The Aysanew Kassa Trust
Improving Education in the Azezo Schools
Registered Charity Number: 1090931

Azezo

Azezo, on the main road linking Gondar to Gondar airport and Bahr Dar and Addis Ababa further on to the south, was once just a handful of hamlets that had been established on the banks of the Demaza River. Flowing from its source in the Simien mountains, it joins up with the Shenta River, before ending up in the vast body of water that is Lake Tana, with its myriad islands and secluded Orthodox Monasteries, a little to the south. At 1400 m above sea level, Azezo is well within the Ethiopian Highlands and yet lies at the feet of the stupendous cliffs and plateaus of the Simiens, which rise over 4000 m into the sky. The communities that made up the Azezo of then would have been lost amidst the glory and splendour of Gondar, only 10 km away, with its complex of castles and palaces that began to be built during the reign of Emperor Fasilides (1632 - 1667) when Gondar became the capital of the Ethiopian Empire.

Azezo's growth began when the Italians established a military camp nearby during their turbulent rule in Ethiopia between 1936 and 1941. After the defeat of the Italians by a joint British and Ethiopian force (the Gideon Force), the camp remained operational and Azezo grew around it. In the early 1990s, however, following the overthrow of the Derg, the camp was partially demobilised and Azezo's main source of income diminished. Even the Demaza River, which would have attracted the first settlers and was the lifeblood of the village, is now but a trickle, dried up by ecological neglect.

Today, as Gondar continues to expand, Azezo is slowly becoming amalgamated into its larger neighbour, but the effects are mixed. Although there has been some improvement in infrastructure - mainly the roads - Azezo remains a poor suburb. Families struggle to send their children to school and the explosion in population to around 50,000 - of which over 45% is under 15 years of age - means that the local schools despite their expansion struggle to cope. The proximity of the vast metropolis of Gondar, fifth largest city in Ethiopia, exacerbates other problems: crime, health (especially involving HIV/AIDS), hygiene, prostitution and unemployment.

We work with the people of Azezo, believing that many of the challenges they face can be tackled by education. By improving the educational facilities in town and by ensuring that as many children as possible, especially the poorer ones, can benefit from them, we believe that we can enable our young people to stand on their own two feet and mould a bright future for their community.

Looking into an Azezo House