Travel to Ethiopia this October, witness the challenges of women’s reproductive health


Open your heart, change the world!
All Photos by Kristie McLean

Built from the inaugural SalaamGarage trip to Ethiopia in 2010, Crooked Trails and SalaamGarage join forces this October to bring a small team of global citizens on an unforgettable journey to the Horn of Africa. Support fistula patients and the women of the world!

Our journey to Ethiopia will take you straight into the heart of its people, and most notably its women. Like many other parts of the world, rural women in Ethiopia struggle with heavy burdens and lack of access to basic medical care, education, and financial independence.

We will learn about the challenges of women’s reproductive health, and particularly the childbirth injury of obstetric fistula. We will visit Hamlin Fistula Hospital in the capital city of Addis Ababa and meet women who are waiting for their fistula repair surgeries as well as the dedicated staff who serve them. We will see Desta Mender “Joy Village”, a long-term care facility for fistula patients as well as a place where new beginnings are possible.

A key touchstone of the journey will be traveling to Western Wologa in the remote Oromia region to meet fistula patients in their home villages, hear their stories, and see how a water-powered mill that grinds grain can be part of a solution of emotional and financial self-sufficiency.

The second oldest Christian nation on earth, Ethiopia is famous for its rock-hewn churches, Olympic gold medal runners, top coffee and honey production, and as the only African country where an indigenous alphabet is still widely used. It has its own time system and unique calendar (seven to eight years behind the Gregorian calendar) and has the largest number of UNESCO World Heritage sites in Africa. It’s also one of the oldest sites of human existence known to scientists today, having yielded some of humanity’s most ancient traces. Geographically, Ethiopia boasts some of Africa’s highest mountains and lowest points below sea level. Containing 84 different ethnic groups and languages, Ethiopia’s communities provide a stunning array of history and cultural traditions.

On our journey, we’ll be sightseeing in Addis Ababa, visiting beautiful Lalibela, and learning about the historical and geopolitical backdrop of the most populous landlocked nation in the world.

A portion of your program fees will go directly to help fistula patients in the community of Begi. Come prepared to learn, be humbled, build relationships, and be inspired by the strength of women helping other women toward a healthier, safer, more peaceful future.

Due to the sensitivity of fistula patients and their challenging conditions, this itinerary is limited to 8 participants. Space is filling up. Reserve your spot today!

Who We Are
SalaamGarage, a storytelling organization that partners with International NGOs and local non-profits. Participants create and share independent media projects that raise awareness and cause positive change in their online and offline social communities.

We partner with grass roots, forward thinking organizations. Through our trips one experiences rare access to the work of social entrepreneurs that would otherwise go unreported, while engaging with local communities on an entirely new level.

Kristie McLean, your trip leader and guide, first traveled to Ethiopia in 2010 with SalaamGarage where she was inspired to get involved in creating a water mill and income-generation project as one solution for women suffering from fistula. This trip will be Kristie’s 3rd journey to Ethiopia and she’s thrilled to share the country and to highlight her project as an example of what’s possible if you think outside of the box and just jump in!

Crooked Trails
is a non-profit community-based travel organization helping people broaden their understanding of the planet and its diverse cultures through education, community development and responsible travel. We are a 501(c)3 nonprofit and a portion of your program fees goes directly to the non-profit project we will be working with in Ethiopia. Our advisory partner for this program is

The cost of 2012 Ethiopia program is $3,925. A $500 deposit is required to confirm your participation. Please note that since this trip focuses on working to support with fistula that $2,463 of your trip cost is tax-deductible!

Includes: all in-country transportation and flights, most meals as listed in itinerary, all accommodations, all activities listed in the itinerary including museum and entrance fees, all local guides and translators, airport transfers, and a donation to the obstetric fistula project in Begi.
Does not include: international flights, a few meals as indicated in the itinerary, tips and personal items such as internet, laundry and phone calls.

Ethiopia Program Itinerary: October 21 – November 3, 2012

A note: All of our itineraries are flexible. Our philosophy at Crooked Trails is to let the country guide our experiences and not to live by a strict itinerary. If unexpected events arise, we may change plans to take advantage of the situation or deal with an issue. However, we will do all we can to offer you everything that is on the schedule. Please be flexible yourself and allow the program to unfold.

Meals included in the program cost are listed as B (breakfast), L (lunch) and D (dinner) for each day. Average Price of Food: Breakfast – $8, Lunch – $12, and Dinner – $15.

Sunday October 21: Day 1
International flights depart the USA to begin our Ethiopian adventure!

Monday, October 22nd: Day 2
Arrive into Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport. Your airport transfer to the hotel is included. Connect with other Crooked Trails travelers and settle in.

Tuesday, October 23rd: Day 3
Sightsee in Ethiopia’s capital city of Addis Ababa. We’ll visit the National Museum, Holy Trinity Cathedral, and other famous landmarks as well as optional shopping at the Mercado, the largest outdoor market in all of Africa! Get to know your fellow participants at our group Welcome Dinner. B, L, D

Wednesday, October 24th: Day 4
Visit Hamlin Fistula Foundation Hospital to meet the directors and learn about the challenges of obstetric fistula and its successful treatment. We’ll have lunch at Desta Mender “Joy Village” rehabilitation facility and visit the Hamlin School of Midwifery. Return to Addis for a free evening and dinner with new friends. B, L

Thursday, October 25th: Day 5
We’ll leave Addis Ababa and begin the 700 km driving trip to Begi, enjoying scenic stops along the way to Western Wologa. Overnight will be spent enroute. Group dinner included. B, L, D

Friday, October 26th: Day 6
We will continue our drive to Begi, arriving at the Begi Gidami Synod (BGS) compound in the evening for dinner. B, L, D

Saturday, October 27th: Day 7
Today we’ll tour the BGS compound, keeping an eye out for monkeys and other wildlife. We’ll make introductions and spend some time meeting with some of the fistula patients who are part of the BGS program. B, L, D

Sunday, October 28th: Day 8
Participate in a lively African Protestant Christian church service! This is a rare opportunity to witness the power of deep faith in rural Ethiopia. In the afternoon we will spend time with the fistula patients. B, L, D

Monday, October 29th: Day 9
We will tour the Chandi River water mill, learn about the process of grinding mills, and see the diversity in local vegetation. You’ll be impressed with the number of plant species as well as the getting an introduction to how coffee is grown! We will spend some special time with the fistula patients and enjoy a final dinner in Begi. B, L, D

Tuesday, October 30th: Day 10
In the morning we will drive to Assosa where we will board our in-country flight back to Addis Ababa.  Enjoy a free evening and dinner to spend with new friends, explore on your own, or rest. B, L

Wednesday, October 31st: Day 11
We will fly from Addis Ababa to the World Heritage site of Lalibela, famous for its amazing rock-hewn churches. In the afternoon we will tour the first group of churches and enjoy the relaxed, easy pace of this beautiful town. B, L, D

Thursday, November 1st: Day 12
We will tour the second group of rock-hewn churches, including the famous and most-frequently photographed St. George church. Enjoy some free time exploring and a meal on your own. B, D

Friday, November 2nd: Day 13
We will leave lovely Lalibela and enjoy some spectacular landscapes on our flight back to Addis Ababa. In the evening we’ll share a special farewell cultural dinner. B, L, D

Saturday, November 3rd: Day 14
This is a day for final shopping, visiting, and packing. Depart Addis Ababa for your flights back to the USA. Your airport transfer is included. Thank you for joining us; have a safe trip home!

  • michele zousmer

    is this trip full? i am interested? thank you, michele