Editor’s Note

Editor’s Note:

Janet Lee (Emdeber 1974-76)

Welcome to a new issue of The Herald.

In this issue, we would like to give updates on E&E RPCV Board news, Legacy Program Projects, RPCV-sponsored projects, the Sargent Shriver Leaders Conference in DC, a possible trip to Ethiopia, and plans for the NPCA conference in Denver in August.

We do have one article of note from Andrew Tadross (Endodo, Tigray & Mekelle, Tigray 2011–13), an RPCV currently teaching in the Landscape Architecture program at Addis Ababa University. If you have not been to Addis recently, you will be amazed at how much it has changed.

We also have Peace Corps memories of the late Richard Pankhurst, who touched the lives of both PCVs and Ethiopians alike.

The Board of the E&E RPCVs looks forward to seeing everyone at the NPCA conference in Denver in August 2017.

Don’t forget to like us on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/eerpcv/

 

E&E RPCVs Group News

From the Co-presidents

Amanda Sutker (Adaba, West Arsi, 2012–14) and Janet Lee (Emdeber 1974-76)

Co-presidents, Amanda and Janet

 

How time flies! It was not all that long ago we were feasting on Ethiopian food at the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington D.C.  Now we are closing in on the next NPCA Peace Corps Connect conference in Denver (August 5, 6).

We thought it would be a good time to update everyone on progress of our goals at this mid-term.

We are grateful to Randy Marcus (Asella 1966-68) for taking on the major task for monitoring our finances, including banking, Legacy Program funds, and IRS filings.

A quick update on our 2016-17 goals:

E&E RPCV Presidential Goals for 2016-17

    • Reach out to recently Returned Volunteers for Board membership to ensure continuity and diversity of ideas.
      • Recruited Anthony Navarette (Mizan Teferi 2012-2014).
        Anthony recently accepted a position as an International Trade Specialist in the Foreign Agricultural Service in Washington, D.C.
    • Investigate and implement a web presence that is integrated with the National Peace Corps Association building upon the strong foundation of current and past board members.
      • Amanda and Janet recently received training in SilkStart, a web platform in use by the National Peace Corps Association.
      • We will be recruiting a webmaster, web designers, artists, photographers, and storytellers to keep everyone up to date.
      • Hope to launch by the NPCA conference in Denver.
    • Increase membership and involvement of recently Returned Volunteers to Ethiopia & Eritrea Returned Peace Corps Volunteers.
      • Working with NPCA on joint membership lists.
      • A revitalized web presence should help get out the word as NPCA moves to a new subscription model.
    • Investigate opportunities for fundraising to support operations of the membership and the Legacy Program grants.
      • Fundraising has been progressing well.
      • Updates are in this issue of The Herald
    • Establish a fund and set criteria for support of current Peace Corps Partnership Program grants for Volunteers in country.
      • A proposal and guidelines have been submitted to the Board for approval.
      • Anticipate roll out next year.
    • Plan for E&E RPCV activities in conjunction with the NPCA Peace Corps Connect conference in Denver
      • Date has been moved to August 5, 6 2017.
      • Updates in this issue of The Herald

We look forward to seeing everyone in Denver at Peace Corps Connect in Denver.


 

E&E RPCVs Group News

E&E RPCV Board Financial Report

A major duty of the E&E RPCV Board is the careful stewardship of its fiscal resources.  Treasurer Randy Marcus provided the year end financial report to the board and it was approved by the board by acclimation.

As part of the report, Marcus listed his duties and accomplishments for 2016.

  • Receiving and depositing Legacy Project donations and voluntary fees (which we used to call dues)
  •  Tallying and keeping track of the amount collected for each Legacy Project
  •  Distributing funds to Legacy Project recipients when instructed to do so by the RPCV champion
  •  Sending out formal acknowledgement letters to donors for tax purposes
  •  Keeping track of operating expenses that come out of unobligated funds (non-LP money)
  •  Paying for approved expenses like the Hyatt Hotel conference room last year, bank fees, website costs, etc.
  •  Compiling an annual financial report for the board
  •  Filing non-profit tax forms to the IRS, to Maryland (our official address), and the NY State Charities Bureau (where EERPCVs, Inc. is incorporated)

 

E&E RPCV Financial Report 2016

Prepared by Randy Marcus

Money In
NPCA dues, fees, cash received
Legacy Project Axum Library
Legacy Project Borana Students
Legacy Project Hesperian Health Guides
Legacy Project ITC Lab Mettu
Total Money In

Total Received
$ 1,339.19
$ 5,078.00
$20,068.00
$ 1,694.21
$ 68.00
$28,238.40

Money Out
Business Expenses
Legacy Project Borana Students
Legacy Project Hesperian health guides
Legacy Project ITC Lab Mettu
Net Total Money Out
Net Total (Money In less Money Out)

Total Out
$ 1,148.87
$20,000.00
$ 2,044.57
$ 2,000.00$25,348.61$2,889.79

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please note. Legacy Program funds are restricted and may only be applied to that fund. Donations received in a prior fiscal year may be applied the following year or at the point when a sufficient amount of funds have been raised to warrant expending a bank transfer fee.

