Barefoot Initiative Newsletter

January 2018

Greetings to all our supporters! Well, another year has passed and we are well and truly into the start of 2018. It has been a full and productive year for Barefoot Initiative and we are excited to share what is happening in 2018. This newsletter will give some updates on our current projects in Ethiopia and activities here in Australia. 

You can find the link to the Barefoot Initiative 2016 / 2017 annual report here

We value your feedback, so please get in contact if you would like to contribute any suggestions or comments. Enjoy!


Recent Graduates

We are thrilled to share with you that in September of 2017, two more students graduated with Bachelor degrees. Both Mussa and Abdo commenced their studies as year 10 entrants into a Diploma, and then went on to complete a Bachelor degree. A total of seven years study each! Throughout their studies they showed commitment, dedication and took this opportunity whole heartedly.

Mussa Mensur graduated with a Bachelor of Public Health. He is now working as a public health officer in the Government Health Center in Warar town, which is approximately 30 kilometers from the Yooren Community, which is where his family are based.

Abdo Abahaba graduated from the Barefoot Initiative Student Scholarship Program in September 2017 with a Bachelor in Public Health. He graduated with the highest score in his year and received an academic excellence award. Abdo is currently working as program managing with a local non-government organization called Gamissa and teaching at the Semara Health Science college in the capital town of the Afar region.

We would like to thank all those who made this possible! Thank you for your support far and near, it has only happened with the generosity of people believing in this project.

Congratulations Mussa and Abdo! We look forward to following them both and have no doubt that they will both do great things for their families and community!

New Students

In September 2017 we welcomed two new female students into the Barefoot Initiative Scholarship Program. We reserved these two places specifically for Afar females, as we are strongly committed to supporting young Afar women who have completed their year 12 studies into a higher education. Within the Afar, it is a challenge to find eligible female candidates for the program due to cultural barriers such as early marriage and withdrawal from school. So, we are excited to finally introduce to you our newest students; Gumati Ibrahim and Eysa Esse Humad!

Gumati Ibrahim is 18 years old, from Soloko Kebele, Amibara Woreda in the Afar region of Ethiopia. She is enrolled in a Bachelor of Accounting and commenced her studies in October 2017. Gumati is scheduled to graduate in September 2020.

Gumati shares;

"My future plan is to help my uneducated family who have supported me to learn and serve the Afar community.

Eysa Esse Humad is the eighth of nine children in her family. She is from the town of Warar in the Afar region of Ethiopia. Eysa is enrolled in a Bachelor of Accounting and commenced her course in October 2017. She is scheduled to graduate in October 2020. Eysa shares that she is very grateful for this opportunity to study and she hopes it will enable her to support and contribute to the livelihood of her family and her community.

We are very excited to have Esya and Gumati and the program and look forward to supporting them as they embark on this challenging but rewarding journey!

Update on current students

There are currently six students in the Scholarship Program, all at varying stages in their degrees. Please see the table below for more details on each student.

Update on Past Program Graduates

Fatuma Mohammed, Barefoot Initiative's first ever graduate, graduated in 2015 from a Bachelor of Clinical Nursing. There are only 2 hospitals in the Afar region that serve the entire region, with an approximate population of 1.5 million. Fatuma is now working in 1 of these as a nurse, focusing her skills in child maternal health.

Abdo Humed Mohammed graduated from the Barefoot Initiative student scholarship program in September 2016 with a Bachelor of Clinical Nursing. He started work with the regional government and is now working as a Community Health Worker for Ethiopian Muslims Relief and Development Association (EMRDA). This is a beautiful loop, as Kyra, one of the founders to Barefoot Initiative was first introduced to the Afar community when she volunteered with EMRDA back in 2002.

Water Carts

Water Carts

To date, there are a total of 97 water carts in the community. We have a remaining target of 85 water carts to reach our goal of one water cart for every three households for the Yooren Community. Each water cart costs approximately $110.00 AUD. The board is planning a trip in October this year with the hope to reach this target by the end of 2018.

Follow up on past projects

MOLTA – Women's Cooperative

The women’s cooperative 'Molta’ has come to a natural end. Barefoot Initiative has not contributed financially for a number of years now. Two of the six remaining women have now started their own businesses utilizing their knowledge and skill learnt through the women’s cooperative.

Community Agricultural Cooperative

Barefoot Initiative has not financially supported the cooperative for a number of years now. Community members are still engaged in the cooperative, it remains registered with the regional government with 97 members. Crops vary from one to two a year depending on drought or flood conditions, providing families with a food and a cash income.



