Tag Archives: Dwight Sullivan

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.



RPCV Legacy Program

New Legacy project is approved: Axum Children’s Library

Championed by Dwight Sullivan (Yergalem, Dodola, 1970-72) and Janet Lee (Emdeber 1974-76)

Since 2004, E&E RPCV has provided opportunities for RPCVs to raise funds to support projects in Ethiopia and Eritrea through the E&E RPCV Legacy Program.  In that span of time, RPCVs have raised $240,304.23.

E&E RPCVs is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit tax-exempt organization; consequently all donations to the projects are tax-deductible. All work by RPCVs to administer the projects is done on a volunteer basis, so the entire amount of each donation is used for the projects.

An RPCV (or staff member who served in Ethiopia or Eritrea) who wishes to propose a project submits a Preliminary Project Proposal (PPP) of at least one page to Kristen Baredo (Kristen.Straw.Barredo@gmail.com), Manager, E&E RPCV Legacy Program. She will distribute the PPP to the Board members, who will review it, suggest changes if needed, and make a decision on feasibility.

If the proposal is approved, applicants will then be asked to prepare a Final Proposal that follows guidelines on the E&ERPCV website: https://eandeherald.com/rpcv-legacy-program/be-a-champion/

The Board is pleased to announce that it has approved a proposal by Champions Dwight Sullivan (Yergalem, Dodola, 1970-72) and Janet Lee (Emdeber 1974-76) for a Children’s Library within the Axum Heritage Foundation Library and Cultural Center, Axum, Ethiopia. The library operates under the auspices of the Ethiopian Community Development Council. ECDC’s founder, Dr. Tsehaye Teferra, was a Peace Corps Language instructor for training groups that began service in the 1960s.

Early construction of the new Axumite Heritage Foundation Library and Cultural Center

Early construction of the new Axumite Heritage Foundation Library and Cultural Center

In 2000, ECDC repurposed a badly damaged historic building — the  Governor’s Palace in Axum — into a public library. The Governor’s Palace had gone into great disrepair following the Derg and Communist rule when it had been used as a headquarters and prison. The library has since served its community well, but cannot meet all the needs of a growing and more sophisticated population in Axum. Enter Dwight Sullivan who concluded that a newer, more modern building needed to be constructed that could provide expanded services to the community.

The children's library within the new Axumite Heritage Foundation Library and Cultural Center

The children’s library within the new Axumite Heritage Foundation Library and Cultural Center

This RPCV Legacy Program project will focus on a finite project within the overall building project — the children’s library. Both Dwight and Janet Lee are committed to the success of this project and have contributed the 10% minimum required.

The Project goal is to raise $10,000 in the initial phase.  In addition to the beautiful furniture donated by CNN (see photo), the project will enable the acquisition of shelving, theatre seating, curtains for DVD projection area, adult office furniture, computers, local language books, signage, and decorative rugs.

Contributions may be sent to the new E & E RPCV treasurer:

c/o Randy Marcus
1634 Martha Terrace
Rockville MD 20852-4134

Please mention:  Axum Children’s Library

RPCV Projects

Axum Library and Cultural Center Update

update by Dwight Sullivan (Yergalem, Dodola 70–72)

In September, Dwight Sullivan (Yergalem, Dodola 70-72), wrote in The Herald of his work with the Ethiopian Community Development Council’s library development project in Axum. Dwight is currently in Axum where he has been supervising the unloading of six (yes, count them six!) shipping containers of building materials from Dubai and one container of miscellaneous items including furniture, books, desks, and sewing machines. The  building materials include ceramic tiles, metal frames, windows, and tools that are not available in Ethiopia.

Entry area with new windows waiting to be installed.

Entry area with new windows waiting to be installed.


He has also commissioned three pieces of art: one is on canvas, one is on a goat skin, and the last is on a cow skin. The first is of the battle of Magdela, the second is of the Italians in WW II in Axum, and the last (see below) is of the Dergue period.

3rd commissioned art work 2 view

Dwight plans to commission a mural of the Blue Nile falls for the children’s section of the library.


Children's Room

Children’s Room

Dwight has been beating the streets of Addis Ababa in search of children’s books in local languages.  There are few to be found.  Could publishing be the next great step?

Dwight - madeline

PCV Madeline Jones and her sewing class

Axum has presented Dwight with much great fortune.  Through Peace Corps connections in Axum, he was introduced to PCV Madeline Jones, whole lives in Belie [Tigray] (between Axum and Shire), and is a most able seamstress and crafter.  She gave a private sewing lesson to a group of nuns, and, according to Dwight, was quite adept at her command of Tigrinya based on the amount of chatter while they worked together. In that one short session, they were able to craft together a small prayer book carrying case. A sure sign of more good things to come.

Highlight of Dwight’s trip? Kissing a bishop’s cross.




axum-mapby Dwight Sullivan (Yergalem, Dodola 70-72)

IN DECEMBER 2011, I had an opportunity to return to Ethiopia to provide engineering and architectural advice for a project being spearheaded by my former Peace Corps language/culture trainer, Tsehaye Teferra, with whom my good friend and fellow RPCV Bob Gausman (Bodditti 70-72) had reconnected me.