Treasurer Marcus has noted that although we had a positive cash flow for FY 2016, the organization will need to recoup the loss of the portion of dues previously received by NPCA since they have changed their due structure to voluntary membership. Donations to the general fund are greatly needed.

You may send checks to:

Ethiopia & Eritrea RPCVs
c/o Randy Marcus
1634 Martha Terrace
Rockville MD 20852-4134

Make out your check to “Ethiopia & Eritrea RPCVs,” and in the subject line enter “General Fund.” Include your email for tax receipt.

Peace Corps and the NPCA

colorado-flag

Peace Corps Connect is coming to the Rocky Mountain State!

See you in Denver, August 5 & 6, 2017

University of Denver
2199 South University Blvd, Denver, CO 80208
Located on the light rail line
(Take the A Line from Denver International Airport to Union Station.
Take the E-line from Union Station [downtown] to the University of Denver station.  Approximately 2 hour ride).  

Google other routes (car, bus).   Or support a Colorado-grown ride share App developed by members of the Ethiopian/Vietnamese immigrant community:  Hovit.  Download the app for $15.00 off your first ride. 

About Peace Corps Connect 2017

  • Partnering for Progress: Taking Collaborations to New Heights. Keynote speakers, panelists, exhibitors, and breakout sessions will all address this theme through focus areas such as global health, environment, economic development, equality and justice, and education and youth development.
  • Registration Early bird registration will open soon.
  • Lodging:  Dormitory rooms will be available at an affordable rate.  The co-hosts, the RPCVs of Colorado, will supply a list of nearby hotels.
  • Annual RPCVs of Colorado picnic.  The RPCVs of Colorado would also like to invite everyone for our annual RPCV of Colorado picnic. The picnic will take place outdoors on the University of Denver campus, with food and drink provided via catering. Conference registration will include a ticket for the picnic.  Tickets will also be available just for the picnic.

Ethiopia & Eritrea RPCV events TBD

  • Pre-conference (August 4)  There will be a pre-conference event on the Peace Corps and Rotary partnership on August 4.
  • Harris Wofford Reception, Saturday, August 5, 2017 on the University of Denver campus
  • Business meeting, TBD,  Classroom, University of Denver.
  • Taste of Ethiopia, all day, Saturday August 5, 2017. Location TBD (Aurora, CO)

 

All day event.  Free admission.  Food for purchase. Traditional dancing, music, fashion show, booths, and citizenship ceremony.

 

 

Ethiopian restaurants:

Ethiopia-related sightseeing:

City of Axum Park 4400 Bruce Randolph Ave. Denver, CO 80207.On January 20, 1995, Denver Mayor Wellington Webb signed the proclamation and declared the day as Axum Day. On November 12, Mayor Webb led a delegation to visit Axum. The people of Axum turned out in mass lining the streets of the city. To commemorate the occasion, Denver Street was named in the middle of Axum. In turn, the City of Denver named a park in honor of the Sister City relationship.

 Gloria Curtis (Asmara 1963–65) was instrumental in directing the painting of buildings on the park.

axum-park-3 axum-park-4

 

axum-park-1axum-park-2

 

Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library. 2401 Welton St, Denver, CO 80205. Denver First Lady, Wilma Webb, was presented with a beautiful Ethiopian dress which is on display at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library  2401 Welton St.  Denver, CO 80205

Denver First Lady Wilma Webb was presented with an Ethiopian dress during a visit to Axum.

Denver First Lady Wilma Webb was presented with an Ethiopian dress during a visit to Axum.


