An Opportunity to Participate: An Update + Call for Volunteers in Ethiopia

Every year the SMPS San Diego Board of Direc­tors selects a char­i­ta­ble part­ner who the Board feels can ben­e­fit from our sup­port. For a 2-year peri­od from 2012 to 2014, our char­i­ta­ble part­ner was The Com­mu­ni­ty Project: Ethiopia (TCP).

First, I’d like to acknowl­edge the sup­port of the SMPS San Diego com­mu­ni­ty. It has been beyond my great­est expec­ta­tions, and I extend many thanks to the Board and to all of our mem­bers who sup­port­ed this project. Quite sim­ply, your gen­eros­i­ty has changed the lives of peo­ple half a world away. 

Vik­ki Ott, SMPS San Diego Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Co-Chair, on site in 2011 with Debre Birhan chil­dren hold­ing their instant pho­to por­traits

For folks new to the Chap­ter or this project, The Com­mu­ni­ty Project is a 10-acre mul­ti-use site cur­rent­ly in con­struc­tion phas­es in Debre Birhan, Ethiopia. The project was borne from a Habi­tat for Human­i­ty trip I took in 2011 with a group of vol­un­teers who saw the need for more than just homes in the com­mu­ni­ty where we were build­ing. While the 300 sq ft homes we built dras­ti­cal­ly improved the lives of this vil­lage, we saw the oppor­tu­ni­ty to help them build a com­mu­ni­ty.

Vik­ki with Ted­dy­ba­ba, a res­i­dent of Debre Birhan (and fan­tas­tic cook!)

The orig­i­nal project scope includ­ed a K-8 school, com­mu­ni­ty cen­ter and edu­ca­tion­al gar­den. Over the last 3 years, TCP orga­niz­ers have worked hand-in-hand with the Debre Birhan com­mu­ni­ty to refine the scope of the project to meet their needs. There has been sig­nif­i­cant progress on the project, includ­ing:

  • A part­ner­ship with Engi­neers With­out Bor­ders, who is lead­ing the tech­ni­cal and plan­ning aspects of the project and donat­ing thou­sands of hours of vol­un­teer time, on-site and off
  • Secured a 10-acre site for the project
  • Com­plet­ed plans for a five-build­ing K-8 school, mul­ti-pur­pose build­ing (includ­ing com­mu­ni­ty cen­ter, clin­ic and library), edu­ca­tion­al gar­den and bas­ket­ball court
  • Added 11 com­post­ing toi­lets to the site
  • Received a gen­er­ous dona­tion of a large play­ground struc­ture, which was installed this spring
  • Recent­ly com­plet­ed grad­ing for a 800-meter track that is expect­ed to attract elite Ethiopi­an run­ners to the site for train­ing, bring­ing an unan­tic­i­pat­ed source of income to this town
  • Com­plet­ed addi­tion­al tasks like hir­ing local project man­agers, work­ing with local gov­ern­ment to attract atten­tion to the project, col­lab­o­ra­tion with oth­er in-coun­try NGOs like the Peace Corps, and so much more

Future enrolees of the new K-8 school in Debre Birhan, Ethiopia

Words do not express how proud I am of my SMPS com­mu­ni­ty and con­nec­tions who helped this project as it was in the plan­ning stages. You are a unique and char­i­ta­ble group who rec­og­nizes the need for hous­ing, infra­struc­ture and com­mu­ni­ty, and your help has made this project a real­i­ty.

It is because of you that an esti­mat­ed 1,000 to 1,200 chil­dren in Debre Birhan will have a school locat­ed in their own com­mu­ni­ty. Chil­dren will no longer miss days because school is too far away or the weath­er is too poor to walk a far dis­tance.

It is because of you that the project is now in con­struc­tion, with the first K-8 class­room build­ing being built this fall.

It is because of you that I’m able to bring a team of 10 vol­un­teers to Ethiopia Octo­ber 10–24, 2015 to help build the school.

For as long as this project has been in plan­ning stages, I knew I would go back to the site and bring a vol­un­teer team to help build. It’s hard to believe, but NOW is the time! Would you like to join me on this adven­ture?

This is a unique oppor­tu­ni­ty for you to expe­ri­ence life in a devel­op­ing coun­try, and see first-hand the impact your vol­un­teer sup­port can make on an entire com­mu­ni­ty. The expe­ri­ence of help­ing build a home or com­mu­ni­ty struc­ture is like none oth­er. I’ve been a mem­ber of 12 build teams across the globe, and to know that my teams’ efforts have improved the lives of oth­ers is an expe­ri­ence that has changed my life. I would love to offer that expe­ri­ence to you.

Mem­bers of the 2011 team worked hand-in-hand with the Debre Birhan com­mu­ni­ty to build new homes

Vol­un­teers on my team do not need to be engi­neers or have any pre­vi­ous con­struc­tion expe­ri­ence. Your basic require­ments are being able to join the team, work hard, and cov­er the trip fee and your air­fare. I’ve launched a web­site to sup­port my char­i­ta­ble trips called Char­i­ta­ble Jour­neys, with a page spe­cif­ic to the Ethiopia trip with project details, costs, expec­ta­tions, FAQs and more.

If you’d like to join my team or know some­one who would, please get in touch with me at I’d love to hear from you.

This post was writ­ten by Vik­ki Ott, CPSM, the SMPS San Diego Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Co-Chair and Dig­i­tal Media Chan­nels Man­ager at Haley & Aldrich. She has vol­un­teered on 12 dif­fer­ent vol­un­teer build teams world­wide, includ­ing the Ethiopia site in 2011. She is a cer­ti­fied team leader with Habi­tat for Human­i­ty, and is look­ing for­ward to shar­ing a build expe­ri­ence with mem­bers of our AEC com­mu­ni­ty.


0 comments on “An Opportunity to Participate: An Update + Call for Volunteers in Ethiopia
1 Pings/Trackbacks for "An Opportunity to Participate: An Update + Call for Volunteers in Ethiopia"
  1. […] This week I wrote a guest blog post for the Soci­ety for Mar­ket­ing Pro­fes­sion­al Ser­vices (SMPS) San Diego blog. You can read it here. […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *