November 7 2013

Links with Ethiopia celebrated by Wales One World Film Festival

Ethiopia Goat Herd

The Wales One World (WOW) Festival 2013 celebrated two Wales Africa Community Links, Pontypridd-based Labata Fantalle and Valley and Vale Community Arts, on work they are doing to support future livelihoods for Ethiopian pastoralists affected by climate change and globalisation within East Africa’s environmentally sensitive Rift Valley.

Last Easter, Labata Fantalle and Valley and Vale teamed up with Addis Ababa link partners ‘Gem TV’ to explore producing a short film documenting the Karraayu camel herders’ way of life. The 10-minute piece “Gaalhi Haadha” (“A Camel is like a Mother”) was premiered on 18 July 2013 at Cardiff’s Chapter Arts Centre, as part of the WOW (Wales One World) Film Festival.

Funded through Wales Arts International’s International Opportunities Fund, Gaalli Haaddha follows young Karrayyu boys as they leave their homes and families to embark on a 200 mile journey through Ethiopia to search for food for their camels. The film’s Co-Producer Adanech Admassu travelled from Ethiopia to join and speak at the Chapter screening, along with WOW Director David Gillam and Labata Fantalle founder Beth Cullen.

Adi, who recently became Ethiopia’s first female film director, received the coveted One World Media Award from presenter John Snow for Gem TV’s contribution towards social change through filmmaking – celebrating “the positive effect their films have made to countless people over many years”. At the Cardiff event she said “Our work is all about telling people’s stories, empowering people and communities to have a voice, and find solutions to being excluded. This we share with Valley and Vale, with Labata Fantalle, and with people in Wales.”

The Karraayu, one of the last remaining Oromo groups to maintain the pastoralist way of life in Ethiopia’s beautiful Awash National Park, are having to rapidly adapt to multiple threats of shifting weather and migration patterns, acquisitions of their traditional lands by multinational organisations, and the struggle to preserve their culture and way of life in a world focused on rapid economic development. Labata Fantalle is an NGO set up and run by the Karraayu people, strongly support by their community link partners in Pontypridd area.

Welsh Government funding through WCVA’s Wales Africa Community Links programme has supported development of the community link between Pontypridd and Ethiopia, along with an innovative environmental project establishing solar powered irrigation and a seedling nursery that will both provide training, and supply 13 Karraayu woreda (villages) with trees that can used to reafforest and stabilise soils, provide shelter, and grow food crops for people and animals. The Clean Energy Grant (of just £1,860) channels carbon offsetting of Welsh Govt ministerial travel to Welsh charities who are supporting African partners’ communities to develop free from dependence on fossil fuels, and this was match-funded with a Forestry project grant of £2,947 from the Size of Wales project. Supported by Labata Fantalle, young Karrayu men have also set up a food coop that is selling camel milk to consumers in Addis Ababa and beyond, supported by the Italian-based Slow Food Movement as one of their flagship ‘Presidia’ sustainable food projects. Camel milk has recently been recognised for its extraordinary health benefits, and is being promoted as a super food.

Valley and Vale Community Arts was presented by First Minister Carwyn Jones in July 2012 with the prestigious UN Gold Star Award in recognition of our longstanding linking activity with Gemini Trust in Addis Ababa, which has included training up young former street children in arts and photography skills for community transformation, and undertaking a number of joint Wales-Ethiopia film projects.