 

 

 

 

RPCV Projects

Tree-lined boulevards, lush urban parks, cosmopolitan plazas

The “New” Addis Ababa as presented through a landscape architecture course at AAU

by Andrew Tadross (Endodo, Tigray & Mekelle, Tigray 2011–13)

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s ever-expanding capital city doesn’t evoke images of tree-lined boulevards, lush urban parks, or cosmopolitan plazas. The city is most attractive when looking up at its gleaming new hotels set against the backdrop of 10,000 foot mountains. When you look down, things aren’t quite as inspiring. However, there is new hope for Ethiopia’s urban landscape. In 2015, the  Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction, and City Development (EIABC) opened the first landscape architecture masters degree program in the country (there is no undergraduate LA degree). This year, ten graduate students will become the first crop of landscape architects to contribute to the transformation of Addis Ababa into a more livable, resilient city.

Upon earning a Masters degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Colorado/Denver, I worked for several years with the City of Houston Parks Dept. and at Rialto Studio in San Antonio. Having taught in Mekele during my service in the Peace Corps and finding a great deal of satisfaction in academia, I jumped at a 1 year teaching contract with EIABC in 2016. With a staff of only four, our young program has a curriculum that is similar to most American landscape architecture programs, but caters only to students with previous background in architecture (thus Autocad and basics design courses are not included). My classes included Construction and Site Engineering, 3rd Semester Design Studio, and two sections of Introduction to Landscape Architecture — an undergrad course for over 160 students.

English is a 2nd or 3rd language for most of my students, and initially I deciphered the students silence as boredom, fascination, or confusion. For the Introduction class, I decided to teach landscape design through case study. There would be 30 groups of 5-6 students, with each group studying a different landscape in Addis. Some of these sites included well known spots such as the splashy gardens and fake Axum obelisk at Bole Airport, the oasis-like Ghion hotel, the historic Meskal Square, and the impressive Bole Medhanalem Orthodox church. Some sites were lesser known — the sprawling park Hamle 19 (near the US Embassy), the new Hope University campus, and the truly unique use of marginal space at Gotera Square — aka Confusion Square.

Each group studied the hardscape (pavements, walls, fountains, drainage, etc), as well as identified trees and shrubs planted on site. They generated perspective sketches, as well as plan view drawings of their site, at two different scales. They were also expected to research the history, ongoing management of the site, and critique the design and facility operations. It was a holistic approach to the study of public spaces, addressing many of the diverse professional skills in the field of landscape architecture. Addis Ababa does not have any books or treatises specifically on landscape architecture or parks – and certainly this body of research would come in handy for starting one.

EIABC student sketches

The staircase at the Ghion Hotel

Pillar at the Ghion Hotel

Red Terror Museum

Overall, I was impressed with the projects submitted, including some exquisite drawings. The research and writing by several groups were above expectation.

If one were to look at these projects in a collection, it is evident that Addis has surprising amount of green spaces dispersed throughout the city. It has been observed that many of the large parks (Peacock Park, Bihere Tsegey, Sheger, Yeka, etc) are often empty — even on weekends with beautiful weather. What is the reason? The 2–10 birr entrance fee might be a deterrent for impoverished citizens, but its not too much of a burden for many residents. Some parks have litter problems, but there seems to be active efforts at periodic cleaning. Safety might be a concern, but every park had security guards. Perhaps it’s a cultural matter. Ethiopians are in the new era of satellite TV and mobile phones. Could it be that an impact of globalization is that they joining the rest of the world in spending their leisure time indoors staring at a various electronic devices?

Another observation is that parks in Addis don’t really inspire a great deal of physical activity. While Ethiopia is known for marathon champions, you are unlikely to see a jogger — or a path — in the local parks. Dog walking is non-existent. Playgrounds are rare — and either ill maintained, or locked up, such as at Africa Park. Many of the parks are overly wooded. In a sunny country, shade is valuable, but excessive trees and shrubbery can obstruct vision and make places feel less safe. Many of the parks are divided into small “islands” or “rooms” by boxy hedges that seem to create a cluster of small spaces rather than expansive open space. Another issue is that most of the parks have a single means of ingress/and egress. While required for security, it’s an obstacle for visitation.

The Addis Ababa Beautification, Park and Cemetary Department is the city agency that is tasked with bringing Addis parks to a level where they can significantly contribute to quality of life and tourism. As with most big cities, funding (low tax base) is a challenge, and evident in the deficiencies in park maintenance and investment. There are income generating activities such as cafés at several parks, but this invites conflicts, as green spaces are increasingly privatized and commercialized for profit. Another issue is the fact that open spaces, unless tightly guarded, end up being unsanitary living quarters for the homeless.

