Since 2004, we have worked with the Afar people on community development projects. Our approach is to listen and support the community members to become their own change makers. To do this we provide the community with skills, networking, training, infrastructure, and finances, which enables them to put their development ideas into action. 


HOW we work to achieve our mission

By using simple and appropriate technology we work to develop projects at a grass roots level with the community so that they can maintain and further what has been done.


 A fundamental element to our work are the relationships that we create with the community and all our partners. We have been returning to the Afar community annually for over a decade. When we are in Ethiopia we live in the community and adapt as much as possible to their way of life. In doing this we are able to learn first hand their daily struggles, share the richness of their culture, and experience the brilliance of the Afar sense of humour. From our approach a relationship of mutual trust and respect has been developed.


The use of money is direct and transparent. Our budgets are low and are used directly for project costs, our travel, accommodation and food while working in Ethiopia. These expenses are minimal as we carry out the projects while living with the communities incorporating as much as possible their lifestyle.

To view detailed budgets for each project, visit the project pages.

What We've Achieved

  • A medical centre in the community to provide health services, which is now entirely run and supported by the regional government.

  • Agriculture farm of approximately 15 hectares (38 acres), providing food and income for the 97 members of the agriculture co-operative and their families and supporting the wider community. Individual garden plot per member equals 1500 square meters (producers 750kg of corn per year in 3x crops)

  • 237 water carts to lighten the burden of carrying water on the 2km journey from the river to the home.

  • 10 students (2 female) are currently living in Addis Ababa completing their education within the health and economic fields. 4 students (1 female) have graduated with degrees in clinical nursing and public health.

  • A women's co-operative in the community, providing work and income to 9 women and their families.



Raised in both Tanzania and Australia, Sieh Mchawala has filmed and directed across the continents.  For his 1 hr ABC documentary Barefoot in Ethiopia, he filmed the three founders of Barefoot initiative during their infancy years back in 2004. The film tells a very real and honest story of how the Barefoot Initiative journey began, the naivety we had then, the many mistakes made, and all the learning that continues to this day. 

To find out more about Sieh and the film click on the link below: