Lalibela Project (LAL)


Coordinated by Sandi Petersen

Lalibela Project
Dinner time
Lalibela Project
Sleeping time
Lalibela Project
Fun time

This project started in early 2008 after Sandi met a group of destitute children and young teenagers in Lalibela. A house was purchased in late 2009 to manage the constantly rising rent and housing insecurity. Over the years, this project has supported about 35 young boys and girls who are either: orphaned, were living on the street, and/or who were destitute. Many have been supported through university, senior college or technical college. Two moved to foster homes in Addis Ababa. The program is now primarily supporting children and youth to live in foster homes or with extended families, rather than in the house.  It is hoped this will provide extra emotional support and lessen the dependence on western support.

A number of young people dropped out of school as a result of the significant disruption caused by COVID-19, as all schools closed from March to late October 2020. This long break from school has made it especially difficult for those who only started school at age 12-13 years to return, so we have worked toward assisting them to set up small businesses or otherwise assist them to become self-sufficient given the high unemployment rate in Lalibela. Lalibela is a town which attracts pilgrims and tourists as a result of its spectacular rock-hewn churches so much of the employment is tourism related. Therefore COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the town.

Small business projects include supporting a young person to set up a small chicken farm in 2019 – this small business is still going well. In late 2020/early 2021 two young people were funded to attend a 3-month bajaj (tuktuk) licence training program, as bajaj is a common form of local transport in Lalibela. We are now planning to assist a young person in his business plan of setting up a small fuel supply shop in the town as there is only one petrol station.