The Gedam is located approximately 15 km northeast of Debra Berhan. It takes a 1-hour drive and another 2 hours of steep walk downhill to reach the Gedam, which is hidden in a valley, next to a river. 45 residents live in the Gedam- elderly men and women, blind, handicapped, and a few adolescents. The Gedam consists of about 7 structures used for bedrooms, storage, cooking, and the religious center's main structure. The Gedam is led by Aba Firde Dehrbe.
Although it is relatively close to Debra Berhan, the Gedam is extremely Isolated, hard to reach, purely supported by the communities in the area, and lacks sufficient economic or self-sustaining resources.
During the team’s visit to the Gedam, Aba Firde pointed out the pressing problem of landslides, caused by a breaking rock at the top of the mountain, endangering the Gedam and its residents so severely that they thought of leaving the area. This fundamental problem was chosen as the initial project to be held. Through communication with Aba Firde, he consulted with local experts and eventually provided a construction plan and a list of needed equipment. The suggested solution was to break the endangering rock completely as well as building a defensive wall around the endangered side of the Gedam.
Our team met with Aba Firde at Debra Berhan market and together purchased and shipped the majority of the construction materials to a home of a member of the community. The home, located at the nearest area reachable by the truck, was used as a storage point from which the materials were carried by donkeys. Due to the steep character of the road, it took almost a full week to ship the cement and concrete to the Gedam.
The work was conducted according to the planned solution and included few phases. At first, the rocks that piled up on the religious hall’s walls were shattered into small pieces and evacuated from the area. Then, excavation work was done and the foundations for the wall were constructed. Then, a barrier was built up the hill and the rock was broken into small pieces. And finally, the complete wall was built. The materials used are concrete along with stones. After 8 working days spread over 2-3 weeks, the work was accomplished- the religious center was protected, the area was cleared from stones and a protective wall of 80 cm depth is encircling the Gedam.
The project involved more than 80 volunteers from the community around the area who worked together for a joint cause. It seemed it has strengthened their connection to the Gedam and to one another. The success of the construction changed the atmosphere in the place, making it more safe and pleasant to visit.
The most crucial need in the Gedam is for the availability of water. The river water is polluted and not appropriate for drinking as well as the rocky terrain makes it difficult to carry the water to the Gedam. Drinking waters can be accessed from the spring around the Gedam, however, the stream is very shallow and not enough for the residents. A potential solution might be an installation of a purification system and/or a water pump. Such infrastructures combined with the water pipe system will make the Gedam more sufficient and self-sustained.
The Gedam owns a vast area of land which are assumably appropriate for various agricultural activities. Assuming that the water supply issues were solved, the community can harness agricultural products for their self-sustenance and also as an income source. Gedam has 60 hectares of land for agriculture
The physical condition of the Gedam structures is very fragile and on the edge of almost falling apart. They are generally made of a mixture of mud, cow dung, and stones, and most of them are very old. If these structures are not treated soon they might fall apart/collapse.
Aba Firde has requested a storage house similar to the one in Jambaria be built at his Gedam as well.
Emergency Food Aid
Request for emergency food aid to feed the 45 people at Gizo – 3000 Kg of Teff, Sorghum, Beans, maize – estimated at 70,000 to 100,000 birr ($2,000- 3,000)