Year 8 students Salisbury high 2017

We want to acknowledge all the 2017 year 8 students from Salisbury High School who raised over $1500 to go towards more water carts to support Afar women and families.

Humanities teacher, Evan Polymenease has incorporated an annual water walk fundraising event into the school program and has travelled to Ethiopia twice to visit Barefoot Initiative's projects, and plans to travel with the Barefoot team again later in 2018.

This is a wonderful example of how Barefoot Initiative works closely to bring communities together. By sharing and creating ways for youth to connect to the work we do and the communities we work with, we hope to inspire and bring awareness and compassion to the youth of today.

Zonta Club Mount Barker

A big thank you to all the Mount Barker Zonta club members for their significant contribution to the college fees for Gumati. Gumati is one of the newest students accepted into the Barefoot Initiative Scholarship Program.

The Satyananda Yoga community in Alice Springs

Many thanks to this wonderful community who once again raised $1250 plus their many blessings from a nine-day Navaratri. A special thanks to Pat Beattie/Mahadeva for trusting in the work we do.

Donation boxes

A big thank you to all the businesses who host our donation boxes; Copenhagen Brighton, Sunshine Thebarton, Sazon Mount Barker & Adelaide city café, The Seasonal Garden Hahndorf, Stirling Organic Market, Brooklands BnB Port Elliot, Gingers Coffee Studio Goodwood, Outcome Accounting Adelaide and Rose's café Aldinga. This simple generous act brings in over $2000 of donations each year to support our work. A big thank you to our volunteers in particular Rachel Glasby, Brianna Neeson, Tiarne Cook, Hayley Cook and Lana Treloar who take the time to collect and count these donations each month.

Mt Barker Waldorf School & Sophie Thomson

With three of the board members being past students from this school, it is heart warming to continue a connection with the school through its' community’s support. A massive thank you to Sophie Thomson and the year 8 students, parents and teachers at the Mount Barker Waldorf School for raising $1,392 at Sophie Thomson’s open garden day early in 2017.

Sue and Doug March

Sue and Doug have been loyal supporters of our work from when we first set out on this journey over a decade ago. Over the years they have raised funds through various means, from selling cards and excess home-grown vegetables and fruit in a shop they previously ran and holding lawn sales. For many years Doug polished shoes on the high street of Willunga, South Australia on market days for a gold coin donation. From the bottom of our heart, thank you Sue and Doug for your continued loyal generosity, support and belief in what we are doing.

Rachel Glasby from The Silk Road

A big thanks to Rachel for using her amazing online store 'The Silk Road' to sell a collection of Ethiopian treasures where 100% of proceeds are donated to Barefoot Initiative. Check out the link for the Ethiopian collection on The Silk Road website here

The Ripple Fund

We are very grateful for being granted $4000 from The Ripple Fund, which is a sub-fund of the Australian Communities Foundation. These funds have been used for the purchase of five water carts and supporting the students in our educational scholarship program.

Evette Open garden

In January 2017 Evette held an open garden, where she received close to 500 visitors in just one day and raised just under $2000 for Barefoot Initiative. Evette, we cannot thank you enough!

Niki Macri

Niki has been hosting an annual fundraiser for Barefoot Initiative from her home in Melbourne each year. Thanks so much Niki, and we hope to make it to one of these events in the near future!

Marlee and Mollie

A big thanks to Marlee and Mollie, 2 primary school students who set out to raise $110 for a water cart, yet managed to raise $289 through a school raffle.

Additionally, we have a community of long term supporters to whom we are incredibly grateful. We would not be able to do what we do without you!

These stories illustrate how all these acts of kindness and generosity, unite us as a community and play a very significant role to Barefoot Initiative. We are a volunteer-based organisation, so we can only exist with the support of the wider community.

If you feel inspired and would like to hold a fundraiser on our behalf please contact us by emailing and

Volunteer Wanted

Volunteer Wanted

Are you familiar and have experience with Google AdWords and also have an interest in supporting marginalized communities? We are currently seeking a volunteer with experience in AdWords to assist Barefoot Initiative in reaching more supporters. If you are interested we would love to hear from you! Please contact Kyra Marwaha

Thank you

We wish you a wonderful 2018 and will remain in touch through our social media platforms with ongoing updates. Thank you for believing in us as human beings and supporting our work within your own capacities. You each play an important role in our joint effort to empower and support the Afar community to be their own leaders of change.