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Companies, like people, are defined by what they do, not what they say. That’s why, at Churchill Security, we strive to put our money where our mouth is – and to support worthy causes wherever we can. One of the worthiest organisations of support, we believe, is ActionAid.

ActionAid works with women and girls living in poverty. Their dedicated local staff are changing the world with women and girls. They are ending violence and fighting poverty so that all women, everywhere, can create the future they want.

Currently, we are supporting ActionAid’s Changemakers II program. As with the hugely successful original Changemakers program, Changemakers II is focused on advancing access to quality education and transforming the lives of women and girls living in poverty in Ethiopia – specifically, the Semen Bench region.

A school funded by ActionAid in Ethiopia

Over the last twenty years, Ethiopia has made great progress in expanding access to primary education. However, the country still ranks as one of the lowest in sub‐Saharan Africa in terms of overall education delivery.

This is due to several factors. Dilapidated facilities and a lack of learning resources act as a barrier to entry to many Ethiopian children. In particular, a lack of separate toilet facilities for girls can make attending school difficult.

At the same time, gender‐based violence and harmful traditional practices such as child marriage further prevent girls from accessing education. Additionally, since families often prioritise educating male children, many girls are assigned burdensome caring duties which make receiving an education impossible.

All of this can make for bleak reading. However, Changemakers II is making great strides towards addressing these issues.

Since its inception, the program has:

Begun construction of a new classroom block for the Gola Primary School. This is expected to open in time for the start of the academic year and will enable 400 more children to receive a quality education in a clean, safe environment.

Continued training for members of the Parent Teacher Associations, which empowers participants to make meaningful changes and implement improvements in their respective

 Established four Women’s Watch Groups, two Savings and Credit Cooperatives, four school girls’ clubs and four Parent Teacher Associations. Vital community initiatives such as these are vital to enabling members to achieve both individual and shared goals.

Begun sugar cane production, following the successful training for the Savings and Credit Cooperatives, Gola Kebele Savings and Credit Cooperative. This will ensure they have a sustainable source of income for the community

However, ActionAid understands that much more must be done if we want to see real change for Ethiopia’s most vulnerable citizens. And the Changemakers II program has big things planned. The Changemakers II program has identified four primary objectives which it believes are necessary if we are to see a tangible increase in the quality of life for Semen Bench residents.

These are:

To provide access to quality education for children in four schools in Semen Bench.

To provide access to clean, safe drinking water and separate toilet facilities for children in Semen Bench.

To empower and properly equip 500 women living in poverty to improve their livelihood options.

To combat gender‐based violence and harmful traditional practices that affect girls by improving community awareness and building capacity of local woman’s groups

In order to do this, the Changemakers II program implements vigorous monitoring and evaluation practices. These allow program organisers to adapt, refine and learn from their previous work, as well as to hold themselves accountable so that they can deliver their objectives.

Nevertheless, even with all of this in place, Changemakers II faces some very real challenges. For example, due to the remote location of Semen Bench – which lacks internet and banking infrastructure – communication can be difficult. And, of course, the project also requires a steady stream of funds.

As a company, we’d love to see Changemakers II achieve all its objectives. That’s why we’re going to continue to support Changemakers II as well as other ActionAid initiatives. However, your generosity can make a big difference too.

Whether its fundraising, donating, buying ActionAid products or supporting campaigns, there are many ways to support ActionAid. Find out more about how you can improve the lives of women and girls living in poverty.

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John Melling is a Director for Churchill Security Ltd. John is a highly motivated, determined and decisive security industry professional. Drawing on his extensive experience gained within the security industry whilst working on the coalface John has operated at all levels within the industry. He has a proven track record for motivating and leading high performance teams and has helped mentor and develop many people at Churchill who now hold key or senior positions within the business. John is committed to delivering only the finest services, exercising compelling leadership, maintaining good internal morale and striving to resolve any challenges efficiently and effectively.