The reason for establishing the Wondem Foundation was a tragic one: as the result of a human error a twelve-year-old boy, named Wondem, died at the AMC hospital in Amsterdam. The young boy had been very concerned about the people of his parents’ native village. Inspired by their son, and bearing his name, Tefera Zerfu and his wife set up the Wondem Foundation, with the goal of structurally improving life in the village of Mezezo, by means of support, education and health care.
‘If a woman already has three or more children, she is given additional support by us. If we find that the husband is dominant, we focus our attention on him.’
In addition to his activities as director of the foundation, Zerfu also runs an Ethiopian restaurant; Addis Ababa in Amsterdam. ‘My customers are often donors too,’ he explains. ‘Just like Dioraphte.’ Dioraphte has contributed to the small-scale sustainable projects to benefit Mezezo and its surroundings since the foundation’s inception. For instance, in 2014 a maternity clinic was built in the village and Dioraphte supported the construction of maternity accommodation and the purchase of medical equipment in 2020. The original plan was for three small houses, but this has now become one bigger house with capacity for ten pregnant women. The construction was completed within three months and the lodgings were made ready by the end of January 2021.
Mezezo is nestled in the mountains, and the intention is to accommodate pregnant women from the lower-lying areas in the village. Tefera estimates that every year about five thousand women in the region of the clinic are pregnant. Women from lower-lying regions will be offered accommodation at the maternity clinic once they are eight months into their pregnancy. ‘This not only gives us the opportunity to support them during childbirth, but it also allows us to inform them about birth control,’ says Tefera. If a woman already has three or more children, she is given additional support by us. If we discover the husband is dominant, we focus our attention on him. We try to explain the advantages of having fewer children per household, such as reduced disease and mortality.’