr. Challoner’s Grammar and Gayhurst Primary).

Ethiopian teacher & pupil visit link school in UK

3rd April 2008

A teacher and a pupil from Chechela Elementary School in Gondar visited their UK link school, Lambton Primary in County Durham.

Second office opens in Bishoftu!

10th November 2008

Firew Tilahun became the first member of staff overseeing our operations in the Southern Ethiopian town of Bishoftu (formerly known as Debre Zeit), just south of Addis Ababa.

Major student visit to Ethiopia

1st October 2009

Major student visit to Ethiopia

Twenty students from the Misbourne School visited Azezo Secondary School in October 2009. Students spent time with their Ethiopian peers, helped paint a classroom wall and took part in various classroom activities.

£500,000 funding milestone

15th December 2010

First annual conferences for UK teachers

1st January 2012

Link Ethiopia hosted our first annual conferences for UK teachers (in London and Manchester) as well as our regular annual conferences in the North and South of Ethiopia.

Major sports initiative in partnership with The Hilden Trust

1st January 2012

Major sports initiative in partnership with The Hilden Trust

Link Ethiopia was awarded a two-year grant to set up and run a sports initiative across 14 schools in the Amhara and Oromiya regions.

Second visit by Tour d’Afrique cyclists to Gondar

1st February 2012

Second visit by Tour d’Afrique cyclists to Gondar

February 2012 saw the second visit by theTour d’Afrique to Gondar. Cyclists donated educational resource packs to 104 students at Arbatu Ensesa Elementary School. The resource packs included notebooks, stationery, a dictionary, a school bag and a school uniform.

Donkey Library in Dembia Zuria, Ethiopia

3rd July 2012

Donkey Library in Dembia Zuria, Ethiopia

A generous donation from one of our long-term supporters has helped us to start a donkey library in Dembia Zuria, south of Gondar town. The donkey and the librarian take books to six rural satellite schools, reaching more than 4,000 children.

Literacy & Library project begins in 46 Ethiopian schools

5th January 2013

Literacy & Library project begins in 46 Ethiopian schools

The first of a multi-year project to improve student literacy in our partner schools. Funding for this project comes from The Waterloo Foundation, our UK Link schools and our Sponsorship programme.

£1,000,000 milestone!

15th March 2013

We hit the one million pound fundraising mark.

Disability project starts!

1st January 2014

Working with the MSF foundation we began the delivery of a two-year project to make inclusive education possible for hundreds of Ethiopian students with disabilities.

Opening of St. George’s School!

3rd March 2014

Opening of St. George’s School!

St George’s School – a joint project with Broomwood Hall School – opened its doors for the first time to 100 local orphaned and vulnerable children from Azezo in Gondar, Ethiopia!

Moved to our new home in Finsbury Park

3rd May 2016