VCDS exists to alleviate poverty by empowering the local people and communities in Northern Ethiopia in the province of Wollo; specifically the town of Woldia and the rural mountain village of Yerah that is located in the Guba Lafto region.
Our goal lies in making a difference for the long-term, for tomorrow by investing today in the lives of the disadvantaged, the innumerable children who have been left orphans due to the AIDS epidemic that has hit Ethiopia hard. In tandem with the community which includes the caregivers and guardians of the children, typically the grandparents, VCDS uses a grassroots approach to provide a helping hand that supports meeting their daily needs and education.
VCDS works to provide sponsorship for local orphans and or children-at-risk. We work in conjunction with a local church to support orphans and their caregivers. Sponsorship support includes a monthly allowance to provide basic provision for food, shelter, clothing, education, medical needs and life skills training. Working together with these caregivers, VCDS’s designated social worker makes regular home visits to ensure that caregivers, particularly the aged who need additional support are adequately able to administer the monthly funds assigned to meet the needs of the children. Our life skills training program made possible through the generous support of a local church, provides a drop-in program. The children can spend time weekly to receive computer training, utilise library facilities and reading materials and participate in athletics, and workshops for knitting, weaving, debate, drama etc. In addition to the weekly program, children of the community are encouraged to join in the Saturday sessions which also include cultural and athletic events such as participating in regional sports days, fashion shows and other activities.
Since 2003, VCDS has been working with the community in the remote mountain village of Yerah. Our main focus has been to support the growth and expansion of the local school in terms of infrastructure development and the provision of necessary educational materials. To date these activities have included the additional of classrooms, school desks and education support materials (i.e. textbooks, school bags, athletic gear, and school supplies).
From the ancient Kingdom of Axum to the modern republic, Ethiopia is a country full of rich history and cultural heritage. Africa’s oldest independent country, is also the second largest with over 93 million inhabitants. Home to the Simien Mountains, one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites , the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, the lush Rift Valley, the origin of the Blue Nile at Lake Tana , Ethiopia is truly a land of contrasts and extremes; a land of remote and wild places.
Rich in diversity, Ethiopia is a multilingual, multi-cultural and multi-ethnic society of approximately 80 groups. For its wealth of history and culture, it is not a nation without challenges. Ranked the 5th fastest growing nation and 13th largest population in the world, it also has a high rate of infant mortality, a large and vulnerable population, with an estimated 15 percent of the population living below the poverty line, and a high rate of HIV/AIDS which has led to a seven-year decrease in life expectancy and a greatly reduced workforce.
But the story doesn’t end there – Ethiopia is a nation of individuals willing to transform their lives – and their communities. It is within this context that VCDS works and operates with the people and for the people.
VCDS concentrates its efforts and work in the Semien Wollo (or “North Wollo”), one of 10 Zones in the Ethiopian Amhara Region. This area is mountainous and characterized by steep slopes, which are unsuitable for agriculture and severely limits the cultivated area. Approximately 1 in 10 residents of North Wollo are urban dwellers, with the largest towns being Woldia and Lalibela.
Sources: The World Fact Book, National Geographic & BBC News