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Concern Debates: trip to Ethiopia

Newbridge College in Kildare won last year's Concern Debates competition. Their prize was a trip to Ethiopia, where they saw Concern's work firsthand. They wrote this blog post to share their experiences.

Irish and Ethiopian students in Guguftu Primary School.
We left Ireland with an idea of what to expect, but how can you prepare someone for one of the best experiences of their life? The weeks between winning the Debates final and travelling to Ethiopia were a blur of anticipation and excitement. 

Visiting a school

Particularly memorable was our eye-opening visit to a school in rural Guguftu. Local teenagers study the same subjects as us but, with fewer resources, have to work even harder. 
 
During lunch they go home to help their families with chores and family always comes first. It was refreshing to see this strong sense of community, and made me think we can learn a lot from them.

Empowering women

It was inspiring to learn about how Concern is working to empower women in Dessie Zuria. We were stunned to hear women’s stories of their lives before this work began. Gender-based violence, early marriage and rape were so common that many didn’t go to the authorities because they would be ignored.

Charity work in Ethiopia

Thanks to Concern's team, things have changed since then. Women have been taught about their rights. They now have the confidence to speak at community meetings and call for equality. Levels of domestic violence and rape have decreased and local government officials have also received training, which has helped with prosecutions.

Strength and determination

Their strength and determination was inspirational. This trip has made us realise how much we take for granted and that we should be more appreciative and aware of our world.