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SUKE and EHD friendship and solidarity visit to Eritrea Part I

A group comprising 16 members of the Switzerland Support Group for Eritrea (SUKE) and Eritrea Hilfswerk in Deutschland (EHD) conducted a friendship and solidarity visit to Eritrea from 8 to 18 October 2014. The members of the group are from different professions including Medical Doctors, artists, journalists, writers, photographers, teachers and other professions. Except two people from the group the others have been to Eritrea for several times.

Their objective for visiting Eritrea is solely to pay their respect and express solidarity to the Eritrean people which they have had strong solidarity way back during the armed struggle for independence.

The Switzerland Support Group for Eritrea has been established on October 1977. The founder and its chairman, Mr. Toni a Locher had been visiting Eritrea for several times during the armed struggle for independence. The group since its establishment had strong contact with the EPLF and has been sending, through contribution from friends of Eritrea and Eritrean national residing in Switzerland, variety of items they believe would assist the revolution.

The EHD which is the extension of the then Eritrean Relief Association is an organization comprising German friends of Eritrea and Eritreans residing in Germany. The association has been established in 1976. This group as the other friends of Eritrea has been supporting the Eritrean revolution for independence in its capacity both in material and diplomatic support. The chairperson of the association, Mr. Martin Zimmermann has been also to the field during the armed struggle for independence to observe the progress of the revolution and upon his return back to feed the vital information about the revolution to the members of his group and other groups and individuals interested about the Eritrean struggle. With regards to his current visit to Eritrea, Mr. Martin says “This is my biggest visit to observe the economic development Eritrea is registering. We have a long standing cooperation and friendship with the Eritrean people even during the armed struggle for independence and I am glad the country is well progressing exactly to my expectation”.

After independence the two groups from different countries have still strong affiliation with the Eritrean people in their efforts to build economically strong country. They follow every progress the country is registering and try to be part of it in letter and spirit. Their current visit is hence to demonstrate their friendship and solidarity with the Eritrean people.
The group in the afternoon hours of 8 October visited the Sewra Elementary school and the Eritrean National War Disabled Veterans Association (ENWDVA) Eye glass workshop. The selection of their visit to these two institutions has been part of their long time interest to the Eritrean children and the Eritrean war disabled veterans.

Upon their arrival to the Sewra School, the group received warm welcome from the staff and students of the school. The school has been the extension of the Sewra School which has been established during the armed struggle specifically for children who lost their parents in the war and other children who fled with their parents to flee the indiscriminate brutality of the enemy. During the armed struggle the students of Swera School have been provided with all necessary accommodation that children need and above all educational opportunities in different disciplines, academy and vocational education.

The motivating slogan a visitor could read upon arrival to today’s Sewra School is that “No bee-No honey, No work-No money, No study-No knowledge”. These very inspiring slogans are posted on the forefront of the school and everyone who reads them immediately comes to ask himself/herself of his/her position vis-à-vis the slogans. And the visitors, for many of them have the history of the Sewra School in the field had the confidence that the current students of the school would be as brilliant as those who have been to that revolutionary school of the past.

The Eritrean National War Disabled Veterans Association has been established to oversee the well being of the war disabled nationals in all aspects of their life including their health and living condition. The association with partner organizations designs projects and it rehabilitates them with different activities. In the past, according to Mr. Fesehaie Tesfamichael, Vis-Chair of the association, used to rehabilitate the war veterans in seemingly big institution like providing them bakery facilities, social service provision institutions run and owned by group of war disabled veterans. They found such practice very expensive and benefiting only the few. As a result they revised their way of rehabilitation of the veterans with less expensive projects and at the same time benefiting more members of the association.

The Eye workshop has been established to benefit members of the association with eye problem and those who need eye glasses. The workshop provides the members with affordable eye glasses and through time the workshop attracted more customers even from people outside the association. To date the workshop provided service to all members of the society.

There are many war veterans who are engaged in different activities with the assistance of the association including in bee farms, vegetable and fruits farms, and small scale trades. The association provides them with equipment and other facilities. The assistance they provide to the war veterans is confined to enable them kick start their business and leave them do the remaining job by themselves. The responsibility of the association is providing them with material and training that could help them stand by themselves. For those who want to engage in farms they provide them with bee hives, for those who want to engage in vegetable and fruits farming they provide them with water pumps motors. The same to those who want to engage in different activities.

Many of the rehabilitated war veterans the group visited have been very successful in their endeavors and have improved their livelihood and that of their families. And many of them are very thankful to their association, the government and partner organizations that enable them reach the level they have desired to reach.

The members of the group expressed appreciation for the warm welcome they have been awarded and appreciated the good job the two institutions have been doing, their efforts to nurture competitive students and rehabilitating the war veterans so that they contribute their part in the nation building process and improve their livelihood and that of their families.

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