In 2004, three Australians interested in sustainable and community-driven development founded Barefoot Initiative. We were drawn to this organisation initially from their stunning photos of Ethiopia and its people, and then after an initial discussion, it was clear we had a shared objective; to work closely with communities at the ground level to foster inclusion and empowerment.
Barefoot Initiative’s approach is to listen and support the communities they work with so these communities become their own change makers. The mutual respect and trust with the people they serve is strengthened through their yearly visits to the Afar, where they live with the communities to gain an understanding of the current and future challenges, and share knowledge to enable the Afar people to put their development ideas into action.
Water Carts Program
During their visits to the Afar nearly 15 years ago, the Barefoot Initiative team witnessed the burden imposed on women and girls from carrying up to 30 litres of water on their backs in goatskins, up to six times a day, even while pregnant. Through discussions with the community the Barefoot Initiative came up with the idea to construct pilot water carts. Each cart was designed to carry about 80 litres of water with the most vulnerable households receiving a water cart. Over the following years, feedback from the community highlighted a need for carts with a stronger and more sturdy design, and more carts.
To accommodate the increased demand, Barefoot Initiative commissioned and trained employees from a local garage on how to make the water cart. They also took women from the communities to the garage so that they knew where to go for maintenance and to purchase more carts; they now have a local supplier.
With the introduction of the water carts, the men of the community now partake in collecting water for the household, thus breaking the traditional role in Afar society where only the women and children collected the water.
Barefoot Initiative have a target to reach 1186 households in Buri and Kalat kabele. To date they have provided 337 water carts, leaving 826 households that still need to be reached.
During the 2019 financial year, the Fullife Foundation funded the construction and distribution of 139 water carts. The total cost of the project was $20,600.
Pharmacy Student Scholarship Sponsorship
In 2010, community leaders of the Yorren requested Barefoot Initiative support for Afar students to study at a tertiary level where acquired skills could be used to improve their communities. Education accessibility is an integral part of sustainable development so Barefoot Initiative was thrilled to establish a scholarship program. Fifteen students have been sponsored to date, five of whom have graduated successfully. The remaining 10 students are studying pharmacy, nursing, public health and economics.
The objectives for this project are to:
Provide equal access for the opportunity to a tertiary education
Eliminate gender disparities in education and provide equal opportunity to women and men to a tertiary education, with a focus on Indigenous and marginalised persons
Strengthen the skilled human resources of the Afar by building the capacity of its youth
The Fullife Foundation commenced the sponsorship of two Afar students who have begun studying pharmacy at University in Addis Ababa for a five year Bachelor of Pharmacy degree. The total cost for the first year of the degree for both students is $11,224 which includes their tuition, laptops, accommodation, living expenses, and an allowance for a student liaison, who provides holistic support during their time at university.