Dr. Tsehaye is the President and Founder of the Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC) in Washington, DC, which was established primarily to provide refugee services and micro-lending in DC, Denver, Chicago, and Las Vegas.

5-palace-libA “project of the heart” for Dr. Tsehaye was to refurbish the dilapidated  former Governor’s Palace in Axum that was being used as the town library. It contained about 2,000 books, and had seating and study tables for about 70 people. Although the building had served its purpose well for many years, with Axum’s current population of over 40,000 the library was  too small and had become inadequate in many ways. I concluded that the time had come to build a more modern library and recommended the construction of a new library that could provide expanded services to the community. Although this initial visit was only two weeks, I was hooked, and I hope to hook the reader into joining me on a great adventure and a great project. Since 2011 a new library and community center, adjacent to the existing library, has been under construction, and I have been fortunate to have been part of this project, nearly from the ground up. This building is a 3-story, 24,000-square-foot, multi-function facility. It will contain:

  • Reading rooms including the Grand Reading Room with a 28 feet high ceiling.
The Great Reading Room looking toward the entrance.

The Great Reading Room looking toward the entrance.

  • A computer room (In the last year I have noticed a significant improvement in Internet service. Of course there are days on end when the it is down, and then times when the power is out.)
  • A 125-seat auditorium with stepped seating.
  • A separate 2,000-square-foot section for a Children’s Library with proportional furniture.
  • An Ethiopia and Africa book room.
  • Several study rooms. (The existing adjacent small library is primarily used by high school students for group study.)
  • Four classrooms for adult education.
  • Small and large meeting rooms or additional study rooms.
  • An Exhibition Room for local artists and craftsmen to display and sell their objects on a rotating basis.
  • Internal handicap ramps and an elevator.

Project funding, for construction and operation of the new library has been provided mostly by contributions from ex-patriate Ethiopians living in the US. This is positive for the project in that there is significant buy-in from the Ethiopian community. However it is also negative in that funding is sporadic with no consistent source of support. The building is now 50% constructed.

Entrance area looking up to the Great Reading Room. Note the female hod carriers.

Entrance area looking up to the Great Reading Room. Note the female hod carriers.

Already completed are:

  • Rough concrete floors,
  • the roof,
  • exterior concrete block walls (blocks made on-site),
Newly installed façade, June 2015

Newly installed façade, June 2015

  • 60% of the interior walls,
  • some wiring, and some plumbing,
  • the front exterior facade cladding of  stone from a local quarry

and the building’s 105 windows have been manufactured, and are ready to be shipped from Dubai. We have a considerable amount of material on site to fit out the library portion of the building in addition to the existing library materials: a considerable number of illustrated books (in English) for the children’s library; 2½ sea containers of books, tables, chairs, and shelving; and over 3,000 additional books in the ECDC building that will be shipped to Axum, perhaps early next year. However, at present, we do not have material to furnish the classrooms, the auditorium, the children’s library, or the exhibit room.

Art Display Program One element of the project that I am leading is an art display program. This will consist of:

  •   A display of various stand-alone paintings (or carvings, painted pots, etc.) depicting significant events in Ethiopia’s history. This could begin at “Lucy”! stretch to the latest revolution.
  • Large scale photos from the Smithsonian.
  • A painting of the 1868 Battle of Magdala with the British. This is painted on a 1.2 meter linen covered wood frame and is now temporarily hung in the existing library.
A painting tentatively placed on the parapet wall. CLICK for detail

A painting tentatively placed on the parapet wall. CLICK for detail

  • A second painting, by the same artist  of the Italian WW II period in Axum. This is painted on goat skin and is also temporarily hanging in the existing library.

Painting of historical scene on goat skin temporarily hanging in existing library. CLICK for detail.

  •  A third object-de-art, by a different artist will soon be completed. It will be a 1.0 meter square stone carving of the two brother Axumite period kings.
  • I am in preliminary discussions with yet another artist for a painting of the more recent Derg Red Terror and Revolution period. This will be painted on a very large cow skin for dramatic impact.
  • Another art element will be a mural painted onto the just completed parapet/railing wall circulating around the Great Reading Room, sort of a WPA concept. This painting would be contained within a space some 10 feet to 14 feet above the floor level. The painting theme would be of everyday modern life in and around Axum, covering both indoor and outdoor activity. The painted faces will be recognizable by the people of Axum.
  • Adopt-A-Painting program: With photos of the completed art, I plan, with ECDC, to start an Adopt-A-Painting program.
  • There would then be an Axum Art Committee primarily of Axumites established to oversee the art aspects of the program. Ethiopia has many talented artisans and a great history to explore.

My travels back to Ethiopia have been extraordinary and rewarding. This project has been a labor of love (with a few bumps in the road .  .  . Ah, Ethiopia). I know that I am part of something that will truly make a difference. Please contact me if you are interested in being part of something grand: dwight48@aol.com