From the very green Uganda, to a colourless, dusty desert in Northern Ethiopia.
We are currently in Afar, a region the stretches across Northern Ethiopia, Djibouti and Eritrea. This is one of the lowest places on Earth, and one of the hottest, with an average temperature of 35 degrees celsius year round. We have had a very dusty, sweaty, 38 degree week walking long distances on foot with gear strapped to our back to tell the story of the Afar people, and an organisation called the Afar Pastoralists Development Association (APDA).
The Afar people speak their own language, and live a nomadic lifestyle. They move to find their livestock grazing grounds, food and water, adapting with the weather. In Semera, the town we are staying in, it has not rained for six months.
The Afar live in very isolated locations, which creates issues with healthcare, education and resources. APDA is an organisation which trains and equips Afar people with the knowledge and skills to go back to their own community to help.
APDA was started by Valerie Browning, an Australian nurse who has lived in Afar for over 30 years. Valerie has dedicated her life to reaching and improving the lives of the Afar people, whilst also preserving their culture. We watched Valerie teach a class of Afar who lived near the border of Ethiopia and Eritrea, which meant they were unreached during the long war between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Since the end of the war in 2018, these people have been reached, and are now receiving training to go back to their community and help with healthcare education. We were amazed to watch Valerie teach for 2 hours in Afar language, engaging her students and making them laugh.
David and I have been working with APDA to tell the story of their work, and the issues that the Afar people face. We have also been working with Valerie to hear her worldview, which has been shaped by living in Australia, and amongst the poor living standards of the Afar.
I came into contact with Valerie and APDA through EthiopiAid Australia, a sponsoring body which helps different organisations around Ethiopia. EthiopiAid is one of the organisations supported by the 2018 CameraPro Explorer's Grant, and through EthiopiAid, we will also be working with a women's refuge centre later in April.
We are about to finish our work with APDA before starting work with Action Ethiopia closer to the capital city Addis Ababa.
Thanks for following the adventure!