Looking at American history, the great park building eras coincided with industrialization and urbanization. Ethiopia is in the midst of this phase, and will be for decades to come. City leaders have recognized the need to provide recreational spaces for the residents and to keep Addis attractive as a diplomatic hub. The National Green Infrastructure Guidelines are recommending 30% of the city be used for green areas or public space. Most of this would be reclaimed from flood prone areas and slum clearance. Already, significant swaths of forest are protected in the hills above the city within Gullele Botanical Garden, and a patchwork of protected areas. Down in the city, there are concerted efforts to plant street trees (mostly exotics) to shade crowded sidewalks and absorb some of the air pollution.

The almost-completed ECA Park, designed by our chair holder Aziza Abdulfetah, features contemporary looking earthworks, water features, sturdy shade structures, a basketball court, pool and café spaces. The site (between ECA and St. Estafanos) was once an informal housing settlement on the edge of a fetid urban river, but it now serves as a visual treat for office workers in the surrounding buildings, and passengers gliding past on the newly built light rail.

The newly developed Aser Park located near city center of Addis Ababa was one of many projects examined by students in the Landscape Architecture course at AAU.

The newly developed Aser Park located near city center of Addis Ababa was one of many projects examined by students in the Landscape Architecture course at AAU.

Aser Park located on Bole Road, which will occupy the underside of Rwanda Bridge in Addis Ababa, was one of many projects examined by students in the Landscape Architecture course at AAU. It doesn’t offer much in the way of dirt and grass, but it offers impressive fountains, clean restrooms, a playground, and a café for weary pedestrians to escape the sun.

Gotera Square is a park that makes use of a kind of no-man’s land wedged in between a caucaphonous rail line and freeway fly overs. It is a colorful, extensive hardscape of pavers dotted with seating and raised planting beds in a modernistic grid. The verdict is still out on whether these new parks will be active and inspire further investment, but they do represent a new thrust in park development.

Problems abound in translation of design to construction documents to installation. The grandest dreams of designers can be crushed by the reality of what is actually built by unsupervised contractors. However, these new projects in Addis represent great opportunities for the nascent landscape architecture field. If the economy continues its aggressive growth, there will be continued expansion of resorts, sports complexes, universities, and “everything under the sun” that keep landscape designers employed.

I consider myself fortunate to play a small role in this area of development as I try to pass on some of my skills to a younger generation. My students are very talented, as well as technically proficient. I expect to return to Addis sometime in my 40s and see the great work they’ve accomplished. With rapid urban growth pretty much guaranteed for the next few decades, I’m confident these graduates will have no shortage of work. The challenge will be to convince people they need to hire a landscape architect. That’s not easy to do here — most people haven’t heard of Central Park or Red Rocks Amphitheater. They just think of walking paths, trees, and gardens as the work of layman, rather than a trained designer. So, beyond just getting a job, my students have to promote their own profession to earn the respect it deserves.


 

RPCV Projects

Clean Water for Ethiopia: An Update

by Robert Gausman (Bodditti (1970-72)

It has been several years since we updated Ethiopian RPCVs about the Central Highlands Foundation water project in central Ethiopia.

Woman collecting water from polluted spring

Central Highlands Foundation has been working on water projects in Ethiopia for some time now and later this year we hope to complete our 10th project.  Our model has been to take mountain springs that have become terribly polluted, place a concrete cap over them for protection, construct a holding reservoir and finally install water faucets to provide perfectly pure water to local residents.

Water distribution point

With the construction of this project over 15,000 people will have access to clean water.  Unfortunately, the need is overwhelming as 60% of all Ethiopians, or 55 million people, still do not have clean water.

Concrete cap protecting spring and clean water flowing

 

Our ability to complete more projects such as these is limited by our funding. Over the past couple of years we have been working in partnership with Bob Waltermire’s (Bale 1970-72) Rotary club in Colorado.  Their generous support has allowed us to do more projects than we otherwise could have accomplished.  Of course, we are always looking for additional funds. What I am seeking is not for anyone to make new or additional contributions, but rather, if you were contemplating changing a charity to which you currently contribute we would like to be considered in your plans.  We are a fully exempt 501(c)3 non-profit corporation and all contributions would be tax deductible. No overhead or administrative costs are paid for out of contributions and all money goes to programs in Ethiopia.

In addition, we are working with Books for Africa in order to send a 40 foot container of textbooks to schools in southern Ethiopia later this year.

If you wish to become a donor you may send money to:

Central Highlands Foundation
c/o Robert Gausman (Bodditti (1970-72)
430 M St. SW, #310
Washington, DC 20024
Website: www.bekha.org

Editor’s note:

In addition to the project in the central highlands, Dwight Sullivan (Dodola, 1970-72) is working with a village near Axum in order to dig a well and install a solar pump to provide water to people in the area.  This would be one of the first solar water projects in the country. 

