Once upon a time in Derra…

A story with a happy ending!

Derra (Ethiopia) 1997 – the story begins. The region has a surface area of 1,500 km² (about half the size of the Austrian state of Burgenland) and is home to 182,000 people.

But by European standards living conditions were unimaginable. Back then only 2% of the population had access to clean drinking water. Today, after completion of the project work, this figure has risen to 90%. Only 13% of the children in the region could attend school. Today 87% have access to education.

These are impressive numbers – but it is the people behind the numbers who are truly important; every single one of them.


Meet some of these people.


The faces behind the numbers: Each single person benefits from the region’s development


Teyiba and Usuman and the new school

This is what the school looked like in which 12-year-old Teyiba used to attend lessons. A dirty floor and broken blackboard, a dark room with a bit of light coming in through holes in the wall. There were not enough desks for everyone. 14-year-old Usuman did not attend school at all. “My parents didn’t know going to school is important. So they didn’t send me,” he says.

projekte-gebiete-derra-Derra-Gille Wedessa LPS-CRW_5208 altes Klassenzimmer

With the new school all of this has changed. Clean, bright rooms invite pupils to study, and no one has to sit on dusty floors anymore. Usuman also goes to school now. Menschen für Menschen employees explained the importance of learning to read, write and count for future jobs to the adults. Parents, too, now have the possibility to attend lessons at the new school.

Teyiba and Usuman sit beaming in front of the solid, bright building, which will provide many children to come with the chance of an independent future.

projekte-gebiete-derra-Derra-Gille Wedessa LPS-CRW_5236 neue Schule _ Wilder Kaiser


Merema and the health station

Mothers with babies stand waiting in front of the new health station Gille Wedessa. They have come to provide their children with vitamin A, and to let them be vaccinated, so as to protect them from numerous diseases. Fatuma Habtamu, one of the employees, will explain the process to them.

projekte-gebiete-derra-Health Post Gille Wedessa-CRW_5138

Today Merema Hussein Kemal has also come with her two months old daughter Jindu. She has two children and is very happy about the medical service she can now receive. In Ethiopia, where every ninth child dies before turning five, this is not to be taken for granted, and Merema is relieved the new health station is so close to her home.

The pain from the injection is fast forgotten, and mother and daughter can feel reassured on their way back home.

projekte-gebiete-derra-Health Post Gille Wedessa-Merema Hussein, f, 24y-CRW_5193


Gomezu and the clean water point

Two and a half hours – 6 km back and forth – is how long Gomezu Meneke had to walk every day to fetch water for her and her family. On the way back she had the 20 litre water jerrycan on her back of course. Now there is a water point close to her village. Gomezu can fetch water twice a day now, and it only takes her a few minutes.


She can use the time won for the household and her two children. The double amount of water allows the entire family to have a wash every day. Before water was simply too precious for this. And yet washing is essential for hygiene and with that the children’s health. The water point close to the village is a big help.



Tasew and the agricultural training

Sufficient timber, chicken breeding, improved grain farming, a new grain bin, a vegetable garden with many previously unkown types of vegetables, 14 apple trees, a latrine, a new wood-saving stove and a new house – over the past years Tasew Tadesse and his wife Ayelu have achieved all of this. Tadesse acquired the skills in agricultural trainings from Menschen für Menschen. He implemented the improvements to his home and fields on his own.

projekte-gebiete-derra-Modellfarmer Tasew Tadesse-CRW_5960

His two youngest children help him of course – but only after school. His children’s education is very important to him. The eldest son has even moved to Jima to study there. He wants to be a maths teacher. This is possible thanks to all the improvements which allow his father to manage on his own.

projekte-gebiete-derra-Modellfarmer Tasew Tadesse-CRW_5986

A lion adorns the new Triticale reservoir. The upside down metal funnels on the stilt legs provide significantly better protection from rats and pests trying to eat the precious grain. Another trick farmer Tasew learned in the training. Now the family always has enough to eat and can even sell something on the market.


Zewde and the microcredit

Zewde Tessema’s family also has enough to eat now. In 2005 the 36 year old received the first of three microcredits and training in money management. She has come a long way since then. The competent business woman now owns a flock of cattle, sheep and goats, as well as a donkey. She deals with grain, and her next project is opening a small guesthouse with four rooms in the near city of Gundo Meskel.


Today she and her family are doing well. In the past she often did not know how to feed her six children. Now all of them even attend school.

“My flock is living proof for my improvement,“ says Zewde.



When dreams come true: „Thank you Abo Karl, we don’t need you anymore.“

This is what Karlheinz Böhm dreamed of hearing one day when visiting the projects. In Derra this dream has become reality after 13 years.


To show their gratitude for the support and happiness about the successes achieved together, the people of Derra took the opportunity to immortalise their beloved Abo Karl (Father Karl).



No magic necessary: the secret of integrated development

Building a well provides water for an entire village. Teaching a farmer improved cultivation, will let neighbours imitate the new methods. A microcredit does not only bear rich fruit for the woman receiving it but for her entire family and everyone she does business with. Over the years a new school provides many thousands of children with the skills needed for an independent future and a job to sustain them. All of this is part of the sustainable development work provided by Menschen für Menschen.


But integrated development means more than that. Each of those measures brings about considerable improvement of the living conditions, yet it is only together that they unfold their effect. Because only when there is a well nearby the women fetching water have enough time to use a microcredit for starting a business. Only when agriculture brings in enough profit children do not have to help on the fields and can attend school. And only education and new knowledge teaches people to manage without outside help and break the poverty cycle.


Happy end…
… and how things will continue

After 13 years in the project region Derra this step was successfully taken! The people in this region no longer need our help. Menschen für Menschen laid the foundation. The population will bring about future development through their own initiative. This is an excellent step for the people in this region and the confirmation that your donation facilitates lasting and continuously growing achievements. Thank you for your support! 

Menschen für Menschen can use the resources thus freed to provide help for self-help in other regions:


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Since 2012 in Abune Ginde Beret >>