"We can do no great things, only small things with great love."

Mother Teresa

Background information about Yirgaalem and the Charity

Yirgaalem is one of the oldest towns in the southern part of Ethiopia and it used to be the capital city of the then Sidamo region. During that period the first comprehensive high school, the first Norwegian Evangelical elementary and secondary school and the first modern hospital in the southern part of Ethiopia were established in Yirgaalem. The development of Yirgaalem began to slow down when it lost its status of being the regional capital city to Hawassa in 1967 and its status of Zonal town again to Hawassa in the beginning of the 1990’s. Such administrative measures forced various institutions to relocate to Hawassa minimising the resources that should be allocated to the infrastructural development of Yirgaalem. Despite this Yirgaalem and its surrounding villages along with neighbouring districts continue to produce one of the best coffee brands in the world, the Sidama coffee, contributing to the wider economy of Ethiopia.  

Demographically the Sidama zone in general and Yirgaalem and its adjacent villages in particular are among one of the fastest growing in the country, thus making it difficult to meet the growing demands of school places for children. Prior to the involvement of the Yirgaalem Appeal Trust (the Children of Yirgaalem appeal Trust) it was even harsher for the poor families living in and around Yirgaalem to send their kids to school due to lack of spaces as well as their inability to fund for educational materials and school uniforms for their children. The first badge of visitors (later trustees) travelled to Yirgaalem in 2004 with Dereje Retta Geleta, (a naturalised British citizen who grew up, studied and worked in the town). 

The group, having carried out its assessment, was convinced that there were thousands of children in the town who aspire to go to school but unable to do so due to lack of resources. It was agreed to set up a Charity, The Yirgaalem Appeal Trust, whose aim it is to fill this gap and provide educational opportunities to some of the children of Yirgaalem.


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