Dwight is currently in Ethiopia (February-March 2017) and sent a brief update on the progress of the wells. He and his colleagues visited Darwo to inspect last year’s projects and scope out potential sites for future projects. The lack of rain for the past four months may mean that they have to make the difficult decision to eliminate the Arusi-Ang project. The drought may last another three months, a very unfortunate event because the water is badly needed by the community.

They investigated another site near Tarcha, Agene, a project that could have a positive impact for a population of 475. The water flow measured about 2 liters per minute. The cost to construct the project is estimated to be between $13,000 and $15,000.

Shota, one of the other spring sites is very promising. It has a water flow of 10.5 liters per minutes and should be relatively easy to construct once one manages to navigate the road system, which tested the mettle of Dwight, his colleagues and their Toyota Landcruiser.

As an update on last year’s three projects, Abba Ereri is completely finished and well-constructed. It is in a lovely setting. The spring caps on Chana and Basabi Biyou are completed. Their reservoirs and water distribution points are also completed. The trenches have been dug, but no pipe has been installed to date.

There is great progress.


 

 

Peace Corps and the NPCA

2017 Sargent Shriver Leadership Summit

As reported in part by Haskell Ward (Nazareth 1963–65)

2017 Shriver Leadership Summit

The E&E RPCVs are fortunate to have Haskell Ward (Nazareth 1963–65) participate in the 2017 Sargent Shriver Leadership Summit held at Georgetown University March 3rd and 4th, 2017.  Although Haskell was unable to attend the first day of the advocacy sessions, he was able to take full advantage of the conference including presentations, reports, panels, and workshops.

National Peace Corps President and CEO Glenn Blumhorst, Senator Harris Wofford and Haskell Ward at the Shriver Leadership Summit 2017 in Washington.

Joby Taylor, Chair, NPCA Board of Directors and Glenn Blumhorst, NPCA President & CEO opened with an Annual Report and NPCA program Overview. Key programs included:  The New Political Landscape; and An Improved and Expanded Peace Corps.  Workshops on ensuring the future of the Peace Corps included:  Grassroots Efforts (Scaling up our Nationwide Mobilization), Grassroots Efforts (Capitol Hill, the White House & Beyond), Fundraising (Securing Resources to Drive Change).  Topics of interest also included support of refugees, RPCVs for environmental action and building community. The opening day also featured a conversation with Acting Director Sheila Crowley.

Haskell Ward with Acting Peace Corps Director Sheila Crowley at the NATIONAL PEACE CORPS ASSOCIATION SHRIVER LEADERSHIP SUMMIT IN WASHINGTON

Haskell reports that those who attended the advocacy sessions with members of the U.S. House and Senate were cautiously optimistic. He quoted Board Member Juliana Essen’s recent Peace Corps Connect article, “The next few days could make it or break it for the Peace Corps, so we are depending on each and every one of you for a win.  Fortunately, our community is stronger than ever — if we all pitch in, we might even convince Congress to increase Peace Corps budget instead.”

Further, he states that in one form or another much of the thrust of all the sessions were influenced by the subject of one of the opening topics: The New Political Landscape. The future of the Peace Corps will take place within the dynamics of this new reality. Having said that, the general consensus was that the situation was sufficiently fluid that an effective mobilization campaign by members of the Peace Corps community might very well produce unexpected and surprisingly positive outcomes for the agency’s future. In other words, if enough energy is produced by RPCVs and allies to their members of the House and Senate, then there is a strong probability of success.

With my friend Maureen Orth

This observation might really sum up the dinner speech of Jason Gross, Executive Director of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition who stressed the need for immediate and broad appeals to members of the House and Senate, especially to those members in our districts who sit on the foreign affairs subcommittees.

On a much lighter note, Haskell had an opportunity to spend time with Harris Wofford (Democratic Senator from Pennsylvania, and former Peace Corps Ethiopia Director 62–64). “I sat with Harris Wofford at the dinner meeting, fifty-four years since our first meeting. He is as inspiring as he was the first time we met. He’ll turn ninety-one on April 9, and I asked him how he is holding up, and he said ‘quite well, except for an emerging hearing problem.’ He also said, though, when I told him that I turn seventy-seven next week (March 13), ‘I’ll trade my years for your soon-to-be seventy-seven! ’  It was worth the trip to Washington to see the fire still in his eyes.”

Haskell with Senator Harris Wofford, our Ethiopia Peace Corps Director.